If you and your partner do not plan on having children, and you’re finally going to tell your parents that, let me tell you something: they probably won’t take it well. I recently told my mother I probably won’t have children (I’m reaching my fertility prime and am clearly nowhere near having kids, so the topic came up). At first, she played it cool. She said she understood and respected my decision. She said I shouldn’t do anything I don’t want to do. And then, over the following two days, her real feelings came out. She started making small comments and asking leading questions. She was clearly not okay with the idea of me not having children. She tried every trick in the book to change my mind. You can’t blame your parents for wanting grandkids—they just love you so much that they want, well, more of you. Here is what your parents say when you tell them you don’t want kids.
Did you hate your childhood?
They wonder if you just hated your childhood, and assume all childhood is bad. They press and pry, asking what was so wrong with your life as a little kid that makes you not want to give life to a new child?
Do we make it look bad?
Then they will ask if it is them—their parenting style in particular. Or, perhaps you think that being parents was bad for them, or for their marriage. They can take things very personally.
You’ll be lonely
They’ll tell you that you’ll be lonely—that nobody will visit you in your old age, that you’ll have nobody to spend time with as your elderly friends pass, and that you’ll have to hire a nurse to take care of you.
Is your partner pressuring you?
Your parents might blame your partner, suspecting that it is actually he who does not want kids. They’ll interrogate you (and perhaps him) to find out if he is pressuring you not to have children.
Do you not really love your partner?
Then your parents might try the old trick of asking, “If you really love your partner, then don’t you want to create a little person who is both yours and his?”
How will you have a community?
My mother asked me how I would build a family if I didn’t have children. It felt like a trick question. But essentially, she is worried I will have no sense of community.
Then there are the parents who tell you that you’re selfish not to have kids—that it’s selfish to live a life in which you do whatever you want, all of the time, and only care for yourself. I argue that, wouldn’t the truly selfish thing be if you had kids even though you just wanted to do whatever you want all the time?
Who will pass on the bloodline?
You do put your parents’ sense of immortality at risk by not having kids. They thought they could rely on their bloodline continuing, long after they’re gone. You’re ruining that prospect for them.
I need grandchildren to live for
And here we have the guilt trip. Your parents may say that the only thing they’ll have to live for in old age is playing with their grandchildren, and now you’re taking that away from them.
What will keep you and your partner together?
The threat of divorce may be something your parents bring up. They could tell you that couples who don’t have kids are at a higher risk of divorce. But, in reality, childlessness is not the top predictor of divorce.
Your friends will be busy with kids
Your parents may tell you that all of your friends will be busy with their kids, and that they’ll only want to hang out with other people who have kids.
Your nieces/nephews deserve cousins
If you have a sibling who has children, then your parents may say that those kids deserve cousins. But, honestly, they can make friends who aren’t their cousins.
It’s not natural
We’re so conditioned to believe that we must have kids. But, honestly, that’s just our animal instincts. Haven’t we evolved to resist those, for the better of mankind? We resist our animal instincts to…kill…steal…cheat on our partners. So why can’t people accept that we resist our animal instinct to reproduce? It is actually better for the planet (hello overpopulation).
But you’re so maternal
My mom points out that I am very maternal, and that I take good care of my pets and friends. Sure—but that doesn’t mean I want to be in charge of a human, 24/7, for 18 years and then some.
Don’t you think family is important?
Ah, another manipulative question my mom lobbed out at me. Some parents think you can’t possibly value family as a concept if you don’t want to have kids. That’s a bit unfair, seeing as you probably make a point to travel home to see your family and be there for them a lot.