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childlessness

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It’s too expensive. It distracts from one’s career. There’s currently a pandemic happening. These are some of the reasons millennials list for not wanting children. We’ve also gone over some statistically-driven reasons (like the fact that housing prices have skyrocketed while household incomes have stagnated). Within the millennial group, shaming our peers for not having children is, well, the truly shameful act now. If a millennial tells her peer she isn’t having kids, the only appropriate reaction is support. Your body, your choice. Your money your choice. Your sleep, your choice. We’ve made a healthy shift within our age group to not bat an eyelash when friends choose to go without kids. But there is an important assortment of words in there: within our age group. Those beyond our age group? That’s a different story.

Your parents won’t look at you having kids (or not having kids) from any sort of practical standpoint. For them, it’s raw emotions. For them, you’re ripping the dream of being grandparents from their fingertips if you choose to be childless. Why are you doing this to them? Whyyyyyy?! (Really, they’ll ask you that just like that, so be prepared to answer). Handling this conversation will require putting yourself in your parents’ shoes, as well as doing a masterful job of putting them in yours. Here is how to tell your parents you aren’t having kids.

childlessness

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This won’t cut back our family time

A big concern on your parents’ end might be that you not having children will mean them not spending much time with you as you get older. Grandchildren naturally bring families together. From pregnancy through high school graduation, children prompt many events that bring the family together. There are baby showers and kid’s birthday parties. Just wanting to see the grandkids is reason enough for your parents to ask to stop by. So they can fear that if you don’t have kids, the family will drift apart in some way. Assure them that will not happen, and that creating opportunities to spend time with them will always be important to you.

childlessness

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I’ll always need your help

Another thing parents feel they miss out on if they don’t become grandparents is a lifetime of opportunities to be there for their children. Your parents were probably looking forward to all of the times they thought you would reach out to them for advice and help on parenting. They wanted you to take on a tremendous responsibility they’re already experts at so that you’d call them regularly with questions, and frequently need their help. They just want to feel needed. Let them know that they’ll always be needed, meaning you will always turn to them for guidance, no matter what.

childlessness

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I know you could babysit, but…

In order to convince you that parenthood won’t be too much work, your parents might promise that if you have kids, they’ll babysit all of the time to help you out. First, you may need to point out the irony in their offer, which is that their argument is “If you have kids, you barely need to see them — we’ve got this!” Ehhh….you know what’s another great way to not be around kids all the time? To not have them. So your plan kind of trumps theirs. Furthermore, they know damn well, as do you, that they simply cannot be there to help with child-rearing duties all of the time. They may babysit a bit on weekends, but you’ll be the one doing 99 percent of the work and that’s that.

childlessness

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No, I didn’t hate my childhood

Some parents might worry that the reason you don’t want to have children is that you didn’t like your childhood. They might fear that you have negative associations with the way they raised you, so you don’t want to put those experiences on somebody else. They can even fear that you not having kids is your way of saying you didn’t think they were good parents, so you don’t have good role models, and/or fear you’d become them. You can shut this down right away and tell them all the reasons you adored your childhood and that your parents were wonderful. This isn’t about them.

childlessness

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My siblings will have kids!

Some parents might just want to know there will be little cuties filling up their life. They want to look forward to years of new babies and toddlers bringing the joys of children’s laughter and play into their home. Children do bring a lot of joy and energy to a family. But, perhaps you can remind your parents that your siblings will have kids. No siblings? Your cousins will have kids. And you’ll babysit your friends and family’s kids, and bring them to your parent’s house. There will be no shortage of munchkins in their lives. They’ll probably even be surrounded with more than they want sometimes.

childlessness

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I’m not saying this because I’m young.

Your parents’ kneejerk reaction may be to say, “You’re only saying this because you are young. You’ll change your mind when you are older.” But they are thinking you’re the same age they were when they made the decision to have kids. And, as people are having children older now, that’s probably not true. My mom tries to say this to me and I have to remind her, “I’m 32…I’m not a child.” By the time your parents were 32, they probably had 10-year-old children. Point is, they can’t use the argument that you’re “just young” because you probably aren’t that young after all.

childlessness

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I have plenty of family as is

Your parents may just worry that you’ll be lonely if you don’t have kids. They’ve enjoyed a life surrounded by family members – holidays filled with visitors and love – and they want you to have the same. They don’t want to envision you being 60, spending Christmas by yourself. You can remind them why that very much won’t be the case. You may have siblings. They’ll have kids. Their kids will get married and have kids. You have cousins who have kids, and their kids will have kids. The family is definitely still growing around you, and you will not have a lonely life.

childlessness

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We will carry on family traditions

Sometimes there is concern that the family traditions will die with you if you don’t have children. Again, you probably have siblings or cousins who will pass those on, but even if you don’t, you can find other ways to make sure the beliefs, traditions, and even belongings of the family live on. You might start a small fund in the family’s name to put underprivileged children through school. Maybe the arts are important in your family, and you can donate artwork to museums you love. There are many ways to ensure your family traditions live on and are cherished.

childlessness

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I need to make my own financial way

Your parents may offer to give you all the financial help you need to raise kids if that’s the issue, but you are well within your right to explain that you do not feel comfortable creating a financial burden for the family. Realistically, nobody can predict how much a kid will really cost. How much will college cost in 18 years? Or food or housing? Or a car? You are an adult, and you’d like to fully be financially responsible for you and yours. It’s okay to say that you wouldn’t feel right trying to bring a person into this world who instantly drains the finances of those around you.

childlessness

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Please don’t call me selfish

Your parents may call you selfish for not having kids. It’s a common accusation today, but it’s also very unfair. The idea behind the charge is that it’s selfish to live just for one’s self. But who is that harming when there is no kid in the picture? In fact, how can selfishness even come up when at the moment there is no child that exists in this scenario? It’s selfish to have kids if you won’t be a good parent. If you understand you can’t or don’t want to be a parent, there is nothing selfish about not having kids. In fact, it may be the most selfless thing.

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