|Photo courtesy of morguefile.com|
First, read the article: What Not to Say to Childless Friends. I'll be here when you're done.
I have a few things to add. I can't even tell you all the insulting things people have said to me over the years, especially when they learn that Hubs is from a large family. Here are my thoughts.
- When someone makes a statement about how nice it must be to have "all that extra time/money," it implies that I either don't have enough going on in my life or that the ways I choose to spend my time and money are unimportant or frivolous. The response I make is usually something like "some people choose to have children. We choose to take vacations." but what I really want to say (to people who don't know me) is "How much do your children cost you every month? What? A personal question I have no business asking? EXACTLY." What that statement is really saying to me is, "I wish I could travel there/buy that/do that, but it doesn't fit into my time/money budget and right now I'm jealous." Fair enough, but that's not my emotion to deal with.
- I've had people ask whether my husband/in-laws/parents are okay with my decision not to have children. First, that's also none of your business. Second, it's irrelevant whether my in-laws or parents are okay with it. That choice is between me and my husband. If you truly think I make big life decisions like that without discussing it ad nauseam with my husband, then perhaps that says more about your relationship than it does mine.
- I've been told I won't be a real woman until I have children. I won't even justify that one with a reaction.
- I've been told I'll change my mind about whether I want kids. Maybe I will. The thing is, so have at least a handful of parents I personally know. I'd rather not have kids and regret it later than have children I end up not wanting and resenting, thankyouverymuch. My way requires less therapy all around.
- One of my (not) favorites is, "Don't you want a family of your own?" Think about that for just a minute. Is my husband not my family?
As I came down from my high horse about being offended and wounded at the things people say to women who choose not to have children, I read a piece where a woman calmly talks about being nobody's mother. Read her words, too.
The bottom line on this is if you are truly friends with someone, you already know why they don't have kids. You know whether they struggle with infertility or have made a choice. If you aren't close enough with someone to know these things, then you're not close enough to ask these questions.
I have heard similar questions asked of women who choose to have children at an age younger than the asker thinks is appropriate. I have heard myself pass judgment against a 20-something year old for her choices. For that, I am truly sorry. It is none of my business when a woman makes these decisions for herself and her family. If you want children, if you are ready to raise them and understand the implications associated, I promise to keep my trap shut and my mind open.
My husband comes from a large family and I've often fielded questions about whether his parents are crazy (no), irresponsible (definitely not), Mormon, or Catholic (I'm going with nunya* on those two questions). I'm learning that there are all kinds of families in this world and what I used to think was "right" isn't universal. Every person should decide what makes the best family for him or her. If you're in a relationship, you need to have that discussion with your significant other. If you're not in a relationship, I hope you have lots of support around you. And don't let anyone tell you that you can't do it on your own, if that's what you want.
* Whenever I asked my Dad something he didn't want to answer, he told me that was "nunya." As in "Nunya business!" Truth be told, this should be my answer for all the above questions.