Welcome to a new feature on my blog - a childfree advice column called "Dear Mandy". Every month, I will post a letter from a reader who is seeking advice about an issue related to childfreedom, along with my reply with advice.
If you have a reply to the reader's letter, feel free to post a comment.
If you need advice about a childfree issue, feel free to email your question to me at firecracker_mandy(at)yahoo(dot)com, or message me on Facebook (I'm listed as Firecracker Mandy).
I love my counsin's baby...love her to death! She is darling (this does not mean that I want one...I just really like her). This is mainly because she is my cousin's who I am close to, and who is totally supportive of my choice to be Child-Free. I really like this baby...not other people's, I do not ohh and aww over other people's kids...I could really care less. However, if I talk about my smallest cousin, people start pressuring me "Are you sure you don't want kids, you would be a great mom, if you like her imagine how much you feel about your own" and so on....When I say I'm quite sure, and that I really do not like other people's kids, I get the "Yeah, okay, you will change your mind". Grrrrrrr. This just pisses me off. Why can't I just really like one kid and have fun and so on with her? Why does it always have to turn into people questioning my choices??????
That IS really annoying. I think all childfree people go through this invalidation of our decision. People make the decision every day to have children, and are rarely held to account for their decision, yet if a person thoughtfully chooses to forego the role of parent, she is given the third degree and treated as though she is a confused soul who does not know her own mind.
Here's something to try. When a person insists you will change your mind about having kids, have them put their money where their mouth is. Ask them if they are willing to bet $500 you will change your mind. Get it in writing and then CASH IN. Do this with enough judgemental ninnies, and you will create a lucrative income stream - the classic "turning lemons into lemonade".
If they reply that they are not willing to bet $500 on it (which is very likely), you can say, "Guess you're not that sure I will change my mind, are you?" Be sure to give them a knowing smile. That should shut them up real quick.
This will officially be my response to prodding people from now on. I can't *wait* to use this line.
Good advice. One thing though--you might want to put some age limits on it, or else they can always say "oh, well, you haven't had one so far, but you will, wait and see!" and just keep it going indefinitely like that. And even post-menopause I'm sure they can come up with something, such as "any day now you'll adopt, wait and see!" So I'd have to put some kind of limit like "by the time I'm forty/fifty/sixty" or "by the time I reach menopause" (not sure how you'd prove that one though).
I always say something like:
"I really love...like ADORE baby elephants too! So cute!!
...but I don't want one of those in my house either."
That usually stymies them.
Good advice and I love Poppie's comment about how she says she likes baby elephants but not in her house! Ha! When i was young & first married I got a lot of questions too. I got so tired of people inquiring as to when I was going to reproduce! I remember saying a few times that I could think of many reasons NOT to have children but could the person please give me 3 reasons why SHE chose to have kids. Put the question right back on them-! Later on I began telling people that when they have kids they take on a job that lasts 20 years [ only 20 if you are lucky ] and is 24/7 with no pay and no days off.
You know, I believe that you’ll always have to deal with this, as I can attest. You can have snappy comebacks out the wazoo, but I think you’ll be much better off if you realize that you will have to deal with the comments, and stop getting angry about it. Eventually it will die down.
The great equalizer is time…I announced when I was 12 that I wouldn’t be having children, and the first thing my mom said was, “Oh sweetie, I said the same thing!” I've tolerated the comments for the past 32 years, and it’s finally starting to dwindle, since we all know that it’s not healthy to bear children past 35 (and please don’t respond and tell me about how your cousin/sister/best friend successfully delivered a child past 35 “But science has come soooo far!!!” We all know it’s not in the best interest of the baby. ) Now that I’m older, it is getting easier. My favorite comeback to “Don’t you like kids?” is “Of course! Particularly with barbeque sauce!”
I have a niece and nephew who are both little and I'm getting another baby niece in December. I love them to pieces, but I'll never have one of my own. I have had people tell me that I will change my mind or "It'll happen one day". I usually say something like "I love kids--I just don't want any of my own. I can only handle them for a few hours at a time". A lot of people have stopped bullying me about it by now, but there's always someone who won't listen.
That's hilarious and will so be my future reply. I can already imagine the looks I will get. Ah, love it!
Lisa S, I have a similar comment. It shuts them up!
"of COURSE I like kids! Sauted in a nice white-wine sauce, some steamed asparagus....." (voice trails off while I think of the yummy goodness).
It's getting easier as time goes by for me, too. I'm 39 now, and have actually lost both ovaries. No chance of kids. When I was younger, though, I had the same comments "oh, you will change your mind...." or "you would be such a GREAT mother!" WHATEVER.
I did get rude with one lady one time. She just wouldn't stop. I said: "What makes you think I can even HAVE children? Who are you that we should be having anything that resembles this conversation? How RUDE!" And I walked off. She never spoke to me again. I still do not mourn the loss.
Good counter to the "you'll change your mind" bingo. A couple variants on the wager:
1. Give them odds. If they're really really sure, they'd be willing to pay 10 times what you'd pay them if you DO change your mind. Or, the opposite, offer a 10 to 1 payout for them, just to show how sure you are of NOT having kids.
2. Let the person know that you've offered this chance to everyone and yet no one seems to bite. Ask them why they think that is. How come no one ever takes me up on it?
This type of response is all too common from people who cannot conceive of a life without children. Just because someone does not totally hate every child she comes across does not necessarily mean she should have kids. I am far from hating kids, but I am sure I do not want any of my own. The more we can realize that everyone's diatribe is all about their own stuff, the easier it will be to deal with all of it. Stand strong in your choice to be childfree and know that if it feels right to you, then it is the right decision, hands down!
It's the comment that annoys me most, and this reply is just perfect, I actually can't wait to use it!
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