Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Dear Mandy...

Dear Mandy,

There is going to be a baptizing of a little boy in my boyfriend's side of the family and I do not wish to go! There are kids everywhere and if you finally find a good behaving child to play with, one or two from the family jumps out from the nearest corner and says: "When are you going to have one? "

And the biggest part of the family knows that I'm not really that into kids, but every time I try to play or in another way interact with a kid, they go insane and thinks that now I have change my mind about things.

It is sooo frustrating and I don't think I can go through with the party because I most likely will end up tripping waiters and old ladies in order to get to the nearest room with a lock.

Sigh, the event is taking place in about twenty days, should I fake an illness or do you have some advice to me, so I can survive that day?

I know fake an illness isn't the most mature thing to do but I'm in a freaking corner and they are many against one.


Dear A.S.

I think we all have been in this situation.  The thing to keep in mind is that you are not OBLIGATED to answer their prying questions. One thing I have learned is that when someone asks a question that is none of their business, the best way to reply is by turning it around on them. So when they press you with "When are you going to have a child?", instead of feeling obligated to give an answer, reply with: "Why would you like to know?" or "Why are you concerned?"  Turn the tables and put THEM on the hot seat. "Is there a reason this is a concern to you?" When they stammer their reply with whatever statement they come up with, you can say, "Thank you for sharing your insights" and leave it at that. In other words, don't feel compelled to answer them. It truly IS none of their business and by turning the tables on them in a polite way, you will subtely convey that message.

In the bigger picture, the remedy to overcoming these feelings of defensiveness is to look at your childfreedom in a different light - where you are empowered by your decision and wear your childfreedom with pride. Think of it as the world's best-kept secret and think of yourself as one of the rare people who has discovered the secret. In other words, instead of thinking of your childfreedom as a negative choice that puts you on the defense, think of it as a positive choice that you are thrilled about and allow that energy to shine through in your dealings with people.  When they try to make you feel badly for your choice, smile at them like the bird who ate the canary and let them wonder.



Scene + Heard said...

I always feel like the cat that ate the canary when people ask me when I'm going to have kids. It goes something like this.

Mom: So...aren't the kids so cute? You're so good with them...

Me: I know...I'm a natural..

Mom: When are you going to have kids of your own...You and Rick will make great parents.

(Tablecloth is pulled off the kitchen table holding all the dishes and glassware...hit the floor with a loud bang...screams and crying.)

Me: It seems like a really hard job....I'm good with my Cat! Thanks though!

RockitQueen said...

Sorry to be off-topic, but I saw this story today on Jezebel and wanted to share with you all:

Lisa said...

I think Mandy's advice is spot on. We've all got to develop responses to these annoying inquiries that let us continue to enjoy events - we shouldn't allow ourselves to be annoyed into staying home or scared to interact with kids because it'll prompt stupid questions/teasing.

Zazzu said...

I'm still chuckling at Scene+Heard's comment.

Since there will be no positive aspects to attending this event, I think the letter-writer should just fake a migraine (or something).

It's not like the food and booze will be spectacular. They never are at kid-oriented events. And who needs one more thing to do in November or December?

Temujin said...

Sometimes I tell people that Oprah is my hero, and when she has a kid so will I. Choose whatever big-name celebrity you want for best effect. I choose Oprah partly for comic effect -- I'm often insensitive, white, and male, so it sounds like an odd choice.

I also chose Oprah because she's sacrosanct. Try to find a pronatalist who will say anything bad about Oprah. Hard to find. She says parents have the hardest job in the world, so how could anyone criticize Oprah?

Freelance Feminist said...

As a 19-year-old who hasn't "come out of the closet" yet about my desire to be permanently childfree, this advice is really helpful to me as well. I know that I, too, will face a lot of criticism and endless questions about why I don't have kids.

Your advice seems pretty sound. It's a good idea to turn the question around and put the speaker in the hot seat. My concern is with the direct statements I (and all childfree people) will face.

I have a sister who is incredibly narcissistic and will do anything for power. I know with 100% certainty that as I get older, I will hear her say to me, "You are SO SELFISH for not having children!!" (The ironic thing is that SHE is actually a very selfish person herself. Oh, the stories I could tell you about her entitlement...) So I don't really know what to say to that, other than, "We all choose to be happy..." Does anyone have any experience in dealing with direct insults about the childfree lifestyle?

Temujin said...

To Freelance Feminist:

Your sister is probably not interested in a conversation and is probably not open to being contradicted. I might ask her what the *unselfish* reasons are for *having* children. I've reached a point in my life where I'll just say, "you're right, I'm selfish." It's very disarming sometimes to agree with obnoxious pronatalists. You don't think you're selfish, she says you are, but who really cares?

At 19, I'd be prepared more for another bingo, the whole "you'll change your mind when you're older" thing. My favorite counter to that is to ask them to place a wager on it -- are they willing to bet $500 that you'll have a kid by age ___? They never take you up on the offer, so how sure are they that you'll change your mind?

There are several entries on this site and on some of the related sites listing the possible responses to the bingos.

Freelance Feminist said...

Thanks for the advice, Temujin!

I'm sure it'll come in handy :-). I guess the important thing is to not let the criticism get to you. They'll come around soon enough...

Chantel said...

Wouldn't the more direct and less passive agressive response be to tell the person you don't want to talk about it or that it's none of their business? Why make up reasons for not going or "turning the table on them"? No. <--believe it or not that is a complete sentence and maybe if we were more direct and honest about our feelings those closest to us would understand them and not keep asking. That has certainly been the case for my husband and I. No one, family, friend, or random, has put us through this and if they did we wouldn't entertain it.