Counselling

We don’t want kids, but people don’t understand. What do I do?

How do we respond to advice from people to have children, when we've decided not to
Lady Planning Future

Question:

We are of prime childbearing age and our clocks are ticking, as our families often remind us. However, my husband and I have decided not to have children and no one seems to be able to get it through their heads that we don’t want to have kids. I’m at the end of my rope. I don’t want to be condescending or tell people that their choice to have children is wrong, because I don’t think it is, but I am getting tired of hearing people constantly tell me I need to have children and I’m worried that I’ll snap. Do you have any advice on how I can handle these people who feel the need to determine what happens in my relationship with my husband?

Deepak Kashyap advises:

Allow people to ask you questions and without taking them personally. Allow yourself to ignore those questions. We cannot, try as we may, hold people’s tongues and for the most part change their opinions of things that they have been conditioned to believe. “Everyone must have kids” is one such belief they find themselves enslaved to.

Try to see their concern and love for you in those questions, without feeling obliged to follow their instruction or fulfil their desire for you to be parents. It is a very private decision that must be left only to the couple and no one else at all. Giving people the benefit of doubt, most of these questions might have the noblest of intentions despite the patronising tone they are delivered in. Other people’s nice intentions do not obligate me to make my life decisions, especially the ones that are against my own deepest held values.

As for your own frustration and discomfort with the people, as long as no one is physically forcing you to have kids, you have a lot of control over how you feel. Your frustration stems from the similar kind of desire that you fight in others – the wish to control other people’s thoughts and choices. People will have all sorts of opinions and will make choices to have those opinions known to you unsolicited. That will bother you only when you want to control them and their choices. Let them speak out their opinions. It’s trying to get their validation and approval and not getting it when you don’t obey them that’s making and keeping your frustrated.

You weren’t born to fulfil anyone else’s desires, you were here as a result of a biological process like anyone else, and now face the common dilemma faced by almost all of us – how to create meaning in this life. Create your meaning; don’t look for it in other’s approval of your choices.

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