Choosing not to have children is something extremely personal. Maybe you’ve always known you didn’t want kids, maybe you haven’t found someone you’re willing to make that commitment with. Or maybe you’ve decided as an adult that parenthood isn’t for you.
Whatever the case, you’re not alone.
More people than ever are choosing to remain childless. Statistics show the Millennial generation getting married later in life, focusing on careers, and having children later—or not at all.
While that may have been unheard of throughout the early twentieth century, times have changed. Unfortunately, some people still may have negative or surprised reactions to your decision to remain childless.
So, how should you respond?
Make Your Decisions Clear
When people close to you find out you’re not going to have children, the first question will almost always be “why?”.
Again, choosing not to have kids is personal. You can respond with something as simple as “I’m just choosing not to.”
However, if you want to offer the people in your life more than that, don’t be afraid to talk about your reasons. You’ve likely thought it through, so consider sharing why and how you came to your decision. Doing so will make it easier for people to stop questioning it, since they’ll be more likely to respect your beliefs and your wants.
Allow Your Loved Ones to Grieve
While having kids or not is your choice, it’s important to be compassionate to others in your life.
If you’re an only child and your parents were looking forward to being grandparents, they might be disappointed or even feel grief knowing they never will. That’s not something that should make you feel guilty.
However, it’s important to allow them to “feel their feelings.” Let them grieve and feel a sense of disappointment. They will move on, and you can all accept your decision.
Set Clear, Healthy Boundaries
Sometimes, even if you let people know you’re not having children, they won’t seem to stop asking about it. Or maybe they’ll be quick to express their disappointment—over and over again.
You can handle this by setting boundaries with people in your life. Be firm in your decision when you talk to them about it and make sure there’s no room for misconception.
If they keep bringing it up, let them know you understand their perspective, but that you’re done talking about it. Setting these healthy boundaries will allow you to find some peace on the subject, and will let others know there’s no reason to keep bringing up the same subject.
If you’re in a relationship, make sure you’re on the same page with your partner when it comes to those boundaries. You should communicate with each other about what you’re going to tell people in your life. It’s important to be a united front. Doing so will make it easier to defend your decision. It will also give you both someone to lean on for support and comfort if the questions about having kids ever become overwhelming.
Don’t Give in to Pressure
Even though most people have the best of intentions, don’t let anyone make you feel guilty about your decision to remain childless. Again, it’s more common today than ever, and if you made that decision on your own, you probably have plenty of reasons for it.
If you’re ever struggling with guilt or second-guessing your decision, talk to your partner about it and remind yourselves of why you made it in the first place. Staying true to your values or what you want in life is essential, no matter what opinions others might use to try to influence you.