Children, Not

21 May

Dear LetterBalm: My husband and I have been married for four years, and we’re beginning to get The Big Question: “When are you going to have children?”  A few of our close friends know we don’t intend to have kids, but that’s not the problem. It’s our families. They’re bombarding us with child-centered questions and hints – at every family gathering and holiday. What makes it worse is my husband and I are the eldest of our respective siblings, and all of them on both sides are either parents, pregnant or planning on it. We’ve never wanted children, and we made our decision after careful discussion before we got married. We need the words to tell them.

–Childless By Choice

Ms. L.B. respects your decision. She’s on the record saying that a family can consist of two spouses, two partners or any manner of couplehood with or without children. Are you and your husband sure you want to engage your families in this personal dialogue? After all, you owe no one an explanation. But if you decide you want to, be sure both of you tell your families together and pick your undistracted moment to talk face-to-face. Not at a holiday celebration or family event, however. (Across the table at Thanksgiving, at Cousin Millie’s wedding or in the middle of the tree-trimming party isn’t the best time.) You and your husband will want to keep it brief, neutral and definite. Something like this:

Family, you’ve been asking about children. Josh and I/Marlene and I decided after serious discussion that we won’t have children. We made this decision before we got married. Please understand that this has nothing to do with the way we were raised or anything. Being parents just isn’t something we want to be, and we’d appreciate it if, from now on, you’d treat this subject as closed.

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