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How do you drop the child-free bomb to your family members?

By on Jan 15th

This post originally ran on Offbeat Families, we brought the advice over to Offbeat Home so we can continue the discussion…


How do you drop the "no more grandkids" bomb to your grandkid-hungry mom? Photo by DVIDSHUBCC BY 2.0

My husband and I recently tied the knot, and here's the thing: I love my mother-in-law. She is a super sweet woman… but she also wants more grandchildren. She has one, but she wants more. More, more, more. Odds are, my husband's older brother isn't going to have more, and the younger brother isn't going to have any… so all eyes are on us.

Here's the catch: we're not having any children. Ever.

How do we break this news to her, knowing it will break her heart and possibly damage the relationship we each have with her? My parents know my desire to have a Child-Free lifestyle, but they've known it for years — this is not the case with my mother-in-law. We've tried dropping hints about it, but she doesn't understand that kids just aren't in our future. Help? — Haymaker

Offbeat Families readers had a lot of great advice on this topic, we'd like to share some of their answers, and then ask you for your own:

Realize that her desires are about *her,* not you. Acknowledge that she desires a life full of children and encourage her to seek out experiences that fill that need for her. Let her know that you love and accept her for who she is, complete with her desires. By accepting her, hopefully she will more fully accept you for who you are and the choices that resonate in your life. It's not a battle, it's a relationship. -Linda
If you have already dropped hints, I would move to very plainly telling her. If that doesn't work, I would sit her down, with your husband, and have your husband tell her very, very frankly that it is never going to happen and that it is off the table to discuss. If it is very hurtful to you that she still says the things she does, you can establish the boundary of "if you mention this again, we will end the conversation/leave the party/you will have to leave our house/ect."

You just gotta be firm about it. Oh, but do remember to primarily let your husband create the boundaries. if you take the lead on it, you will be the evil witch who stole her baby and wouldn't "let" him have kids. So just keep that in mind. -katie

I second letting your husband take the lead, and have him phrase it as "WE feel" and "WE'VE decided," stressing that it wasn't a decision you "forced" him into.

My mother-in-law got grandchildren from us, but her issue was getting them baptized, something we were definitely not going to do. Hints from me didn't work, and the comments started to become very obvious and slightly rude. It took my husband really having a direct heart-to-heart with her about it, along the lines of, "we respect your feelings on the issue, but our home will not include religion and our children will not be baptized. I'm sorry if this upsets you and I know it's not what you wanted, but this is a decision that we've made together as a family and we feel very strongly about it, so I'm asking you to please drop it and respect our decision."

Obviously your discussion would be a bit different, but the overall gist of it-direct, courteous and firm-might be a good place to start? Good luck! -Erin

Since you're newlywed, you could also drag it out a little longer. This is what I've done, and it's worked rather well. My husband and I have been married for two years, and by now the questions about children have primarily stopped.

Basically, we found that immediately after our wedding, it wasn't only parents, but also aunts, random relatives, random family friends, basically everyone was asking when we were going to have children. I would answer, "Oh, we haven't decided yet, and definitely not anytime soon." …even though we had decided. After a few times, people stopped asking. It also gave us a buffer to not have our parents be equally pushed by others (so not just their own desire to be grandparents, but also everyone else's expectation for them to become grandparents — remember, they can have expectations heaped on them too!)

Now two years into marriage, we've turned that "Not sure; not anytime soon!" into a firm "We've decided it's not for us." And by taking our time to come to that conclusion publicly, it's taken the pressure off the desire others have had to see us with kids. They're used to us being us, just us, so while I'm sure both set of parents are disappointed, at this point, neither set is willing to give us a hard time about it. -Lenna

Child-free Homies, how have YOU dropped the "no kids" bomb?