How do we break it to our family members that we’re Child-Free?

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By: EricCC 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

Comments on How do we break it to our family members that we’re Child-Free?

  1. if you have already dropped hints, i would move to very plainly telling her. if that doesnt 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. personally, i dont think it would be too hard for me to just brush the comments off, but if it really effects you, by all means, create the boundaries you need to. 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 wouldnt “let” him have kids- so just keep that in mind.

  2. If she brings it up, just say it flat out, “We are childfree. We will not be having any children.”
    Hints will go ever her head, so be direct.

    She may get upset, may make snide comments, guilt trip you, whatever. Stand your ground. Be a broken record. If all else fails, change the subject, end the conversation, or leave.

    The discussion forums on have lots of advice and tips on how to politely deal with difficult conversations. Definitely check that out!

  3. 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.

    • I would also encourage you to realize that life is ever evolving and changing and making absolutist statements “out loud” are not usually helpful in the grand scheme of things. Presenting yourself as being open to the ever-evolving learning that life presents often makes things easier — even if you never change your mind and never think you will, leaving your options open to change will put others at ease without drawing lines in the sand.

      • While the idea of an ever-evolving life is useful, sometimes people can take this kind of open attitude as an invitation that you need help “convincing” you change your mind. My mother-in-law (who is a great lady and I love her very much)would definitely think that an open attitude means that I would change my mind only if she provided me with enough reasons and evidence to.

        • I understand your point, but my life experience has shown that supporting and accepting others for where *they* are goes further in creating harmonious accepting relationships.

          Example: I was raised Christian, but am a bonafide atheist. My family believes that I will one day “see the light” and return to their faith (it’s been 30+ yrs now and there’s really no way, ever…). I know what comfort and joy their faith brings them and that their desire for me to be part of their lifestyle is because they love me, but no, they don’t accept my choices. I choose to tell them I appreciate their prayers and that if “god” convinces me that I need to change, then of course I will!

          This simple “concession” on my part allows them to see that I accept *them* for who they are, does nothing to “hurt” me, and helps to maintain the relationship. They won’t ever “accept” that I won’t be part of their religion — that’s okay with me because *I* accept *me* and *my choices* and am comfortable allowing them to be beautifully “human” in their desires for me. If they are EVER to accept me, I have to accept them! That’s what I mean by “not drawing lines in the sand.” Why create confrontation when a simple accepting of one another’s differences and good intentions feels so much better?!

          • I agree with this. A conversation could go like this: we are childfree by choice and planning on being that way for the future. But if we change our mind, you will be the first to know! In the meantime, I wish you wouldn’t keep asking, if we change our mind we’ll let you know.

          • I agree, saying the polite thing to your family makes important relationships go smoother. It makes me uncomfortable to be polite instead of candid, because I prefer candor, but I do it anyway. It annoys me because I feel like with my family I shouldn’t have to be polite – but often, putting my own comfort aside makes life easier all around.

            The best example I can come up with is telling a person in the hospital that they look great! It’s not true, and everybody knows it, but it lets everyone in the room chuckle and feel more relaxed. It makes a negative experience into a positive memory.

            I tell my family I have “anti-baby-fever” instead of “baby-fever.” They laugh, and then let it go for a while. You could try that, or something like, “We’re not trying, but have you seen that I didn’t know I was Pregnant show….anything could happen.”

            Best of luck! Come back and let us know what worked for you!!

        • Kids need and deserve parents that want them, and I am not that person. I REALLY hate it when people think that if they can change your mind or convince you that if just have kids you will love it. I don’t want kids, I love my kid free life.
          An hour or so around kids and I can’t wait to get out of there and back to my peaceful environment. I’ve been saying this for as long as I can remember, I turned 40 this year, I am not changing my mind.
          There is nothing wrong with being child free, don’t let someone guilt you into having kids you don’t want.
          Be strong and ask your husband/partner to be strong and have a calm conversation with your mother in law, be honest and blunt. I wish you the best of luck that she can be open minded and accepting of your choices as a couple.

    • My mother encouraged me for years to have children *now*. Then, she got a part-time job helping after school at a Head Start. Even though she hasn’t worked there in probably eight years, I haven’t heard another word about children from her – and I’ve since gotten married so one would suspect it would have come back. I wonder if in some way her job helped her to put things in perspective to some degree, as Linda noted.

  4. I don’t think you owe her a detailed, unsolicited extrapolation of your beliefs. If she asks, it’s best to be plain. “We have decided not to have children” is perfectly fine. You might also frame it as “having children is not right for us.”

    I would suggest that before that “showdown” moment comes, you talk with your husband. She is his mother – she may be inclined to blame you or hold you more responsible. You have a right to make it clear to your husband that if his mother behaves poorly towards YOU, you want (and expect) his support. I’m not suggesting that he won’t, but it helps to get this out in the open before it has the chance to become an issue.

    Also, don’t be afraid to make it clear to his mom, if her behavior or words get abusive or mean, that if she cannot improve her behavior, she doesn’t have to be involved in your lives. This is an intensely personal, private decision – you owe her no explanation or reason. If she presses the issue, don’t be afraid to set strong boundaries. You have that right.

  5. 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 definately 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!

  6. If your mother is anything like mine, she’ll never believe you. Or she’ll go “ok we’ll see” for years and years and years. So I don’t even worry about it with her, if she wants to live in denial I’m cool with that.

    • I’ve been telling my mother for about ten years that I don’t want to have children, and she still says, “You’ll seeeee… You’ll change your mind…” (my husband got a vasectomy – I think not!) or drops irritating hints about it. Sometimes they’re more like bricks to the head than hints! For example, my husband and I were in a long-distance relationship prior to getting married, and I moved to his city. I once complained to my mother that I don’t have a lot of friends in my new city and she said, “It’s alright, once you have a baby you won’t have time to see your friends anyway.”

      Like you said, if she wants to live in denial, it’s ultimately her problem not mine!

      • (laughing) “it’s alright once you have a baby you won’t have time to see your friends anyway.”

        I love this part of the baby sales presentation. Makes it so appealing!( sarcasm, sarcasm,sarcasm)

    • This is the case for me too — I’ve been very clear with my parents that we are not having children, but every time I call with news, my mom thinks I’m going to tell her I’m pregnant. Her problem, not mine!

  7. Personally I would make a plan right now to sit down with her and have your husband talk to her. I agree with @katie that he needs to be the one saying it so you don’t get blamed. You want this to be a step toward a better relationship, not a smackdown. She may need multiple conversations to try to make sense of this because it is obviously outside her viewpoint but hopefully she will be able to accept that this is your choice, as @Linda said. It really is about her and not you, so if you can share your feelings and experiences with her, hopefully you can help her accept the choices that the two of you are making.

    I’d definitely share some of the reasons why you made that decision together. Sometimes the why can be a big influence.

    Try not to be overly forceful about this unless it becomes necessary. I would hold off on ultimatums or limits, reserving that for if she is nasty or rude about the situation or if she truly is being disrespectful of your decisions. Right now it sounds like she just hasn’t understood that you do mean you aren’t having kids and maybe a few conversations can help her understand. I like @Linda’s suggestion of suggesting she find ways to fulfil her needs. Volunteering could be a good option for her if she craves additional contact with kids, or even being an honourary grandparent to neighbours or friends of the family. Do your best to understand her point of view while asking her to respect yours.

  8. My hubs and I have a policy; he is the “bad guy” to his family, I am the “bad guy” to mine. I agree with the other commenters, use “we” statements; be direct, and I would tell her sooner rather than later.

    I know in my area, there are programs (usually run by a foster care agency) that have mentor programs. They are always in need of caring adults to spend time with kids, have a grandparent-ly relationship with the kids. Maybe she could be fulfilled with something like that?

  9. I know this question will be considered borderline impolite, but…

    Are you absolutely 100% certain that both of you will never change your minds on living childfree? Is there any possibility of a different decision being made if something unplanned happens?

    I completely agree that she needs to respect your choices, but it may be wise to find a way to draw the boundary line that doesn’t completely commit you to a position that some people have changed their minds on before…and potentially harm your credibility in the future when you make another decision. Something like:

    “The decision of whether or not to have children and when is between the two of us. We will no longer discuss it with you. If you continue to discuss it, we will be forced to end conversation/leave/etc.”

    • “We do not plan on having children” is the statement I like. It’s definitive while still leaving room for “plans” to change. There is a big difference between not having children now and not having children ever. Don’t leave the issue vague, but definitely leave enough room to change your mind with out feeling embarrassed.

      • I love this because it does allow for change…my hubby and I were child-free and so ambivalent about ever having kids and then WHOOPSIE we got pregnant ONE TIME without protection. And now we’ve embraced a child-filled life, even thinking of making #2 sometime.

        • Its definitely the line I used for a long time with both our families – “We are not planning on having kids”.

          Although, I also changed the subject a lot – if anyone mentioned kids, I would mention “ohh, I cant wait to go to Europe on holiday”.

          We eventually decided to set aside a specific amount of time to “not try not to get pregnant” (managed to get pegnant first month, oops), working on the premise that if that didn’t work, then we could stick with the “not planning on having kids” line and move on with our lives.

          Yes, people were surprised when we announced the pregnancy, and yes, some days I panic at what the hell are we doing. And yes, I think I could have gone my whole life without this and been perfectly happy. So I totally dont doubt anyone who says they dont want kids.

          Just be prepared for “why not” questions, with ANY answer you give.

  10. In addition to all of the above, since you’re newly wed, 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!)

    My mom, too, has always known I had no desire to have kids, but she also always hoped I’d change my mind. 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.

  11. I’m going to fly into the face of wisdom, but I think inviting her to ask questions will help her accept this. It’s a decision that can seem sudden to an outside party and by not sharing your reasons she might view it as punishment. Preface with, “If you have any questions about our decision we will do our best to answer them. Just know that we do not intend to change our minds.” And for each question that veers toward persuasion just gently remind her that it’s decided.

    However, if she’s unable to accept it (or let the issue drop with you two) after a few months, then I think ending the conversation firmly is warranted.

  12. Personally, I would take the path of least resistance and not necessarily directly address it at all. This is how my brother and sister-in-law have approached it and, even though my mom very much wants more grand kids, it hasn’t really been an issue for them. If your mother-in-law just drops the occasional hint or makes vague mentions of possible kids, I think just brushing off her comments or saying something like “We don’t really think that’s in the cards for us right now” might be fine. She’ll probably keep secretly thinking you might change your mind, but you can’t control what she thinks anyway.

    If she’s over-the-top or intrusive with her insistence on grand kids, then you might need to have a more direct discussion to nip the whole thing in the bud (there are some great suggestions above!). But, otherwise, I don’t really see the need to turn it into a “thing” unless she does. She’ll eventually figure it out when you just… don’t have kids. Do whatever feels right to you, though, and good luck!

  13. I’m not sure what all of the really confrontational comments are about. I personally wouldn’t push the subject at all unless your mother-in-law is getting really bossy about it. Her opinions aren’t going to create babies in your womb, in any event. After all, it seems she had a house full of children, and desires to do that again. Instead, I second what another commenter suggested and support her perhaps volunteering at Head Start, or helping with the church nursery. I think she’ll figure it out eventually when you just don’t have kids.

  14. I don’t have a great bit of advice for you, but I would like to tell you the story of my journey down this road. When my husband and I married 12 years ago, I was absolutely sure I would never have children. I had spent a long time thinking, reasoning, researching, and had come firmly to the choice that I was going to be child-free.
    We had to walk through the minefield of potential grandparent drama, though it was my mother rather than his that was the issue. I told her, gradually in pieces over several years, all the reasons why we were not going to have children.
    And then, about 4 years into our marriage, I came to see that some of the background information I had used to make my firm, settled decision either wasn’t what I thought it was or didn’t apply as directly to my situation as I thought it did. So husband and I sat down, had a big heart-to-heart, cried some, and I threw away the Pill. It was only after 8 more years of waiting and thousands of dollars of infertility treatments that anything came of that decision. (meaning after we had the years-long battle of “please respect my decision not to have kids,” we had to have the years-long battle of “please respect the pain of failure I feel every time you say something about babies.”)
    The point of the story is 1) depending on how close your relationship is with your mother-in-law, you may get better results from letting her “behind the curtain” into your reasoning for choosing to be Child Free.
    2) Humans change. Circumstances change. This is not to say that you should live with the incessant “oh, just wait and see. You’ll change your mind” from well-meaning family. Speak your mind as you know it now. But spare a little grace for your family members who are not in the same place you are along this journey.

  15. It took me years of clear and consistent messaging to convince my parents that I was to remain un-encumbered by children for life. It was hard at times, and I got a lot of ‘when you do x you will change your mind.” Well, I did all of the x’s people said, and at 40 and married to a wonderful man, with 4 darling nieces and nephews that I adore, and having held my BFF’s baby at 6 hours old, among other things, I still have no desire for children.

    I think the key is to be direct about it. Allow some discussion for a short time period, then move on. Eventually folks will see that this is a truth for you, rather than a passing phase or a whim or something you will outgrow.

    The point I often made that people found most compelling was that children should not be had by default or because of social pressure. I truly think one should ACTIVELY want kids if they are to have them (yes, I understand accidents happen, so that “active” wanting may come after conception). I have never felt the “ticking” or had other active desire for children, ergo I don’t have them. If such a time comes that this changes, I will take appropriate steps to become a parent.

    In the meantime, I love being an auntie. Women (and men) without children get to have a very special role in the lives of young people. I’m lucky to be one of those.

    • I dont know that I ever got to “actively wanting” a baby, but like @Ellie above, I stopped actively NOT wanting a baby – I realised a lot of my reasonings were fear, and it became something I was ok with as something that might happen in my life.
      Now I’m nearly 8 months pregnant and still not clucky, but I think (hope!) I’ll be a good mum. I love our wee Peanut a lot and daydream about our future family.
      But yeah, stopping wanting to never have kids was enough for me to try. It took a full 2 and a half years of marriage to get me there though, along with a willingness to really listen to my husbands thoughts on my capacity to do things I was scared of.

      • This was me/us. We’ve been together for 15 years, 14 of those not wanting children. But like you, a year ago I stopped NOT wanting children and my husband admitted to feeling the same. I didn’t necessarily NEED/WANT to have kids, but we decided to “see what will happen” for 3 months – if I got pregnant, then fine. If not, we’d continue on as a happily-childless couple. I’m now pregnant and am happy to be – I’m the least baby-crazy of any pregnant person I know, but I know that I will give my best effort at being a good mom.

        My mother-in-law loves being a grandmother and pressed us a lot when we first got married. Even though we knew that we didn’t want kids, we just kept saying that “the time wasn’t right” and left it at that. After about a year, she stopped asking.

  16. I took the issue off the table because I got sterilized at 25 and got the kind that really can’t be reversed. So our situations might be different and we might have different reasons but I’ve always known I was not meant to be a mother. I have the maternal instincts of a fish. But I still get asked if I think I made a mistake (I don’t and it’s one of those things that because of my background, I know I will never see as a mistake) and I have some pretty go to responses (like the fish one)!

    Sometimes it helps to use some humor. However the one that gets people off my back (particularly doctors when I wanted to get sterilized and they thought I was too young) is ‘I don’t want to have kids. I most certainly don’t want kids that are genetically mine. Should I ever decided that I want kids, I’m open to adoption. But I can’t imagine anything worse for a kid than to have a parent that doesn’t want them and that’s what my kids would becoming into if I were their mother.’

    I do agree with the others who have suggested that your husband take the lead. He’ll have more impact with your MIL.

  17. When I first began reading these comments I was a little taken aback by the… vehemence (I guess?) of the suggestions. While all of them have a place and are good to think about, I just want to add my vote that you should craft your response based on the ongoing relationship you want to have with all your family members. Remember that family is a network — what you say to one person *will* travel, and it will color the perception of you for others. I know some people might perceive this as “not fair”, but that doesn’t make it not true.

    I personally am child-free and I am one of those folks who has been telling people as much since I was 15 (when people, rightly, rolled their eyes)… Now I’m 29 and married. I’m a loyalist from your camp. 😉 I firmly believe that cultural/societal pressure is not a good reason to have a child. But, having said that, many people — like your fam — believe children bring meaning and growth to life. Their perceptions and beliefs are steeped deeply in caring.

    “Oh, you’ll change your mind,” gets old damn fast, but I think it’s always worth the time to empathize with those around you. I don’t think ultimatums are the answer to people’s concern and caring (even when it’s misplaced and tinged with selfishness).

    In my own experience the best thing to say (someone else said something similar above) is just, “Our plans don’t include kids.” If you say it enough times, firm but not argumentative, it will sink in. I actually think (ironically) that in this case arguing weakens your argument, because people think things are up for debate — they aren’t! 🙂

    • I think people get defensive about this topic because having children is an intensely personal decision, and when you think about it, the people being busybodies about what goes on in someone else’s life & uterus are the ones being quite rude.

      Some of the questions kind of amount to, “Hey, are you boning without protection yet? When are you going to start??” Other people may feel differently, but I find those lines of inquiry very off-putting, regardless of where they’re coming from.

      • I see what you’re saying, and it’s not that I don’t agree with you on the base level… The questions *are* extremely personal, and also can be very rude (especially in repetition). If this post was about being child-free and dealing with general busybodies (people at work pestering, et al), I’d be completely in line with the short, snappy retort or the absolute ultimatum.

        However, in this case the Original Poster is talking about close family relationships. While having children is an extremely personal decision, many families have cultural and historical backgrounds of making those very sorts of personal decisions as a family. I think when dealing with family members (and maybe just people?) there needs to be empathy. By no means would I ever suggest changing the message of “We’re not having kids.” I’m just suggesting that a relationship can hinge on the delivery of that message, so it doesn’t hurt to consider the other’s point of view when considering a response.

        • I see what you’re saying, but I kind of feel like focusing too much on the feelings of the person who is receiving the news plays into the whole misogynistic “women must please/be nice to/make everyone happy” thing.

          I’m not saying that people being asked those rude/pushy/overly personal questions questions have carte blanche to be rude right back to the askers, but many times a healthy dose of firmness is required to get the point across.

          For my own personal situation, my boyfriend’s mother is obviously not taking our feelings about the situation into account when she badgers us about getting married/having kids, so I’m not terribly concerned that being straightforward might hurt her feelings. I find her badgering very upsetting, so if I have to cause her temporary discomfort in order to get her to leave the issue alone, so be it.

          • Interesting, I hadn’t thought about the misogamy aspect of this before. I don’t agree in all instances, but if you (or anyone) feels it’s playing in to your relationships, that certainly makes a big difference.

            For myself, I am the sort of person who has been told numerous times that I can come across as brusque in real life. I’m empathetic on the inside, but have learned I can be quite stone-like on the outside from the perspective of others. So, I try to remember to always be outwardly polite and kind. What I’m getting at is everyone has to take their specific situation and personality into account. So, if a person is naturally firm, increase the dose of outward thoughtfulness. If you seem to often be un-intentionally ‘doormat-ed’ then up the firmness. Knowing yourself, and how you are perceived by those around you, will only make you more successful. (That’s all the generic ‘you’, by the way 🙂 ).

  18. I’m with Annie on this one, I don’t think this sounds like you need to turn it into a confrontation just yet. I’ve been married two years now. For the first few months after we got married *everyone* was asking us when we were going to have kids.

    I’ve never wanted kids, and Hubby seems to feel “if it happens it happens, but in the meantime i’ll take steps to make sure it doesn’t”.

    So, back then we were just sort of telling people, “oh, we probably won’t, but if we do it won’t be for a few years yet”.

    We’ve been married now for about 3 years, and just a few weeks ago, MIL started asking again when it was going to happen.

    Luckily, Hubby and I are still on the same page, as it just hasn’t come up between us for a long time, but we both sort of went “We’re not having any.” and shrugged.

    When she pressed, saying “but I don’t want you to be lonely when you’re old, just don’t tell me never!” Hubby just laughed and said “well, ok, not never, but probably never.” and at the same time I said “we might change our minds, but probably never” which just cracked up SIL. MIL just put on a pouty face, but we haven’t heard anything about it since.

  19. I’m all for having a conversation about it, but do it that works for your family.
    My husband and I have decided to be child free, we’re 26 and 25, so a lot of our friends and family have been playing the “You’ll see” game with us. It has really bothered me. My husband not so much, he can brush it off.
    My mother-in-law was asking a lot of questions about when we would have children and finally I spoke up. I said we aren’t planning on having children. To have children in my eyes you need to be fairly selfless and put that child first (that’s what my parents did, awesome most supportive people I know). For us we don’t want the responsibility of another human life.
    My mother-in-law then understood. I needed to be frank with her and she appreciated that. She passed it around the other family members if they asked (we live in a different part of the country than them and rarely seem them) so it made this past Christmas better. We of course adore our nephews and love our time with them, but we like to give them back too 🙂

  20. I take the coward’s way out (because I don’t want it to come up again) and say “We can’t have kids.” (which is true…we can’t because we don’t want to.) and that usually shuts them up pretty quickly.

    • I personally feel you shouldn’t do this. Perhaps the statement is true (but you’ll never find out), but even so, I feel it might cause hurt to people who actually deal with infertility. After all, they go trough a painful process of trying to conceive and not being able to do so, while you made the choice to be childfree, not childless. I.e. you don’t feel any (emotional) pain while you still get the sympathy.
      If I were a childless person hearing about this, I would feel hurt.

      I myself am childfree, but I made the choice to be open about it. I sincerely hope you will change your mind on this matter.
      I don’t mean to slight you, but it doesn’t sit right with me.

      • Well I didn’t want to get into this, but I have PCOS so I do have a fertility issue. This answer works regardless. The point is, I certainly wouldn’t tell anyone “Hey guess what I’m telling them I can’t have kids when I really can.” Even if my fertility were perfect I wouldn’t do that. No one would be the wiser except me and my partner. But as someone who does have a fertility issue, it just happens to be true. Still…no one really knows that but me and my partner.

        If a friend mentions not being able to have kids I don’t ask if that’s true. I simply accept it and move on, so I don’t think someone else struggling would necessarily wonder that either.

        For what it’s worth, we did get pregnant once and lost our baby and I did feel intense emotional pain over it. We decided not to try again because it was so heartbreaking so please don’t assume that my answer was callous and had no emotional investment. I prefer to just say we can’t rather than go through the whole “Well we have problems and it was so hard we just decided…” No.

        • That must have been heartbreaking.

          I hope you understand, from what I read in the original comment, it seemed at though you told people you are infertile as a way to shut them up instead of telling them the truth: you are childfree by choice (i.e. the ‘cowards’ way). Had that been the case, it would be something I can’t ever agree with. Even though perhaps no one would ever find out, I feel in my heart of hearts that such a thing is just wrong for a childfree person to do.

          Infertility might, at one point, come up in a conversation with another person struggling with it. If the childfree person would then brush her/his ‘infertility’ off as next to nothing while the other person truly struggles with it, that I would find hurtful. After all, the childfree one has not had the pain. That is what I was trying to get across. Naturally, you wouldn’t ask someone if their statement of not being able to have kids is true. Again, no one might ever be the wiser. That doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do for a childfree person.

          However, as you point out, you do have fertility issues. I hope you can come to terms with it or find another solution that’s best for you and your partner. I am sorry for the baby you lost.

          • Some people though CAN just deal with infertility with little or no pain.
            They may have tried for a while, had no success and learnt to deal with it – moved on with their lives as happily childfree.
            Not everyone who knows they physically cant have children feels childless. Some of them come to the late decision that they would rather feel the freedom than the burden of lacking something.
            And most people can still have sympathy for others who have issues, even if for us those issues have been “resolved” to a point where they no longer cause us pain.

  21. You really do have to sit parents down & tell them “we are not planning to have kids. period. end of story.” In whatever fashion or language suits, but you have to be direct & firm, loving & kind yes, but clear. If hints aren’t getting thru, & you’re still being barraged with “when will we get grandchildren?” they need to hear how you really feel & sooner is better than later.

    Been there, done that. Even thot we’d changed our minds, but it was better to have done it & gotten it clear, out in the open. Of course, it took my grandmother until I hit 40 to stop bugging me, but at least she lives across the country so I didn’t hear it as often 😉

  22. I just want to say that I lurve what Linda said and add on that you have to respect that this is a real loss for your mother in law. Not that you need to have children to make her happy, but recognize that she has probably been dreaming about grandchildren for a good long time. This means she’s going to really have to engage in a reimagining of how she’ll spend her elder years. Christmas morning won’t be full of little people again, she won’t have children to spoil and return home, she won’t get to experience the joys of watching her children parent. I’m not saying any of this to guilt you. I just think it’s important that she probably had a vision for her life that is going to be really disrupted, and you have to let her mourn that loss. I think that if you can approach her from a place of compassion rather than a place of feeling bossed around, you’ll all be better off.

    I very much respect your choice to be child free, and I hope that if my children decide not to have children that I could respect their choices. But I know that they are only 7 and 5 right now and sometimes I already catch myself imagining what they will be like with their children, and will I “grandmother” like my mother. The idea of your children having children isn’t always just the “icing on the cake” of parenting; sometimes it’s an integral part of the picture. She absolutely should try to understand and respect your position, it just might be easier if you really try to empathize with hers.

      • Even so, she imagined her life to be filled with grandkids, and having one is not exactly a life filled with them.

        I completely agree with Jane. You’ve known this for years. However, your MIL might not _want_ to understand your hints. Because until you tell her loud and clear (but in a loving way), she doesn’t have to rethink her future.
        Your MIL imagined a future for herself as a busy grandmother and her son, your husband, as a father. This is not happening. While you need to be firm, recognise, like Jane says, that she might need time to mourn the loss of the future she has imagined for herself.
        It might help loads if you acknowledge this, for example by saying that you understand this is new for her and she can contact the two of you if she has any questions. However, like previous commenters said, don’t allow her to try and ‘convince’ you.

    • Maybe one of you (or both of you!) can get fixed. Then you can tell her that you can’t have children anymore and it’s not a lie?

      I’m all for being open and honest, but sometimes it’s just not possible. Trust me, I have ‘one of those’ family members. Talking things out rationally

    • I’m not someone who can’t get pregnant, but I am someone who shouldn’t get pregnant. A pregnancy could easily cripple or kill me. It probably wouldn’t turn out so well for the baby either, since I am dependent on category C & D drugs on a daily basis and a category X drug for flare-ups. And yet I’m still told by relatives that I should try to have a kid anyway. They don’t even suggest adoption; I’m told flat out that I should be willing to risk my life to procreate. If I told my family that I was infertile, I’d only be inviting a constant flood of articles about miracle cures for infertility.

      Medical excuses, even when true, don’t work as well as you might think.

  23. I agree with most of the previous posters. Be direct, just state straight out, whatever your prefered phrase of “We don’t want kids” is. Chances are she won’t believe you anyway. The majority of people don’t. Your other half should do the talking not you, otherwise she will think you pressured him into that decision. Hopefully your MIL will accept your decision even if it takes time for her to get used to the idea and she might get angry/ upset at first but that is to be expected. It only becomes a problem when they ignore your decision long term.
    We dropped many hints and stated time and time again that kids were not for us, that we could think of better things to do, that it didn’t really interest us etc etc but we were always ignored and put up with constant badgering about children. In the end in extreme frustration at being treated like some piece of breeding livestock (his family were placing bets, actual cash bets on when I would get ‘knocked up’) I turned around and said we will have kids when “Partner” can give birth to them and until then lay off I am not just a walking uterus. I would really rather it have not come to that and now it appears the same thing is going to happen with my family who pretty much consider female members of the family to be worth only what their uterus can produce (I’m not making this up, I’ve lived with it my whole life). I have reached the age where according to my family I should be producing, they are all talking behind my back about how to get me pregnant, how to make me clucky and all of this rubbish. It’s very disrespectful but you just have to learn to roll with it, I’ve got to the point where I’ve said my piece, I’ve made it clear I won’t put up with being pestered about it. If they want to have their little competitions behind my back go for it, that just looks bad on them not me.

    • The stories I’m reading in this post are just incredible! How can people be so ignorant?
      I was about to tell here what I always say (and is the truth) I do not like children! Never have, never will. They’re all wonderful and sweet when they’re babies, but as soon as they develop the ability to move around by themselves, the fun is over. And I’m not even talking about the pubescent years. (I mean, how did you treat your mom at the age of 15?). There is nothing adorable about children imo.
      Having said that, there are always exceptions, like in any situation.

      My ‘comeback question’ usually is: “I do not find myself such an exceptional person that I feel that the world really needs a mini-me. By the way; what made you decide to procreate? Did you really feel so special a person that the world would be a better place if you would create another human being? “People like Gandhi, MLK, Mandela, now if they would decide to make another generation, that would be a good thing, but really how many people do you know that are that wonderful? Most people just get pregnant without thinking, as if it’s as normal as buying a house for instance. Completely lacking parenting skills, or even the time or funds to provide in a healthy way for their offspring.
      Creating new life is a huge responsibly, that should be carefully considered before venturing into it. It is my firm believe that if you do decide to be a parent, you should be the best one possible and that means that you have to always put your kids’ needs first. Stay home and not work, so you can keep them safe 24/7.
      And I applaud anyone who has enough insight in their own person, that they know that nobody would be better off if they would have a kid. If everyone would think about it as carefully, the world would be a better place.

      PS. Please excuse the language mistakes, I’m Dutch

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