“You should wait to have kids”: How do you deal with the parenting naysayer

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Stop Trying
I’ve been a fan of the Offbeat Empire for years now, and recently transitioned from Offbeat Bride to reading more on the Offbeat Home & Life side of things. One thing I’ve been so curious about as a newlywed person is “baby advice” — and not the “when are you having a baby” question, but actually the exact opposite.

My husband and I have had numerous family members (with children) tell us we should wait ten years for kids of our own — make sure we travel, and go to dinner by ourselves a million times before we have children. My guess is that they think they are doing us a favor by counter-acting the baby pressure, but I find the “wait forever” pressure just as annoying.

The decision and privilege to have children is a deeply personal one and I’m wondering about how other Homies are dealing with the parenting naysayers. Are other couples are dealing with the shaming around becoming parents along with the pressure to procreate after getting married? -Joslyn

Oh wow, that’s a new one. We’ve talked non-stop about the pressure people put on you to procreate. But what about the rare (or is it?) pressure to NOT make babies!?

What do you say to the “wait to have kids” parental nay-sayers?

Comments on “You should wait to have kids”: How do you deal with the parenting naysayer

  1. I have had exactly this! My husband and I got married six months ago, and we’ve had the whole “don’t even think about kids until you’re 30” advice from his parents, my in-laws. It’s so weird. I fond it really invasive and essentially I feel like they’re asking and giving advice about our sex life – EW.

    So yep we’ve had this. Seeing as me and my husband want to have kids and are actively trying (have been the whole time), whelp, they’re gonna be in for a shock at some point! Neither of us want to wait so long (we’re 24), and frankly it’s none of their business. They seem to have assumed our lack of response either way means that we are doing what they ask – nope. 😉 we’re just planning on not telling them until I’m pregnant and probably past 2 or 3 months just in case of a negative response. I’m kinda expecting a negative response. His dad has already told us how kids “pretty much ruin your life” and “you can’t do anything”. Husband is an only child. I kinda feel sorry for him after that!

    • You can do almost anything you did before kids, provided it’s not stuff like bar hopping or illegal activities. We took our two children under 5 on a cross camping country trip to our wedding. We go to sports games. We go hiking. We do the things we liked to do before. Quite honestly, life got more restrictive when we got a dog.

    • (I don’t have kids) I want to pass along what my mom says about kids: “You pretty much find a way to work them into your life.” They don’t ruin lives!

      It saddens me to hear that some of your family are not so supportive, but kids DON’T ruin lives, and the new moms in my social circle (including the ones struggling financially because of said newness) ALWAYS say their child is the BEST THING to ever happen in their lives! They are all so happy.

      And I agree about the dogs being more difficult…well, cats. Or pets in general. You can’t (easily) take a cat grocery shopping with you, but you can take a kid.

      • I do want to point out that kids don’t ruin lives, unwanted kids “ruined” lives. I was a surprise baby 6 months into my parents (now very much failed) relationship, and it’s taken my mother well over 20 years to get over how much my arrival derailed/destroyed her career. However, she was someone who actively did not want children, but for whatever reason decided to give motherhood a try. She was very vocal about “children ruin lives” all through my child hood until my recent engagement (all of a sudden this narrative has flipped to “children are the best thing that could happen to you, give me grandbabies please”).

        So, my point. I think a good portion of the people in the “children ruin lives” boat aren’t saying a wanted, expected child is the end of the world. An unexpected, unwanted child is the end of the world for an unprepared parent.

    • We did exactly this. I’ve just found out I’m pregnant and we received a negative reaction. It broke my heart and now think it would have been better to tell them we we’re trying.

  2. As a recent parent myself, it’s pretty obvious that they are speaking about themselves. They clearly haven’t gotten over the changes in their lives after becoming parents. A pity for them, but clearly their problem!
    I’m guessing the only thing you can do is say something like “thanks for sharing your experience with me. I appreciate that having children is likely to change our lives in ways we cannot imagine, and we will take that into account when making our decisions” ?

  3. My brother and sister in law are expecting their first and to my eyes this was a bloody stupid time to be getting pregnant given their current status re jobs, graduating, housing, money etc.

    However when they explained to me their reasoning and logic behind “why now?” I couldn’t fault them. They’ve thought it through and have good reasoning.

    Maybe the people pressuring you just don’t have all the insight you do. That was me until I had it explained

    • But the point is that it shouldn’t have to be explained to family members, it’s a very personal decision between partners. That’s great if they decided to speak openly with you about their decision-making process, but that conversation should never have to happen because a family member has asked or offered unsolicited opinions about reproductive decisions.

    • I second this approach. My brother and I get along very well now that we explain our reasoning behind our actions. Judgement moves aside for understanding.

  4. Unless you are looking to come into some major financial stability in the next few years, there is no ‘good’ time or ‘right’ time to have kids; there is just a time.

    I imagine the reason they tell you this is because the first five years after having a baby are hard, to varying degrees, so I think their advice comes from a kind place. But don’t forget, that advice comes from a dillusional place of chaos and no sleep and additional financial concerns and all the other baby baggage that comes from having children and makes you a bit harassed for a short time. If you want kids, have kids. It’ll all come out in the wash and those naysayers will be happy for you.

  5. I just tried to remember where people were coming form when they said stuff like that. My mom was the most outspoken when it came to waiting to have babies. I used to find it insulting like she was implying we didn’t have our act together. But then I started putting all the pieces together. She had 3 babies really young, got divorced when we were all young, raising us at or just below the poverty line, and her youngest was medically fragile and required constant medical attention. She didn’t want that for me. I just tried to remind her that I was in a stable relationship, had a good job, and a support system in place. I also reminded her that even those years raising all of us were the hardest of her life that she did an awesome job at it.

    • While it’s true that sometimes people are saying these things out of past hurt (and it’s very compassionate of you to think of it that way), I think it’s just as common for people to make comments like this simply without thinking about the implications of what they’re saying. There was about two years in between when I was ready (like, REALLY ready) to have a baby and when I had my son. My husband and I had been married for a few years (and we’d been together for a few years before that), and I was ready and vocal about it. I was 25-26 at the time, and I had all kinds of people tell me I was waaaaay too young, like I wanted to be a Teen Mom or something. I had another person flat out tell me that I should save my body and not have kids at all. I had a lot of other people just make general glib comments of the sort it seems like Joslyn is talking about here. I mainly just said things like, “Oh, okay, well I’m excited to think about taking this on, but I’ll keep that in mind.” Their comments annoyed me longer than they probably should have, but saying something like that seemed to end the conversation satisfactorily.

  6. Oh man, can I say how much I love reading this post? I agree 100%. I got married about a year ago, and the amount of advice I’ve gotten has been unreal. And to be honest, most of the “pro-baby” group has been far less pushy…they simply ask what our plans are and then say “yay!” if I say we’re considering kids soon. There is still the underlying “you just got married so you must be thinking about kids” line, but for the most part I find those people not too invasive. But the other group, the baby naysayers, they are loud and argue their point strongly. I realize they think they are doing us a favor by counteracting the baby pressure, making sure we realize it’s ok to wait. And that’s how I try to take it. They are letting us know it’s ok to wait if we want. But it boggles my mind that people think they know what will be best for us. My husband and I are 28…yes, we could theoretically wait 10 years and do a lot of stuff between now and then, but we also aren’t super young. And the other piece that people don’t think about is that we are having fertility issues…there is a good chance I may not get pregnant at all, or that it will take years and a lot of trying. When people say “wait awhile”, they unwittingly downplay our fertility struggle and our desire to have a family.

    • I totally agree. This post made me really happy, because you start hearing this stuff and you feel like maybe you really just strike people as a terrible potential parent, until you step back and remember where they are coming from.
      My husband and I are 30 and 31 and I was initially shocked and hurt when his mother started telling me how “not ready” I was. I took it as a personal statement about my student loans, my progress in my career, or our lack of home ownership. But then I talked to my parents and realized something. They were totally supportive, but my parents and his parents both had children young, while living in apartments and near broke. The difference is that my parents had a stroke of good career luck shortly thereafter and his mother had a rough divorce and some terrible career luck. They are both reading their life stories into ours, despite the fact that they had kids in their early 20s and we’re in our 30s.
      At some point you realize that these things come from a place of good intentions, but they are really aren’t about you and your unique life situation. Most of this advice is more about the adviser and what they regret (or don’t regret, as the case maybe).
      At some point you have to realize that the moment will never be perfect. It will just have to be good enough. In our case this means a two bedroom apartment instead of a house. A full adjuncting schedule instead of tenure track. A start-up job instead of a Google/IBM/Apple job. But you know what? We’re happy. We’re employed. We have space and a little extra money. And it’s our life and our soon to be family. 🙂

  7. As a parent, and a married person, though I can understand your frustraition I can also see where these family members are coming from. A lot of people discount it but honestly your relationship with your spouse will change considerably when you bring a baby into the mix. I wouldn’t say wait 10 years, but a couple is not a bad idea to get your relationship legs entirely under you after the wedding so that your both ready to tackle the maelstrom that is babies. It can, and likely will change your dynamic with your spouse, your friends, your family.
    But in the long run, even my own two cents aside, when you decide to have a kiddo is your own choice and no one elses. When we started trying (and trying.. and trying) people kept telling us we were lucky we hadn’t concieved. It was none of their goddamned business, and neither is your situation. Do what you feel is right for your spouse and yourself. Just make sure you are taking all the aspects into account when making that decision.

  8. My husband and I got married about 6 months ago too and very few of our family members have said anything to us about having kids. We were together for 8 years before we got hitched, travelled to Italy, Japan, Mexico and partied our butts off. Now we are in our mid 30s and have decided to get pregnant. I think waiting and getting all the travelling and partying out of your system is good advice. Get over the puppy love and really get to know your spouse before you add another person to the mix. My husband has a good stable career and I am about to graduate so I think we are in a good place to raise a child. No one can tell you when you are ready for kids but I think some ‘getting to know you’ time is good so you guys can be a better team when you do decide to have children.

    • I agree with what Mel said. It’s not for everyone, but waiting a few years is a good idea, in my opinion. I had a few couples we knew (who had recently had kids) tell us to wait a few years after getting marries. From their perspective, it gives you time to get your marriage figured out, go on some trips, get to know each other better, etc., before having kids. But, some couples have been together for years, figured this stuff out already, done all the things they wanted to, etc. Also, people are getting married when they are older and are more stable then people did in the past. But, it is nice to give yourselves some time before having kids. I know the first year or two or our marriage were rough with trying to get settled in a new location, new jobs, new dynamics in our relationship, etc., etc. So, it’s worth some consideration. But, you know what’s best for your and your potential family. People will tell you all sorts of things, some things you take to heart and heed their advice; other things your blow off and say ‘that’s not right for us.’ It’s your life, do what you want. They will either be happy for you or not, but they will still love the kid the same!

  9. I met my husband at 22, got married at 23, bought a house at 24, had our first baby at 25. whoo!
    I’m now nearly 29, and we have a second child as well.

    No one really discouraged the early baby thing, but my husband is 7 years older than I am and has ALWAYS wanted kids. It’s also really important to him that he be young/healthy enough when they’re teens to go hiking/kayaking/biking whatever with them. But he told me all of this within the first few weeks of dating; he was super straightforward with the, “if you don’t want kids right away, this is not the relationship I want.” We are also the super ridiculously responsible type people (no college debt, pay off our credit cards every month, brush our teeth every night, etc), and we discussed everything (finances, how to have a disagreement, kids, etc) while dating.

    Thinking about it now? It’s a little lonely – if any of my friends are having kids, they’re *just* starting, and usually with husbands who were their college boyfriends. Instead, I’ve made friends with a lot of moms who are 10-15 years older than I am. As far as how it affects our marriage? Yes, parts are hard. Sex is not nearly a top priority (though it is a priority!). We can’t cook elaborate meals together. The little luxuries are gone. But it has been TOTALLY worth it seeing my husband get to be a dad. And all of those older mom friends of mine are kicking themselves for not getting their shit together sooner because running around after a 3 year old is no joke, and it only gets tougher as you get older. Whereas when I’m 40, the boys will be teenagers, and, while that will have its own difficulties, husband and I will be able to be building our dream house off the grid or traveling or starting our own retreat center/brewery/commune 🙂

  10. There will always be naysayers and busy bodies no matter what you do. I just got married and I get some of the “you should wait until you are financially stable” which completely boggles my mind, because don’t these people know us? My husband and I were together nearly 8 years before we got married, have lived together for 6, own a home together, and make well above the area median income. If that’s not financially stable, I’m not sure what is.

    My advice is to do what feels right for you and your spouse and ignore all the “opinions” of others. People always have “opinions,” and I think things like wedding planning, choosing a college, buying a house, buying a car, even dying your hair are GREAT practice for making your own decisions in spite of what others say, because people ALWAYS have “opinions.” Planning on having a kid is just another one of those situations. I have realized that if you have a social network or family, then you will get “opinions.” In spite of that, I love my social circle including all the baggage they bring to my life, because I’d be lonely without them.

  11. Well, it could just be people are trying to say, “Hey maybe enjoy being JUST A COUPLE before adding in babies.” Instead of, “HEY NEVER HAVE BABIES SO SOON. WAIT FOREVER!” Now 10 years is a little much…but I don’t disagree with the sentiment of waiting. The no-baby time of just being husband and wife/wife and wife/husband and husband/etc. is an amazing time. You can enjoyed being newlyweds , travel, stay up late (omg after our son I’m lucky if I can make it to 11pm most nights), hit the pub whenever, get to know each other in your new married bliss. You have no responsibilities besides each other/standard adult things (mortgage/rent, job, etc).

    I think people are trying to come from a place of love because, while you can definitely work kids into your current life…it is A LOT more difficult. Sure you can travel with a baby, but you won’t be able to go out to those cool nightlife spots/pubs with a baby…you’ll have to turn in by a specific time. I loved my recent trip around Europe with my son, but we had to basically write off 3 hours each afternoon for naps, and couldn’t be out past 8:00 pm because BEDTIMES. I can’t make frivolous fashion/beauty purchases anymore because I need that money for daycare.

    They probably just want to make sure you are done doing everything you want to do pre-baby (crazy travels! Crazy purchases! Crazy nights out!), before you jump headfirst into parenthood. All that said, those are just opinions…you need to do what’s right for you. Whether that’s waiting a few years or getting down to baby-making ASAP.

  12. I’ve had a very subtle version of this from family and friends at work. Technically, no one’s specifically said “wait”, though I have had people ask me about my procreating plans. I’m young (23, he’s 25), and my life isn’t “perfect” for having babies (young, starting a business, working on certifications, not making much money as a couple). At the same time, my husband and I have been married for two years at this point. It’s the catch-22 of our culture–have babies! Yay babies! But you can’t be too young, too old, too poor, too involved in a life transition, too involved in life at all, et cetera. I know I want to have children young, and neither of us feel that any time to have a child is perfect (more so because we’re living in the United States). To think that life will have a sparkling moment with the words “Procreate now!” written in the stars is an odd idea. Life is revolving, transitioning, changing suddenly. There’s no way to plan, no way to not be in some transition or life moment. “I can’t have children yet because I’m working on my career” will be true until after menopause. “I can’t have children yet because we don’t have money” can be true any time in anyone’s life, and children do not suddenly disappear if money does. This is all to say that I deal with people on both spectrums by knowing that our culture values extreme viewpoints that are not necessarily based on realistic expectations of life. I appreciate their concern, I appreciate that they want to be part of my life, but more so I appreciate my right to privacy, respect, and personal decision making. I can listen to their lessons in life and apply it to my own life. Others cannot do the same for me. At this point, people tend to not bring it up because both my husband and I have created a policy that we will not answer questions or become involved in a conversation about our procreation plans (and then we don’t). People learn.

  13. I always had a very firm timeline involving having my first child around 25. When people questioned me on it I was very clear in my reasoning. My father is currently trying to pay for my sister to go to college when he should be retiring. I don’t want to find myself in that situation. Most people accepted my logic when I proved there WAS logic behind it.

    I think people who are telling you to wait so long are focussed on all the things they miss about being young with out kids and not thing about all the things to look forward to about being retired with out kids. The younger you are when you have the kids, the younger you are when they move out. And I know plenty of middle aged and elderly folks who go out dancing every weekend, or enjoy camping and travelling. We all seem to think life ends when we are 50 but it doesn’t.

  14. Everyone has different views on what would be “best” for life. I know I would rather enjoy some aspects of life when I get older. I know a bunch of people put pressure to travel when your young, then settle down when you get older, and I don’t like that idea. I rather spend time building my life as I am young (and can chase around kids) then spend my money on traveling. I’d rather travel when I am older because I will have better perspective of the history and cultural significance on things, and I will have the money to enjoy myself. I think there is a certain romantic notation that you should explore the world and enjoy yourself when you hot and young, and I think that just poo-poos on the idea of getting older.

    I think the best way to respond to people is this “I get that having kids can add strain to a relationship, or can take away from somethings people enjoy in their lives. But I think my partner and I are still going to try and achieve some of our hobbies and date nights while we have our kids in our house. We also plan on trying to do some of the things we enjoy into retirement/after the kids leave the house.” You can add whatever you want, like “We’ve been together for a while before getting married, I think we’ve gotten plenty of date nights” I am sure that the people who are giving you the “wait to have kids advice” are just giving you their personal experience. So just say “Thanks for the advice, I’ll take that in consideration” and just leave it at that. I am sure they aren’t FORCING or PRESSURING you to not have kids, just giving some “I wish I knew back then” sort of advice.

  15. That sounds like there’s some projecting going on (which other people upthread have implied, too).

    Personally, I think you should have children when you’re ready to rearrange your entire life in the service of another person. No, your life does not stop and your passions and interests can (usually) keep going, but if little one breaks an arm, you stop everything for them. Your partner breaks an arm; most people ask if they need anything or a buddy and roll on with their lives.

    If you feel ready, or about ready, to be able to look anyone in the eye and say “I can’t do that, soccer practice is on (day) at (time)” without guilt, then I think you’re ready.

    Finances can be rearranged; jobs can be changed. But, if you’re ready to sink into that very long-term commitment of raising that child and caring for that child? you’re ready. All else is negotiable (and no one else’s business).

  16. We experience this even though we’ve started trying for a baby. It’s so heartbreaking, and it’s coming in from all angles. People with kids, people without kids, “realism” parent bloggers, single friends, married friends, etc. We have stable income, own our home, we have traveled, we’re of a suitable age, and we both want a large family. We realize we’re the exception these days with 2.3 kids being the average of the US, but it’s something we talked about when we first started dating. It’s important to both of us. We also plan to adopt and have heard downright horror stories about it. We aren’t religious, but I know that when we finally do have our big family we dream about, people will constantly ask us if we are religious. That’s kind of a bummer for us, too!

    I don’t know. It must just be ‘place and time’ for us right now. Hopefully this phase will pass when we do have children.

  17. I got married in May and my parents are pulling this hardcore… My in-laws would probably be pulling it too, except I’ve only seen my MIL twice since the wedding. Whenever my mom brings it up, I just pretend not to hear her and change the topic; she had me when she was 23 and I’m 22, so I think it’s pretty bold of her to be all “I’m not going to be a grandma until I’m OLD and I’m not OLD yet. So I’m not going to have grandbabies for a while, RIGHT?” Yes, she’s probably projecting her regrets about having me so young, but still, that doesn’t exactly make me feel better.
    The hubby and I are pretty set on starting a family at 27 – that’s 2 rounds of my 3-year birth control, and by then, we hope to be pretty established in our jobs, but I will NEVER tell my mom that. If I told her that, she’d latch onto it, and then tell my entire extended family, and then everyone would have an opinion on why 27 was too early or too late for kids. If I even responded to my mom and said “no worries, we don’t plan on having kids soon,” she would find a reason to criticize my response (“Well, what do you mean by SOON?”), so I play it safe and pretend not to hear her. Mature? No. Necessary for my sanity? Hells yeah.

  18. This is so foreign to me, I’ve been getting the opposite message. After we got engaged my mother-in-law started mentioning babies frequently, and now that we’re married, my mom has started lol. I get the “don’t rush into it message” too, but more of the “DON”T WAIT TOO LONG!”

    The main thing, same with all the wedding advice, take bits and pieces you like, and ignore the rest.

  19. Even worse: my husband and I lost a (planned) baby, and more than one person said, “well, it’s a good thing, because you’re really too young to be ready for children anyway.”

  20. My husband and I got the whole “wait until you’re financially secure and settled before having kids” from his parents. From my parents we were getting “so when are you giving us grandkids?” Honestly, we started trying summer 2016 and got pregnant October 2016. We got married on our 7 year anniversary and are in our late 20s. We just decided to not listen to any of them. Having kids for someone else is obviously not the right move, but waiting to be “financially secure and settled” is ridiculous. We have student loans, if we waited for that, we’d never have kids! His parents are surprisingly excited about this pregnancy. I truly thought that they’d be upset and give us a hard time. So don’t listen to the naysayers, have kids IF and WHEN you and your spouse are ready.

  21. I waited. I waited for the right person. The right time. Having the financial stability. The right career/job. I’m 39 now, I married the right person however he is 7 years my senior. We do not have the financial stability, careers/jobs & it’s certainly the wrong political climate to be wanting a baby. Yet I have 3 short fast years to try to have biological kids (prefer 2) or I have my tubes tied, then we do foster care & adoption.
    I’ve always wanted kids. I can’t see being fulfilled without someone calling me mom.
    I still absolutely advise going people to wait for their late 20s to have kids. Know yourself, I didn’t know myself till I was 25 & I wasn’t an adult till I was 27. In my 20s I took opportunities that would not have been impossible with a family.

    So best advise…wait but not too long

  22. Someone will always take your choices personally. You need to figure out what feels right as a couple. You shouldn’t waste your childbearing years because someone else feels you aren’t ready. Have a few thousand bucks in your savings account, but don’t let anyone tell you you’re not ready in your late 20s.

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