Can we send a “We aren’t having kids!” announcement to family and friends?

Guest post by Holly
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My hubs and I got married in our mid-20s, and are now approaching mid-30s after ten years of marriage. We’ve been really happy through all our ups and downs, and love our life as is. The thing is, some of friends, and definitely our parents, have begun really pushing the baby thing. The parents want grandkids. Hubs and I have siblings with a few small kids as well as friends with kids of varying ages, but our parents want them from us.

Early in the marriage when this conversation would come up, we could just say “Oh well, we don’t think we want any, plus we’re too young to be thinking about that right now,” and that would be that. But now, we’re pretty settled and that answer just won’t do.

Recently, we got a “we eloped!” announcement from one of his cousins and he said “Wouldn’t it be great if we could send an announcement that we aren’t having kids!” I laughed, all “Yeah right,” but he really liked the idea. He said we could do it in a light-hearted way, but with a serious yet gentle note included that says we know everybody really wanted us to have kids, and we love everybody and thank them for their thoughts and opinions on the matter but we’ve decided that having kids just isn’t for us; we are looking forward to the many years we have to share together, and in sharing those years with everybody else, too.

I feel like taking this kind of step is the only way to make it “official” to our loved ones that we are not having kids. I feel like it could also be kind of cute and fun to do, but I really don’t know… would it be seriously tacky/rude/untasteful to send this kind of announcement to our family and friends?

Comments on Can we send a “We aren’t having kids!” announcement to family and friends?

  1. If I got this announcement in the mail, I’d be delighted and relieved. I appreciate it when my child-free friends tell me that they have decided not to have children. There’s no more tiptoeing around. It makes me feel a bit closer to them. A party sounds great, too. This said, I’m also someone who BELIEVES my friends when they tell me they don’t want children. I treat that decision with exactly the same weight as my friends who say that they do want children. If someone tells me they don’t want to get married, I don’t have that thought, “oh, we’ll see!” in the back of my head. I don’t assume that those who are making these choices are just doing so to go against the grain and will eventually fall in line. I definitely don’t assume that everyone wants the same things out of life that I want. So, the people who you have already told who can’t seem to get the message are probably not going to get the message with an announcement, a party, a tattoo, or a blood oath. They probably will always assume you will change your mind. And, unfortunately, those people will probably be offended by this kind of announcement. It’s unjustified, but they may feel taunted, threatened, and hurt. You may just have to keep sharing your decision with people when the situation arises and hope that as many people as possible understand that this is a legitimate choice and something you’ve put a lot of thought into. Sadly, some people will probably never be convinced.

  2. I think an announcement would be super cute! Instead of baby shoes or whatever, you could do a nice photo of you sleeping. Maybe with eye masks, and a clock in the background that indicates it’s noon. Something cheeky to represent your freedom.

    My family would get a huge kick out of something like this. And you say your siblings have kids, so it shouldn’t come off as too hurtful (the way it might if your parents really wanted grandkids and you were the only option).

    My plan was always not to have kids. I now have 2, but I can still totally relate to the childfree stance.

  3. We’re childfree as well and I wouldn’t do something like this. It seems like an open invitation for people to comment on your choices and get their panties in a twist and take offense even if you don’t mean to be.

  4. Would we do this? Quite possibly; I definitely like the idea, and it fits in with our personal sense of quirk. And I definitely see a situation where we’ll have to do something more firm and dramatic to make.the.point.

    My family doesn’t care about our child-free status. In fact, it’s pretty universally agreed that I’m not mother material. (My mother once pulled me aside to tell me just this, not in a mean way, but just in a “we support your decision to not have kids” way.) Unfortunately, The Import’s family will likely be different, not to mention friends – some of whom have already started in with the “when you have children” spiel. So far, we’ve cut that off really fast, but I can see it will probably continue to happen.

    I don’t see any reason to not have a fun and slightly cheeky paper announcement, perhaps with a more serious insert explaining that, since people continue asking about your choices, you felt it was necessary to give a more detailed explanation this one time and that you trust that after this, no one will question your choices or try to push you to something you are not interested in. And I think that is the key: make it clear that this is you informing people of your decision in a clear, calm, and formal manner, and you expect people to now respect the boundary that you are defining and not continue to bring it up. If/when someone does, after they get the letter, you can simply, kindly, firmly say “Nicole, we covered that in the letter we sent, and this isn’t open for further discussion.”

    But that’s just me, and I believe in being quite firm about boundaries and letting people know when they’re crossing them.

  5. I think I would be a little weirded out by getting an announcement like that in the mail? Mostly because it wouldn’t be clear to me what kind of response you wanted. Do you want your community to never talk to you about your parenting choices again? Do you want to throw a party and have everyone congratulate you? I like the idea of having a party–it makes it very clear what kind of response/support you’re looking for. If you want people to STOP talking to you about your choices, though, an announcement seems like a kind of backwards way to do it, since it’s basically starting a conversation.

  6. What I don’t understand is why you need to continually defend your decision to anyone. I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to have kids by the time I was 22, and now at 40 am positive. I strongly messaged the idea in my 20s, and got all the “wait until you are 30” and “wait until you meet the “right” man” stuff.

    I generally did the “broken record” technique. “I think kids are something you should actively want if you are going to have them. I’ve never actively wanted them” then change the subject. It really is no ones business but yours and your partners. You don’t have to engage in the conversations about it. Just close the discussion.

  7. It’s sounds like you are hoping to quell the inquiries you get from friends and family regarding your reproductive choices so I’d be worried that sending a note out and ‘putting it out there’ would just invite more comment on the subject. Instead of asking if you’re thinking of having kids it could just turn into people arguing with you regarding your decision not to have them. By acknowledging it in such a public way it could just make it open season for everyone you know to get up in your business.

    I think the best way of dealing with that sort of thing is to be blunt and brief – “We don’t want kids” and then change the subject and if someone is really pressuring you bust out the “I don’t want to talk about this – thanks.” My husband and I got a lot of crap from family about some of the decisions we made regarding how we were/are raising our child. My husband would always remark that just because we decided to, say, cloth diaper our baby doesn’t mean we have to become cloth diapering spokespeople/advocates. We made the decision because it was what was best for us and we really don’t care how other people diaper their kids, hopefully it’s what is best for them.

    I’m just worried that if you put out a card you may inadvertently become the child-free spokesperson to your friends and family and that could suck.

  8. I say go for it. I have 3 kids so I’m not in the same boat, but I’ve witnessed couples being told, ‘You’ve been together (x amt of years) – when are you going to start having babies?!’ I personally can’t stand it when people put that pressure on, because you never know what a couples’ situation is – maybe they never want kids, or maybe they do but want to wait, or are not able to conceive, etc etc. This announcement would be a cute way of getting the point across that it’s not going to happen so stop asking!! I personally love it 🙂

  9. We don’t make excuses because that seems to lead people along and heighten the expectations that it’s coming in the future. I work with kids all day, and love them, but have no maternal tendencies and both myself and my hubby have personal reasons for not wanting children tied to our backgrounds/up-bringings.

    I frequently respond with a humorous comment – e.g. “I only want children when I’m the kid’s section of IKEA…it disappears by the time I reach the Billy bookcases” or for those who know what I do for a living I sometimes say: “I have a thousand children already, I really don’t think I could manage another one” – however, we always follow up with a serious and clear statement of ‘no’.

    When pushed or prodded for more, we politely explain that this choice is not a public discussion and change the subject to something that is mutually comfortable.

    Neither of us would want to make our decision into a party or formal announcement for two reasons:
    1) We haven’t ruled out the possibility that we may feel different in time, although we both see this as highly unlikely. However, if we were to change our minds, I wouldn’t want to consider the emotional response a child may have knowing this type of event was celebrated before they were conceived.

    2) To me, a public statement as such would reinforce the societal view that having kids IS a public subject – i.e. that we have to inform people of our status/decision one way or another. We feel strongly that it’s no-one else’s business but our own.

  10. I kind of love this. I wish everyone was more open about having or not having kids. We struggled to get pregnant for years so all the questions about when we were gonna have babies got very old. I would’ve liked to have sent out a “we’re infertile” announcement and then maybe people would’ve backed off a bit. Also after we finally did get pregnant, through invitro fertilization, we found out some other people in our family were struggling with infertility too. Then I felt really bad about how much I’d been talking about our pregnancy. Other people in our family don’t have kids and people wonder (and ask) if/when they’re going to have kids. If everyone just sent out announcements maybe it would stop all the prying questions. Maybe it’s nobody’s damn business. Maybe if you were close enough for me to share my decisions with you’d already know. I really don’t know

  11. I love the idea of a we’re not having kids part but that’s because I’m already on board with the idea of not having kids, I could totally see me and my child free friends loving that. However if you have relatives who are still pestering about kids I don’t think presenting the concept as the theme of a party is going to suddenly going to help them get it, when they weren’t before.

    It’s annoying and flat out wrong when relatives won’t accept your decisions and refuse to think outside the box but I think the key to changing their minds, if you decide you want to continue to engage with them, is to work out why they think that way and find a way to address the fear behind it in a method and language they can relate to. I don’t think you are wrong if you don’t do this but I think the thing here is to forget right and wrong methods (because no two people will give you the same answer here) but to match the method to the individual.

    I loved lindylou’s post on the previous page where she shared the insight that parents can often have a very strong instinctual desire to get their children to procreate because they want them to experience something that was for them one of the most amazing things in their entire lives. Taken like that it’s a lovely sentiment. I think lindylou’s point about telling and showing them the wonderful life you have made/are working on will be the best thing to reassure them. It’s probably worth respecting how big and powerfull a feeling this is for them and how hard it is to grapple with, there is a reason why they keep bringing it up, it’s not the same as other things they might nag about like covering up that tattoo etc.

    For that reason I’d be wary of the announcement card thing, especially if you’ve not had already had big serious conversation but have been doing the deflect and change the subject thing. Nothing wrong with that (especially post big conversation) but if this issue that big for you but you’ve only ever changed the subject with them when it comes up, they really won’t understand how much you’ve thought about it. A card through the mail at this point will be a huge shock and whilst not itself hurtful could easily cause that feeling in a parent.

    I think the bottom line is that of you want this completely understood you have to have a big serious conversation in which you answer all questions once and for all (see Abi’s post on the previous page about one time conversations). You would in no way be wrong to do announcement cards or throw a party instead but as substitute for a conversation it’s risky. But there is no reason why you should choose between these methods of course, but different people in your life will needs different methods.

  12. I’m not child-free, but people have been telling me since my daughter was born that I should have/will want to have another child at some point. Now, my daughter is almost 6 and I still don’t want to have another child and don’t have any plans to have anymore.

    Even though my situation isn’t exactly the same, I can definitely empathize with the situation that OP is in. I agree with those who have said that an announcement may be misinterpreted by some people, but I do think that it’s a kind of outside-the-box neat way of driving home a point that you’ve apparently been making for 10 years, now. I also agree that a party may be the better route to go, because it includes everyone in a light-hearted and fun sort of way and you can make the “once and for all” announcement while everyone is gathered in one place, which removes the potential for misinterpretation or misunderstanding.

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