Wedding Woes

Don't tell anyone your plans, shut down any negative talk when it happens

Dear Prudence,

For years, I was adamantly childfree. I constantly heard how my mom was pushed out of her job after my older sister was born, and after becoming one of the few people from my high school to go to college, I heard stories from my friends who became SAHMs super young that convinced me that having kids would push me out of a job and deprive me of an identity. If my parents or relatives tried to pester me about kids, I would firmly say no.

Then four years ago, I realized I was bisexual, and I started dating my now-fiancée soon after. She knew my feelings about children from the beginning of our relationship, and had always told me that the decision was ultimately my call—she loved her siblings’ kids, and had wanted to be a mom, but it wasn’t an absolute dealbreaker. But when we started thinking about marriage, I realized that I … want to be a mom with her. I talked a lot about it in therapy, and saw how my perception of having kids was affected by my upbringing. I had believed that having kids would automatically mean that I would be forced out of my own life and lose my identity, like I heard my mom and childhood friends complain so bitterly about.

When I discussed it with my fiancée, we decided that we do want to have a child, probably through IVF. We also talked through who would carry the baby and made sure to consider how we would divide up household labor with a baby, especially because that was where so much of my hesitancy came from. And a year later, as our wedding approaches, I still feel really good about this plan. My issue? How to explain this to my family without coming off as rude, or confirming their biases about childfree people and making life more difficult for my cousins and siblings who have very valid reasons for not having children.

I know that the second I say that we plan on having a child, or when we actually get pregnant, my older relatives and my parents will constantly keep telling me how they always knew I couldn’t resist it, when that’s not what happened at all! I can’t just say “Mom, you telling me that my sister and I ruined your life messed up my perception of having children, but I finally worked through it!” and expect nothing to happen, but I fear that I’ll end up blurting it out due to sheer frustration. How can I handle this conversation maturely while not making things worse for those who actually don’t want kids? Is there a script out there for this?

—Irritated by the Inevitable

Re: Don't tell anyone your plans, shut down any negative talk when it happens

  • Wait until there's more than a plan.  
  • When and if one of you is pregnant announce the happy news! “I never wanted to have kids and then I met Katlyn and I can’t wait to be moms with her” is not really that shocking. 
    I think this is a great response and pretty hard for your relatives to argue with. If they still give you a hard time, shift the subject to how much you and your spouse are looking forward to being parents and the plans you're excited about (decorating the nursery, activities you want to do with your child, whatever works). If they find that they can't get to you with their talk about how they were right about you having kids, hopefully they will eventually stop trying.
  • Don't even discuss your plans. When it comes time that one of your are pregnant and ready to announce it, tell your family that you found someone that made you want to have kids. Leave it at that. No further explanation is needed. 
  • I'd think at worst, there might initially be some ribbing about the LW changing their mind.  Probably a curiosity question as to why they changed their mind and a small helping of "I told you so".  It's obnoxious, sure.  But if the LW keeps repeating a response something like, "I definitely never wanted kids and there are a lot of good reasons not to have any.  But once I met FI, I do want children with her."  Then her relatives will quickly stop asking.

    They're going to be a lot more interested and excited about a new baby.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
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