My mom and I are close and have generally happy, healthy boundaries. We call each other up in times of crisis and watch old movies and drink wine together over Skype and so forth. But we’re also extremely different. She’s a retired pre-school teacher who absolutely loves children and who very much believes that the best, happiest choice for any woman who can afford it is to stay home with her scads of children. I tend to think the best, happiest choice varies quite a lot from person-to-person and that my mother is living in 1954. She’s said several times that I have this opinion because she wasn’t a good enough mother when I was a kid, which is ridiculous. We talked this topic to a stalemate years ago and don’t discuss it anymore, mostly because I got pretty tired of her getting so, so sad over my decision to be childfree and what she thinks it says about her. For the record, my mom is loving and funny and smart and deeply compassionate in addition to being neurotic and a little bit self-absorbed.
My boyfriend has volunteered to get a vasectomy and has an appointment next week. We’re also talking about getting engaged shortly thereafter with an eye on marriage in about two years. My mom is so, so thrilled about the pending engagement, the wedding, and the presumptive grandchildren. Should I tell her outright that kids are not happening? I feel like this is going to cause some uncomfortable drama, and I’m kind of wimpy where my mom being sad is concerned. On the other hand, I don’t exactly want to spend the next decade ducking questions. My boyfriend and I have discussed telling her that he can’t have kids, which after next week will be true, but it seems like the kind of minor deception best left to high school students. What should I say? — Not Making My Mom a Grandmother
This seems like a situation in which you are almost damned if you do (say something about the vasectomy) and damned if you don’t. If you are serious about never wanting children — and that does seem to be the case if your boyfriend, whom you want to marry, is getting a vasectomy — don’t tell your mother that he simply “can’t have kids” because, the next thing you know, she’ll be telling you how wonderful adoption is. On the other hand, if you tell her now about the vasectomy, she has plenty of time to try to talk you out of marrying your boyfriend (and God forbid you tell her before he gets the vasectomy and she tries to talk him out of getting it done). Even if you wait until after you get married to tell your mother that your boyfriend/husband got a vasectomy, she may still try to talk you into adopting a child or having the vasectomy reversed. Really, if your mother is a meddling woman and is hellbent on seeing you become a mother, I doubt something like a little nip-nip is going to shut her up. But then, you’d be the better judge of that, of course.
The thing is, you’ve already told your mother that you don’t want kids. Apparently, you’ve discussed the topic into a “stalemate,” and decided to put it to rest for now. I would try to leave it at rest as best you can. When she starts bugging you about when you’re going to have children, simply remind her that you aren’t. I would err on the side of protecting your and your boyfriend’s privacy and not spill the beans about the vasectomy. If telling her that you don’t want children hasn’t done the trick, then who’s to say that telling her that you REALLY don’t want children (i.e. “My future husband had a vasectomy, Mother.”) will do the trick? And by sharing personal information with someone who seems to be somewhat emotionally manipulative (the whole “You must think I’m a bad mother and that’s why YOU don’t want to be a mother!” is emotionally manipulative), you’re basically handing her a tool that she can use against you. I don’t know HOW exactly she may use it against you, but why put yourself in a position of finding out? To potentially save yourself a decade or so of ducking questions? Don’t kid yourself. There will still be questions: “Why did you marry a man who couldn’t have kids?!” “What did I do to you that would make you hate children so much?” “Why don’t you just adopt?”
Your best bet is to suck it up, develop a few retorts to your mother’s questioning, and enjoy the child-free life you and your boyfriend are creating together. Eventually, your mother will get the message that you are not going to have kids. It may take a decade, yes, and you will have to deal with her being a Sad Sally and probably judging your life choices. But something tells me that’s going to be the case, regardless. You don’t owe your mother an explanation and you don’t need to tell her private information that is none of her business.
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bethany April 4, 2013, 9:15 am
WWS. LW, there is no way to win in this situation. Don’t tell her, because it’s just going to create even more drama. Also, I know how frustrating it is when people pressure you to have kids, and I’m still undecided about it. I can’t imagine how much more obnoxious it is when you know for sure that kids are not in the future you want for yourself. Good luck.
Fabelle April 4, 2013, 9:22 am
WWS. Also, LW, your mother’s personality sounds a bit similar to ~my~ mother’s…while I love my mom & we’re very close, she has both the good—and bad—qualities you mentioned. And Wendy is absolutely right that the whole “You must think I was a terrible mother…” thing is emotional manipulation. She may not REALIZE that’s what she’s doing, but she is.
So if the topic is ever brought up again, & she does the “What did I do to you in your childhood that would make you *not* want children of your own??” schtick, brush her off with something like, “Oh PSH, don’t be RIDICULOUS. You were a wonderful mother. But Husband/Fiance & I know that children just won’t fit into our lives.” Then change the subject. Don’t mention the vasectomy. It’s really none of her business, & her knowing won’t change anything (or may make it even worse, as Wendy outlined).
painted_lady April 4, 2013, 11:32 am
My mom actually had the exact same reaction to Walter’s and my decision to never have kids – that it was about her being a terrible mother – and I did the whole “Oh come on mom, you were great.” But then it was like that encouraged her to keep saying it (what slightly narcissistic person wouldn’t go for free ego strokes?). So what ended up working for me was going, “Yes, mom. You’re right. I made this decision about my entire future based on the fact that you were terrible. I sat up one morning and said, ‘You know, I’m not having kids because my mom was so awful.’ This whole decision? Completely about you.” I was joking, of course, but making fun of how illogically self-centered that interpretation of my actions was seemed to snap her out of it.
Fabelle April 4, 2013, 12:03 pm
BreezyAM April 7, 2013, 11:02 am
Interestingly my daughter has said she leans to not having kids (and if she does it’s about 99% sure she will adopt because she feels her genetics are a mess… with bipolar, autism, adhd, and a weird eye issue we share, I can’t say I blame her, even if I have a sad part in my heart I refuse to burden her with!) because I was a SAHM with them for the most part and she saw the work and how hard it was and how consuming it was and despite me saying often I was happy to do it (I was!) and that I was glad I was in a position to do so (I was!) and it was worth it (it was!)…. Well, she sort of looks at it the same way I do those 50-100 mile races my insane friends run through obstacle courses and mud and shit. She thinks I was a great mom (she told my exH this, so I think she was sharing her honest opinion) and so now should I pout to her “I guess I was too good of a mom :-(” ?!?!?!
theattack April 4, 2013, 9:26 am
You might as well put off this fight as long as you can.
Skyblossom April 4, 2013, 9:28 am
I wouldn’t tell her about the vasectomy either. It is none of her business. It is between you and your boyfriend. I think when she mentions you having kids for you to say something along the lines of…we already discussed that…or….don’t go there….or….that’s between me and my husband. It is none of her business. She can only continue to discuss this with you if you will engage in the conversation.
LK7889 April 4, 2013, 9:33 am
“She can only continue to discuss this with you if you will engage in the conversation.” <– This.
I know it will be hard the first few times to shut the conversation down but after awhile (hopefully) she'll get the picture. If you continue to talk to/fight with her about this, she'll think that there is a chance that what she is saying will get through to you.
FireStar April 4, 2013, 9:29 am
You’ve already told her. Let her enjoy your engagement and wedding and when she makes grandmother noises again tell her you’ve already spoken to her about this. Nothing has changed. Nothing will. But if she wants children in her life then maybe SHE can volunteer with some at-risk youth…or rock babies at the hospital, or work with teen mothers. There are a lot of ways this can be win win for everyone.
lets_be_honest April 4, 2013, 9:32 am
Good advice from Wendy, as usual. Its a shame there is no perfect solution, but that’s life.
My mom is like your mom when it comes to loving children. She had 6 and I swear would still have more if she could. She’s just one of those people that get incredible joy from having and raising babies & children. I have one of my own, but will not have any more, and none of my siblings have had any yet. (zero point to that little story, I’m now realizing)
Anyway, my SO’s mom has no grandchildren yet and is DYING to have some. She’s great with my kid and I think mine will call her grandma or something when I marry her son. But I know she wants a little baby around that will call her Gram from day one. She says things to us all the time about it (and to her daughter and son-in-law too). When my grandma passed away last week, she “jokingly” said wouldn’t it cheer everyone up if you had a baby now! Oddly (or luckily), none of this has ever bothered me. We just laugh it off and tell her to go bug her other kid to have a baby. I know some people don’t like to brush it off or whatever, but try to. Also, just remind your mom how much you love her and that its no reflection on her that you choose to not have children. Maybe if you say it enough, it’ll get through.
AmyP April 4, 2013, 10:20 am
“But I know she wants a little baby around that will call her Gram from day one.”
I don’t think newborns do that.
(Sorry, I know what you mean!)
lets_be_honest April 4, 2013, 10:22 am
katie April 4, 2013, 9:36 am
im sure that you finding a partner and discussing marriage, moving in with him, ect has set off the “life milestones” alarm bells for her. because she probably didnt really believe you when you said you didnt want kids. i mean, at the time you (i assume) didnt have a serious boyfriend, werent discussing marriage, ect, so she may have lead herself to believe you didnt mean it just based on those facts. now that you are discussing marriage, kids are automatically back on the table- and thats just how the world works. thats the life milestone timeline that you set in motion when you start discussing marriage. its stupid, but thats how it is. as soon as you get serious, youll get when’s the marriage? as soon as you are engaged, youll get whens the wedding? as soon as you are married, youll get whens the kids? people are just like that. honestly, i would expect all this stuff from anyone you know- im sure your mom wont be the only one. its stupid to think that marriage = babies, but the idea is out there. so just be prepared to re-hash this whole thing out again.
your getting married will nullify any past ideas you had about not having kids, just remember that.
also, offbeatfamilies has some good stuff about living childfree… search for that tag on their website and maybe it could help too.
lets_be_honest April 4, 2013, 9:46 am
Very true about getting married nullifying any past decision about having kids.
I don’t know that its “stupid” though to think that way. So many people say they won’t have kids and change their mind, and basically the only reason people from past generations got married was to have a family. I think it will be assumed that if you marry, you will have kids as long as our parents’ generation is still around simply because that was the norm for them.
katie April 4, 2013, 9:51 am
i think its stupid in general to believe that one action automatically leads to another action, and specifically in this case, where she has said for however long that she doesnt want kids, its not logical to think that a marriage would change that.
its a widely held belief, but that doesnt make it smart, logical or right…
lets_be_honest April 4, 2013, 10:07 am
I think you’re just not seeing that it was logical for that generation. It was the ONLY reason people got married back then. Its only very, very recent that people get married just to be married and not for the purpose of procreating.
Even being part of your generation, I could totally see why someone would think ‘oh maybe Sally will end up having kids after all.’ Makes total sense to me.
katie April 4, 2013, 10:21 am
eh, it was also logical for certain generations to think blacks should be slaves, but we managed to rise above that, right?
you know? i dont really care about what people did “back then”. live in the present times with the rest of us. to me, that is just a sad excuse for bad behavior.
and i totally get the “maybe you will end up having kids” thought, but to make the leaps that this mom is likely to make, and making it all about her, i just cant justify that. this isnt a case of “oh maybe you will have kids now”, this is a case of “wahh i was such a failure as a mother that you dont even want the wonderfully fulfilling life of being a SAHM, which is the best choice any woman can make and i feel sad for you life now, but mostly sad for me because i messed you up”.
lets_be_honest April 4, 2013, 10:26 am
Yes, its really just like the slave argument.
katie April 4, 2013, 10:42 am
i know that your being snarky, but the point still stands.
if people can move on from antiquated notions about race, religion, sex, women in the workplace, interracial marriage, whatever, they can move on from notions about marriage as well.
lets_be_honest April 4, 2013, 10:49 am
Yes, of course they can. But it usually takes time, often a generation’s worth of it, which was my point.
What was the Rule someone mentioned about once people bring up slaves or nazis, the discussion has taken a pointless turn?
Grilledcheesecalliope April 4, 2013, 12:46 pm
Yep slavery and Nazis. Why must people trivialize very serious things.
Fabelle April 4, 2013, 1:03 pm
It’s called Godwin’s law!
But actually, I dunno. While it’s obviously an amusing way to be like, “Welp, you mentioned Nazis. Discussion over” and while it IS kind of an indicator that the discussion has gotten out of hand—I think there’s a reason why people use Nazis or Slavery or any other historic atrocities as a comparison tool in debates? I mean, they’re just an easy point of reference for all. I don’t think it’s necessarily trivializing to bring them up.
lets_be_honest April 4, 2013, 1:13 pm
Yes! Godwin’s Law! Thanks.
katie April 4, 2013, 1:14 pm
i absolutely agree, and i think that “law” is ridiculous. that guy is just someone who made something up and it stuck, like a meme. its not really a thing.
when i think of one group abusing another, i think of WW2 and slavery. duh. its a part of our history. i will never understand how thats trivializing anything or disrespectful to use historical, real life examples.
lets_be_honest April 4, 2013, 1:19 pm
But don’t you think its a bit much to compare an old lady wishing to be a grandma to the Nazis? Like, you realize one is evil and one is not, right?
You really don’t see how that’s at least a little trivializing?
katie April 4, 2013, 1:24 pm
i said that if people can get over their old-fashioned ideals about things like race, sexual orientation, women in the workforce- all that stuff has transpired and changed within the last 50 years or so, that has actually happened in this country- that changing an ideal about marriage shouldnt be such a stretch.
katie April 4, 2013, 1:25 pm
and also, lets remember that this isnt about her being or not being a grandma- this mom directly thinks that her daughters life choices are wrong, as wendy pointed out below… its not just a lil old lady hoping to be a grandma.
GatorGirl April 4, 2013, 1:29 pm
Yeah…I have to say I think compairing wanting grandchildren to Nazi’s and slavery a bit ridiculous.
Yes, popular opinion has to change that women don’t automatically start popping out babies once they are married- but I don’t think it’s really popular opinion anyways. Maybe in some more conservative circles but not nationwide. Women are delaying (or forgoing) having children at an ever raising rate so, I just don’t think it’s relevant. Plus having chilren is a personal choice one makes for themselves- Nazi’s and slavery where sepcific groups of people takin advantage of and killing other people…apples and oranges.
katie April 4, 2013, 1:42 pm
can i just say how funny it is that LBH brought up nazis and im getting all the shit for it? lol
lets_be_honest April 4, 2013, 1:48 pm
Oh, oops. You said slaves, not nazis.
Grilledcheesecalliope April 4, 2013, 2:03 pm
I find it trivializing. I think it minimizes Slavery and the Holocaust to compare it to any sort of time when one person has an outdated attitude or marginalizes a group, no matter how slight. Some things actually can be compared to slavery and nazis. Holding the idea that most people want and should have children may be outdated, but comparing it to thinking that enslaving an entire race of people and treating them like abusable property was just fine, is stupid.
katie April 4, 2013, 3:19 pm
well, im not going to apologize for drawing parallels between social issues.
if you cant look at the analogies and use your stash of history lessons to understand the point someone is trying to make, i dunno what to say to you.
lets_be_honest April 4, 2013, 3:33 pm
But do you at least see that one is evil and the other is not at all evil? I assume you do, so the comparison fails.
GatorGirl April 4, 2013, 3:39 pm
I think the two thing (wanting grandchildren and slavery) are on COMPLETELY different scales. Wanting granchildren because it’s an expected societal norm to have children post marraige is not comparable to enslaving another person based on their race and treating them essentially like a farm animal.
If anything, I could maybe see drawing a compairison between acceptance of homosexuality in the US to the expectation that women reproduce right after marriage- but even that is a stretch. Women aren’t persecuted (or at least bullied) for making the decision to be childfree, so that compairison doesn’t even really work in my mind.
katie April 4, 2013, 7:04 pm
Jesus Christ people, really?
It’s impossible to speak intelligently with people anymore.
When did anyone ever say this mom is as evil as slave owners?? Where did we pull that out of??
I made a parallel about people rising above social issues. Wow. I’m just in shock.
Anon April 4, 2013, 3:46 pm
We didn’t rise above that. Racism subsequently exists today. And don’t fucking make some analogy to slavery and racism. You clearly know nothing of American history.
Wendy April 4, 2013, 4:07 pm
Woah. This conversation is really weird. Slavery was a horrible, horrible, like, I-can’t-even-wrap-my-head-around-it, stain in American history — a stain that is still visible today. With only 150 years between us and that terrible time, it makes sense that the stain’s still noticeable (racism is rampant in our society, especially in certain pockets of our society). I think it’s wise to stay away from comparing anything — especially something like the pressure to make our parents grandparents — to the effects of slavery, or to make statements about how we’ve risen above slavery when the effects are still very present for many people.
Grilledcheesecalliope April 4, 2013, 4:27 pm
katie April 5, 2013, 8:17 am
um, ok i just need to stand up for myself here.
i NEVER NOT ONCE compared these two situations. never. not once. i will lay it all out for you:
i said that it is foolish to use old, outdated ideals in today’s society.
LBH stood up for this mother, and said that “I think it will be assumed that if you marry, you will have kids as long as our parents’ generation is still around simply because that was the norm for them.” — that means that its ok to think and keep thinking whatever you were brought up with, because that was the norm.
i said, well people used to think that blacks should be slaves. — do you know what that means?? that only point of that is to say that people can grow up with a certain norm and then change their minds. that is in no way a comparison of either situation. seriously, thats it, just read the words- people can change their minds about things.
i then gave that point with FOUR OTHER COMPLETELY DIFFERENT THINGS (religion, sex, women in the workplace, interracial marriage) where people were brought up with a certain “norm” and changed their minds.
then, after being attacked further, i made the point a third time- “i said that if people can get over their old-fashioned ideals about things like race, sexual orientation, women in the workforce- all that stuff has transpired and changed within the last 50 years or so, that has actually happened in this country- that changing an ideal about marriage shouldnt be such a stretch.”
i just cant believe im reading this on DW. but i guess the joke is on me for actually thinking people would read what others have wrote instead of just reacting emotionally to buzzwords? i dunno.
BreezyAM April 7, 2013, 11:03 am
I know people today who do not understand at all why anyone would marry when they planned to not have kids. They get the whole let’s stay together forever thing but not the actual legal marriage thing. *I* understand why and don’t get how others don’t, but hey….
LK7889 April 4, 2013, 9:52 am
Between accidents and people changing their minds, our parent’s generation has reason to believe that this stuff would be back on the table. Seriously, how many people do you know that said “I don’t want children” to end up having them anyway?
Skyblossom April 4, 2013, 10:00 am
When my parents got married the pill was still illegal so marriage automatically meant babies if you had sex and were fertile. Condoms were legal and available but pretty embarrassing to buy. Then within less than a decade the pill was legal and the size of families immediately got smaller.
Beth April 4, 2013, 11:37 am
I have to agree with you on this one. It is fairly common that once you get married, people start asking about kiddos. If you aren’t married, it comes up on occasion, but is not such a huge issue. My parents are only about 20 years older than me, as are their friends, and they still have the “Get married, have kids” frame of mind. I broke that mold, and had a kiddo all on my own, so I don’t get the “when will you get married?” question anymore.
Skyblossom April 4, 2013, 9:55 am
I think you’re right. Her mom can’t believe she really doesn’t want to have kids and now that she is looking at getting married mom thinks the mothering instinct will kick in and there will be grandkids because that was how mom’s life went and she loved her life and she can’t imagine anyone else not loving that life.
I love my kids but I also know how much work they are and have been and that a child is a lifetime commitment. I would never push anyone to have a child if they didn’t want one. There is a reason birth control is so popular. Not just for those who aren’t married but for married couples. Most of us don’t want a limitless number of children. Even those of us who want kids want to pick when to have them and how many of them to have. We like limiting the size of our families to something manageable. For some people that means no children at all. For a few it means supersize the family and for many it means one or two kids.
Her mom needs to realize that what was wonderful for the mom might not be her child’s dream life or even desirable life or even tolerable life.
GatorGirl April 4, 2013, 9:37 am
I would do exactly the opposite of what everyone else is suggesting. I would just tell her, probably right after y’all marry. Why have the conversation over and over again. I’d just say “Mom, we’ve made the decision to not have children and that decision is final and not up for discussion.” and change the subject every time she asks. Or say “Mom, this is between me and Bob, and it’s private and we prefer not to discuss it.” I don’t think you need to tell her he got a vasectomy though, that’s a little TMI in my book.
Why do people think it’s okay to talk about other’s reproducion? I’ve never got that. Unless everyone is mutually onboard with talking about it…why is it up for discussion?
GatorGirl April 4, 2013, 9:40 am
Maybe opposite is the wrong word…my words are failing me today. I agree don’t talk about the vasectomy, but I’d be really finally in the way I say the child conversation is not up for debate and walk away or change the subject when it comes up again.
MMcG April 4, 2013, 11:39 am
I just like phrasing it in terms of not talking about my private sex life, because that what it really is… people bugging you about whether you are fucking for a purpose or not. I get why people ask, or assume that once milestones have passed that maybe thinking has changed (a young single 20something woman saying she is never going to have kids is different than a 30something in a relationship, at least from some points of view so I don’t think it’s awful to think people’s minds may change) but you are still asking about my sex life which is none of anyone’s business!! 🙂
LK7889 April 4, 2013, 9:43 am
I talked to my father about this awhile back and he told me that he thought that some parents build up what they think their later lives will look like around what they want their children to do. They have these dreams of how their own lives will look when they are old and, in the case of grandchildren, it requires their children doing something (making babies) to make that part of their dream lives come true. So, because that is the way that they’ve always viewed their lives, they push their children to have kids as well. They feel like it directly impacts their (dream or real) lives and that gives them the right to interfere and talk about the children’s reproduction.
As for everyone else, they’re just being gossipy.
GatorGirl April 4, 2013, 9:59 am
Yeah, I mean I understand why a parent would be so excited for grandchildren- but it’s not their life. I’d have no problem telling my mom to mind her own business and butt out of my reproductive life (although I do choose to talk to her about it, but it’s MY choice.)
You can’t build your life dreams/goals based on anyone else’s life. Especially lives that don’t exsist yet!! (the grandchildren!)
katie April 4, 2013, 10:02 am
well, honestly, its no different then marriage-obsessed people, is it? the people who just envision the big white wedding and all the ceremony that comes with it, and the other partner is interchangeable to whoever will agree to it?
right, thats the same thing…? you cant build your life dreams/goals based on others lives.
i like it.
GatorGirl April 4, 2013, 10:06 am
Yup. Marriage obsessed is no different, IMO.
LK7889 April 4, 2013, 10:13 am
Oh, I’m not saying it’s right for them to make the decisions about children for their children, but they are definitely having to mourn the loss of their dream lives when their children don’t have babies. If a woman lives her whole life wanting to be surrounded by grandchildren when she grows old and then finds out that her own daughter doesn’t want children, she’s going to be crushed no matter how illogical it is to base your own dreams off of the decisions of others. In a weird way, it sort of IS her life that is being changed.
lets_be_honest April 4, 2013, 10:03 am
I suppose one more answer right after they marry is a good idea. Just in case mom is still thinking it could happen, say it won’t and then change the subject from then on out. It sounds like the LW doesn’t want to be mean to her mom about this, which is great, so hopefully she can continue being patient.
GatorGirl April 4, 2013, 10:08 am
You can be stern and clear without being mean. You know?
“We’ve decided as a married couple to not persue having children. Our decision is final, it would be greatly apprecaited if you would respect our decision. This coffee cake is delicious.”
lets_be_honest April 4, 2013, 10:12 am
Yes, exactly. It sounded to me like the LW does not want to be mean to her mom, so I expected a lot of commenters to be all ‘its none of her damn business and tell her to butt out and stay out of her decision, blah, blah’ and I just thought that wouldn’t be helpful advice.
Love your statement!
ktfran April 4, 2013, 10:39 am
I think this is a perfect way to handle the situation, LW. Especially since it sounds like you are close to your mom.
She’ll be wrapped up in the wedding when that happens, so I don’t think you’ll have to worry about the baby talk. And if she mentions it, kind of shrug it off or make a light comment or change the subject. It’s after all that excitement is over that I would do as GG suggests.
GatorGirl April 4, 2013, 10:48 am
Semi-related to the “being wrapped up in wedding planning and forget grandkids” comment. At Christmas we were at a large gathering of my fiance’s side and the conversation came up about who would have kids next. 5 of the 8 grandchildren have gotten married in the last 4 years (we’ll be couple number 6 in May). So they started “taking bets” on who would reproduce next and EVERYONE said us. Every single person in the room of like 40. It totally creeped me out. We’re not even married yet and his family is betting how soon we’ll be reproducing. ick.
kerrycontrary April 4, 2013, 11:00 am
So this is only tangentially related, but we have 3 pregnant women in my family right now. And all 3 of them announced when and where they conceived casually in conversation with me. Like I wanted to know when my sister and her husband had sex. YUCK!It’s like when you’re pregnant all bets are off and you can discuss anything.
GatorGirl April 4, 2013, 11:06 am
Gross. EW. My soon to be SIL seriously overshared about her sex life with her now husband during her bachelorette party and expected me to over share about my sex life with her brother! GROSS. I do not need ANY details. Like I don’t even want to KNOW that you have sex…let alone when, where, what position BARF.
BreezyAM April 7, 2013, 11:06 am
See I don`t mind that talk with my BFF in private but it freaks me out with family. Just no. Boundaries. No.
FireStar April 4, 2013, 11:25 am
When my husband and I told his family , his sister was all ” I want to hear all the details!” We all just looked at her and started laughing when she realized how it sounded. Poor thing just wanted to know the delivery date.
Who shares the details of conception?!? As far as I’m concerned all bets are still ON…boundaries are important.
bethany April 4, 2013, 11:58 am
Wait- You have kids? How did I not know that?
Fabelle April 4, 2013, 12:05 pm
She’s pregnant right now! (Right, Firestar? Please correct me if I’m thinking of somebody else, haha)
bethany April 4, 2013, 1:12 pm
I can’t believe I missed that!! Congrats, FireStar!
FireStar April 4, 2013, 1:13 pm
Nope – you are right… Currently pregnant!
FireStar April 4, 2013, 1:15 pm
painted_lady April 4, 2013, 6:36 pm
YES. I had a friend go into labor recently and she had her husband update her dilation. I wanted to comment, I DON’T WANNA KNOW ABOUT YOUR CERVIX!
ktfran April 4, 2013, 11:00 am
Totally ick. Umm hello, can’t you enjoy married life for a while?
My family is similar. My grandma had mostly daughters and they had mostly daughters. We’re almost an all girl family. One Christmas, about 8 years ago, we were together and placing bets as to who of the grandaugters would be the first to have a baby. The oldest being 30 and the youngest being 19. Mind you, none of us were married yet. We were joking and saying wouldn’t it be gross if the youngest, my sis, had the first. Little did we know – and none of us knew – that she was pregnant by like six weeks. And her boyfriend/baby daddy was there!
So effing crazy. They’re married now and have two daughters.
Similarily, everyone thought I would be the first to marry. I’m the third out of eight. And I’m currently the only one without a serious boyfriend. Take that aunts and grandma and cousins.
GatorGirl April 4, 2013, 11:07 am
Haha, at least your family wasn’t saying how terrible it would be if your sis had a kid!
ktfran April 4, 2013, 11:16 am
Good point and so true! She was young, but super responsible about it. Well, not responsible about birth control, but everything thereafter. I’m pretty proud of her actually.
Lindsay April 4, 2013, 9:44 am
As I don’t want kids either, I’m sort of waiting for this fight to start popping up, too. But the only “parent” of mine who would think it was their business to tell me to have children is my stepmom, and she doesn’t care THAT much about it and never had kids of her own.
Anyway, I think either way works. Not talking about it again, or telling her once and for all that you’ve decided not to have kids. But regardless of which one, you need to enforce a personal rule not to engage in the conversation anymore. I imagine that she thinks that if she can get you to talk to her, she can try to convince you. So, if she starts bringing it up again, I’d just pause to let her finish her sentence and then change the subject. Eventually she’s going to get tired of talking at you about it and will stop bringing it up (one would hope at least).
I probably would consider the vasectomy TMI, though. Not necessarily for your mom’s sake, but it’s just a personal decision between you two and telling your mom implies that she’s won the right to be all up in your reproductive business, which she hasn’t.
FireStar April 4, 2013, 10:27 am
It’s true…a lot of times even just listening to someone else’s position lends credence to their argument – as far as they are concerned. I find it is sometimes best to be dismissive and not even entertain their position… Particularly if you have already heard them out once before. You just kind of need a rule to “not feed the crazy” and eventually people will get the idea.
ktfran April 4, 2013, 10:12 am
This makes me so happy that I have sisters and one of them has reproduced. My mom and dad have two grandchildren and are ok with that. If they didn’t have the girls, I think there would be more pressure. My mom is the same as the LW in regard to her love for children. I think my mom could have easily had 20, but settled for three. My dad is also pretty amazing with kids.
I’m kind of with GG. I think I would wait until after the wedding and then say something. But I’m very open with my mom and tell her most things. Buy mom mom also isn’t judgy, so that’s why I said that.
LK7889 April 4, 2013, 10:26 am
Ok, so this comment is only vaguely related to the letter…
My mother recently told me that I shouldn’t have children and that she doesn’t want to be a grandmother. It’s a relief seeing as I don’t want kids myself but I thought that was pretty weird coming from a woman that is in many other ways uber-traditional. Should I take this as an insult, haha?
lets_be_honest April 4, 2013, 10:29 am
That is kinda weird. I can’t think of anyone I know who has said they don’t want to be a grandparent. I wouldn’t take it as an insult though.
LK7889 April 4, 2013, 10:45 am
Maybe. I know my mother well enough to know that if she was going to deliver an insult to me based on her perceptions of how good of a mother I may or may not be, this would be the way she would do it. She’s really passive-aggressive like that. Of course, she’s also mentally ill.
All that being said, if that is how she meant it, I’m not sure that I disagree with her… Haha.
MMcG April 4, 2013, 11:48 am
I wouldn’t take it as an insult, maybe she’s just a little narcissistic. I know several women who wanted to be a grandmom… but didn’t want to be called grandmom or thought of as a grandmother – because it made them feel old. THey made up a non granny name for the kids to call them and everything!
painted_lady April 4, 2013, 6:33 pm
Yes. My obnoxious aunt makes my cousin’s kids call her “GG.” Which stands for Gorgeous Grandmother. I sort of hated myself for asking when they told me that.
FireStar April 4, 2013, 10:31 am
Talk about the pendulum swinging the other way. Now you’ve made the LW jealous.
At this point just be grateful everyone is on the same page!
LK7889 April 4, 2013, 10:34 am
FWIW, my mother is mentally ill. And even if she did mean it as an insult, I’m not all that insulted. I just thought it was bizarre and sort of hilarious.
Fabelle April 4, 2013, 10:35 am
Maybe she’s trying some reverse psychology on you 😉
Lindsay April 4, 2013, 10:52 am
Haha. That’s interesting. My mom said she doesn’t care if I have kids or not and that if I get married, she’s wearing black to my wedding. So, no pressure there. 🙂
LK7889 April 4, 2013, 10:56 am
Wow, that is hilarious. Black to your wedding, huh? 😉
MissDre April 4, 2013, 11:04 am
5 years ago my mom said she couldn’t care less if she ever had grandchildren. Now she’s on my case constantly and has already gone out and bought baby books and baby toys even though I’m certainly not pregnant…
BreezyAM April 7, 2013, 11:10 am
This may be like how many friends I know who are SAHMs tell their daughters never to be one? They don’t mean she personally should not do it because she personally would be awful at it. They mean they feel they lost a lot to do so and don’t want to see their daughters miss out on various things like.. career choices, economic freedom in a bad marriage, social life? Maybe your mom means she thinks being childfree is a great choice for you? Wishes she had the choice?
iseeshiny April 4, 2013, 10:33 am
“My mom is loving and funny and smart and deeply compassionate in addition to being neurotic and a little bit self-absorbed.” <– This is my mom! In fact, my mother used to do almost that exact thing – taking a decision I'd made in my life and making it somehow about her, where I would have to reassure her that she was a great mom (for the most part, she was/is!) and I would spend the rest of the day feeling like a terrible person for making my mom sad.
What worked for me to train her out of it is to make one attempt to reassure her ("No, I think you were a great mom, and you taught me to know myself enough to know what I want and go for it, despite having one of the people I respect most trying to pressure me to do something else! You did great!") and after that, stop with the reassuring. ("That's not true. This isn't about you, it's about what's best for me.") And if she persists, change the subject or hang up the phone. ("Okay, well this conversation isn't really going anywhere. I'll call you (next time) and tell you about (some unrelated thing). Love you!")
Because she really is a loving mom, she will eventually get the hint that what she's doing is not cool and will back off. (Mine did! It's great! Next project: get her to stop commenting or liking every single thing I put on facebook.)
Also, I'm so glad it worked out with you and your boyfriend! Congratulations!
Caris April 4, 2013, 3:00 pm
I once tried asking my mom to not comment on my facebook…she deleted me. LOL
iseeshiny April 4, 2013, 3:39 pm
Sounds like a win-win to me 😛
Once, she evidently had nothing to say but really wanted to say something, and she wrote “ooo.” on one of my status updates. That’s it. Just “ooo.” With a period and everything.
lets_be_honest April 4, 2013, 3:42 pm
I’m sorry, but I think that’s pretty adorable.
iseeshiny April 4, 2013, 3:53 pm
Adorable for a toddler or a really old person, maybe. She is a forty five year old woman. I feel like she could have come up with a sentence.
Wendy April 4, 2013, 9:38 am
Reading this letter closely, I got the impression that the mother already IS a grandmother (the LW says that she and her fiance love their siblings’ kids, implying that there are already grandchildren in each of their families), in which case the mother needs to just get over and enjoy the grandkids she already has.
katie April 4, 2013, 9:45 am
i wonder if its just his siblings? she is using the “we”, “we love our siblings kids”, but maybe its just him? that would still make her mom not a grandma…
Wendy April 4, 2013, 9:55 am
I get the impression that the mother is the kind of woman who didn’t have just one kid. So even if the other kids don’t have children of their own yet, I highly doubt that the LW is the only shot this woman has at being a grandmother. I’m betting she already IS a grandmother and really just can’t wrap her head around how the LW doesn’t want to be a mom — and a stay-at-home mom, at that — like she was. She sees it as a rejection of her job as a mother and the choices she made as a woman. And, of course, it’s not about that at all.
katie April 4, 2013, 9:58 am
good point… the mom does object specifically to the LW not wanting kids, and not specifically to her not being a grandma. those two thoughts are quite different, even if its subtle… not accepting ones life choice vs. not accepting that your own life will be different then you pictured.
lets_be_honest April 4, 2013, 10:14 am
I get wishing for grandkids, but how sad that mothers would feel its a reflection on them or their parenting when their children don’t want kids.
katie April 4, 2013, 10:18 am
everybody makes stuff about them.. and its always sad.
LK7889 April 4, 2013, 10:21 am
It’s totally illogical to make everything that everyone else does about yourself. Why do people insist on viewing the world in this fashion?
Lindsay April 4, 2013, 10:30 am
Yeah, my stepmom got personally offended when I sold a bunch of my stuff and moved to NYC. She very aggressively asked, “When are you going to start accumulating stuff and settling down?? I had a house when I was your age.” It’s super weird because it doesn’t affect her at all.
Anna April 4, 2013, 10:28 am
Agreed, but that’s easier said than done sometimes. My sister has kids that my parents never bother to go visit but they still bug me all the time about when I’m going to have kids, and they’re freaking out because my brother has been married for 3 years and they have not had any kids yet. Being that I’m single right now, last time my dad asked I said bluntly “Dad, I don’t even have a boyfriend right now. Would you really want me to be a single mom?” He shut up pretty quickly. lol
othy April 4, 2013, 10:38 am
I get this all the time from my mother-in-law. She has 2 granddaughters, but wants more. She told us once she wants 10 grandkids, even though she only had 2 kids. I think for her, she really enjoyed being a parent and she wants us to share in the joy that she had raising kid. She even saved my husband’s baby clothes to give to her future grandkids. However, when she brings it up, we tell her we love being an aunt and uncle, but that’s all we need.
My brother-in-law always brings it up to, but always in a semi-joking way. He told us that he’s currently winning, 2-0. We just joke back and tell him that while he’s going for a bowling score, we’re playing golf. Keeping it light-hearted seems to do the trick there.
Skyblossom April 4, 2013, 10:53 am
I have a friend whose mother-in-law is the opposite. She and her sister are married to brothers so she and her sister have the same mother-in-law. They have each had five children and the MIL has complained because she had visions of being a grandmother who bought expensive gifts for her grandchildren and spoiled them and she can’t afford the kind of gifts she wanted to give for ten kids. So she complains about how they have ruined her ability to be a grandmother. She had a dream of four grandkids that she was able to lavish with money.
FireStar April 4, 2013, 11:19 am
Good Lord. The things people complain about. It’s like you can never win with some people.
Kate B. April 4, 2013, 10:43 am
I went through something similar with my own mother. I had my tubes tied. I wasn’t going to tell her. She knew that I didn’t want kids, I’d been telling her for years. I got the “When you have one, you’ll change your mind.” and “Is it because I’m a bad mother?”. Literally every time I saw her, she asked about me getting married and having kids. She’d call me and ask about boyfriends. Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. I told her. That shut her up. There was some drama. She told me there was no need for me to buy a house, since I wouldn’t need it. (Don’t single people need a place to live, too?) But, I never had to hear anything about kids again. Now, many years later, she has finally come to terms with it. She realizes that it was the right choice for me. My brother has kids, so she got her grandchildren. However, due to the fact that he lives far away and one of the kids has a medical condition which requires constant care and precludes travel, she doesn’t have the kind of relationship with her grandkids that she envisioned. But you know what? She’s coping. Life happens. If you decide to tell your mom, know that she has two choices: she can complain and moan about it, or she can choose to accept it. You cannot make that decision for her. You deserve to live your life the way you want. If your mom can’t handle that, that’s on her.
KKZ April 4, 2013, 10:55 am
Hoo boy, LW. WWS. Good luck navigating this, I’m sure it won’t be without some drama no matter which way you go. I also want to give a high-five for the vas decision. I was a little wishy-washy when my husband and I first came around to the “no kids” choice and so got an IUD instead of him getting sterilized (which he was totally willing to do). After a year of living with the decision, I’m positive I don’t want kids, and now I kinda wish he’d gotten snipped instead of me dropping $800 out of pocket on an IUD. But, hey, the results are the same, can’t complain too much.
In the past year, we’ve “come out” to both sets of parents as deciding to be childfree. When I told my parents, my dad had no reaction whatsoever (I’m not even sure he heard me, he was reading the paper) and my mom gave me a thumbs-up and said she believes no one who doesn’t want kids should have them. With his parents we put it off a little longer, they’re a bit more traditional, so we waited until we directly asked before we told them. (We’ve been married 3 years but got married young, so there was no pressure for kids at all in the beginning.) I think they were a little disappointed (though they didn’t say so directly) because there is tension between them and their other son, my BIL, that has interfered with them having the kind of relationship they wanted with their granddaughters. I think they hoped we’d procreate and give them another chance to be doting grandparents. But overall, they were pretty cool about accepting the news.
I AM a little worried about my husband’s extended family, though. Italian Catholics sure do love their babies, and Grandma is very traditional. She loves loves loves a house full of children. So far, my husband’s older cousins have been popping out babies and no one’s paying us much attention, but I doubt it will be too much longer before we can show up to a family holiday without a kid in tow and NOT be questioned. Eh, cross that bridge when it comes.
CatsMeow April 4, 2013, 10:55 am
My mom also thinks that I’m not married and don’t want kids because she “ruined” me somehow. Thanks, Mom.
CatsMeow April 4, 2013, 10:57 am
Haha that’s not helpful. I guess I’m just saying: LW, I can relate. And if you find a good solution, let me know. 😉
Sasa April 4, 2013, 11:01 am
You don’t have to tell your mother about the vasectomy, of course. It’s completely private information. But I would seriously consider doing so – at least once you’ve married, so you’re with your SO “for good” – to get your mother off your back. If you’re married and your husband had a vasectomy, then that’s basically it for having biological children. And, if she continues questioning you about having kids and you haven’t told her, wouldn’t you spill the beans at some point anyway? If my mother bugged me about having kids I would probably say at some point “you know what, my husband had a vasectomy anyway”. So why not get it out of the way sooner rather than later. I don’t see how she might use this against you and I don’t think she’ll suggest adoption after you’ve gone out of your way not to have biological children either. Just my two cents.
Sasa April 4, 2013, 11:07 am
Ah, I just saw that marriage is still pretty far away. I don’t think you have to be married to tell her in clear terms, that no, kids are not happening, ever. I would absolutely go for that.
Sophronisba April 4, 2013, 11:35 am
Just for the record, vasectomies have been known to fail. You can have the doctor’s ok after a post-surgery ejaculate check and then later on, surprise! You might consider having a backup intervention of your own.
I used Essure, which is a trans-cervical implantation of coils into the fallopian tubes that scar them closed (no, I have no stake in the company). At the time, it had a 100% success rate and I didn’t even have to take a tylenol! I was very pleased to have avoided abdominal surgery…
ps don’t give your mother ammunition by telling her your business; this has nothing to do with her : )
lets_be_honest April 4, 2013, 11:42 am
I know a couple who each had children from a previous marriage and when they married, they decided they wouldn’t have any together, so he got a vasectomy. It didn’t work, and they now have identical triplets!! Crazy how life works sometimes.
othy April 4, 2013, 12:11 pm
Back in the day, I watched an episode of Maurry where the wife insisted she hadn’t slept with anyone else, but her husband, who had a vasectomy, was about ready to leave her after she got pregnant. Turns out, he was the father. (I’m glad I stopped watching that show…)
lets_be_honest April 4, 2013, 12:13 pm
Can’t really blame him, haha. I’d probably feel the same way.
BreezyAM April 7, 2013, 11:13 am
That’s really kind of sad. Husband and I talked about this once and he said that his first thought would be “goddamnitt the V failed.”
Kelly April 4, 2013, 11:41 am
As a woman over forty, I have to say, who wouldn’t want Grandkids? Seriously, you get to spoil the children and then drop them back off with their parents. Don’t get to aggravated with your mother, LW. I would be horribly disappointed if my daughters decided not to have kids. If that’s selfish, so be it.
othy April 4, 2013, 12:13 pm
I think this is the reason I’m an aunt. We love hanging out with the kids, and sending them back home when they’re smelly or cranky. And someday, I want to be just as close with my great-nieces and nephews.
mf April 4, 2013, 12:32 pm
You know who wouldn’t want grandkids? People who don’t like children and people who don’t want kids at all, like the LW.
And yes, it’s selfish to impose your life choices on other people. You get to be disappointed, but if you take out your disappointment on your daughters (or sons), that’s emotionally manipulative and wrong. Just because you lovingly raised your children does not mean they owe it to you to reproduce so that you have babies to play with again.
kelly April 4, 2013, 1:08 pm
Oh please. Don’t act all superior. It was a general comment. Maybe you should get the chip off your shoulder? Presumably, people who have children, like children. There. I spelled it out for you.
GatorGirl April 4, 2013, 1:17 pm
No, not all people who have children like them. Accidents happen and people “do the right thing” and raise their children. Doesn’t mean they LIKE kids.
My best friend is due to give birth any day now and when speaking to her mother she actually said to me “I don’t like children.” I was totally taken a back as this woman who has 3 grown, well loved children said in all seriousness she does not like kids. So yeah, not everyone who has reproduced wants to have grandkids.
Kate B. April 4, 2013, 2:47 pm
I have heard with my own ears from many people who have children that they would not do it again if they had a do-over. Or if they had known then what they know now. So, no, not everyone with kids likes them.
mf April 4, 2013, 3:43 pm
I don’t have a chip on my shoulder. I just despise people who try to pressure their kids in making decisions that will make their parents happy (rather than making themselves happy). This is what I call
mf April 4, 2013, 3:43 pm
Oops! Accidentally hit submit before I was done typing.
I don’t have a chip on my shoulder. I just despise parents who try to pressure their kids in making decisions that will make their parents happy (rather than making themselves happy). This is what I call BEING A BAD PARENT.
lets_be_honest April 4, 2013, 3:45 pm
Putting aside the decision of whether or not to have kids, do you feel that way about any and all decisions? Idk, I tend to think I consider my parents/family when I make some decisions. Moving away, for example.
GatorGirl April 4, 2013, 3:52 pm
It’s one thing to voice your opinion on something once or twice and to repeatedly pressure your kid into doing something. I take my parents opinion into consideration, but ultimately make the decision (like moving 900 miles away) that is best for me (not them).
mf April 4, 2013, 4:04 pm
Like I said, if your kid says he/she is not having children, you get to be disappointed about that. Disappointment is a perfectly reasonable reaction, not a selfish one. If my mom said, “I understand it’s your choice but I’m really sad you won’t be having kids,” then I’d probably say, “I know, my mom. You’re an awesome grandmother and I’m sorry I won’t be adding to your brood of grandkids.”
But there’s a huge difference between expressing disappointment and pressuring your kids so they will do what you want. When you try to pressure/manipulate someone, THAT is a selfish reaction because it stems out of what you want, not what is best for them.
lets_be_honest April 4, 2013, 4:08 pm
Yes, makes sense. Obviously. I’ll keep my future mom-selfishness at bay, hopefully 🙂
iseeshiny April 4, 2013, 1:20 pm
Good point, although I think Kelly has made it pretty clear she doesn’t care if she’s selfish.
Violet April 4, 2013, 1:27 pm
I totally agree, MF. Not everyone who has children, even wants them or likes them. I applaud the LW for making sound choices that fit her needs and not having children on some whim.
Kate B. April 4, 2013, 1:46 pm
I’m over 40, too, and I have never regretted my decision not to have kids for one single minute. Having a kid because someone else wants you to have it is no reason to have a kid. The kid ultimately suffers from being born to someone who doesn’t want it. I have been accused of being selfish because of my choice, but who’s the selfish one, really? I have one piece of advice for parents: listen to your kids and accept that they are who they are. Everyone’s life will be easier.
BreezyAM April 7, 2013, 11:17 am
I don’t get this at all. My daughter is a teenager and leaning toward not having kids. I suspect she’ll have a maximum of one, if any. I never thought to be disappointed about it. The only thing I said to her was “If you don’t want kids, don’t have them! It’s the kindest thing you can do for the kids you’ll never have! but… before you absolutely committ to never ever having kids, wait until you meet a man you’re deeply madly in love with… who says he’d like to have kids. And I’m not saying you should give in. I’m saying, sometimes, love changes our minds, and our ovaries and pheremones lead us in strange directions we thought we’d never ever go. That’s all.”
But if she doesn’t, well, whatever, I have tons of volunteer and civic work to find kids to play with 🙂 And yes, my sons can have children as well, but, I will miss that whole “line” I have with my matriarchal side. Woman who birthed woman who birthed woman who birthed woman… But I’ll get over it. It’s not my choice.
Caris April 7, 2013, 12:33 pm
If she doesn’t want kids, dating a guy who wants kids is pointless really. Unless she’s dating for fun and doesn’t want anything serious.
sarita_f April 4, 2013, 11:52 am
But wait! You skipped a step! WHAT DID YOU DO WITH THE ADVICE FROM YOUR FIRST LETTER?!?!?! We need an update LW!
From the sounds of it you’re living together now? Did you move to the east coast? Did you accept the bf’s monetary help? How’d it all go? Trials, tribulations, personal growth?
Marcie April 4, 2013, 1:57 pm
Right? I wanted to be like, “Wow, another letter for advice when we didn’t even get an update from the first letter!”
Sally April 4, 2013, 3:26 pm
She did! http://dearwendy.com/updates-moved-to-write-responds/
(Sorry. I lurk around here and thought I remembered a follow up. Also, I am maybe dedicating too much brain space to this site?)
Tracey April 4, 2013, 11:59 am
I’ve had a slightly similar situation with my mother. I decided years ago that I didn’t want children, and boy did that disappoint my mom. She’s pulled the “you’ll be alone when you get old” card, the “all my friends have grandchildren” card, and the “you’d be such a good mother” card over the years, and each time, I’ve said the same thing in response: “I have to do what I feel is best for me. I know this may be hard to accept, and I’m sorry, but I’m not having kids.”
A lot of time has passed since we had that first talk – nearly 25 years. She’s still not happy about it, but she’s come to accept my decision and we’re still very close. Wendy gave you some excellent advice, LW. Like she said, the next time the topic comes up (I wouldn’t go out of my way to bring it up), just reiterate your decision in gentle but firm manner, then change the subject. Repeat as often as needed. There’s no reason for you to discuss your boyfriend’s vasectomy with your mom. That sort of personal information is not her concern.
Once you tell her, it’s your mom’s responsibility to deal with the facts. It may take years for her to accept your decision. She may never accept it. There’s nothing you can do about her response. All you can do is make your decision about how to structure your life, then go forward with living your life. Here’s hoping your mom comes around to accepting this without it causing any more strife to your relationship.
Tracey April 4, 2013, 12:04 pm
Oh, I forgot to add this: When your mom goes the guilt trip route (“I wasn’t a good enough mother….”) say to her, “I’m sorry you feel that way. I think you were and are an excellent mother.” If she goes back to asking why you don’t want children, tell her “I have to do what’s best for me. I know this may be hard to accept, and I’m sorry, but I’m not having kids.”
You may have to repeat this until you’re blue in the face, but being firm, gentle, and consistent without giving in to the emotional manipulation is the only way to go. Good luck to you, your boyfriend, and your mom. All will be well in time.
oldie April 4, 2013, 5:13 pm
You should not use her nagging as a way to get compliments on her parenting skills. When LW’s mother says the lack of grandchildren is because her parenting set a bad tone, LW should simply comment “yes, you do have a way of being quite a nag.” That is much likelier to put the issue to bed than falling over backwards telling her what a great Mom she was, whenever she goes on this riff. Less confrontational would be to comment that a good parent knows when to accept her child’s adulthood.
Sasa April 4, 2013, 12:03 pm
There are situations that call for diplomacy and others that call for being frank. I really think this belongs in the latter category. I don’t see any reason for being diplomatic with your mother about not wanting children.
Beth April 4, 2013, 11:43 am
My parents were pretty well adjusted to me never having kids. They were sad about it, but stopped bringing it up when I was 22. I had been saying since I was 8 I did not want kids. Well, someone’s birth control failed, and I fell in love with a lil heartbeat on a screen, so now they have a grandkid.
But that is digression. Your life and your choices are yours. Parents will feel guilt over your choices, they will take them personal, but at the end of the day, they are still your choices. Just don’t let your mom drag you into a huge convo about it. I don’t think you have to tell her about the vasectomy, and I honestly don’t know if telling her will change anything.
I honestly think you will get a lot more slack from people with kids that are weirdly jealous of you. I know I did. I am great with kids, my friends’ kids all loved me. But I did not want my own. I got snarky comments from some people, to which I always politely reminded them my uterus is my own business.
Tracey April 4, 2013, 12:07 pm
” I got snarky comments from some people, to which I always politely reminded them my uterus is my own business.”
This! I may have to borrow this line, Beth.
sobriquet April 4, 2013, 1:02 pm
Eek, no advice here. I’ll be in a somewhat similar boat in a couple years with my parents, except that I DO want kids, I just don’t want to raise them religiously. It’s not like I plan to bash religion, I just want to raise them to think logically and for themselves. I grew up in the Bible Belt and was very involved in church, but my parents have no idea that I don’t believe in it anymore. (They still think the only food I eat is “chips and queso” even though I am a studying to be a freakin’ dietitian! I was a picky eater as a kid and they tend to live in the past.) My parents are not controlling whatsoever, but I know it will break their hearts to know that I don’t plan on raising children to automatically believe in god.
I have no idea how I will navigate those conversations in the future. Maybe I will write into Wendy when the time comes!
Violet April 4, 2013, 1:30 pm
I just think it’s somewhat depressing that even in this era, people who want to be child free have to give lengthy justifications for not wanting them: “My boyfriend and I are both introverted people who throw ourselves into our work and our projects, so it’s really hard to imagine a toddler or a teenager fitting into that in a positive way. We love our friends’ kids and our siblings’ kids. We respect other peoples decision to have kids, and we even mentor at-risk kids through a local organization.”
…because of course they will get criticized by many for wanting this sort of life. I wish it was not this way.
Skyblossom April 4, 2013, 1:46 pm
I don’t see her as having to justify her decision, just the fact that they have reflected on their lives and made a decision. She knows exactly why they made the decision they did and is happy with it.
Skyblossom April 4, 2013, 1:49 pm
I also want to add that I wish more people who have children actually considered it ahead of time and had good reasons for having children. Everyone should weigh the pros and cons and think about what they’re doing. I think the LW is showing a level of maturity that is often missing.
Violet April 4, 2013, 1:55 pm
…and I completely agree with your second point, I do think they should weigh the pros and cons, and I do think LW is making a mature decision. I only meant that those pros and cons don’t really need to be anyone else’s business in many cases.
Violet April 4, 2013, 1:52 pm
It just seems to be something I’ve noticed when people are discussing not having children, it seems almost that they expect to have a lot of crap thrown their way, so they often tend to list many reasons why, when really, that shouldn’t be necessary. That was all I meant. 🙂
Marcie April 4, 2013, 1:59 pm
Violet, I totally agree with you. It’s like having kids is just the natural progression of everyone’s lives. Not mine!
Caris April 4, 2013, 3:14 pm
We expect a lot of crap because that what we get every time e say we don’t have kids. And I’ve been asked why, as if it was their business why the hell I don’t want kids. It is pretty annoying. And saying “I just don’t want any” never satisfies them. They are all like “BUT YOU MUST HAVE A GOOD REASON” (just not wanting one because you don’t want one is not a good enough reason apparently).
lets_be_honest April 4, 2013, 3:17 pm
Its so weird. How is not wanting kids not a good reason??!!
Caris April 4, 2013, 5:03 pm
i dont know!
Violet April 5, 2013, 12:24 am
Yes, Caris, that is exactly what I meant. 🙂 I am one of those people, myself, so I have heard a lot of those criticisms.
BreezyAM April 7, 2013, 11:23 am
I ask why, but only because I’m FASCINATED by it because since I started menstruating I had a massive overwhelming biologically driven desire to have children that only competed with my sex drive until I was in my mid 30s and trying for my final pregnancy (and unknown to me, going through premature pre-menopause). I so WISH I had not been so incredibly driven by my biology all those years and am fascinated by the people who were not! I don’t look down on them, I’m amazed they were able to do it. But the people I asked were all friends who knew why and the context so I didn’t come off like I thought they were weirdos or something.
oldie April 4, 2013, 5:10 pm
Well, the gay marriage debate has brought this warped thinking to the fore. I’ve read so many opinion pieces and letters to the editor and quotes from politicians to the effect that marriage was introduced for the sole purpose of creating and raising children and any other reason to marry is questionable. Someone even said that the newlywed sixty-year olds should still be trying to conceive ‘bless their hearts’. As if this planet isn’t already carrying plenty of human beings. Really, those who choose to remain childless are doing all of us a favor.
TMC5512 April 4, 2013, 3:03 pm
I would tell her that you and your fiance are unable to have kids (true). If she questions it say the doctor said that due to a low sperm count its not happening (also true-ish)
Temperance April 4, 2013, 4:29 pm
That will trigger “omg why don’t you FOSTER?”
oldie April 4, 2013, 5:05 pm
TMC — that is awful advice. The bf is taking on the permanent sterilization to implement this couple’s joint decision about not becoming parents. It would be very wrong for LW to throw him under the boss to get her mother of her back. It is her responsibility to deal with her mother. Mom’s reaction is likely to be to try to derail the engagement and failing that the marriage, so that daughter ends up with a husband who has a more appropriate sperm count. Plus that totally violates the guy’s privacy.
Temperance April 4, 2013, 3:14 pm
Your mother does not have the right to know about your fiance’s junk. Period.
Older and (hopefully) wiser April 4, 2013, 5:26 pm
I haven’t read any of the responses so this may be redundant but my first response was a vasectomy?!! You’re both so young and so much can change. What if you die and he falls in love with a woman who wants children and would be happy to stay home and raise them? What if you hit your late 30’s and feel like you’ve done it all and want to start a family? You don’t know where your journey will take you and there are so many forms of birth control to choose from that are not permanent. But if you insist on doing this, it’s none of your mother’s business.
spark April 4, 2013, 6:23 pm
Honestly, I don’t think you should have ANYTHING to do with your boyfriend’s vasectomy, and if you’ve encouraged it, I think you should make it clear to him that it’s his choice and you have NO input in the matter. A vasectomy is a permanent, lifelong decision that should NOT be made with a temporary girlfriend. It might very well be the right choice for him, and that’s fine, but it’s not your choice to be involved in. You say you plan to get engaged and marry, so wait till then to voice your opinions on his body. The fact is, he is not fully committed to you yet, so he should not be pressured to fully commit to a vasectomy because you don’t want children. At this point, his option to marry another woman is still open; so you should allow him to keep his option to have children with another woman open. I know you say he feels this way too about kids – and great if he does – but you DO NOT want to be in the position of him one day saying you pressured him into it. Continue to use reliable birth control for now, and make this decision once you’re more fully committed (even if that means you are fully committed without marriage). Just as this topic is none of your mother’s business, right now it’s none of yours either.
pamplemousse April 6, 2013, 2:13 am
She said her boyfriend volunteered the vasectomy (so it was in no way the LW’s decision) and that they are discussing marriage in the near future (so she is not a “temporary girlfriend” as you say). These facts make your comment somewhat irrelevant. The question here has nothing to do with whether the LW is manipulating the boyfriend to get a vasectomy and nothing was said to indicate that is happening in the first place.
BreezyAM April 7, 2013, 11:27 am
Many men volunteer when they’re young and dating a woman who wants to be childfree. Then they break up and 10 years go by and he hits 40 and says “oh shit. I do want kids.” And then gets all resentful at her. Hopefully her guy won’t. But it really needs to be entirely free of her. A flip side of the same argument… a friend of mine is 44 and her husband is wanting a vasectomy as her IUD is ready to come out. The doctor said “why? The likelihood of her getting pregnant is nil”. Her response was “he’s right. What if I get hit by a bus tomorrow? Your choice needs to be about YOU deciding YOU do not want anymore kids, whether or not I can have them.” He got the vas.
BreezyAM April 7, 2013, 11:30 am
and sorry but yes until he actually proposes, she is still technically a temporary girlfriend.
OTOH the fact he is older than her, theoretically in his 30s or so from the updates of other letters, lends more credence that this is actually his idea and good for him.
AKchic_ April 4, 2013, 5:58 pm
Coming up with retorts is fine, but your mom is being manipulative and needs to be called out on it.
“Gee mom, you’re right, you were such a bad mother that I love spending this much time with you while you attempt to manipulate me into changing my mind so you can attempt to live vicariously through me, what was I thinking?”
And when she blinks in confusion, sit her down and explain to her just how manipulative she is being when she tries to make YOUR choices a reflection of her. How she raised you to think independently, not to go to her for your life choice decisions, and dammit, if you choose something, it’s the right choice for you, and it has no reflection on her other than she raised someone who has enough intelligence to make a well-reasoned decision without fucking it up.
Then tell her that you will not listen to anymore manipulation on her part. The subject of grandchildren from your loins is now closed. Period (no pun intended). If she attempts to again, either gather her things for her so she can leave your home, or you leave hers. Or say good-bye and hang up.
BreezyAM April 7, 2013, 11:42 am
Ok I read all the back story and frankly I think you should tell your mom… sort of.
Your bf is 40something by now and childfree. She can know he had a vas but has no need to know when.
“Mom… This isn’t really your business but I am telling you so it’s clear you understand because I need you to stop obsessing on it. John had a vasectomy. This is something I am fine with. Glad about even. We’re getting married. One of the reasons we were drawn to one another was our mutual desire to not have children and instead contribute to the world in other ways. Because we would never want to pressure someone to not have children for us. When you keep bringing this up, it makes me feel like we’re not enough for you. Please stop. We’re happy and this has nothing to do with you. I love you. Now let it go.”
And if she continues then get all bonkers on her.
Sheila April 9, 2013, 5:19 pm
WWS? Could someone elaborate, please?