It's not often that an article in Cosmopolitan hits home for me. But lo and behold, at some point yesterday, I found myself reading an article, posted on Facebook by a friend of mine.
The article was called "10 Things to Never Say to Women Who Don't Want Kids." And those things are:
- "But you'll be so much happier once you have kids."
- "I can't imagine not wanting kids."
- "What do you do all day?"
- "Who will take care of you when you get older?"
- "Kids give your life meaning!"
- "What do you have to talk to other people about?"
- "You'll change your mind."
- "You should do it before it's too late."
- "If you've never given birth, you don't know what true pain is."
- "Tick tock! Your biological clock is running out of time!"
This article spoke to me for a couple reasons. First off, people have said many of the same things to me. The only ones I've not heard are reasons 3, 6, 9 and 10. But more importantly, it got me thinking: Why has there never been a similar list of things not to say to men who don't want kids (or at least why can't I find one)?
And so I've decided to create one. Without further ado, I present ... What Not To Say to the Childless (By Choice) Man.
- Any and all items on the Cosmo list.
- "You'll never find a woman who wants to be with you if you don't want kids." I call BS here. It seems like every week, I read another article about women who don't want kids and the stupidly insensitive things people say to them. I think there are plenty of women who don't want kids out there in the world. I'm not worried.
- "When all your friends start having kids, you'll be jealous." Unlikely. All my male cousins (except for one) have procreated (well, one adopted a baby, but the result is the same) in the last few years. Some of my friends have had kids and/or are thinking about kids. And I haven't been jealous in the least. Never once have I thought, "My life is less complete because I don't have kids."
- "But your family name will die off if you don't have kids. Don't you want to keep the name alive?" For the record, yes, if I don't have a kid, my last name will die when I do and yes, people have asked me the aforementioned question. And the answer is no, I really don't. Honestly, I couldn't care less if the name dies. And I doubt I'll care any more than I do now after I'm dead.
- "You owe your mother some grandchildren." I owe my mom a lot of things. Grandchildren are not one of them. Nobody "owes" their parent(s) grandchildren. Ever.
- "Your mother's going to be so disappointed if you don't give her some grandchildren." Maybe so, but I've been disappointing my mom for most of my more than 29 years. She'll deal.
And I think that about covers it. I really wish I didn't have to make this list, by the way. It's no secret that I don't want kids, but I don't tell my friends and relatives with kids that they'd be so much happier without them. And yet, it's still ok to berate the consciously childless - men and women alike - for their choice and to suggest that their choice is simply the result of immaturity or a lack of understanding of something.
And that's the real problem. The reason people say stupid stuff like I have on my list or like what's on the Cosmo list is because saying those things is still considered acceptable and polite.
Once that changes, people will stop saying such stupid things.
UPDATE: Commenter Stefanie Wright suggested a 7th item that I hadn't even thought of, so I'll mention it here. Stefanie says: "Don't call them 'childless' - which implies they are missing something. 'Childfree' is much nicer and usually more accurate." Thanks, Stefanie.
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