We’ve all been tempted. You’re talking with someone who is prying into your personal life and will not stop questioning you about why you don’t have kids.
You think, “Maybe if I just say I CAN’T have kids, they’ll leave me alone.”
It may look like an easy way out, but I always advise people against lying about the real reasons they are child free. My reasoning is two-fold.
First, there are many people out there who desperately want children and can’t have them. I think it is unfair for us to diminish their personal struggle by claiming we can’t have children, when as far as we know we can. To me, it is the same as saying you have cancer when you don’t, or lying about your grandmother dying so you can get some bereavement days off at work. Infertility is a medical condition, and if that isn’t why you don’t have kids you shouldn’t lie and say that it is.
Second, it does not further the goal of the child free community to be accepted for our choice not to have children if we lie about our real reasons. You are certainly not obligated to go into too much detail about your decision, but you should at least be honest.
As part of my job, I do a lot of public speaking. I often find myself making small talk with people over lunch or dinner, and in the course of conversation I am often asked if I have kids. I have never once said that I couldn’t have children. When people ask, I simply say no.
Sometimes people say something like, “Well, you’re young. There’s still time.” I usually don’t respond to that. If it is a stranger or an acquaintance, then I see no point in clarifying the issue. Once I was asked, “Well, do you WANT children?” I was shocked that a stranger asked me that, but I simply responded, “No.” And I changed the subject.
I know it can be convenient to use infertility as an excuse. But that answer only creates sympathy for you that, quite frankly, you don’t deserve. Of course, there are some people who will feel sorry for you even if you tell them that you don’t want kids. At least let them sympathize for the right reasons! (Even though we don’t need their pity…)
The best thing to do is to create an “elevator speech” about why you don’t want kids. Although it is true that children make me nervous and I just need my sleep, I usually avoid telling people that is why I don’t want kids. I choose more “thought out” reasons, that can’t be misinterpreted as selfish or immature. I usually talk about how many hours I work, and how we love to travel. Sometimes I even say that I don’t think we could afford a child. Sometimes I quote statistics and let people know that more and more couples are choosing not to have kids. (There is safety in numbers!)
But I never make up reasons that aren’t true. There are so many benefits to the child free lifestyle, you should be able to come up with plenty of real reasons for your decision that will be respected.