Ever hear the joke, “How can you tell that someone is a vegan? Don’t worry, they’ll fucking tell you”?
Well, the same goes for us DINKs – Dual Income No Kids. Those of us who have chosen a childless lifestyle.
It’s not that we are trying to be smug, it’s just that we so often have to defend our choice to be childless that we come on more forcefully than necessary:
Polite Person: So you’ve been married almost a year!
Polite Person: Nice – are you going to have any kids?
DINK: NO!!! WOULD YOU FUCKING LEAVE ME ALONE WITH YOUR INTERROGATION YOU GODDAMN CHILD NAZI?!?!
Polite Person: I never should have let you marry my son – you’re insane.
You see, the problem is that often when you are politely asked if you are going to have children, and reply that you are not, the questioning does not stop there. They continue their line of questioning to see if they can pinpoint the reason, and then troubleshoot a solution, as if not having kids is some sort of logistical issue that you are facing. When they have so selflessly figured out the issue for you, and offer you a solution, they sit back with glee; proud of the fact that they just helped another little person into the world.
And you’re just sitting there hoping that later on in the day, a bird craps on their smug face.
So for those of you with kids, here are some of the worst things you can say to someone who has chosen not to have kids:
1. “Why don’t you want kids?” – Seriously? Chances are good that the reason we have for not wanting kids is deep and personal, and we really don’t want to share it with you. Asking people why they don’t want kids is potentially asking them to share very personal, possibly painful, information with you.
2. “Can’t you have children?” – This shouldn’t even have to be on this list, but I’ve heard it more times than I care to recall. Asking a question as personal as that is as rude and inappropriate as one of us grabbing your (or your wife’s) pregnant belly and saying, “Look – this means you had sex and it worked. Your uterus and vagina work! So does your husband’s penis and his testicles! This means your husband put his penis in your vagina! YAY!”
3. “You’ll change your mind later,” or, “You’ll regret it” – Translation = “Even though you are an adult, you are incapable of making long-term decisions.” Just because you (or your wife) once had a Buddha belly, does not make you wiser than the rest of us. We’re adults, we can make our own decisions and be happy with them. We could easily say that you may change your mind about having kids, but that will somehow be more insulting to you, wouldn’t it? God forbid we insinuate you made a mistake having your kids. To imply the other way around with us not having kids is not any less insulting.
4. “That’s selfish” – Really? Why? Scenario A: We have a kid we don’t really want and may love it, but might not like it too much. Maybe we will feel resentment towards it. Maybe it will take a toll on our marriage and we divorce, giving the kid a broken home. Scenario B: We recognize the very real possibility of this happening, avoid having kids, and no one gets hurt. But you want us to go with Scenario A, regardless? Now who’s selfish? Let’s face it, there are PLENTY of parents who had kids and should not have. Let’s applaud those who recognize it before having them.
5. “Well you may not like other people’s kids, but you will like your own, it’s just different.” – OK, that may be. But it might not end up being different. And have you stopped to consider how irresponsible it is to propose that someone who does not want a kid saddle themselves down with one anyways? On the hopeful chance that “it will be different”? If it doesn’t change, are you willing to accept responsibility for my kid because I can’t deal with it? I once had a supervisor who did not like or want kids, but got pregnant. She and her husband had it anyways and I distinctly remember her starting a sentence with, “I mean I like my son, but…..” Lucky kid.
6. “You should give it more thought before you decide” – I don’t know about that, but I am going to give more thought to hanging around you because you’re rude and lack basic social skills.
If you must pry, this is how this conversation should go:
A: Hey, so when are you and your husband having kids?
B: We’re not, we’ve decided to remain childless
A: Cool. Wanna get a latte?
Look, the bottom line is this: Everyone is different, with different life goals and preferences. If kids work for you, great. But don’t assume they work for all.
So kid-havers of the world, we beg of you: stop being nosy and just accept the fact that some of us don’t want kids. In return, we won’t grab your pregnant stomach, give you parenting advice for which you have not asked, and try to refrain from cracking jokes about how much sleep we get, deal?