Between bites of Thai food on our first date, we (somehow) started talking about children. We’d been having such a great time up until that point. It seemed like we agreed on everything. Now came the landmine that all couples in their late twenties/early thirties have to navigate. Hesitantly, we both confessed children weren’t in our plans. Our tandem sighs of relief were loud and audible. Not because we don’t like children or don’t want people to have them—but because it meant our pleasant night could continue without judgment. We’d both gotten our share of eye rolls, concerned advice, stink-eyes, and “Oh, you’ll change your mind” talks when the subject of procreation came up.
Eight years and dozens of friends’, family members’, and coworkers’ pregnancies later, we still haven’t changed our minds. We’re married and in the second half of our thirties. We have stable careers (knock on wood), two dogs, and a spare bedroom that could theoretically be the baby’s room. Yet we don’t feel any differently. We love being an aunt and uncle to our nieces and nephews and figuratively to our friends’ kids, but being around them doesn’t inspire us to have our own. We support those who decide to have children and don’t feel ostracized when they do, but many people still look at us with some mixture of pity, judgment and bewilderment. Yes, we might not be the norm, but in an era of non-traditional marriages, is it too much to ask that everyone be treated with respect?
Here are 15 examples of what we deal with all the time. Avoid these misconceptions, and your child-free pals will thank you.
1. We’ll Change Our Minds About Having Kids
We might because things happen, but probably not. You might resent your kids because things happen, but again, probably not. Either way, it’s not okay to believe you know how other adults will feel better than they know themselves.
2. We Have Endless Free Time and Waste a Lot of It
Everyone has 24 hours in a day, and everyone wishes there were more time in the day. Coupledom without children doesn't come with a 25th hour, just different priorities.
3. We Hate Your Children
Don’t apologize for your children interrupting dinner, or for being dog-tired because the baby wouldn’t sleep, or for canceling happy hour for play dates. We love that you love where you’re at and don’t secretly blame your kids because you won’t party all night anymore. It's an amazing feeling to grow old with friends and see their lives and families evolve. If children are being d*cks because they’re ignored or overly coddled, then we hate the parents, not the kids.
4. We Have a Dark, Hidden Reason for Not Wanting Kids
Stop asking what is the real reason. It’s a decision based on a variety factors. For some, there is one big issue or it’s just the missing desire to duplicate. Whatever we tell you, it's the truth (or the closest thing we’re comfortable telling you).
5. We're Clueless About Childcare
Adults without babies can still know how to care for one. Why is it that teenage girls are considered more skilled than us? We know about chokables, avoiding sugar, inside voices, and bedtime stories. Anything we don’t know, we’ll just ask Siri.
6. We’ve Lost Sight of What's Important
Who judges the important rankings? Ask a politician, and (s)he may say the deficit. Ask an environmentalist, and (s)he might say global warming. Ask a parent, and (s)he might say children's well being. All valid. Ask your friends without kids what is important to them if you don't already know. You'll probably be surprised that they have similar concerns to you.
7. We Are Immature and Selfish
Isn’t it more immature and selfish to have children when you’re not 100 percent invested just because you think it’s what you “should” do—or just because you want to see a little version of you?
8. Our Problems Are Trivial
Our problems feel just as big, just as hard, and just as sh*tty. We understand the extra guilt and vulnerability you have with providing for a family. Please understand our fear and anxiety about living in an often-unforgiving world is just as valid.
9. We're Workaholics
Some, yes. But so are some parents. It's a personality that has to do with the individual and not the childbearing situation.
10. We Think Our Pets Are Surrogate Kids
We get the difference and don't have a college fund for Fido. If we make a comparison between our dogs and your children, we’re just trying to relate. We don’t literally think they’re the same. However, we do think our pets are cuter than your babies. Come on—it would be weird if we had calendars of other people's babies. Not so with cute puppies.
11. We Don't Want To Be Invited To Kid-Centric Functions
We want to be a part of your life and get our feelings hurt when we learn that we didn't get to go to Johnny's fifth birthday party. Don't assume we have something better to do. Just give us a hint on what gift to bring.
12. We Don't Know What We're Missing Because We Haven't Tried It
Isn't that the same argument dealers use when convincing others to try drugs?
13. Our Homes Are Filled with Breakables and Hazards
Very few of us live in places filled with crystal vases, throwing stars, and ginsu knives. Give us a heads up, and we’ll put the few hazards we do have away. We do the same thing when our drunk friends come over. If something breaks, we'll deal. We probably got it at Target like you did.