While my mother is usually extremely understanding of my choices in life, there is one choice on which she cannot agree, and it is my decision not to have children.

Each time the subject comes to the table, it leads to an argument as she loves having grandchildren (both my elder sisters are mothers, and she expects me to become a father down the line).

I have tried to explain to her my point of view :

  • I can't stand children, and I don't know how to act towards them.
  • I wish to focus on my own life, goals, and hobby and don't want to spend time taking care of a child.
  • I do not want the responsibilities that come with being a father.

Those are my reasons not to have a child and my SO shares that point of view.

I have also tried to dismiss the subjet when it appears.

But each time a discussion starts about children, we come under fire and they usually give arguments such as "you'll want children later" or "you'll love children when you have some".

So my question is: How can I get my mother to support our choice, even if she does not agree with it?

We're in France and everyone concerned is French.

Note : this question is close to the question How can I tell people that my girlfriend and I don't want children of our own? but different. They're question focuses on being able to announce that decision without being rude. Here I am trying to find a way to get someone who already knows about our decision to be more supporting of it.

  • 1
    Is there any wider social stigma to being in a long-term relationship but not having any children?
    – user8671
    Commented May 21, 2018 at 15:09
  • 17
    It might be useful to know your age. This is a different matter if you are 60 then if you are say 13
    – Raditz_35
    Commented May 21, 2018 at 15:09
  • @AndyT Although both OPs approach the same subject I think there is a significant distinction between making it clear to people in general, mainly acquaintances, that you don't want children and reaching an understanding with one's mother about having children. I think relevant answers will differ. Commented May 22, 2018 at 10:09
  • 3
    @AlinaCretu - And yet the top voted answer on this question contains essentially the same advice as one of the answers on my proposed duplicate.
    – AndyT
    Commented May 22, 2018 at 10:15
  • If you insist this is not about telling but actually making her accept, this may be out of scope for IPS. As much as it is your private and internal choice not to have kids, it´s her internal and private choice if she accepts this or not. See here
    – user6109
    Commented May 22, 2018 at 12:20

3 Answers 3


A very powerful way to get your mother to support your choice, or at least to stop arguing with it, is to stop explaining or defending it. She has heard your reasons many times, I am sure. She has rebutted them. She has presented her reasons. What you probably don't realize is that when you tell her a reason, you are giving her something to argue with. "I don't like them" -- "you will when they're yours!" or "I dont have time for that" -- "you can make time, and we'll help, and it will work out, you'll see!" and so on.

You and your SO should pick a position, either "we will never have children" or "at the moment we have no plans for children and no timeline for that plan changing." Then practice saying this

Thanks, mother, for wanting us to be happy. I appreciate it. [SO] and I have decided [position]. That is our decision as a couple.

If the rebutting starts, you simply repeat the position.

I have heard that from many people. [SO] and I have decided [position]. That is our decision as a couple.

You can trot out this precise sentence in response to any assertions she makes. If she switches to questions, like "aren't you afraid you'll be lonely when you're old?" you do not have to answer them. If you want to, then have a standard response like "we'll cross that bridge when we come to it" or "it may be hard work, but we intend to [half sentence eg have a lot of younger friends]". You might want to bring your nieces and nephews into play: "we intend to be an amazing aunt and uncle to name, name, and name!" (Don't say this if you dislike and avoid those children, of course.)

As long as you allow discussion on this topic, it remains a topic for discussion. As long as your mind might not be made up, she can try to change your mind. So, if your choice is made, then from now on when the topic is raised, make it clear that you are not surveying opinions, not gathering information so you can make a choice, not considering options. Your choice is made. Talk that way. This includes not putting a lot of energy into defending and explaining it.


I want to expand on Kate's answer (which is perfect)


I was panicking about a social event where I knew a close relative would be spending a lot of time complaining about somebody else in the room.

I was given this very useful comment, "Just because somebody is talking doesn't mean you have to listen"

So if she starts up and you reply as Kate suggests and she still carries on, you terminate the conversation. So if you are on the Phone simply

"Bye mum, I am bored of this conversation again."

or if she is visiting you, leave the room to do a job or a chore.

"Oh, if you are going to start this again, I will put some washing on."

or if you are visiting her

"Oh, if you are going to start this again, I will be off."

I am not stating this as a first tactic, but if she won't stop after you have been polite, you don't have to be polite to rude people.

In response to comments. If His mother was continuing to convince him to stop doing something dangerous, unhealthy, deadly etc this would be nice of her. But she isn't she is pestering the OP to give HER more grandchildren.

The OP has tried to shut the conversation down, but his attempts (I am presuming) have been to try and change the subject. I am saying end the conversation, and let her know why.

I have also tried to dismiss the subject when it appears.

as sdg238, eloquently says, she has heard every argument but doesn't care, all she is caring about in this conversation is what she wants. That is rude by any definition of conversation.

I have been through this with my mother-in-law she didn't care about my concerns at all or even my imaginary future children's concerns (I was working through issues that would have made me a very bad mother).

These are all standard toddler training practices for ending unwanted behaviour.

  • 8
    You've chosen several phrases that I would consider intentionally hurtful. Was that your intention?
    – jpmc26
    Commented May 21, 2018 at 22:27
  • 2
    Let us continue this discussion in chat.
    – Cronax
    Commented May 22, 2018 at 15:00
  • 1
    @jpmc26 I have chosen brunt, unsubtle, to the point phrases that will leave his mother in no doubt as to his intent.
    – WendyG
    Commented May 24, 2018 at 16:34
  • @WendyG There are ways of doing so without being completely dismissive. E.g., "This is not up for discussion." Your choices would leave the listener with the impression that the speaker places little or no value on their relationship.
    – jpmc26
    Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 0:45
  • @jpmc26 I have edited my post to explain this
    – WendyG
    Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 15:00

You cannot make someone sincerely support something they don't agree with. You may be able to convince them to stop actively opposing it, but that is not the same thing as obtaining support.

Just as you want to be understood, you should also seek to understand. She is the mother of a person that she believes is making a poor choice. She feels a strong obligation to help that person change their mind, and likely nothing you can say will change that feeling. So you and she need to find a compromise regarding the way this issue is raised and discussed, not one regarding the choice itself.

You may have to describe how her behavior is hurting your relationship with her and then be clear about what you're asking her to do, such as to stop making comments that criticize your judgement or that hinder your appreciation of her company. You have to avoid making her defensive; use sentences that begin with "I feel" rather than "You are". Also, you have to express appreciation that she loves you so much as to continually desire to express her views about it. Finially, you need to work with her to come to an agreement concerning the rules of engagement for this topic, and you may have to patiently remind her many times of that agreement. At all times, you should act in love.

If what you really want is for her to play-act like she supports your choice while continuing to disagree with it, I would suggest that you are asking for an unreasonable accomodation on her part.

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