First I would like to give a bit of context:

  • My companion and I are 25 years old; we will probably get married in a few years
  • I luckily have a comfortable situation, and have been working for 2 years
  • My companion still has to study for 4 years (but she'll be working and will have an income)
  • I get on well with my in-laws, and things are okay with my own family


  • I am an only son
  • My SO has a younger brother (16 years old) and an older brother (27 years old). Neither of them will "provide" (probably) grandchildren anytime soon. So this is a bit more pressure for my partner
  • Everyone here is French (a bit of Mediterranean/Spanish culture on my side)

Recently, my parents-in-law suggested that now that my companion has almost finished her studies "She should be ready to have kids soon". On my side it's pretty much the same, I am expected to have kids since it is "how things should be", but there is a little less pressure. My companion is not sure whether she'd like to ever have kids, and we have been hearing that "We will change our minds" over and over again.

Currently, the only real idea I can express is that the prospect of ever having kids does not make me happy, and that I don't want people around to pressure me into doing something I'll probably not change my mind about.

Has anyone encountered this problem and managed to make it accept to family without too much conflict?

I also have heard other ideas against my wish coming from aunts/uncles:

  • "People who don't want kids don't like themselves" -> That's not how I feel, do you know examples who might corroborate this idea?
  • "You won't be satisfied by life if you don't have kids" -> I think my career, personal life and hobbies can largely be enough, am I wrong to think that? Is there a way to make our families feel the way we do about that?


A comment rightfully suggested that I should add what I already tried. So here it is:

  • I had the conversation about having (or not having) kids with my part of the family and tried the "I just don't feel like having kids ever" argument
  • It did not go well and escalated really quick, that's when I heard the arguments I am quoting in this question

My SO and I do not want to re-iterate my errors with her part of the family, that's why I am asking for advice here.

  • 4
    Might be worth looking at this similar situation: interpersonal.stackexchange.com/questions/14776/…
    – user8671
    Jul 23, 2018 at 11:57
  • 1
    That looks better :D Thank you! If you could, there's stuff like tone of voice, and body posture, did you take note of what you said/how you said it? It's often hard, but 'escalating' often isn't one-sided, and maybe someone can point out to you what to avoid next time if you can include that. Like I said, that's often difficult to write down though, so no pressure ;)
    – Tinkeringbell
    Jul 23, 2018 at 20:02
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    The question is unclear because it is not clear what an acceptable answer would be. Let's illustrate with a germane example. Suppose your mother posted a question on this site "how do I make my son accept that he ought to be producing children?" What would the acceptable answer to that question be? By knowing this, we can clarify what an acceptable answer to your question would be. Jul 23, 2018 at 21:04

7 Answers 7


I am in a similar situation as yours. Both my SO and I have been working for a while and are in an age at which people are expected to start having plans of wedding and family. Though we want the marriage part, I'm not sure I want to raise biological children (I'm myself adopted and pretty sure that I'd adopt too if I want to have kids one day). My relatives keep telling me that I'm gonna want to share my biological legacy, and I'm certain I'll never regret if I don't.

I've recently found an answer that my relatives dare to consider. If yours are aware that you too plan to get married, you could try the following:

Actually, we think we have things we want to do before having kids. With the wedding upcoming, we'd like to enjoy our married life before dedicating to children. [Insert here plans of trip, adult activities, projects...]

You said in your question that you are not sure whether you'll want to have kids someday. This answer does not exclude the possibility, which could reassure them. In my case, it also reassured them to know that my SO and I want to take time to build up a family together before, and that if we want kids in the future, this will be a mature decision and they'll have a good, solid frame to grow into. So in a nutshell, such assertion would reassure them and it may keep them from regularly asking you why you're not a parent yet.


Personally, I would try to deflect such arguments and politely, but firmly make it clear that the decision to have kids (or not to have kids) is a very personal one, and that you don't owe a justification of your decision to anyone.

Since that doesn't really adress your question(s), here's how I would react on the occasions you gave as examples:

"People who don't want kids don't like themselves"

Just ask "Why do you think so?" The argument is really not more than a mere claim. Instead of going straight into confrontation mode, make the proponent justify their statement. Chances are, they can't, because they don't have any evidence whatsoever. Just be wary of people trying to "reverse-proof" it, by pointing out examples of people "not liking themselves" who don't / didn't have kids.

Being unhappy with oneself may be one reason for deciding not to have kids, but that doesn't mean it is the only viable reason.

"You won't be satisfied by life if you don't have kids"

  1. Same procedure as with the first one. Make them justify the claim. They can't, of course, because nobody can see the future.

  2. Point out that different people expect different things from life. The possibility that the statement will end up being true for you and your companion exists, obiously (no point denying that), but the reverse is also possible (you having kids and later regretting it). What "they" are essentially saying when they tell you that you will be unhappy is that they know better what you want / need that you do yourself. They may be saying / doing this without really thinking about it this way, which makes it even more important to get this point across.

I have also been told that I was being selfish by not wanting kids.

I'm not a native speaker, but to me, being selfish means putting your own needs above the needs of others (maybe even at the expense of others).

Again, "Why do you think so?" could be an interesting question here. Who do they think is treated unfairly if you don't have kids? Whose needs are not adequately taken into account? If you (or, more importantly, they) think about it, the only people whose needs are relevant here are those of you and your SO. You are not damaging anyone, you are not withholding anything from anyone, you are just making a decision on how you want to live your life.

Another question to ask:

Who would benefit if you had kids, not because you really want to, but because you feel compelled to? Would that be good for the people who are involved deepest into this, meaning you, your SO and the children themselves?

This last question is one that everyone involved in the decision (you, your parents, your SO, your in-laws, anyone who feels the need to meddle in the decision, really) could / should ask themselves, IMO. It's not targeted at anyone in particular.


Making that decision up-front is a good one. I wish more people put your amount of thought into raising children. It shouldn't simply be a "default state" of being. It requires a level of commitment that you shouldn't enter into casually.

And there is nothing wrong with being selfish. It's your life - do what you want with it. Using a pointed word like "selfish" to push people into actions they're against is simply a wrong thing to do to someone.

I understand your parents, though. I was 25 myself once and said the same thing. I'm now in my 50's with kids. I was dead set against it when I was younger. But now I'm (obviously) all for it. For me - I'm not trying to convince you of anything. What I am saying is that your tastes over time absolutely will change. As you live your preferences in food, music, friends - they will all change. And some things won't. And maybe having children is one of them. Only you can say. But this may be why your parents aren't hearing your answer. They are looking at their long lives, thinking of all the changes they've personally experienced and thinking you will do the same. I'm pretty sure they're just taking your statement as your youth speaking, and thinking you'll come around.

So maybe the best approach would be to acknowledge that somewhat and tell them this is how you feel right now. And maybe you'll feel differently some day, but right now and at this moment - this is what you want your life to be. They might have an easier time accepting that than a blanket statement saying "never ever" which they probably think can't possibly be true. Hopefully that will make them relax a bit and not be so pushy about things, and give you a little peace on the topic.


We are from a different culture but also experienced some family pressure although at an older age than yourselves. At that time I was studying a martial art that focused on using your opponent's energy against themselves. Inspired by this what worked for me is don't commit, don't actively agree or disagree, change the subject away from yourself; with these three points you are not giving the other side footing for conflict.

When are you having kids?
We're not sure, the timing doesn't feel right yet for us; Oh I wanted to ask you, how was your vacation last month? Do you have any pictures?


You should have kids!

Maybe in a few years, we aren't in any rush. Mom showed me pictures of your garden, how do you get your tomatoes so big?

If you approach it this way you aren't taking much of a position to allow for conflict and you are steering the conversation back to them. If they won't the let topic be completely steered away from having kids keep the topic on having kids but turn it to their experience having kids.

Don't change the subject, when are you putting a baby into her?

When we both feel the time is right. How did you two decide the time was right for you?

These conversation cues can easily lead to learning more about their lives and if you are conscious of where the conversation is going can lead away from you and your plans. If you find this approach difficult maybe practice with your partner.

Be open with your partner that this is the angle you are taking and why you are doing it so they aren't caught by surprise by you expressing ambiguity on the subject. Your partner is owed an open opinion on this even if the rest of your family is not.


I am in the same situation. I have tried everything except being directly rude and it usually leads to at least half an hour of defending myself.

Now my standard reply is this:

[Well-meaning person] When are you getting kids?

[Me] Oh, I am still waiting for my second puberty. You know, when the hormones hit and you want a child.

This has, by FAR, the best response from my family and acquaintances. Firstly, it makes it sound like you are open to children. Secondly, most people can identify with a "second puberty" (think how often people say they changed their minds or woke up one day and just needed a child). Finally, it has just enough humor that it is unoffensive.

As a warning, I am a female. Your partner will probably have better success with this line. You may need to find a way to tailor it to the male side better. Best of luck!


I'll post this for two reasons: Because I would genuinely handle it like that and because no one ever considers this a viable option here.

What both of your parents are doing in my eyes is incredibly rude and hurtful. You are grown adults. You have made a deliberate decision. Parents are no more in a position to tell you that you're wrong than anyone else. Nor are they in a position to tell you that you don't know what you're doing or that you'll grow out of it. That is insulting to no end.

Especially the "You're selfish" part - What is that supposed to mean, that you two have to give it up for your parents, make some kids against your wishes, with all the money that costs and the sleepless nights and the career implications and so on, just so they can be grandparents for a few weekends of the year? What are you, breeding stock? If I were you, I would be livid, and would not even try to hide or curb it. In fact, I am furious about that right now.

And then all that other drivel from your aunts and uncles - It's just outright gaslighting. You are absolutely right. You will be able to live a satisfied life and have great relationships with your own selves and with each other, all without kids. Telling you stuff like this borders abuse. It is designed to make you question yourself, question whether you're actually right, whether you're actually sure you don't want kids, and ultimatley designed to make you come to a decision that is not your own.

The other answers will tell you all you need to know about how your parents just really want grandkids, and how that wish blinds them to a degree to how rude they are, and how you can solve this situation gracefully, and how you can go about analyzing it and discussing it and finding compromise and so on and so forth. If you want to do that, do it, resolving this calmly would be great. But this answer is here to tell you that it would be absolutely okay to, if all that fails or you just don't want to go through it, tell your parents to f*ck off.

Absolutely will it be nasty, but if that blow to the forehead is the only thing that makes your parents back off, or maybe even stop and think, then it's okay. You do not have to listen to any of this. You two are grown people. Your decision is fine. And in no way are you two selfish for not wanting kids. Sure will your parents be hurt; But they brought that on themselves by saying you two didn't know what you were talking about and should just revert a very big decision you made and produce a few kids already. That is absolutely unacceptable.

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    @aperture Only part of this answer is designed to give you a solution. Most of it is about reminding you that you are in the right, 100%. That can possibly also help you implementing one of the solutions in the other answers. There are a lot of arrangements and rules and compromises you and your families could make; But please remember during all this: Your decision is fine. Your thinking is fine. You can handle this. That talk tries to convince you otherwise. Don't let it succeed. Jul 23, 2018 at 15:10
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    @Anketam Depends of which conflict counts and which one doesn't. This escalates the conflict between them and their parents to minimize the internal conflict of having to endure gaslighting, questioning yourself, and feeling you're being selfish. If you dismiss those internal conflicts, then, yes, my answer will only add conflict to the situation. Jul 24, 2018 at 10:41

Abject hostility when the subject is brought up

This may sound like a weird thing to suggest, but really: sometimes the best way to get the message across is to escalate. Intruders that refuse to leave when told get tossed out on their ears, and that goes also for the figurative one that keeps intruding into your personal decisions.

The decision to have or not to have children is an entirely personal choice and not the business of anyone else. But your folks do not seem to understand that. They take it as a given that they have a right to interfere in your personal business.

So you need to make it clear to anyone that sticks their noses in it: it is none of their business, and they are out of line.

Hence when the subject is brought up again, display the kind of response that is warranted when someone else imposes themselves on your personal choices: display hostility.

Be angry, and show it to them...

Look, just because you feel the highest goal in life is to breed on command like some farm animal, I do not share that view!


(With sarcasm) Sure... you absolutely are right... you know best when we should have children. Do you want a bedside view too so you can inspect the while thing and make sure nothing goes wrong with the impregnation?


Bring this up again and I will book time tomorrow to have my tubes tied. Back. Off.

Shock them, rock their boat, make them see that their view of things is not the only one, and that they have massively overstepped their mandate. If arguments do not help, then an emotional response may get them to understand they are acting offensive and invasive.

And when they react all miffed and say "Well, that was uncalled for", you reply "No, because I tried to tell you, and you would just not listen. So it was called for".

  • Wow I would not like to resort to that. However, I see your point, it might be one way of doing it. Thanks for your answer.
    – aperture
    Jul 23, 2018 at 19:08
  • @aperture I — of course — hope you will never have to use that answer. But if nothing else works... if hints, arguments and gentle requests do not get the point across... then tell them: "you are making me upset, back off".
    – MichaelK
    Jul 23, 2018 at 20:09
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat.
    – MichaelK
    Jul 24, 2018 at 9:16

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