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I've got a wonderful boyfriend who I can very openly communicate with. We've been together half a year, but we've been friends for years before that. I'm in my early twenties.

So far we have handled all difficult discussions with ease, but I'm still scared about approaching him with this topic. We both made very, very clear that we don't want children right now as we're busy with our lives. We often fantasize about the future and how we want to spend our lived together but neither of us ever mentions children.

We both don't like (most) children, get annoyed by toddlers and despise babies. Yet, I like the thought of maybe raising a kid one day, like two decades from now (in my late thirties). MAYBE. I'm faithful that when I start talking about this topic, we'll end up agreeing on it, like with so many other things. But I don't know how to bring this up without seeming like I want children. I could just ask assuming the negative - "Do you ever want to have children?" but I'd rather be more neutral.

How can I ask my boyfriend about his preference regarding children without him making assumptions about my own?

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    You say you have very open communication with your boyfriend, is there a reason you think that wouldn't be the case for this particular subject? – Em C Aug 26 '18 at 20:40
  • @toast I think you're in this a little too soon... do you live together yet? – Summer Aug 27 '18 at 12:02
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    "I could just ask assuming the negative - "Do you ever want to have children?"" That is the neutral option IMO - why do you say it's assuming the negative? – curiousdannii Aug 27 '18 at 15:02
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My wife and I were in your shoes in our early twenties. Then when we were about 30, my wife said something like...

When we're old, do you want our kids to come visit us at Christmas?

Well, that was very effective on me. I couldn't imagine old age without grown children. Now we have four kids, aged 7--14. It's a busy life but I wouldn't trade it for the alternative.

I would advise that you not wait too long. After having your first child, there is a good chance that you will want another.

So my advise is... ask him if he wants to have grown children when he is an old man.

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I would hazard a guess that a great many people don't want, or aren't ready to have, children in their early 20's. That's not to say that this isn't something worth thinking about, and it's pretty definitely a conversation worth having long before making long term commitments, but a great many people probably aren't ready to settle down and raise a family at that age.

I started raising children in my late teens, and spent most of my adulthood doing that, but even then I didn't/don't want children of my own... This became a major bone of contention in a few relationships over the years and even contributed to the end of a couple.

The decision to have children, or not, is one of those huge life changing decisions that change every decision making process thereafter. It's honestly not something that people should be talked into or out of.

When talking to a partner about the desire to have children at some distant point in the future, it's probably a good idea to be clear about the timeline that you have in mind. Make it clear that you don't want children in the next few years, but that it's something that you'd like to consider in your late 30's. Keeping the timeline in the conversation will likely be important, a great many of those people who aren't ready to settle down and raise children in their early 20's will be ready in their 30's.

On the other hand... Some folks just don't want to raise children, and that's every bit as valid a decision and it should be respected. These conversations shouldn't be ultimatums. While you may not want to have a long term relationship with someone with different life goals, you really don't want to raise a child with someone who isn't 110% on-board either.

With all of that said...

If you've only been dating for 6 months in your early 20's, it may be better to put a pin in that conversation for a little while. You've got a lot of time to make up your mind, and this is most definitely not a conversation or a decision that needs to be, or should be rushed.

Take a little more time to figure out what you want out of life, what you want out of a life together, and how compatible you two are as a couple; before looking at how compatible you two will be as parents.

  • I definitely don't plan to influence his position, my main goal is to have this conversation without my side of it mattering. But I guess I can live with the idea of waiting with that discussion, as much as we love making up our future together~ (I can't upvote cause I'm just posting as a guest) – toast Aug 26 '18 at 20:30
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    "without my side of it mattering" likely isn't possible. Your side of it does matter. If you're concerned that your position will influence his answer, keep in mind that he likely has the same concern. @toast – apaul Aug 26 '18 at 20:57
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I agree with @apaul (comments) ... a very different conversation at 20 than at 30-35.

As a guy, be direct and straight-forward with him. Don't try to sugar coat it -- this is an important "life to determining" question for both of you. You will get as much (or more) from HOW he answers, as you will from the answer itself.

It should go without saying, but... timing is everything. In my experience, the middle of a TV Show, movie, sports event is not likely to have his complete attention on the topic. Similarly, the moment either of you walk in the door from work/school. Pick a time you both can be fully engaged in the conversation. If he's up for a walk or a casual dinner, perhaps would be a good time.

Understand that this is not a discussion, nor a precursor to an argument, that is to say, regardless of his response, don't argue -- he (as you) are entitled to your respective desires and life plans. Be accepting of his answer ESPECIALLY if it is counter to your desires, and YOU make YOUR plans accordingly.

One other thing to understand is that at 20ish, (the collective) you are more likely than not to change your mind(s) in the next 4-6 years.

Also, dodging the question is an answer. If he's willing to spin around this question, how will he spin around other life-event question?

Hope this helps.

Good luck.

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I agree that sometimes the direct method isn't always the best one. A great life skill I've learnt over the years is that when you want to know something, but it's a little awkward to directly ask someone about it, you ask some small specific thing about what you want to know.

For example, you could ask:

If you had kids, what would you name them?

If he answers with a name, you can be sure enough that he's not one to opt out of having kids. If he doesn't want to have children, he's unlikely to mention any names because he hasn't thought about that yet.

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