What to Do When Your Family Doesn’t Respect Your Decision to Not Have Children

Posted by  Soribel Martinez

Having children is an incredibly personal choice. While some people might want children and struggle with infertility issues, others actively choose not to have them, and that’s completely okay. 

Unfortunately, not everyone is always on board with that choice. When it’s your own family that doesn’t respect your decision not to have children, things can be difficult. 

At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that whether you have kids is up to you. No one else should influence your decision or “guilt” you into something. 

But, even if you feel confident in that decision, what can you do when your family doesn’t see things the same way? 

Be Clear About Your Reasons

Often, family members might disapprove of your choice not to have kids because they don’t fully understand why. It’s easy for some people to think not having children is selfish. That isn’t true, and it’s important that they know that. 

So, don’t be afraid to talk about your reasons. Maybe you want to focus on your career and it would be selfish to spend so much time away from a child. Maybe you want to focus on being a wonderful aunt or uncle instead. 

You might even choose not to have children for environmental reasons. Explaining things like that to your loved ones can make it easier for them to understand and cope. 

However, it’s okay to not have a list of “excuses”. Even if you don’t have a specific reason, it’s okay to simply say, “I’ve just never wanted to have kids.” 

Create Healthy Boundaries

Once you’ve explained to your family that you’re not having children and given your reasons, that should be the end of the conversation. If it’s not, don’t be afraid to set some healthy boundaries that will keep your mental well-being protected. 

If a family member continues to bring up your decision, be clear and direct with them that you’re not going to discuss it further. You can bring up the fact that you’ve talked about it before and nothing has changed. 

The important thing about boundaries is that they need to be firm. You don’t have to be rude or angry, but asking your family for their respect is something that needs to be clear. You also need to show that there will be consequences if they don’t respect those boundaries. That might mean not showing up to every family function, or even not talking to certain members who can’t give you the respect you deserve.

It’s Okay for Them to Grieve

If you want your family to respect your decision, you have to respect their feelings. 

Maybe your parents are disappointed that they’ll never have grandchildren. Or, maybe you have a sibling who has always wanted a niece or nephew. 

You’re not having kids because of personal feelings. That doesn’t mean you should deny your family their feelings about the subject. They need to discuss it with you in understanding, respectful ways. But, it’s important to understand that they might grieve that decision. 

That’s okay. 

Try to be comforting in the way you approach your discussion. Listen to their feelings and even their concerns. The way they feel doesn’t have to change your decision, but they’re still allowed to be sad or upset about things. Again, this is where boundaries can play a big role. You can be there for them in their grief without letting them cross over a line of criticism. 

Your family should be a built-in support system when it comes to major life decisions like having kids or not. If they choose not to respect your decision, it’s up to you to hold to your boundaries. Communication is necessary for situations like these, but don’t sacrifice your well-being to appease certain family members who won’t accept your choice.

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