Ask Amy

Thursday, May 14, 2009 at 1:00am
Amy Dickinson

DEAR READERS: Some time back, I ran a letter from "No Babies in South Dakota," about how to respond to frequent queries about when she and her husband would have children. Because they don't plan to have children, they were looking for a "snappy comeback."

Readers responded by the bushel. A surprising number of readers accused people who don't wish to have children of being selfish.

Other readers offered snappy comebacks or other responses to the age-old question: "When are you going to have kids?"

DEAR AMY: Why is it necessary to have a snappy comeback?

Most people ask out of curiosity.

Being a person who decided against kids and marriage, I always politely but firmly say that was my lifestyle choice.

Only a Neanderthal would push the point, and then I still politely but firmly say, "These questions are getting a little personal."

— Personal Choice

DEAR AMY: I'm a 49-year-old woman. When people ask me why I don't have children, I just say, "I love doting on other people's children, and with such a wonderful niece and nephew, that's enough for me."

This has worked well for me, but on occasion I have had to set some boundaries with particularly insistent people. In those cases, I said, "It is a personal decision that is not open for discussion."

— Elisa

"No Babies" should more honestly rationalize her decision by just admitting, "I'm selfish, and I don't want to interrupt my lifestyle" or "I dislike children; they are so untidy," or "I'm afraid I'd make a child turn out as miserably neurotic as myself." — Disgusted

DEAR AMY: If you don't have kids and you're happy with it, you're "childfree."

If you don't have kids and you're not happy with it, you're "childless."

— Childfree By Choice

My husband and I have known couples that have "elected" not to have children. It seems that these couples always replace the children in their lives with a very pleasant lifestyle that includes frequent vacations, nice clothes, fine cars, above-average homes, season tickets to sporting events, plays, concerts and a lifestyle that couples with children never dream of.

All to replace the emptiness of an empty nest. This all smacks of the '60s hippie culture through the '70s "me generation."

— Not Buying It

To the couple with concerns about inquiries: Bottom line — it is your private business! Remember, too, that you have the right to change your mind. In one case we know of, it took 17 years, but when the baby came, it was for all the correct reasons.

— No Excuses/No Regrets

DEAR AMY: I, too, have the same "no babies" problem.

Nothing infuriates me more than when people say, "You want them, but you just don't know it yet."

I am 31, and my husband is 33. We know, and it's a no for us.

I am starting to think "We can't have kids" is the easiest response.

— No Babies In Meraux, La.

DEAR AMY: A better answer for a childless couple might be to just pick any date far in the future and when busybodies ask, "When are you planning to start having children?" you could say, "Nov. 11, 2022."

— No Babies Too

DEAR AMY: I am childless and concur that your young couple will be facing the inevitable questions for many years to come.

I will be 50 soon and have allowed my hair to go gray naturally. Nonetheless, it was not that long ago that people were still asking me when — not if — I'd have kids.

My standard answer is that until I can learn to keep a houseplant alive, children are out of the question.

— Choosing Childless

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Filed under: Lifestyles

2 Comments on this post:

By: pandabear on 5/14/09 at 12:52

Just say "Why do you ask that ?".

If they respond with a real answer (most people will just figit around
and mumble something)
like "You're too beautiful not to have kids", say
"What do you mean ?"

Wear'em out. Works for me.

By: courier37027 on 5/14/09 at 4:19

Couples wanting children should be required to baby-sit a six-month old for a long weekend. Find friends or a relative couple with a newborn or toddler. They will likely and gladly surrender the child for a weekend, so they can get some sleep and peace. That should cure "baby fever". If the custodian couple can handle stress, interrupted sleep, changings and feedings then go for it. If not, well you saved yourself and the child eighteen years of anguish.