Your biological clock might be a ticking time bomb. But as the years fly by and you’re more keenly aware of the mounting social pressure to procreate, it’s still not a part of your plan.
If you’ve chosen to forgo the whole parenting malarky, you’re not alone. One in five British 25-34-year-olds doesn’t want children, according to recent YouGov statistics.
Oh, and the old myth that childless adults are miserable? Well, it’s likely to be exactly that. New research from Michigan State University suggests that childfree adults are just as happy as their child-bearing counterparts reporting similar levels of life satisfaction.
Of course, there are plenty of reasons to not have children. You might envision a child-free future where you can travel the world, without any extra baggage. You may want to skip out on the hefty cost and responsibility of raising a family. Maybe you just don’t want to be a parent.
Whatever the reason, it’s a valid one.
The choice of whether to have children is yours and — should you be coupled up— your partner’s too. No one else gets a voting right. No, not even your dear old parents.
Despite this undeniable fact, if your family members have their hopes pinned on potential grandkids, they may not exactly welcome your decision with open arms.
Aura Priscel, a clinical psychologist, tells Metro.co.uk: ‘The decision not to have children is usually harder for family members than for the person who has decided not to have them.
‘Culture influences a lot since some parents see having children as the greatest achievement their own children can have.
‘They may view having children as having someone to take care of them and giving continuity to the family name.’
When you’ve made your mind up on the matter of not having kids, breaking the news to your family may be uncomfortable.
Ahead, Aura shares some stellar advice on the right way to open up to your family about this issue.
Know that you don’t have to give a reason
You may have a solid reason in mind and want to spill the tea. However, keep in mind that you don’t need an excuse for not wanting to have children.
If for whatever reason, you don’t feel like sharing the gory ins and outs of how you came to this decision with your family, you don’t have to.
‘You don’t need to give a reason for not wanting children,’ explains Priscel. ‘Every adult has the right to choose what they believe is best for their life. Just as [you don’t need to explain] why you like a colour or a brand of vehicle, deciding not to have children is not something that should be given in great detail to others.
‘The decision, even if it is not shared with others, must always be respected.’
Avoid engaging with negative comments
Okay, worst-case scenario: Your parents take the news very badly and start arguing with you. While it may pain you to consider this outcome, preparing for it in advance means you will know how to keep things civil.
Aura says: ‘Your parents and possibly other relatives may start attacking you with comments and questions such as “Are you going to regret it?” “Who will take care of you when you are old?” “You will be alone if you do not have children”, or “People who do not have children are selfish”.
‘One way to deal with these types of comments is to ignore them. That means not giving your parents more power to continue generating arguments about the decision you have made.
‘Another way is to tell your parents that you understand how they feel but that they should also understand you.
‘And that if they do not want to understand, they have to respect your decision. Even [when] listening to those comments, staying firm in your reasons why you do not want children will help you not to change your mind due to the possible pressure.’
Don’t fall into an argument trap
Let’s not beat around the bush. It’s hard to sit and listen to a slew of negativity without wanting to bite back. But unless you’re ready to find yourself in the screaming match of the century, Aura says to just let it go.
‘Do not respond in the same tone that they respond to you,’ she advises. ‘If you feel that your family may raise their voices when you express your reasons and say things that may sound offensive, do not respond by acting the same.’
Should things get heated, take a quick timeout. ‘Keep calm, and if you feel that the situation is getting out of control, it is best to withdraw for a moment, breathe and then return,’ Priscel continues. ‘These types of conversations can lead to big arguments, and you don’t need to feel like you are drowning in a decision you made.’
Always trust your own opinion
Chances are, if your parents lament your decision, you might start second-guessing it too. You’re only human, after all, and you want to make them happy.
However, it’s important to remember why you made this decision, rather than trying to people-please your way out of a potentially uncomfortable discussion.
‘You do not have to meet the expectations of others,’ explains Aura. ‘It is common that parents may feel a little disappointed but remember that you are doing what you want for your life.
‘You have to live in a way where the first person who feels satisfied is you because you will never feel happy if you try to live for others.’
Prepare to give your family space
Bottom line? Your parents or other family members might need some time to process this new information and come to terms with it. That’s perfectly okay. Ahead of having this talk with them, prepare to give them any space they may need.
‘If your parents feel upset and annoyed by your decision, do not continue giving explanations about what you’ve decided,’ says Priscel. ‘Walk away and keep calm.
‘In the first few weeks, your parents may feel somewhat annoyed and hurt, but over time things will [likely] improve, and in case it is not like that, keep in mind that you did not come to meet the expectations of others but your own.’
Ready to speak up about your child-free plans? Aura’s advice will help if the chat turns sour, but that’s not the only option. Your parents could surprise you by being unequivocally behind your decision.
Either way, you don’t have to rush this. Take things at your own pace and open up about this topic when the timing feels right for you.
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Get in touch by emailing MetroLifestyleTeam@Metro.co.uk.
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