From casual observations about our physical appearance to unsolicited comments about our relationship status, women are all too often the victims of tactlessness. None of it is remotely acceptable, but this type of commentary is particularly irksome when it strays into such intimate territory as one’s decision not to have kids. Whether you’ve been on the receiving end of this nonsense, or simply need to check yourself before you talk to, say, your daughter-in-law, our rundown of the eight things you should never say to someone who doesn’t want to have children will surely do you good.
8 Things You Should Never Say to Someone Who Doesn’t Want to Have Children
1. “You’d make such a great mom”
Aw, shucks…except the woman you're talking to has expressed zero interest in being a mom, so this compliment (if that’s what it is) just doesn’t really land. Also, chances are she could do a lot of different things well…but no one goes around telling a mail carrier they would make a great dog walker, so why this?
2. “Aren’t you worried you’ll change your mind?”
Nope. If this concern were eating away at your friend or loved one, she might have come to you to process it. But since there’s no indication that she’s losing any sleep over it, neither should you. Also, this question is a tad bit condescending, to say the least. After all, not having kids is as big a decision as having them—so we’re willing to bet she considered this (and all other) possibilities carefully before making up her mind.
3. “Who will take care of you when you get old?”
Before you let this one slip, evaluate whether or not you’re genuinely asking out of concern for how the person of child-bearing age will fare when they reach their twilight years. Once you’ve assessed this, ask yourself how many adult children end up putting their parents in nursing homes anyway (no judgment). Yep, your friend will be in good company when she finds herself in a senior care facility—and if the prospect doesn’t scare her, it shouldn’t bother you one bit.
4. “Having kids makes life so much more meaningful.”
This remark is an example of projection and implies that the woman’s life is lacking. Perhaps you felt that way before having kids, or maybe you feel that way now and are thus eager to have kids in the future. Nevertheless, parenthood is just one of many ways to find fulfillment in life, so please don’t assume that a woman who chooses not to have kids is burdened with a persistent feeling of emptiness or discontent. (It’s a bit much, don’t you think?)
5. “How does your partner feel about your choice?”
Nunya. As in, nunya business. The negotiations that go down between romantic partners regarding plans for the future are private, so it’s best not to poke your nose where it doesn’t belong. It’s also beyond patronizing to express concern about the state of another person’s marriage over such a major decision—because, yeah, we’re guessing the woman hashed this one out with her husband long before you knew about it.
6. “Don’t you want to see yourself reflected in someone else?”
Close your eyes and imagine giving birth to…yourself. Now, how does that make you feel? I mean, we’re all about self-love—but if you’re going to challenge a woman over her choice not to have children, you’re going to have to do better than this narcissistic (and kind of creepy) line of inquiry.
7. “That’s so great that you guys knew you wanted space to be selfish in your life. It’s good!”
It sounds like a compliment—and that may genuinely be the intention, given that the concept of self-care is all the rage these days—but implying that your friend’s choice to not have children is motivated by selfishness is simply not cool. There are a myriad of reasons why a woman might decide not to procreate, just as there are a myriad of ways beyond motherhood to show selflessness. The suggestion that a carefree, all-about-me existence is the primary reason for a woman not having kids is reductive (and not exactly flattering, either).
8. “You won’t know love until you know the love of having a child.”
The bond between mother and child is a special one, to be sure. That said, the person in question has taken a hard pass on discovering that particular type of loving feeling, and is presumably satisfied by the many other loving relationships in her life. Plus, it’s all relative, right? If you’ve never known that mother-child love and aren’t curious enough about it to procreate, you’re just not missing much.