I Don’t Want Kids, but He Does; Help!

Ask Demetria: If you disagree about being parents now, it doesn't bode well for your marriage.


(The Root) —

I don’t think I was born with the “mommy gene.” I am 34 and have concluded firmly that neither having nor raising children is for me. I’ve told my fiancé multiple times: “No, I don’t want children.” The wedding date has been set, but recently he’s been talking about planning a timeline for our future, and children are on his list. What can I say to let him know that I’m serious about not wanting kids and still get married in July? –A.T.

You’re knee-deep in wedding plans right now, but I suggest putting them on hold until you and your fiancé reach some sort of resolution on this issue, if that’s even possible. Not being on the same page with your partner about having children is a deal breaker.

Your fiancé probably thinks that you can be convinced to have children once you are married. I’m concerned that he has chosen to ignore your oft-stated perspective on this issue. He seems certain that he will get his way, and I can’t tell from your letter if that’s from a sense of entitlement or just wishful thinking.

It’s unfathomable to many people that a woman genuinely, honestly, really doesn’t want kids, but many women don’t. A 2008 Pew Research study found that among women ages 40-44, there were equal numbers of women who are childless by choice and those who would like children but cannot have them. Additionally, 1 in 5 American women end their childbearing years without having birthed a child. (In 1976 only 10 percent of women were doing so.)

I’ll guess that over the years, when you’ve revealed that you don’t want children, your desire not to become a parent has been brushed off. You’ve likely heard some version of a patronizing “Oh, just wait” or “You’ll grow out of it,” as if you’ll come around in time. There’s a popular saying that goes, “When men say no, it’s the end of an argument; when women say no, it’s the start of a negotiation.”

You have to explain to your partner that this isn’t a passing phase, and you won’t suddenly wake up one day and decide, “Yes, kids, please!” You are no more likely to be convinced to want children because he does than he will be convinced not to want them because you don’t.