"Life isn't about getting and having, it's about giving and being."
There is an expectation in society that people will grow up, get married, and have children, but increasingly more couples are deciding that parenting might not be for them. As some of the traditions of family life are changing, the decision not to have children is not as unusual as it once was. Now, more than ever, people are motivated to live their life according to what makes themselves happy instead of what it expected of them. Spiritually, we are much more likely to be encouraged by quotes that tell us:
"Life is not about getting and having, it's about giving and being."
- Kevin Kruse
Many people, Christian men and women among them, feel that their lives should no longer be dictated by the old expectations of having a family and a white picket fence if they genuinely do not feel that such a life would be right for them, and some are indeed choosing not to do so. Though there is nothing to feel bad about if you have made such a decision, it can still be a difficult discussion to have with others. However, there are some things that you can do to make the conversation easier. These include:
- Being clear with yourself and your partner on your reasons
- Not raising the subject yourself
- Realizing that the people you are telling love you
- Not feeling defensive about your decision
- Explaining your reasons clearly and gently
- Being loving to the people you tell
Be clear with yourself and your partner on why you have decided not to have children
There are many reasons why people could decide not to have children, and it's important that you and your partner know your own reasons before discussing it with others. There could be many reasons, including:
- Not having a parental (maternal or paternal) instinct
- Not wanting the way that you live your life to change
- Financial reasons
- Freedom to do what you want, when you want to do it
- Environmental concerns, the state of the world, overpopulation etc.
Do not raise the subject of children yourself, let others ask you
Do not feel that you need to approach others and discuss this with them, rather, wait for them to come to you so that you can then have the conversation. If you go to other people and try to explain it, they might see this as you 'justifying' your position, which could make things more awkward. It's best to have thought about what you would say first, and to be prepared for the question, but not to feel you have to answer it at the earliest opportunity.
When you are having the conversation, realize that the other people love you
Because many people, especially parents and grandparents, put a lot of emphasis on their children having children, any conversation that explains you will not be doing that could get a little awkward and heated. The best way to get around this is to realize and remember that your family and friends love you and want what is best for you. They may pressurize you, but try not to feel defensive.
Do not feel defensive about your decision
Because you will be clear on what your reasons are, you do not need to get defensive when other people ask you. Even if they do start to pressurize you, or make you feel as if you owe someone else children, it's important that you not become too defensive. If you feel yourself getting backed into a corner or that emotions are starting to rise, take a deep breath and calm yourself. If you are not able to do that, it might be best to bring the conversation to a close and discuss the situation another time.
Explain your reasons clearly and gently
When you are having the conversation, explain your reasons clearly and gently. It's important that you state that both you and your partner feel the same way and that it's a choice that you have made together. It's also important to acknowledge that it might be a problem for other people (especially parents and grandparents) but that it's a deliberate choice that you have made and you are happy with it.
Be loving to them at all times
It can be a difficult thing for parents to hear they will not be getting grandchildren, so it's important to be loving and understanding of their feelings. Tell them that you respect how they feel, and that you hope they will respect how you feel.
The decision not to have children is not always an easy one to make, but it's important that you are comfortable with it. If you are, then understanding when and how to communicate this to others, in a loving and gentle way, will make the conversation much easier. Be honest, caring, and gentle but firm and you will be able to get your reasons across.