Have you had THE TALK with your parents?

I often write here about the need to have THE TALK with one’s partner about whether or not you’re going to have children. But after that talk, we’ll probably find ourselves having another talk–with our parents–about how they’re not going to be getting any grandchildren from us.

If they’re like most parents of adult children, they’re going to start hinting for grandchildren shortly after the wedding. As time passes and you’re not pregnant, they’re likely to start dropping hints, asking questions, noting that you’re not getting any younger, and laying guilt trips about how their friends are all getting grandchildren

How do you respond? Do you put them off with “not yet,” tell them it’s not going to happen, or change the subject?

In my own case, although I remember many conversations about marriage while we did dishes together, I don’t remember telling my mother I wasn’t going to have kids with Fred. I know we talked about it, a lot, when I was with my first husband. Children were still a possibility then. After the divorce, I remember talking about whether or not I was too old–I wasn’t.

But when I hooked up with Fred, did we have the talk about his vasectomy and reluctance to have more children? I don’t think we did. I do remember that my mother took my side when other family members bugged me about kids. When I moped about not being a mother, she insisted I was a mother because I had stepchildren, even though she didn’t have much of a relationship with them.

As for my father, we didn’t talk about that kind of thing. I’d talk to Mom, and she’d talk to him. I know he would have enjoyed the children I might have had. But we’ve never spoken about it directly.

How about you? How did you break the news to your parents? How did they react? Or have you put off that conversation indefinitely?

7 thoughts on “Have you had THE TALK with your parents?

  1. My mother was a baby freak – when she married my stepdad, she was desperate to have more kids. Turns out, he wasn't able to because his diabetes had inhibited him in that area (he never, actually, had any kids – just a stepkid in me). She was devastated, but looked at me as her next hope. When I told her that John and I wouldn't be having babies, I was afraid of crushing her. But to my surprise, I got the complete opposite reaction. She was super supportive and insisted, like your mom did, that “giving birth” was the least important part of mothering, and as long as I mothered my stepkids, neither she nor I would be missing out.
    My dad, on the other hand, thought I was ruining my life by being in an unconventional marriage, and he and I haven't talked for many years now. Not just because of the baby thing, but that was a factor.
    My solution is that I catch myself every time I talk with my stepkids about their futures, and I am careful to use words like “If you choose to get married…” and “If you have children…” instead of “when you get married” and “when you have children”


  2. When my mother asked me when I was going to have kids, I jokingly answered, “You used to say that 'someday you'll have a kid just like yourself' – and I just couldn't take the chance.”Of course I desperately wanted a child, but never felt that I could talk with my mother about it, so I made jokes instead.


  3. When I was married to my first husband my mother-in-law kept asking when we were going to have kids and I laughingly said “When pigs fly.” Joke was on me when every birthday and christmas brought a new flying pig picture, garden ornament, or figurine.

    Circumstance and timing did not work out for me in the children department, crushing my mom's hopes for a grandchild from me. (I decided when I turned 35, and was still single after being divorced for 5 years, that I should not have children. I reconsidered when I married my husband at age 38 but he said he definitely did not want more children.) My mom has two granddaughters from my older brother, but their relationship is strained and she has not had much contact with them. Last year, at age 44, I had an unplanned pregnancy after being told by my doctor I could not get pregnant (PCOS) and I didn't have to take birth control anymore. At the end of the first trimester I had a miscarriage, one of the most difficult and painful periods of my life. My mom took it so hard, to come so close and then have it taken away. I know it comes from a place of hurt when she makes little digs at me about not having children. I have had to limit my conversations with her during the last several months while I recovered emotionally. It must seem so strange to her, seeing me live a life completely alien to her. She tells me I don't know what I'm missing but I'm pretty sure I have at least a sense of the loss. On the other hand, parents might not know what they are missing out on by having a life with children. We don't get to live two lives and then compare them. We live the life we are given, and somehow find the blessings that each day has to offer.


  4. Kathleen,
    What a story. Thank you for sharing this with us. At least your mother-in-law had a sense of humor with all the pig gifts.
    When I got to the part where you lost the baby, I gasped. I suspect everyone will. How hard that must have been and probably still is. But we do have to live the life we're given. I wish you all the best.


  5. My parents thought [and think] it is unfair that my husband would not give me a child when he had one. It's still makes them mad even now. They feel he is totally selfish on that subject.


  6. My husband and I are on the fence about having kids (I found this blog to help understand my husband. He wants kids while I can announce being childfree today if he chooses). My family is very pro-having children. There is NO ONE on my side that has NOT had kids if they are married. My husband and I got married at 19, and my grandmother and aunt asked after the honeymoon if we were pregnant. I was shocked. We were 19! We didn't want them that young (or even now). My parents know we don't really want children, but they seem to just ignore it. They think we will have kids, no matter what. It's strange. My husband's family is more open-minded about childlessness. But HIS father has made two grandchildren statements in the last few weeks. Before, there was nothing, no talk. And now recently it has been coming up. We haven't told him anything though.We will be such a disappointment to our parents if we don't have kids. It makes me very sad, and very angry at the same time. Sad because they'd do a GREAT job being grandparents, and offering us support and love. Angry because they want something that only WE can provide – it is not our decision alone. They will be affected, and they will let us know of their pain. Especially my family.


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