I received an email last week from a radio person who wondered if I would be available to comment in a little over an hour on the pros and cons of grandchildren.
Say what? It was early. I wasn’t even dressed yet. Maybe I could squeeze it in before I had to take my car to the shop, but what would I say? Without preparation, I’d sound like an idiot. I declined.
Curious, I listened to that station until I got to the Honda dealer. Not a word about grandchildren. It was all about Covid and the war in Ukraine. Maybe someone decided there were more valid questions to ask.
For the heck of it, I tried making a list of pros and cons.
Pros: Little ones to love, continuation of the family, someone to call in good times and bad, someone to call me “grandma,” photos to treasure and show off to my friends, someone to receive the family keepsakes.
Cons: Babysitting, more responsibility, someone else to worry about, gifts and cards to buy, and the risk they’ll turn out badly.
Now that I’ve had a few days, I’m thinking it’s a pointless question to ask of anyone who is childless not by choice. Grandchildren are not like cars or jobs where you weigh the pros and cons and decide yes or no. Even if we had children, it would not be up to us to determine whether grandchildren would follow. It’s not really something we can control.
I’m wondering now if this radio person was looking for someone to expand the joys of being childfree to being grandchild-free. As with the frequent offers I receive for guest posts on how to be a better parent, she doesn’t quite get it. I don’t need a list of pros and cons to tell me I wish I had grandchildren.
Either way, I’m glad the car needed a new battery.
In an interesting coincidence, the waiting room at the Honda dealership was full of people, including two children who were not shy at all. They marched right up and said, “Hi” and demanded my attention. I decided to go with it. (You can read about that at my Unleashed in Oregon blog.) Kids don’t care who has or has not given birth. If you look like a grandma, they’ll assume you’re qualified to love them.
Since we’re talking about grandchildren, it’s another factor to consider if you’re coupled with someone who is unwilling or unable to have children. No kids=no grandkids. The “survived by” section of your obituary will be very short. Can you live with that?
Your turn. Do you think about grandchildren and how you won’t have them if you don’t have kids? Do you talk about it with your mate? If someone put you on the radio with an hour’s notice, how would you answer the question?
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6 thoughts on “Here comes another clueless question about childlessness”
I wonder if the question was prompted by the recent news story about the couple in India that is suing their son and daughter-in-law for not providing them with grandchildren. It sounds absurd, but I can’t say (having heard so many hurtful stories in our childless-not-by-choice community) I’m all that surprised.
In my world, we choose to focus on the kids who ARE in our life–nieces, nephews, godsons, the children and grandchildren of our friends. It’s not the same, of course, but it gives me moments of joy and happiness. My hope is I will be “survived” by many loving friends, of all ages.
Thanks for asking these questions. Helps me to articulate what I feel and what I want to work on. xoxo
I totally agree. Celebrate the kids who are around, even those unruly young ones at the car dealers’. I saw that news story about the couple in India. That’s just sad.
I would have declined the interview, simply because I wouldn’t think they’d want my perspective as a childless person. But if I’d had to answer it, I think I’d have said that there isn’t one size fits all with grandkids, and that – like children – they could be a joy and a torment, perhaps at the same time! For example, regardless of the relationship, even if it was good, if they lived too far away there would be a constant reminder of absence and loneliness.
Oddly, just an hour or so ago I found the obituary for a childless uncle of mine from a few years ago. It talked about how he was loved by his many nieces and nephews. And he was. One of my cousins once said, “because he didn’t have children, he really belonged to us all, didn’t he?” That was so true, in a way that my other aunts and uncles, who had children, did not belong to us all.
That’s beautiful, Mali.
Those of us who did not have children by choice have made one truly important contribution: with the planet’s human over-population estimated to be pushing 8 billion, we have NOT added to that number! Thank us, humanity! You’re welcome, humanity!
What a weird question/topic. The pros and cons of grandchildren?? My first thoughts for the pros are people to buy gifts for and people to love. But the cons could be people to buy gifts for and people to break your heart. But still, I can’t get over what a weird topic that is…