When you don’t have kids and they ask . . .

Why don’t you have children? Sometimes you want to scream, “F-off! It’s none of your business.” I totally get it. But wait. For today’s post, I offer some responses for those times when people come at you with those questions.

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1. How many kids do you have?

DIPLOMATIC: I don’t have any children. How about you?

SMART ALECK: Kids? I knew I forgot to do something.

CAN’T DO THIS AGAIN: Why do you assume I have children?

2. So you don’t like kids?

DIPLOMATIC: I love kids. I just don’t have any of my own.

SMART ALECK: That’s irrelevant, isn’t it?

CAN’T DO THIS AGAIN: Why do you assume I don’t like kids?

3. Why don’t you have children?

DIPLOMATIC: Things just didn’t work out for us.

SMART ALECK: Why did you have them? Did you stop and think before you did it or just let it happen?

CAN’T DO THIS AGAIN: That is personal and private, and it hurts to talk about it.

4. Why don’t you just adopt?

DIPLOMATIC: Adoption is difficult, expensive, and not what we wanted to do.

SMART ALECK: Why don’t you?

CAN’T DO THIS AGAIN: If he/she didn’t want kids of our own, why would he/she agree to adopt? Why do people assume that’s an option for everyone?

5. Won’t you regret growing old without children and grandchildren?

DIPLOMATIC: Probably, but there will be times when I’m relieved, too.

SMART ALECK: I don’t know. Will you regret having them?

CAN’T DO THIS AGAIN: I regret having to have this conversation again. Why do you assume I’ll have more regrets than you will?

6. Who will take care of you in your old age?

DIPLOMATIC: I worry about that, but I believe my family and friends will be there for me.

SMART ALECK: I don’t know. Do you want to take care of me? We can start the paperwork right now.

CAN’T DO THIS AGAIN: Why do you assume your kids will be around when you need them?  

Your turn: Does this stir up some of your own ideas about how to answer these questions or other questions that drive you crazy? Please share in the comments. Let’s get a good list going.

This is post #800 at the Childless by Marriage blog. Good Lord, that’s a lot of posts. If you keep coming, I’ll keep writing. If you feel the urge to write a guest post, please see the instructions to the right on this page and do it.

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11 thoughts on “When you don’t have kids and they ask . . .

  1. Thanks for this thoughtful blog post Sue, and for the 799 posts that went before. That is impressive!
    I’ve noticed that my default answer to the question “Do you have kids” has changed as I’ve gotten older. In my 30s I tried to be hopeful and noncommittal – “We’re still practicing.” In my 40s I tried to give them the whole answer at once, just to get it over with – “No. It just didn’t work for us. But I enjoy other people’s kids.” And now I just say “No.” If I know them and like them I might try to change the subject. If not I just let my answer linger until they come up with a new topic. It sounds a little rude maybe, but for me it feels like growth!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Now that I’m in a healthier mental space where I can answer these questions with witty or snarky responses, I’m never asked. Oh well. I’m definitely not looking a gift horse in the mouth on that one. But between us…

    Q. How many kids do you have?
    A. None living

    Q. So you don’t like kids?
    A. I love kids! And I also love kids when they go home.

    Q. Why don’t you have kids?
    A. I don’t know. We keep having sex, but it hasn’t happened yet.

    Q. Why didn’t you just adopt?
    A. That didn’t work out either. (with no further explanation, let them wonder)

    Q. Won’t you regret growing old without children and grandchildren?
    A. Well, it wasn’t by choice.

    Q. Who will take care of you in your old age?
    A. I’ve worked in enough hospitals and nursing homes to know better than to rely on one’s children.


  3. Belated congratulations on your #800 posts! It reflects a lot of time and commitment and growth and knowledge and discussions with and between your commenters. I’m glad you write in this space.

    These days, depending on who asks, my response to “do you have kids?” is “no.” And I leave it at that, unless I feel like or want to expand to that particular person. As you said in the comments, we don’t owe anyone an explanation. I’m thinking about all your other answers too. The best “smart aleck” answer I’ve seen to the “why not?” question was, “the cat/dog’s allergic!” I’ve always wanted to use it, but have never quite had the right occasion to do so! You could though!


  4. I shouldn’t admit to this, but…

    I used to work in high schools. Years ago, a teenage girl asked ‘Do you have any children?’ I was in my 40s then.

    Idiot here thought that she was being nice and answered, ‘No, unfortunately.’

    ‘What’s wrong. Have you never had sex?’

    Cut to a few years later An equally mean girl asked the same question. This time, I knew where it was going. I gave the same answer and got the same response.

    I kept an impassive countenance and said, ‘They all died.’

    [I did have three miscarriages, but didn’t give that information.]


      • The other girls in the class actually grasped that I was referring to miscarriages and expressed sympathy. But yes – the ‘mean’ girl didn’t ask anything like that ever again.

        I would never have dreamt of responding in that way, had she not asked ‘Have you never had sex?’ I was also going through a particularly troublesome menopause and my husband had had a stroke. I wasn’t in the mood to be nice.


  5. My diplomatic deflection was to tell strangers that I had two stepchildren and a step-grandchild. What I didn’t tell them was that the two kids were nearly my age and adopted, but that DH refused to adopt with me.


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