When you've got a full-blown raging case of baby fever or practically cry with ecstasy when you tuck your newborn into her crib, it's hard to believe that there are women out there who don't long for the same thing. But just like there are cat people and dog people; city people and country people; rap people and disco (?) people -- there are I-want-a-baby and I-don't-want-a-baby people.
There can be lots of reasons women don't want children. Some do, but feel it wouldn't be responsible given their life situation (lack of funds, lack of family support, lack of partner). Some just plain don't -- even if they've got all of that. But if a woman tells you she doesn't want children, and you want to remain friends with that person, or at least not get a dirty look, or at least not be a wee bit of a jerk, you'll want to avoid saying these 11 things.
1. "But you'd be such a good mother!" Telling someone who doesn't want kids that they'd make a good mother is like telling someone who is scared of heights that her hand and eye coordination would mean she'd make a superb pilot. It doesn't really matter.
2. "Well, some people just don't like kids." People who don't want kids don't necessarily not like them. In fact, I know teachers, daycare workers, and dedicated volunteers with children's groups who love kids ... just not for themselves.
3. "Not everyone is maternal." Lots of people are maternal and still don't want children. You can be maternal with pets, with family, with significant others. A person like this no doubt would be maternal with kids -- doesn't mean she wants them.
4. "Who will take care of you when you're old?" Most likely the same people who will take care of you, home nurses or long-term care providers in a skilled nursing facility (read: old folks' home). Since a child-free person won't have kids, he or she will likely have more money to hire a caretaker too. As for visitors, that's what friends are for.
5. "You'll change your mind." While it's true that a woman might change her mind about not wanting kids, it's not up to you to tell her what her mind will do.
6. "Don't you think that's selfish?" There are over seven billion people in the world and counting. Watch this counter if you want to see how many more we're making every second. There are a limited amount of resources on the planet. Choosing not to have a child is hardly selfish.
7. "What if you regret it?" Well, what if? People regret lots of things. I never lived in Paris! I never wrote a book! I never got married! I DID get married! What someone chooses to regret instead of live peaceably with is really up to her. Besides, better to regret not having a child than to regret having one.
8. "But your kids would be so beautiful!" That's a nice compliment, but it's not like the world needs more beautiful children. And that's not going to entice anyone who doesn't want them. Besides, beautiful people can have un-beautiful kids!
9. "But don't your parents want grandchildren?" Unless grandparents are willing to raise the children, it hardly matters to people who don't want kids whether their parents want to play grandparent sometimes.
10. "I didn't want a kid either, but I had one, and it was fine." That's great it turned out well for you, but that's quite a risk to take. Not everyone might end up feeling the same.
11. "You don't know what you're missing." Chances are if she doesn't know, she doesn't care.
If you ever meet someone who doesn't want kids, I recommend saying something like, "I gotcha!" or "I hear ya!" or "Totally understandable." Keep it short and vague and non-judgemental. Just as you would want if you decided to have a kid when you were young, or older, or have your sixth, or stop at one.
Have you ever heard any of these? What do you say to people who don't want kids?
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