#1005: Mom: “You *must* give me grandbabies!” You: “You must STFU.”

Hello Captain & Community!

The short version of my problem is: I am never going to have children. My mother refuses to accept this.

The long version is as such: Since the age of eleven, I’ve had a mystery medical condition. My mother has never accepted its existence. While I’ve never been explicitly told “You CANNOT have children” because of the condition, multiple doctors have told me many variations of “It will be VERY DIFFICULT for you to SAFELY have children.” Even if I wanted kids, which I do not, I would be looking at adoption, considering the circumstances.

I am now 26. I have recently finished grad school and am just starting out; I am currently living with my parents. I have one sibling; she is 31. My nephew was born a little over a year ago. My mother has since gone grandbaby-crazy.

My mother has a habit of offering unsolicited advice on all subjects and getting angry and retaliating if it is not followed. At every available opportunity, she lectures me to make career decisions centered around giving birth to and raising children. She also criticizes my long-term boyfriend (behind his back) about his salary and social standing (“he doesn’t make enough for you to not work!”) while simultaneously pressuring me to settle down and procreate because “the clock is ticking.”

When in front of my (huge, nosy, omnipresent) extended family, I let these comments slide because I value my privacy and displaying anything but familial respect gets the whole family involved. (Spoiler alert: they’ll agree with her). In private, I try to address it with her. Whenever I explain my medical reasons for not having children, it’s like she’s never heard them before. She refuses to acknowledge any problems exist and accuses me of lying when I cite to her specifically which doctors have said what and when. On the rare occasion when she “humors me,” she tells me that I “should be doing everything possible, no matter the expense” to correct the problem immediately, which just isn’t possible. I’ve let the “even-if-I-could-I-wouldn’t” component alone so far since I suspect that would start a never-ending argument. I am afraid that if I keep standing my ground like I have been, she will retaliate. I am exhausted. What should I do?

Sincerely,

Enough Already

Hi Enough Already!

You are already in a never-ending argument.

Here’s the plan:

A) Move out of your parents’ place as soon as humanly possible. Adults should respect other adults’ bodily autonomy, but in the hands of a domineering parent no script I suggest and no amount of “should” is gonna magically counteract their “my roof, my opinions, my rules” attitude. Put 95% of your energy into getting out of that house. The job market sucks? You might have to live with roommates? You might be poor for a while? I don’t know what to tell you, I wish it were different. I do know that things will not change between you as long as you are in that house and she has constant access to you.

B) Keep having only the children you want to, i.e., zero. Her opinions about what you should do don’t equal commands or rules and she has no actual power to override your decision. She can say whatever the fuck she wants to. It will change nothing.

C) One time, tell her exactly how you feel:  “I’m most likely never having kids. I don’t think it’s biologically possible, and even if it were, it’s not a priority for me. If I change my mind you’ll be among the first to know. I need you to stop bringing it up. You are making me feel like I am not enough for you as a human being, that I have no value unless I reproduce. It hurts my feelings. It is also exhausting and makes me not want to spend time with you. I want to have a good relationship with you. In order for that to happen, you need to stop this constant advice-giving!” 

If you don’t think you can safely have this talk, hold off until you’re out of the house.

D) After* that one time, be boring. Try out a script of “Okay, whatever Mom” when she orders you to have children. Make it boring for her to talk about. Let her think she’s winning if it will get her to calm down now. You can’t control her, but you can control making yourself less exhausted and refusing her the argument she is looking for. You want an honest relationship but she is making that impossible.

See also: “I’m not looking for advice right now but thanks, I’ll think about it.” (You will think about it and not do it).

*If you don’t feel safe having a direct talk with her, skip directly to this strategy.

E) “That’s a mean thing to say.” When she says critical stuff about your current partner, say what she would say to you when you were a little kid and you said something out of turn. “That’s rude.” “That’s a terrible thing to say.” “That’s not appropriate.” “Wow.” “Yikes.” Don’t argue with her about the merits of her criticisms of your partner, it just feeds the fire. Express disapproval of her words, but stay boring.

F) Lose your temper, selectively.

Say you’ve moved out. You’ve had the talk. She won’t let it go.

Try: “Shut the fuck up about grandbabies, mom. Go enjoy the one you have and leave me alone.” Does that seem rude? She is being SUPER RUDE. I personally wouldn’t lead with this but if she’s haranguing you and you lose your temper, um, fine? Lose it. Tell her how she’s making you feel. Don’t be diplomatic or reasonable or try to convince her. One time, make it super uncomfortable and unproductive and YELLING and BAD LANGUAGE for her to bring this up with you.

We’re always so focused on being well-behaved and taking the high ground and not making a scene. The thing is, scenes are super-memorable especially when you’re not generally a scene-maker. Maybe they don’t change minds, but a controlled detonation of anger can sometimes be cathartic and good for you. It can remind the people around you that you’re choosing to be nice and that you can make another choice any ol’ time.

G) Enforce the boundary. When she pressures you to have kids in the future, end the conversation. “Okay, welp, I’m not having this discussion again, time to go.” Leave. Go home to your home that is not also her home. Hang up the phone. Peace out of that conversation. Try again another day. Over time she’ll get the message that if she wants a relationship with you, this subject is not up for discussion.

She’ll tell you you’re ungrateful, you’re selfish, she’s your mother, she knows best, she raised you, she gets to tell you her opinions, she just wants what’s best for you, she knows you better than you know yourself, and all kinds of words. She’ll tell you you’re the one ruining your relationship, you’re the one creating this conflict. She’ll tell you that you’ll change your mind and that you’ll be sorry someday that you ever have kids.

Agree with her. “Yes, I’m selfish, and I also don’t want to talk about having kids with you. It’s not your decision or your business. Stop it.” “Maybe I will be sorry someday, but I’m mostly sorry now that another perfectly good day is being eaten by this pointless argument.” “Yes, I am the meanest daughter who was ever mean, also, I don’t want kids, so, can we eat or do I need to storm off again to prove a point?

 

237 comments
  1. Ugh! I hope you get out soon, LW! If you use birth control, you may need to keep it at your work or some other place your mom can’t access. She may not be above flushing your birth control pills or poking holes in condoms. If you are currently sexually active and don’t use birth control, use it anyway so you don’t get an unexpected surprise, since kids are not an option.

    • Yes! It’s frightening that people do things like that, but they do.

  2. “Yes, Mom. I’m waaaaaay too selfish to have kids and be a good parent. Now that we’ve established that I am selfish and also the worst, can we go eat in peace, or do I need to go be selfish over there by the food without you?”

    LW, I feel your pain. One of the only ways I’ve gotten family to knock off the BABIES!! comments is to fully embrace the selfish narrative. *I* know that I am kind and generous. Agreeing with them when they call me selfish can sting sometimes, but at the end of the day, I’d rather control the narrative where I can. If embracing the selfish label gets them off my back, it’s worth it to me. It might not be to you, but it sure was for me.

    • I started slinging back comments about all my volunteer work whenever someone calls/insinuates that I’m selfish for not having kids. “Oh, so all the work and volunteering I do for nonprofits means nothing?”, and when the hamster on the wheel in their head takes a tumble I use that moment to lecture them on the merits of volunteering and giving back in other ways. I also make comments about the health problems I would undoubtedly pass to any children and criticize people who know they have issues but selfishly have the child anyway. I do it in a kind, but firm way and it gets people to leave me alone 90% of the time.

      • entendante said:

        I also make comments about the health problems I would undoubtedly pass to any children and criticize people who know they have issues but selfishly have the child anyway.

        Huh.

        I’m glad this is helpful for you, but I can’t help but wish that defending your own choices and priorities didn’t require throwing sick and disabled parents under the bus for theirs, or implying that people with health problems are inherently unworthy of being born.

        • Tyrannosaurus Vex said:

          I agree. Mrs. Jynx, I feel like your attitude is really ableist and not okay. If you think that choosing to have a child even though you have medical problems is selfish, you’re essentially saying that only the very small segment of the population who is 100% healthy deserve to have kids. That’s a huge and pretty offensive value judgment, IMO. Most of us have “issues.” That doesn’t mean that we’re inadequate parents or that our kids are unworthy of being here because they might inherit our problems.

          • ailicre said:

            This comment js ableist and it’s also absurd to assume that you know *anything* at all about a parent or child’s health or who inherited what or how. It’s actually not your business. Defend your choice, but no need to pass judgment on someone else’s choice to have children.

          • Tyrannosaurus Vex said:

            My comment is ableist? How?

          • As someone with health issues, who has been told that I WOULD pass those health issues on, I am not interpreting Jynx’s statement as “unhealthy people don’t deserve to have babies.” I am interpreting it as “You know what it’s like to have these health issues, so why in the world would you knowingly force some innocent baby to have the same problems, just so you can cuddle a baby of your own blood, especially when there are SO MANY OTHER OPTIONS for you, including but not limited to adoption, fostering, volunteering, and just being the neighborhood cool adult that all the kids want to hang out with?” If you’re having a baby because you want a baby, even though you know that child will suffer, yeah, I count that as selfish. There are so many parentless children out there, already born, who are suffering the loneliness of being unloved, so please, love them, instead, and don’t inflict your pain on a new one.

            That is my interpretation. On days when I’m convinced my body hates me, I wouldn’t wish the same problems on anyone else, and I certainly don’t want a child I love to live with constant pain. I can get my “parenting” fix in so many other ways, with children who are already born.

            Also, I would never say unhealthy people don’t deserve to have children. If you have an unselfish reason to have children (not “because I just want a baby to cuddle, and they are so cute, and make great fashion accessories”, but perhaps, “I am brilliant, and need to pass on the smarts to the next generation, and hopefully, by then, medical advances will alleviate the health issues, and for goodness’ sake, look at Stephen Hawking!”), then by all means, have the baby or babies. But before you do, make sure you have all your ducks in a row, and are able and prepared to accommodate those health issues you may pass on to the child. Also, be warned that brilliant children are really, really, really hard to handle, in general, and even harder if they are smarter than you.

            If I were a good biological prospect, I’d totally want Stephen Hawking’s sperm for my babies. But I’m not. So, I do aunt stuff, and I’m glad of it.

            Full disclosure: I know he’s brilliant, but no nothing about him personally, including the reason he’s in a wheelchair, so I don’t even know if the health issue would be passed on, but geez, I’d totally have his babies, if I could. But I could not raise them, because I am not able and prepared to accommodate their health issues, let alone my own after pregnancy does to my body what my doctor warned would happen to my body. Also, I might be dead. So, yeah. It would be a bad idea, even if his sperm were up for grabs.

        • Lilly of the valley said:

          I have health problems that are hereditary and I wish my parents had chosen not to reproduce (together). I won’t have children as I don’t want them to suffer as I have done(and going through the pain myself makes me aware of what it’s like. I don’t want torment another human being with it). Call me ableist if you like, it’s still my body and my decision.

          • entendante said:

            Call me ableist if you like, it’s still my body and my decision.

            I mean, I think the latter part there is key: you’re making a decision for yourself, based on the variables you know about. If anyone gives you shit for that, I will show up with pom-poms and a klutzy but enthusiastic cheerleading routine about personal choice.

            What I take issue with are statements of the form “this is the decision I’m making about my own reproduction, and people who do not make the same decision are bad people.” (Or its toxic little friends, “I don’t really have any decisions to make regarding the carrying of babies, but let me tell you what you should be deciding” and “I was able to make this decision about reproduction, but I don’t think you should have access to the same range of options.”) This is why none of the other people in this comments section who talked about not wanting to pass their own medical wonkiness to their kids got negative feedback, as far as I can tell — just the one comment that went on to generalize a personal decision to all other people with similar decisions to make.

            (Btw, “lots of heritable health stuff” is one of my own reasons for not having kids, though it’s less about not wanting another person to deal with what I’ve dealt with and more about knowing that I just don’t have the commitment or desire to be the one providing support to a child as they go through the process of figuring out how to deal with it. I think if I wanted a child, period, my other reasons for not having them – which boil down to a number of things that are surmountable with a lot of effort – would recede into the background, because the effort would seem more worth it.)

      • Green said:

        But I’m frustrated on behalf of the LW. Why should you have to disclose ANY reason for not wanting/having kids to anyone? Whether it’s impotence, infertility, a disability, serious illness, your financial situation, or the fact that you just hate kids….Why is any of that anyone’s business?

        I think people in LW’s situation need solutions that don’t require them to violate their own privacy.

        • I completely agree, and LW’s mother is totally crossing the line when it comes to opinion vs demands. She doesn’t get to demand her children have kids any more than she can tell them what to eat for dinner. I think it’s like anything that is changing, it takes time. And the more we share the reasons, the more people have the opportunity to learn about others and realize how much thought goes into the choice. Compassion cannot be created in a vacuum? Otherwise they interject their own narrative. Eventually, I hope not too long, people won’t care if you do or do not have kids. I kept telling my mom that I just didn’t want them, my health is a small influence on why.

          In LW’s case I think CA gave some sound advice about enforcing personal boundaries and getting to a less accessible position, such as moving out. I moved away from my folks and that helped a lot, as well as declining to discuss certain subjects. I think sometimes family tends to think they don’t count when it comes to privacy. It is certainly a complicated subject.

      • I apologize for my overly blunt language folks. Been dealing with a major sinus headache and I should have reread and explained better.

        1) Those who choose not to have children really shouldn’t have to defend that choice. I dislike the invalidation that comes with people saying my life has no meaning unless I procreate.

        2) I apologize that that came off as invalidating and abelist. What I meant was that I feel people should really put a lot of thought into having children, regardless of health. However, I do think it’s our responsibility as people who have health issues to really go over it extra because the process could be very bad for the person carrying the child, and the future life of that child could be wrought with stress and suffering. Having a child is a massively important decision. In the U.S. we lack comprehensive social systems for healthcare (Exceedingly unfortunate for anyone born with a health problem, or who develop issues at some point in their life) I said it was selfish, I did no say those with health problems shouldn’t have the right to decide what to do with their bodies, including having children. I did not say that only healthy people should have kids. Hopefully that helps clear that up and sooth some concerns.

        I tend to be very critical because I am the child of a person with health issues and who inherited most of them and resents having to deal with them.

      • Goat Lady said:

        Wow, what a shitty attitude toward disabled parents you have there. Maybe you could keep your toxic vicious ableism to yourself instead of spewing it like vomit in public? Thanks.

        • I had a longer comment, but it got eaten.

          My interpretation of Ms. Jynx’s comment is that if you have a health condition that is problematic (such as constant pain and a bad health history on both sides – like I have), and you choose to have a baby, knowing that baby is going to also suffer from the same problematic condition (such as constant pain I wouldn’t wish on anyone else, let alone someone I love), simply because you want to be a parent, then that is selfish. You can be a parent through adoption, without subjecting another person to the same problem that you have. You can be a “parent” through befriending other people with kids, and being a big part of their children’s lives. Volunteer, foster, be the cool adult that has the sprinkler running in their yard, and no fence, and welcomes all the neighborhood kids. There are lots of options.

          Mind you, if you are able and prepared to accommodate the health issues, then go right ahead and bear a child. Medicine is making lots of strides, and accommodations are more and more a thing. Just be sure you’re doing it for the right reasons.

          Babies are not toys to cuddle nor fashion accessories to look cute. Especially if they are in pain.

          I do not think that Ms. Jynx meant that unhealthy people do not deserve to be parents.

          • Ms. Jynx is explicitely not talking about just herself though, when she said: ‘[I] criticize people who know they have issues but selfishly have the child anyway.’ No one is saying its wrong for someone to choose not to have children themselves for fear of passing on a condition. That quoted part is the ableist part. Honestly it’s so awful I can’t help but wonder if the reason why it shuts people up for Ms. Jynx is because of how shocked/upset they are by it.

    • lkeke35 said:

      I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of the “I’m selfish” statement, over the years. I just flat out told any relatives (and any other nosy people who asked) that’ I’m a selfish person who is glad she doesn’t have kids and whose time belongs to herself. I have only had to use the carefully pointed temper tantrum one time with an aunt who wouldn’t let go of the topic. I just bluntly told her to let it go, cuz it ain’t gonna happen.

      I’m in my forties now, and my family has pretty much given up on the idea of me having kids, thank goodness. Only my Mom knows about the hysterectomy I had in 2012. (Its not a secret. I’d say so, if they asked, but so far my relatives have left me alone about it.)

      • BarlowGirl said:

        Once nice thing now is you can sing “let it go”. That always helps, right? XD

        • lkeke35 said:

          Yeah, I can laugh about it now. it was very irksome when I was younger.

      • Nancy M said:

        It bugs me that this is STILL a problem. I’m 40 and grew up with those attitudes. Me being born with babymaking parts DOES NOT MEAN I HAVE TO HAVE KIDS. I started with “I’m too selfish of my time and space to be a good mother” but eventually realized that was just letting them think I agreed with their opinion that I was somehow A Bad Person for not wanting something THEY had decided wasn’t optional. So I just moved to “actually, I like the life I have and have no plans for children. If THEY try and push their opinions on me about MY life choices, then I wade right into feminism!punch territory. “So you think women are [obligated to have kids/aren’t allowed to enjoy other lifestyle decisions/all come pre-equipped with a magic switch that automatically flips and makes us want BABIES!!!] ‘because ovaries’? … Wow. Okay then.” Okay then said in a tone that clearly implies, without ever having to say it, “all your future opinions have just been auto-marked to go straight to the recycle bin in my mind.” Bonus points if you use an eyebrow raise for extra “well aren’t *you* an interesting specimen for my museum of people whose opinions are based in a mythological version of history and biology.” I have killer eyebrow game. I can now end arguments before they even begin with an eyebrow raise and a slightly chilly “oh, really?” that says “abandon hope, all ye who enter here.” Hell I got so good at it I *relish* an opportunity to drag such anachronisic thinking and terrible logic into the light of day to watch it wither and die.

        … Did I mention I’m not the mothering type? :p

        • lkeke35 said:

          Love this!

        • Bonus points if the same people who are trying to tell you what to do with your body EVER protested for abortion rights, or ever said, “My body, my choice.”

    • Rhoda said:

      Some people’s reasons for having children strike me as selfish. “Carrying on the family name” is one example. “Having someone to take care of you in your old age” is another.

      • whingedrinking said:

        Hell, “I’m going to have a baby because I want and like children” is a selfish motive. Selfish is not necessarily always bad or wrong! Good things can come from selfish actions.

        • Lilly of the valley said:

          I’d say wanting kids is the best reason to have them – who cares if it’s selfish or not? Why are we socialised into thinking a woman’s biggest fault is selfishness? Think of what you want – just as most men do without the slightest feeling of guilt.

        • Yes, it’s technically selfish, but it’s low on the selfish totem pole.

          I think there are very few truly unselfish motives to have children. They usually have something to do with “I’d be such a good parent (or my genes are that good), and my offspring will be a boon to the whole world, because of it,” and let’s face it, if that is your honest motive, then you quite likely have some delusions of grandeur.

          On the other hand, having a baby so that other people will just STFU is a pretty selfish reason to have a baby. And it will totally backfire, too. Babies do not STFU.

    • Jadelyn said:

      I actually lead with “I’m selfish” for the “why don’t you want kids?” conversations. “Because I’m selfish, but I know that when you have kids you can’t be selfish and their needs have to come first, so I won’t make that kind of commitment knowing that I’m too selfish to properly prioritize my kids over myself. My hypothetical kids would deserve better than I, selfish jerk that I am, could give them, so I’m not going to have any.”

      It really preemptively takes the wind out of people’s sails. Most people don’t know how to argue with that.

      • “I don’t want to give up drinking for nine months.”
        *they laugh, awkwardly*
        “No, that’s not a joke. I value the ability to have a beer whenever I feel like it over bringing new life into the world. Now tell me if you think I should be raising children.”

        • Attica said:

          I sometimes rely on the line I heard once from the great comic Maria Bamford: I blink in befuddlement and say, “… But that would cut in to my Sitting Around Time!”

    • mf said:

      Yep, calling you selfish is basically a guilt trip–the other person is trying to make you feel bad about yourself so you’ll suddenly start agreeing with them.

      My favorite way to deal with guilt trips is to agree with them because it makes arguing impossible. “You’re right, I’m incredibly for choosing not to have kids.” It works even better if you stop talking and let the statement hang there. The other person will have no planned response because they were prepared for an argument.

    • I like the “I’m way too selfish to be a parent” narrative. If they’re going to call you selfish, then they have to accept the consequences that you would make a rotten parent, because selfishness and good parenting do not go well together.

      Of course, if they turn that around, and say that they will raise the babies, because you’d be a rotten parent, then just give them the name of an adoption agency, and tell them to have at it. After all, there are oodles of children ALREADY BORN who are desperate for good, loving parents. And you don’t have to sacrifice your own health, and possibly life, just to birth another one.

      Note: It is incredibly selfish of your mother, and rotten parenting, to want to risk your life and health to birth a baby for her to enjoy. Just sayin’. This is not news to anyone here, and your mother won’t hear it, but I had to say it, anyway. Because I needed to get that off my chest and out of my mouth, and I’m too selfish to bottle it up.

  3. Amber Rose said:

    Get a dog. Introduce it as your baby.

    Just kidding. Use the Captain’s advice it’s good.

    • Sibley said:

      Eh, worked for me, but with cats. I think my mom has pretty much accepted that I’m not getting married or having kids.

      • Nanani said:

        Yeah, I’m lucky that my close family aren’t like this, but when the more distant ones turn up and obligatory ask about my fulfillment of the reproductive narrative, I’m just like “No babies, but I do have a cat! HE’S THE BEST CAT”

        • I’ve shown pictures of my cat to nosy co-workers to shut them up. It worked and I don’t mind being the Crazy Cat Lady.

          • Saturnalia said:

            Agreed, I am also shameless about sharing my plentiful cat pictures! I’d rather be the crazy cat lady than the lady who is constantly pestered about her reproductive plans!

          • It’s like a rare case where you can turn around a misogynist stereotype to your favour, I’ve found. If I talk about my cat all the time, I become the Cat Lady, and because Cat Ladies are Failure Women and the antithesis of Good Women, I therefore shouldn’t/can’t reproduce, and therefore people don’t hound me about makin’ bebbies as much.

            Sadly it doesn’t work on close relatives. I think the Captain’s script is much better in that context.

            Also yeesh how Handmaid’s Tale is it to tie womens’ worth to their reproductive ability/willingness?? Excuse me while I go and vom.

        • mf said:

          HA! Bonus points if you go on and on and on about your cat until their eyes glaze over. That’ll teach ’em to be nosy about your reproductive organs.

        • lunchcoma said:

          Oh, I have done that. It starts at, “No kids, but two cats!” and gets turned up to talking about my cats at the start of every conversation if the other person is someone I don’t like much anyway who really thinks I need to settle down and have a baby. As a bonus, it also scares off most self-appointed matchmakers.

        • snakesocks said:

          I always liked my MiL, but I knew I’d struck gold when she told me about how she answers all questions about impending grandmotherhood with “But I’ve already got five!” and pulling out photos of my iguana, bearded dragons, and cornsnake.

          • SuspectedDragon said:

            This is the best thing I’ve read so far today 😀

    • Blue Meeple said:

      It can sometimes work. My mom started showing people pictures of my cat and calling him her “grandkitty”.

      • I had a co-worker who was so proud of her grand-puppies.

  4. Celeste said:

    Oh, you so need to get out of there. The free rent isn’t worth the price you’re paying.

    I struggled to get pregnant thanks to polycystic ovarian syndrome, a bizarro yet common endocrine disorder. Your mother’s advice to “do whatever it takes at any cost” is the most hurtful to me. Sometimes there just isn’t good treatment, and what a person does try doesn’t work. I can tell she hasn’t priced in vitro fertilization, or she’d know it costs upwards of $10K per non-refundable attempt.

    She may never see you as anything but a vessel for babies, but that’s on her. Go live your happy life where she is not. I hope that will help her settle down, somehow.

    • Yeah that was really upsetting to me as well. I have a major uterine malformation. I managed one child and then it gave up the ghost. My only recourse to have more kids (and I *wanted* more kids) was invasive, expensive, elective surgery or probably way too many IVF attempts. If my mother had harassed me about that, well, I’d have cut off contact with her a decade sooner than I did.

    • sistercoyote said:

      LW, I know I’ve said a lot on various threads, but this is the best suggestion yet and the one I advise you do first. I know it seems scary and like it’s not at all possible but trust me: it can be done. But right now you are swimming in a toxic cesspool, and for your own mental health it would be so much better if you could move out. Make a place that’s yours.

      I know you said your extended family will all agree with your mother, but is that true? Is there no one sympathetic Aunt or Uncle to whom you could explain this and maybe add to Team You? Not to attack your mother, but to know there is someone on your side during those family gatherings you mentioned–so if your mother does start, you know that Aunt/Uncle is someone to whom you can turn and begin speaking to cut off your mother’s conversation if you can’t otherwise leave the situation?

    • ailicre said:

      This also really bothered me. I also have PCOS and I worry a lot about whether or not I will be able to have children. My spouse and I are not willing or able to throw endless amounts of money at this problem if I can’t. It’s so, so personal to decide where you draw the line with fertility treatments (if they are even availabe or feasible for you) and for the LW’s mom to just say “do whatever it takes” is deeply hurtful, EVEN IF the LW wanted children, which she does not!

      • Tyrannosaurus Vex said:

        People who tell others to “do whatever it takes” usually don’t know what it takes, IME. Or, if they finally come to understand that it’s impossible for whatever reason for someone to have biological children, they say “just adopt then!” like all you have to do is click your heels together and the magical unicorn adoption fairy will leave a baby on your doorstep overnight.

        • It’s easy to say, “Do whatever it takes” when it’s not YOU who has to do the doing. I find that many people who do not have uteruses do not quite grasp that even the most routine pregnancy involves quite a bit of work. (Ask me how close I came to slapping a nineteen-year-old once! The phrase, “Oh, all women want children, that’s just biology” may have been uttered.) And when it comes to fertility treatment or adoption – well, I’ve never done it myself, but I actually shut my mouth and LISTEN when people who’ve been through it talk.

          • That’s just biology? What the whatnow?

            Do all men want race cars, because that’s just biology?

            Kudos for not slapping him. Did you wash his mouth out with soap, instead?

        • I’ve had a few people tell me to adopt (not family, but co-workers), and I wanted to tell them that the very same health issues that would make it a Very. Bad. Idea. for me to bear a child are also the same things that would make me a Very. Bad. Parent, and no adoption agency would give me a child.

          However, there are other options to “parent” and “adopt,” children. If you don’t have biological nieces and nephews, to be the cool aunt/uncle to them, then you can be the cool adult on the block, or you can volunteer, or you can befriend people with kids, and babysit when you’re up to it. You won’t have all the rights of a parent, but you won’t have all the responsibility, either. You can, however, have a GINORMOUS positive effect on the lives of the children you choose to “adopt,” this way. Just like kids remember the teacher who believed in them, and encouraged them, they can remember you, if that’s what you want.

          But, yeah, the “do whatever it takes,” and “just adopt” crowd drive me to distraction, because it is just not realistic, even if it were their business.

      • Mary said:

        Can also personally testify that those who “do whatever it takes” get judged for selfishness because there are enough babies in the world, what’s the obsession with having your own, an inability to get pregnant “naturally” is exactly the same as an aptitude for and desire to become an adoptive parent etc. People are AWFUL about other people’s reproductive decisions.

    • Manattee said:

      Oh god, and it’s not just the financial cost. IVF can be a seriously traumatic experience for some people, and I’m pretty sure that both of the couples I know who tried it now think that the emotional costs were too high.

      • Yeah, pinning all your hopes on a blastocyte that may not even last a week. I couldn’t do it, myself.

  5. Green said:

    I have a mom like this. Her worst moments come from trying to undo her OWN past mistakes through me and my sibs. Right now she is badgering my sister not to divorce her abusive, cheating, gambling, never-there-for-his-kids husband. Probably because she regrets putting us kids through her own divorce.

    I’ve thrown that in her face, when needed, with a, “Mom, you can’t undo your past through me. Stop trying.”

    My other favorite shut down line is, “Mom you had your turn (to date, to have a wedding, to be a parent, to have a career, to…whatever). IT’S MY TURN NOW.

    It is exhausting having to protect your privacy and remind your parents that you are an adult now, too. Just exhausting. I find that walking out –
    with no f*cks given, immediately restores my energy.

    • vivinator said:

      I love the “you had your turn, it’s my turn now” line. I’ve used it so many times during my current pregnancy to fend off unwanted advice/opinions.

      • TOTALLY. Or alternatively, turn it around and say “Mom, I promise that next time you have a baby I’ll let you make whatever decision you think best about [parenting decision under debate].” Used quite often on my mother (who was in her 60s at the time, BTW). Worked nicely.

  6. Wonderfully said Captain!

    My parents badgered me to have children up until I got the partial hysterectomy, then they stopped. They felt that I *might* change my mind and give them grandkids, so that meant they could harass me every chance they got. Nope. I refused to have that conversation with them and went about my life as I wanted it to be. I hope Already is able to move out (My folks pestered me most when I was geographically closer) and got about their life unmolested by people who think they can control the reproductive rights of another person.

    • BarlowGirl said:

      …and it would be totally unethical to recommend the LW tell their mother that they’ve HAD a hysterectomy, even if it’s not true. *shifty eyes*

      • I heard nothing, nothing at all… <__>

      • Actually, ethics aside, that one wouldn’t even *work*, given that the mother is currently willing to accuse the LW of lying about the medical consultations she actually *has* had (sorry, excuse me while I go put out these flames on the side of my face…)

        • No kidding! That mother is so full of de-Nile, she’s practically Cleopatra.

  7. Ella said:

    I’ve been reading “Ramona the Pest” to my 4-yr-old niece, and one of the things that I’m enjoying about it is how strategic and conscious Ramona is about throwing what she calls “a great big noisy fuss.” “Great big noisy fusses were often necessary when a girl was the youngest member of her family and the youngest person on the block.” There’s also a part where she asks Howie Kemp why he doesn’t just throw a great big noisy fuss if he’s so unhappy about something he’s unhappy about. It’s hilariously refreshing.

    Find your inner Ramona if you have to, LW. Best of luck.

    • You’ve just reminded me to re-read those great books. Thank you ❤

    • alwaysanswerb said:

      I just got nostalia’d so hard! Thanks Ella!

      • alwaysanswerb said:

        *nostalgia. smh.

  8. This is all excellent advice. Being uniformly boring works, but so does always, immediately, and LOUDLY losing your top and then storming out every time it comes up. So depending on your level of frustration… 🙂

    The good news is that eventually she will get tired if you don’t give her the argument she wants (remember, the argument where you blow up, scream, yell swears, and then leave without giving her a chance to “win” is ALSO not the argument she wants) and she will stop bringing it up. I’m in my 40s and my mom hasn’t mentioned my lack of grandbaby-givingness in almost 10 years! 🙂

    Unfortunately, having conquered the dragon of my mother’s expectations, my (significantly younger) Best Boyfriend’s younger brother just got married and it turned out, to the dismay of her sons and presumptive daughters-in-law, that inside his adorable wee mother’s twinkly old-lady smile and cheerful demeanor is a GRANDBABY-DEMANDING MONSTER just waiting to get out. So that’s, uh, happening.

  9. I used to tell my parents my vagina, my business (nope, I don’t have children either) and they got over it, eventually. Keep on keeping on, OP.

    • Rachel said:

      I honestly think just saying the word “vagina” to my parents would get them to quit. Thanks for this.

  10. Slow Gin Lizz said:

    You’re not selfish for not wanting kids. Selfish people are the ones who want kids for all the wrong reasons, like, for instance, to shut their mom up about grandbabies. Selfish people are also the ones who want people who don’t want to have kids to have kids.

    I’m actually in the opposite place as you, wherein I desperately want kids but am not in a position to do so yet (single, need to earn more money if I’m going to become a single mom, etc.) and my brother and sis-in-law are perfectly positioned to have kids but DO. NOT. WANT. And I’m fine with that but it’s annoying when my parents complain to me about it.

    I hope you can follow Captain’s great advice. Alexcanread has interesting advice about agreeing with your mom that you’re selfish, but perhaps it might also work to try the opposite. That is, tell her that SHE’S the selfish one. Because she is.

    • Nicky said:

      Yeah, I would also go for, just once, in the scheduled blow-up that the Captain suggests, pointing out very clearly that SHE’S the selfish one here.

      SHE’S the one bullying someone to have children when they don’t believe they’d be a good parent. SHE’S the one who is bullying someone to have children when she’s been told (multiple times) that it will risk their life to carry a child.

      • CarpeFelis said:

        She’s also the one demanding LW spend “however much it takes” on medical intervention… funny how she’s not volunteering to pay that FOR LW (or take on the raising of this hypothetical grandchild)…

        • Yeah! If she thinks LW, who can’t even afford her own place, should be paying “whatever it takes,” then she should at least offer to cough up a bit of money for it. SHE is the one ask… demanding it, after all.

        • SarahTheEntwife said:

          Though I might recommend not bringing that up with the mother. If it’s at all financially possible, she seems like the sort of person who could actually offer to pay.

  11. PD said:

    The Captain’s advice is good. I shall give you me as a cautionary tale (no babies, but similar in many respects). I have an autoimmune condition, and because of it, I really feel the Cards Against Humanity pair that goes “I’m young, hot and full of moderate to severe joint pain”. As such, I use forearm crutch(es) and rarely, a wheelchair. My sister is getting married, and because appearances are everything, my mom was aghast when I got out of the train station with two crutches because “I thought you were only using one?!” and then took me shoe shopping, where I acquiesced to trying on, and then letting her buy me a low-heeled sandal (I pretty much am 100% flat shoes for the past 3 years since getting sick, so guess where this is going).

    The next day was the bridal shower, so I wore the shoes of doom because my flat sandals were not good enough. I also didn’t use my crutches, because familial pressure. By the end of the day, I could barely walk, even when I put on my flat sandals for going home, and the next day I basically cuddled ice packs in bed while taking all the breakthrough meds I was allowed (breaking a good run of not needing them because I didn’t do the right thing for me). Was it worth it? HELL NO. Would I have felt better defending my boundaries and wearing proper (flat) shoes? HELL YES. Am I going to listen to my body (and brain) come wedding day? YUP. I told her as much on the phone, which ended in me hanging up on her because “Well, you should just try wearing heels for a little bit each day…” NOPE. I like walking, and I prefer not torturing myself. I tried her way, but I’m going to buck up and draw my line in the sand, which is you can play dress up with my clothes/hair/makeup, but I’m choosing the shoes, and whether or not I need crutch(es). I want to enjoy my sister’s wedding, unlike her shower, where at about hour two I was well and truly done on both the OMG TOO MANY DAMN PEOPLE level and the FUCK FUCK OW physical pain level.

    Don’t be me. You have very good reasons for not having children, and it is your body, your choice. Make the choice you want, because you’ll be the one living with it, not her.

    • Katie said:

      Oh. My. God. I’m so appalled at her and so upset for you. That’s awful.

      • PD said:

        Yeah. That was basically my new therapist’s comment when he heard that I would have come to see him minus crutches. Though previous therapist and my GP have both been very anti-wheelchair. Which I don’t get, because my current studies pretty much require a fair bit of crutch free walking (lab work, so lots of gross, dangerous things, plus lots of places to sit and wheeled chairs), and beyond that, for the vast majority of things, crutches are way more functional than a wheelchair.

        However, trying to do groceries on crutches is pretty much impossible, and for the last 9 months or so, I’ve not been doing well enough to use the rollator I have (my wrists hate it when I need to really support myself on it versus crutches, but on crutches carrying more than a handful of things is not really an option).

        I did see an OT via a different programme, and she agreed that a trial of a rigid frame wheelchair would be good, and so I did, and it has been brilliant (I brought home 4L of milk, 4kg of sugar, 800g pecans, bananas, and a couple other things in one go, which would otherwise have been impossible, plus trying wheelchair dancing (which is brilliant), and a couple of long trips including a street fair which I would have skipped otherwise because I had a big experiment the next day). I also find that I’m more able to do functional exercise (ie. PT or swimming) when I have the option of a wheelchair as needed, instead of pushing myself too far on crutches.

        So I am getting my own custom chair through her, which I’m over the moon for, but also still haven’t told my parents about it because OMG-you-are-being-lazy-and-actually-look-disabled (as an aside, they can’t even allow me to call myself disabled without argument, because despite having a chronic illness, I’m not, according to them….). And apparently, I have all the feels about this. Quelle surprise.

        • Sorry your family is being so ableist and gross. Ewww.

          • PD said:

            Thanks. I was expecting them to be ableist, (as they are pretty much every -ist there is) but not so much medical people, though tbh, growing up in my family, I’m not as surprised as friends of mine were to find out that a doctor and a therapist both thought that I didn’t need a wheelchair.

        • Thanksforallthefish said:

          seconding side eye at your family and their ableist mindset

        • Maddie said:

          I live with multiple people with chronic illnesses as well as a plethora of friends and family ❤ I so feel your pain. Wheel chairs are where it is at! Use it, abuse it, it is so much easier to get around, people will more likely accept your disability without question, and you can make up stories about why you have to use one if you feel uncomfortable having to explain yourself to strangers or acquaintances!
          You deserve to have a more comfortable and functional life, if wheelchairs and crutches do that for you, fuck people who can't see the benefits for the 'appearance'.

          • PD said:

            ❤ Thanks. I'm very at ease with my friends (many of whom have disabilities which require varying types of DME) because they will accept that the wheelchair/crutch(es) are a tool to make my life easier. I'm fine with strangers because I am all out of fucks to give after dealing with my family (also having spent so much time on my crutches and being very crotchety in response to the standard "What did you do to yourself?" I find that the wheelchair is more invisible? Which seems all sorts of backwards, but forearm crutches are very non-standard here).

            I do deserve it, and for the most part, I follow through, but I cave in the face of family because I don't want drama. Well, my legs apparently won't have any of that any more, so my family can take me as I am, or not at all. (I can't wait to see my mom and sisters' reaction to my wheelchair this weekend as they are coming over to see the dress I'm wearing to the wedding. I was going to hide it, but I have ran out of fucks to give)

        • ashbet said:

          Ah, yes — my mother also CANNOT STAND to see me in my wheelchair.

          (I need it intermittently, but I *must* have it for anything requiring extended standing or walking, and I *really* need it when my spine/pelvis/hip is acting up.)

          My wrists and shoulders are too messed-up to support my weight on crutches or a walker/rollator, and I need a hybrid (manual with booster motors in the wheels) chair to be able to push my own weight. I have a genetic connective-tissue disorder that affects all my body systems, to varying degrees.

          I’m sorry that your mother is being ableist and difficult, and I hope that you will have the same experience that I did with my custom chair — it opened up so many avenues of independence, and means that I can go to a lot of events/places that I would have otherwise missed out on.

          Hope the wedding is lovely, and no one gives you a hard time about your medical accommodations! ❤

          • PD said:

            *high five* Parental DME disapproval buddies!

            EDS? Either way, anything that fucks with connective tissue is right awful (I don’t have EDS, I have an autoimmune disorder that deigns to be named going on three years now). I sleep with full wrist and thumb splints because joints are for attacking, but yeah, haven’t told my family about that either.

            OMG. Even the trial chair I have that is less than perfect has been an avenue to accessing things that were otherwise impossible. I can’t wait to have my own, that is tailored to me.

            Thanks! I hope so too. I’m also working on the whole boundaries thing, because is it ever a recurring theme in my life.

        • Lucielle said:

          Lazy people can’t handle wheelchairs. You are the one who gets to decide what help you need to be able to do things you want to do.

          People don’t realize how hard it is to get around with a wheelchair or even crutches. A lot a places are labelled handicap accessible that really aren’t. Let your family members try a day in your wheelchair and see how long they last before giving up.

          I bet that they would love a handicap parking permit. After my father-in-law died, his wife kept the permit so she could park close. (She walks better than I do.) Fortunately it eventually expired.

          For several reasons I occasionally use a wheelchair, crutches or a cane. If anybody says anything, I just tell them “Sometimes I need it and sometimes I don’t.” I don’t go into all the reasons and I don’t try to defend it. So basically “Yup, it’s a wheelchair day today.” If the person is polite and I feel like it, then I will give a very short reason and then change the subject.

          When I use a wheelchair, two of my four sisters can’t see me. Apparently I turn invisible. I have a Super Power!

          • PD said:

            So true. Legit, crutches are easier like 90% of the time, and I was specifically looking for a rigid wheelchair because instead of giving up and using paratransit to get to the store and the electric cart in the store, I wanted to be able to do all of it under my own power, but without pain.

            Yeah, they really don’t. Or how frequently elevators are out of service/on maintenance. I live in my country’s largest city and the subway network is like half unaccessible, as are most of the streetcars. And with a wheelchair especially, you find out how not flat everything is.

            They are actually anti-handicap permit – my grandfather never got one (multiple health issues), and even with me in the car with my permit they are much more likely to just find as close of a spot as possible and walk, because walking is good for you. I use mine on the rare occasion that I drive because generally if I’m driving a) that’s a lot of leg work already, and b) I’m going to a mall or something similar and need to marshal my resources.

            Makes sense.

            Heh. I don’t know if that works for my family, but it definitely works on my peers (I see them, they don’t see me). I find DME makes it easier for me to recognize and/or find people, even if it is such a huge height difference.

          • Norawora said:

            I feel you! I was in a wheelchair for awhile and people just looked over me. They didn’t talk to me anymore, or when they did they approached me like a 5 year old. What is up with that ? One time I was waiting in line at a conference and a lady actually pulled me back and took my place in line. I have never enjoyed ”accidentally” bumping into someones legs more than at that moment. People are remarkably ignorant and rude, and I am not sure why I am still surprised by this.

    • Ask Me About The Seventies said:

      Oh my goodness! I cannot imagine valuing superficial appearances over the health or well-being of any person, let alone my beloved children.

      I’m sorry you were treated that way by people who purport to love you.

      In our nutty family, we would probably decorate the crutches with ribbons in the wedding colors or something, but you can rest assured you would be using them, and wearing whichever shoes worked best for you. We kind of march to our own drummer, but we care about one another, and I think that’s how a family should be.

      OP, my own daughter has decided she isn’t going to have children, most likely. While I admit I’m a little disappointed, I would never, ever express that to her. She has her reasons, and she gets to decide her life. My job is to be supportive of her. Your mom is out of line, and she is likely to wind up bewildered, wondering why you and she are not close. But, it’s her own doing if she chooses not to hear you. The Captain has good advice here. I hope it gets her off your case about this most personal of issues!

      • PD said:

        Yeah, it doesn’t make any sense to me either. I think a part of it comes from a good place (ie. hoping I’d be better already), but ugh.

        Thanks.

        Can y’all adopt me? Because it would be great to have a family who a) understands that my health fluctuates and b) only cares about my DME insofar as making sure I’m using what suits my purposes best.

        You sound awesome. A+ parenting, keep on keeping on.

      • Bex said:

        I had a zimmer frame at my cousins wedding so we decorated it with battery operated fairy lights (which had previously decorated my wheelchair).

        At my sisters wedding I was a bridesmaid and *I* didn’t want to use walking aids for the ceremony. So my sis and bil ensured I had a groomsman to hold onto for all walking things, the wedding party all had seats for during the ceremony, during photos I had a seat when not required, I had a footstool under the table for the wedding breakfast and my crutches and sensible shoes were always handy for the point at which I would inevitably give up. They were wonderful and it meant I was free to do whatever I wanted/needed to do – including dancing away then getting carried back to my chair!

    • Oh my!

      That’s a horrible experience. Wear the flats forever please.

    • Edited: It was gibberish, and now all I can say is that I have no words for my anger at your mother, right now.

  12. Ishkabibble said:

    I think if you let your mother know she is hurting your feelings it might really make her respond differently than explaining your decision in a rational manner. It sounds like you’ve tried talking to her with Logic and Reasons, which she has taken as an invitation for her to argue, discuss, and advise. Instead, talk to her emotionally. Tell her she is hurting your feelings by not listening to you. Tell her she is making you feel unloved and sad. Stop listing all of your reasons for not having children–she’s just seeing those as a list of things to change your mind on, or a list of things to get second opinions on. Instead tell her that you’re feeling upset and unheard and you don’t want to talk to her about this any more, and just need her love and support. And emphasize that it really hurts your feelings when she makes comments about having children in public.

    She (of course!) should have backed off long ago, but maybe talking about emotions and feelings will make her listen or respond in a different way.

    • Rhoda said:

      I don’t know. I think this is the sort of person who would accuse LW of being “too sensitive” if LW explained that her feelings were hurt.

      • Anne Shirley said:

        That, or it becomes a contest: “but what about MY feelings????” It will be hard, if not impossible, to help her understand that her feelings are irrelevant (or, at the very most, a very very very low priority).

        • Diziet Sma said:

          Ah, so you’ve met my mother?!

          Any suggestion I might feel sad, or her behavior is upsetting me, is met with some variant of “What about how I feel?” There is just nothing I can say to that, because she genuinely can’t cope with anyone else’s feelings, nor does she understand that I don’t automatically feel the same way as she does.

          I’m at the stage, after much therapy, that I just won’t remain present if she treats me badly. She doesn’t want me to leave so she will, however reluctantly and ungraciously, moderate her behavior. I don’t like feeling that I am threatening to abandon someone because that feels quite psychologically cruel, but I have tried absolutely everything else and it has made no difference.

          • Virtue said:

            Think of it not as threatening to abandon someone, though, because it isn’t. You’re helping her moderate her behavior, just like working with small children (and yes, some small children can manage their feelings, but some can’t, seriously, and you have to do this to help them learn). As my therapist told me, guilt is something other people can’t make us feel– we choose to feel it.

            Don’t feel guilty for not wanting to be treated well by people who say they love you!

          • Kitty said:

            I’m so sorry your mother disregards your feelings like that.

            What helped me be more okay with leaving or hanging up (and ignoring mum’s guilt trips over it) was reframing it not as something I was doing TO her to “punish” her, but something I was doing FOR me, to protect my mental health when she refused to listen.

      • Kitty said:

        Yup! Rhoda and Anne Shirley I think you are right on the money. If the LW’s mother is anything like my boundary stomping mother, trying to explain to her how her actions are hurting the daughter’s feelings will not be absorbed by her at all.

        • I think it’s a worthwhile test. IF the mother backs off and rethinks her behavior, then you can continue and grow the relationship, and turn it into something beautiful and mutually supportive. If she digs in with “what about MEEEEE?” then it’s time to go low contact, or maybe no contact for a while, until she realizes that she is not the center of the universe.

          It’s an opportunity for the mother to show her true colors, and knowing someone’s true colors is always valuable information.

    • bostoncandy said:

      I don’t think any reasons will help here, whether they appeal to logic or emotion. Like the Captain says, reasons are for reasonable people. When my mom doesn’t want to hear something, she just doesn’t hear it. No matter how good the reasons. It’s like you never opened your mouth. Disengaging, changing the subject, ending the conversation is the best way with her.

  13. What a great moment of “wait, did I sleep-write to Cpt. Awkward????” No, alas there are more people than just me in this conundrum but ho’boy. I got yelled at the other night for being “selfish” enough to choose “rats [pets] over children.” Oh, and that I’d die alone and uncared for if I didn’t have children. But it’s selfish not to have them… yup, totally scans. Anyway, I know how you feel, LW and agree that living with not your parents is a great first step, even though it probably won’t stop the terrible comments it will decrease your exposure to them. Hope your mom comes around eventually!

    • sistercoyote said:

      Oh, I get so frustrated with the “alone and uncared for” argument. Just, like — all the no.

      LW: I feel your pain. Fortunately, I have passed the age where children are a concern, so my mother no longer nags me about having them. But I have been there.

      • CommanderBanana said:

        Yup. Having kids is no guarantee that you won’t end up alone and uncared for. You might end up alone, uncared for, and stolen from, depending on your children (thinking of my older brother here, who has sponged off of my parents for all of his life, but I know will not lift a finger to help them when they are going to need it).

        • sistercoyote said:

          Right now, there is ALL THE DRAMA going on in my mother’s family because my uncle, who is the one who lives closest to my (dear god this woman is a piece of work) Grandmother will not step in to help with the care she needs (including getting her into a home so my aunt who has literally just gotten out of the hospital from a stress-derived fainting spell and near heart-attack (their words) can worry about taking care of herself and not her mother — did I mention my grandmother is a piece of work?) and when pressed to do so said some horrible things to/about my mother to the point she’s no longer speaking to him or my grandmother…so my cousin, who lives about three hours away (each way, not round trip) has been driving down most days to take care of both grandmother and aunt (and this cousin is NOT said aunt’s child, btw)…

          …anyway, yeah, case in point. But also, and I realize I’m probably the only person who feels this way, children do not OWE their parents end-of-life care. It would be nice if we all felt equipped to give our parents that gift, but I think if they’re no contact there’s no reason to make a person feel bad for not giving in to one more place their parents feel entitled. Make sure they’re clothed, fed, and safe, sure. But I, for one, am not in a place where I’m willing to care for a person who barely cared for me.

          • halfmanhalfshark said:

            You’re not the only one who feels that way! My partner and I both feel strongly that it shouldn’t fall to our daughter to care for us when we’re old. If she wants to, that’s great, but neither one of us are counting on it. And we’re taking practical steps to do what we can to make it so she doesn’t have to.

            …especially because my parents, who insist I have no duty to care for them, have zero retirement savings and have said repeatedly they will never go to a nursing home or move in with me and I’m like… okay, out onto the ice floe with you I guess?

          • Kitty said:

            Totally agree that children do not owe their parents simply for being born and receiving basic care. That’s what the parents signed up for when they decided to make a child. It’s not a contract, because of course the child never asked to be born and could not have agreed to such terms.

            Hank Green actually did a great video on this topic for Crash Course Philosophy. ☺

      • Nancy M said:

        A great answer to that is “and so will you, if you don’t stfu about my decisions about my life and my body.” (Note that by ‘great’ I mean ‘you’ll probably never have to worry about talking to those people again.’)

      • But the thing is, the parents who treat their children like this are just as likely to end up alone and uncared for. Meanwhile, people who treat others with respect may not have biological family at the end, but odds are good they’ll have friends who care for them.

        And now I want to watch Fried Green Tomatoes. It wasn’t biology that gave Jessica Tandy a home at the end.

    • 5 Leaf Clover said:

      I’ll never understand the “selfish” argument for having kids. It’s not like the world needs more people! Who exactly are we supposed to be helping out, here. I’ve recently committed to not having kids (after a long time on the fence) and I do worry about being alone in my old age, but that’s a terrible reason too – can you imagine if your parents told you they’d mostly had you to take care of them when they’re old?

      • Nicole said:

        Congratulations on your recent decision! I made the same one and to be honest it was such a big decision that I feel like it needs some sort of celebration, like an unbaby shower?
        People give me all those reasons too, as well as the ‘what if you regret it later?’, to which I carefully DONT say ‘better to not have children and regret that than to have children and regret it and then have real human lives on your hands that you regret!’
        Mostly I try and be understanding that getting married and having kids is the predominant cultural story of how to live a satisfying and fulfilling life, and most people haven’t seriously thought of any alternatives.

        • I think you should say it, Nicole. It is a truth that needs to be universally acknowledge.

          There are good reasons to have children. But “in case I regret it” is not one of them.

      • Virtue said:

        /waves

        So I was adopted… and I’m learning that that is pretty much what the story is becoming, that I ‘owe’ my parents taking care of them. Needless to say I have FEELINGS about this that I’m not letting myself feel too much without therapy.

    • Goober said:

      “Oh, and that I’d die alone and uncared for if I didn’t have children.”

      “As opposed to you, who had children, and will still die alone and uncared for?”

    • SarahTheEntwife said:

      ::rattie fist-bump::

      See, my hypothetical child isn’t going to have much time to take care of me, being Secretary of State and all. But I’m super proud of them and they helped me research an awesome retirement community so we’re all good.

  14. Clover said:

    I’ve never wanted kids. Against my better judgment I fell in love with and married a guy with kids, and then a few years ago they unexpectedly wound up living with us full-time. I’m in the process of getting a divorce in no small part because I am simply not built for full-time parenthood.

    Some people aren’t built for parenthood in terms of biology, temperament, lifestyle preference, economic realities, and any number of reasons. If those people know that about themselves and opt out of parenthood, they should be applauded, not harassed.

    Reluctant parents often wind up regretful, bitter parents. This doesn’t get talked about a lot because no one wants to say out loud, “I regret having my kids.” We’re a club I wish no one belonged to. It sucks for the kids and it sucks for us.

    I wish all the parenthood evangelists of the world would lay off on their mission work. Badgering someone nonmaternal to tune out those impulses is a horrible, potentially life-destroying idea.

    • My daughter likes children, but not babies, and the idea of being pregnant freaks her out. So she’s opting out of parenthood with the possibility of maybe adopting an older child someday. I told her “There’s 7 billion people in the world. Not everyone needs to reproduce and I don’t need to be a grandmother that badly.”

      • Great parenting, many bells down! I wish LW’s mom were more like you.

      • Yaaay!

        Also, older children are harder to place, and are more grateful, because they’ve been lonely and unloved, and know the difference. Someone who was adopted at birth may eventually come to realize that they owe a debt of gratitude, but an older child who finds a loving home will feel it right off the bat.

        Not that you should adopt a kid in order to have someone be grateful to you, because yuck. I’m just saying, it’s really good for the child. I wish more people who go for adoption would go straight for the older children, instead of scrambling and waiting in line for a baby, you know? Why are older children, and teens, so frequently unvalued by prospective adoptive parents? Because you don’t get to “mold” them in infancy?

        Back when I was thinking I could adopt, someday, I was determined to adopt older kids, specifically because there are so many who need homes, and aren’t getting them. In fact, I wanted to adopt a group of siblings, for a ready-made family that would otherwise be hard to place.

        • ‘older children …are more grateful, because they’ve been lonely and unloved, and know the difference.’

          Please don’t. The gratitude for adoption argument is a recipe for awfulness. It seems like you kind of know this because you talk about it in the next paragraph, but the quoted statement is not ok. I really think a prospective adoptive parent of an older child (or any child) should say to themselves ‘am I expecting a visible display of gratitude for me adopting them from this child at any point in their life?’ And if yes, do not adopt, or get to a place where this expectation is gone before doing so. In this community we spend a lot of time angry at parents who expect gratitude for giving their children food, shelter and meeting emotional needs growing up, and that should not be different for adopted children.

    • alwaysanswerb said:

      My SO and I are among the legion of the uncertain, where I am leaning no and he has historically leaned yes, and during our most recent status update he talked about how he has been thinking more recently about whether the wanting of children was truly coming from him, or if it was just the societal default (and expectation of his family) and he never really thought to question it. He made the comment that it’s so odd (and irresponsible) that the status quo is that everyone *should* have children if they can, and that the question of “choice” only really comes up when you’re on the verge of making the aberrant decision to NOT have them — like, the absence of thinking about whether or not to have kids eventually leads to having kids, because (probably) unprotected sex. But a lot of people really shouldn’t have them, and it’s not like “under”population is an issue we need to be concerned about, so it’s deeply worrying that there is such a constant pressure on women to procreate, both via pressure tactics like this OH AND the stripping away of reproductive health options legislatively.

      • I would really, truly, love to see birth control be the norm and default position for anyone of child-bearing age (both those with wombs and with testicles), and that people would have to make the conscious choice to get off birth control, to actual CONTROL the BIRTHS!

        Children should be born because they were wanted and chosen. Children should be planned.

    • RedCat 1529 said:

      Agree. The number of people not cut out to be parents who feel societal or familial pressure to go against their nature and instinct is staggering.

      My mother was a terrible parent and all of her five children are damaged by our awful upbringing – unfortunately we were all conceived when contraception was far less common and reliable, and their religious upbringing meant that my parents were told from childhood that their main role in life (particularly my mother’s) was to have children, and that to deny g_d’s gift of children was a grave sin, even though neither of them wanted us.

      Both parents would have had much happier and fulfilled lives if they’d remained childfree.

  15. A relative has never had children, and he’s seventy-five and says he hasn’t been sorry yet!

    • I’m 60 and have never had children, and it is a thoroughly joyous thing.

    • Nanani said:

      There’s a couple in my extended family who have zero kids, spend a lot of time travelling, and are in a position to spoil the heck out of their nephews and nieces.

      I’m (30s, single by choice, no kids ever) like: Life goals, be that.

    • BarlowGirl said:

      Better to be sorry you never had kids, than sorry you did, IMO.

      • gypsyharper said:

        Definitely! If you end up sorry you didn’t have kids, you can always foster, adopt, volunteer, etc. to have a relationship with children. If you have them and you’re sorry, well, it’s not like you can give them back.

        • Actually, you can “give them back,” by abandoning them, or handing them over for adoption. But that’s pretty heartbreaking for at least half of the people involved.

      • Tea Rocket said:

        This is what I always say. To put it more wordily, I’d rather regret the non-existence of a hypothetical person than the existence of an actual person.

    • Rhoda said:

      I knew from an early age that I wasn’t cut out to be a mother. I’m too much like my own mother and she certainly wasn’t right for the job.

      • I’m autistic with three anxiety disorders, depression, and dependent personality disorder. I would be a terrible example for any child on how to cope with setbacks. Plus, some of that is inherited. NOPE. DO NOT WANT TO PASS THAT ON.

        • Me too. though with Avoidant Personality Disorder, rather than dependant. I luckily hit menopause at a very early 30. I think my consultant was taken aback when I cheered when he confirmed this.

    • Thistledown said:

      I have an aunt who never had kids. She says people used to tell her she should just “get it over with.” Which honestly explains a lot of the letters that Captain Awkward gets.

      • But, unless your children die before you do, you don’t “get it over with.” It’s never “over with.”

  16. slfisher said:

    If there were ever a time for Creating a Scene, this is it.

    She talks to you about grandbabies in public? Burst into tears, wail “You *know* I can’t have children! Why do you keep bringing it up?” in front of as many people as possible, and run sobbing from the room.

    I know. There’s probably many good reasons for not doing that. but I’d certainly be tempted if it were me. She’d be embarrassed? Good.

    • doctormead said:

      I’m not sure if this is a good idea. It might only make them think “If we could fix her health problem, she’d do what I tell her and have babies!”. Cue being deluged with suggestions for other doctors/alternative medicine/experimental surgeries.

      • Emma9 said:

        This is basically what I came here to post. I would go so far as to say, stop bringing up your medical problems with your mother *entirely*. If the fact that having children would be medically inadvisable for you hasn’t struck deeply home enough for her yet, it’s not likely to. So if you try to use ‘because the doctors said no’ as a reason, all you’re going to get is:

        A) Her current strategy, gaslighting out any portions of your medical history she doesn’t like, or,
        B) Attacks on your doctors – clearly your current ones are Wrong, you need to keep seeing more until you find one who will tell you what she wants to hear, or hey! How about this homeo-magnetic practitioner! Or,
        C) ‘OKAY THEN, you can (must) just use a surrogate or adopt, now I’m going to start researching these things and harangue you with specific agencies you should be calling – have you called them yet? And you really need to dump your boyfriend and find someone better, and immediately marry Mr. Righter because the agencies care about these things, you know. (Have you called yet?)’

        Reasons are for reasonable people. LW’s mom is not in that category and doesn’t need any more ammunition.

    • Violet said:

      Ohhhhh that’s good. I like that one. Only a fraction of the embarrassment she deserves. Though – LW, you’ve referred to “retaliation ” a few times without spelling out what that would entail, and staying safe is thing one.

    • Nicky said:

      Yeah, I might be tempted to go for that tactic, too. Honourable and accurate it may not be, but it does do the job of turning the paradigm on its head.

      I remember discovering at university that when other new students were getting unmercifully teased if they didn’t want to drink alcohol, my (entirely true) response of “I can’t drink – doctor’s orders! It’s a pain, but hey, what can you do?” were met with a lot more acceptance. Because people – even people who’d just been invoking peer pressure to the point of reducing someone to tears – tend not to want to be seen as asses about medical issues.

      OTOH, LW’s mom seems to be perfectly fine with being a disbelieving ass about LW’s medical condition and family seem to be going along with her, so, in this case, it may do no good at all. *sighs*

    • speedbudget said:

      I fully cosign on this.

  17. I’m also grateful that my mom knows I would not make a good mother, so she never said one word about grandbabies!

  18. Thistledown said:

    You mileage by vary, but I have a friend who recently got married and never wants to have kids (husband agrees). When their (large, southern) families ask about it, she and her husband just say they’re going to have kids in ten years. They’re both in their thirties, so this is not a terribly plausible answer. They just keep saying it very firmly to shut down those conversations. I think it’s the combination of a really concrete, but far away date that works. But this might work better for less extreme people than your mom.

    (Also, yes, please be sure that your birth control cannot be tampered with.)

    • Back when fools still asked me, “when are you going to get married/have children/do this other thing that is none of my concern?” I’d answer “Three o’clock!” With a big, bright smile. Which inevitably got bigger and brighter as I watched the expressions on their faces.

      I kind of miss that, actually. But no one does it to me anymore.

  19. Knitting Cat Lady said:

    My grandmother is like your mother.

    I’m asexual, aromantic, agender, autistic, mentally ill, have a few auto immune disorders and take daily medication that they’re not really sure about if it is teratogenic or not.

    Add to that that the thought of pregnancy is body horror akin to the Ailien movies for me.

    I never wanted children, ever, my whole life. At all.

    And my medical situation means that I really really shouldn’t have children.

    Good thing my medical reality and desires line up this way.

    And due to my sexuality I never had any kind of romantic partner my whole life. And I just turned 34.

    So, earlier this my dad signed a contract that gets him early retirement with really great conditions in a few years.

    My grandma came for a visit the day after the signing.

    My dad told her that we would be celebrating something when she arrived and that he would tell her when she arrived.

    My grandma had to tell her guesses before she wanted to hear my dad’s news.

    Her first guess?

    ‘You’re going to be grandparents!’

    My reaction:

    ‘Not in a hundred years!’

    Sometimes I think a lot of people resent having children and want to spread their misery…

    I like other people’s children just fine.

    Especially because they can be given back!

    • I’m glad I’m not the only one who likens birth to the chest bursters. Lol! I love the Alien films.

      • Alexia said:

        At some point, I was debating bringing that movie in my carry-on to the maternity ward so I could watch it after I gave birth. I didn’t and kind of regret I didn’t.

        • Hehehe! That would have been funny! Maybe next time? 😉

    • jaynn said:

      “Especially because they can be given back!”

      I love my son, but sometimes I’m frustrated by how being a parent has reoriented my life. (DH wants another one. I’m worried about screwing up the one we have.) As far as I’m concerned, be selfish! Selfish is not automatically bad–sometimes it’s necessary, and I really can’t think of a reason why not having a kid is actually a bad thing.

  20. policychick said:

    LW, I feel you. I have an older brother and he married (unhappily) and has two daughters. the divorce was awful but that aside…he bred!

    I heard for many years about ‘our small family’ and my dad saying ‘well this is it with our family – and no boys to carry on the (unremarkable, from-an-abusive-drunk-grandfather) name. For most of my twenties, I got the, ‘have you met any nice….BOYS?’

    Listen, take the Cap’s advice – and in all aspects of life. Move out, stand up, and sometimes you have to take the heat.

    You can also offer, “Listen Mom – you raised me to be a kind and thoughtful independent person. Trust me to do what is right for me. I’m not going to have kids if I can’t be the mom a kid needs.” Maybe she would respond to that?

    Good luck LW!

    • I get the “carry on the family name” thing, if the name is actually in danger of dying out. But Smith? Jones? No. What they mean is “no boys to carry on MY OFFICIAL BLOODLINE, because GIRLS DON’T COUNT.”

      Unless they have some sort of hereditary title and estate to pass on, this argument is ridiculous.

      • Nanani said:

        Adopting someone specifically to give them the hereditary stuff is/was totally a thing though.

        It’s not really about names or traditions or anything, it’s ALWAYS about Controlling Women. That’s all the patriarchy knows how to do.

  21. l8g8r said:

    There is hope! My parents, especially my dad, were going grandbaby-crazy for a while a year or two ago. My dad would send me texts of baby stuff, pics of him holding friends’ babies and saying “practicing,” etc. My first strategy was to go, “Wow, good for your dad, but aren’t you kinda old to have another baby?” It was mean but so is pressuring someone else to have children. But for real, after a while, I just sent one short, very clear email saying that I would like both of my parents to immediately stop talking to me about any future children I may or may not have because it was making me feel bad and pressured and guilty. They both immediately stopped and my dad apologized – he genuinely had no idea he wasn’t just being funny. May not work well for you given that you live with them, but I would really stress the Capn’s suggestion of addressing it head-on, it just might work.

    • sistercoyote said:

      Tragically, I suspect your parents are more rational people than LW’s mother. :/

      (Your story about your dad reminded me of the time my father scared the hell out of me. I was in my late 30s, which means my folks were in their late 50s and I know (because my mother has no filter) that mom was through menopause and my father has had a vasectomy. So when Dad texted me out of the blue to say, “You have a new brother” I just about had heart failure…until I remembered they’d been talking about a stray dog the day before.)

    • Goober said:

      Yeah, some things are funny once. A few are funny twice. Nothing if funny the 50th time you do it.

  22. Violet said:

    Oh LW, I am so sorry. I would love to personally whap your mom upside the head. Also I am having a fantasy in which you tell her “I swore to myself I would never be a mother because the model you gave me was so horrifyingly boundary-violating that I couldn’t bear to inflict even a fraction of that on an innocent, vulnerable child.” also “And I won’t tolerate hearing one more word about this from you, ever. No means no, full stop.” It’s a very satisfying fantasy, but I can’t recommend you actually do anything like it until you have become home/financially independent, and I agree 150% with the Captain that getting out from under her needs to be sanity-saving priority #1.

    Actually I’m having one more super passive-aggressive fantasy. Is there anything you could start totally nagging your mom about, that would get under her skin and that you could bring up as a counterattack/diversion when she gets going on this? I don’t tend to think this way, I’m actually kind of shocking myself, but omg your mom’s behavior totally earns that kind of turn-the-tables karmic penalty. I’m not actually recommending you do this either. But these fantasies are making me feel less vicarious violation, and if you think perhaps a good fantasy of such things might be inwardly cathartic for you….?

    • I fantasize a lot. I do find it cathartic.

      In my experience, a good fantasy and a bit of a breather afterward, to really savor the fantasy, can make it possible for me to go and face the situation again, even if I can’t actually do a blasted thing. I FEEL as if I have done something, and that does help.

      LW, I recommend fantasizing, until you can get OUT. Once you are out, then you should act. Safety first.

  23. onamission5 said:

    I don’t have advice for LW, but I do have a rant.

    Goddammit, parents, do not do this. It’s IF there are grandchildren, not WHEN. Raising one’s own kids does not guarantee grandchildren, nor entitle you to demand your kids reproduce just because you’re bored, or unfulfilled, or want to interact with babies without their parents looking at you funny, or feel you have love to give that somehow needs to specifically be aimed at brand new humans who are related to you. I get it. Babies are great, little kids can be delightful, and when our kids grow up sometimes we miss their brand new years desperately, but we still don’t get to demand our now-adult offspring provide us with live human nostalgia-binkies.

    Caught myself, when my younger kids were wee, referring to the far future days of when they would become parents. Was chagrined, changed immediately to if.

    “If you decide..”
    “If it happens that…”
    IF I always hated the assumption of “when.”

    This is not hard, potential grandparents in waiting. Okay, I get that it sometimes feels hard, because it’s change and change isn’t easy, but still. You want to raise babies? Foster. Adopt. You want to have the option of spoiling a little one then giving the baby back when you’re all done for the day? Totally understandable, so get first aid certified and lend out your babysitting services to neighbors. Volunteer in the baby room at your place of worship, if you have one. Volunteer to read books to little ones at the library. Volunteer at the hospital. Do whatever you have to do to stuff that nurturing sized hole in your heart without placing the burden on your kids to fill it, because it’s not their job to cater to your longing for grandparental whimsy. Find an outlet and leave the kids alone.

    Don’t even like kids all that much but just kind of feel like it’s your children’s duty to reproduce on your say so because all your friends have grandkids and you want to fit in? Take up gardening or needlepoint or spelunking, wear a purple hat, and embrace being the odd one out. I have a feeling that this is much more common a pattern than society tends to let on anyway, so chances are good you won’t be that odd or out.

    The End.

    • I suspect my mum is stewing a bit because both her sisters are grandmothers now, but her one sister was destructive but not abusive, her other sister was neither, and my mum is both destructive and abusive, and by the time I’d gotten a handle on my issues enough to even consider having kids, I’d discovered that life without them is a blissful thing full of sleep and money.

    • Yes. This.

      I love love LOVE babies but the idea that my kid should have some so that I can enjoy them is just bizarre to me. There will always be babies for me to enjoy! I have friends, I have other relatives, I can always find a baby to bounce.

    • 5 Leaf Clover said:

      I appreciate this advice and hope everyone follows it. One of the reasons I feel sad about not having kids, even though I’m pretty sure it is the right decision for me, is that I had always seen it as the normal next step in a life. I do think it would be wonderful if it had always been an “if” from when I was very young.

    • roramich said:

      A+++

    • Alexia said:

      Yes this.

      Your daughters are not your proxy uteruses. Your daughter-in-laws are not your proxy uteruses. Just don’t. Don’t go there.

  24. Rhoda said:

    “Move out of your parents’ place as soon as humanly possible.”
    Oh yes, this a thousand times. That your mother ignores or brushes off your medical condition shows that if it wasn’t grandchildren it would be something else. Find room-mates, take an inexpensive basement suite, do whatever it takes to get out of there.

    • Emma9 said:

      Also: If your mother is the kind who will give you a hard time about moving out, derail the next ‘when are babies happening’ interrogation with “I’m not even going to consider that until I’m established in a place of my own.” That might make your departure go more smoothly, since you’re proceeding down the path that will get her what she wants!

      Once you’re free and no longer have to endure this toxic atmosphere, you can revert to the Captain’s scripts of ‘Yes, I’m definitely going to think about that’ et all.

  25. Katie McLaughlin said:

    LW, if you can’t move out right now, can you make yourself a lot more scarce? Even if it’s just that you hang out at coffee shops or the library, or make up a fake cooking class — or hell, even take a real one, take up walking or biking distances or just go read in a park — find a way to get out of your house as much as you possibly can while you still have to live there. It won’t be perfect, but it sounds like a nightmare dealing with this all the time and I predict it will be a kind ting to do for yourself.

    • bostoncandy said:

      I was thinking this too. Volunteer! Try out for a play! Take a class! Join a meetup! Do anything as long as YOU want to and it gets you out of the house at regular (or even better, frequent but IRregular) intervals.

      • Irregular has an advantage, because it makes it harder for Mom to plan an ambush.

  26. My thoughts on the “selfish” thing: “No, actually, I am not. You are being selfish by making demands on another person’s body.” Foolishness. That cliche sticks in my craw because it is so very illogical.

    • isabeausuro said:

      That and … having kids to ( shut mom up / give parents grancbaby opportunities / have someone to take care of you later / pretty much any reason other than TO HAVE AND RAISE A KID ) is selfish.

      But yeah, making demands on other peoples’ bodies = no bueno.

    • Goober said:

      From a logical standpoint, I agree. But when dealing with that kind of passive/aggressive shit, the fastest, surest way to shut it down for good it to agree with every single insult.

      “You’re being selfish!”

      “Yes, I am. I have to look out for myself, because nobody else will.”

      “You don’t care about my feelings!”

      “No, I don’t, because you don’t care about mine.”

      “You don’t love me!”

      “No, I don’t.”

      It generally only takes one conversation of that nature and they’ll never do it again.

      Note: This approach works best if you’re so fed up with the person that you’re willing to cut off all contact. There’s a very good chance the relationship will be irreparably damaged.

      • Ros said:

        Well, the relationship is definitely being damaged by the status quo. Sometimes torching the bridge works.

        • Virtue said:

          Sometimes torching the bridge is the best way to stop the invasion.

          • Sometimes torching the bridge is the only way to expose the foundation, so that you can find and mend the cracks, so you can rebuild a bridge that will actually bear weight.

  27. clorinda said:

    I am the only one of my mother’s children who had kids. You’d think that would get me off the hook, but no. She calls me to complain that (1) I didn’t have enough kids and (2) my sisters didn’t have any, so she doesn’t have enough grandbabies, how sad and unfair, a person who had four children should have at least ten grandbabies and she only has two.
    Whatever LW does, it will never be enough. If you adopt or get with someone who already has kid(s), it’s not a -real- grandchild. If you go through some kind of expensive and painful medical process to have a bio kid, it’s only one child, and where are the next two? Since this is true, just hum a sustaining chorus of Let It Go and say, ‘sure Mom, I’ll think about it.’
    And … move out of her house!

    • halfmanhalfshark said:

      I had one child after years of infertility treatments, a rough pregnancy, complications, a premie birth, a NICU stint, and PPD and I swear before my c-section scar had even healed my mom was like, “So when are you going to have another?” Credit where it’s due, I shut down that line of inquiry immediately and my mom actually realized what a tool she was being about the whole thing and apologized.

    • Alexia said:

      Exactly this. Odds are LW’s mother would also spend all her time interfering in her grandkids’ lives, constantly undermining the parents’ authority. At least LW won’t have to deal with that!

  28. Pear said:

    Re: Moving out. Even partially moving out can help a bit, in my experience. My parents started backing off a bit once I started staying over nearly every week at my partner’s flatshare. Anything to keep you physically away and show your mother that she is not completely where home is. The first thing I did was start keeping important documents and vital supplies with me. It was by sheer luck, rather than my own hustle, that got me completely out of my parent’s home–but I was still out, and I truly wish this kind of luck on other people who need it, LW included.

    When I was a teenager, my parents informed me that I would be having grandchildren.

    CW from this point re: miscarriage and victim-blaming

    ***

    I wasn’t allowed to have an abortion (“Just have it!” I was told, like one has naps or opinions) and if I miscarried, it would be my fault. I would’ve cheated them of a baby through my own bad decisions. My mother herself had miscarried and sadly, nobody really supported her through that, so the chosen outlet for her feelings (which I understand must be unspeakably lonely and painful) was regaling me, a child–her sole living child–with stories of women who went through miscarriage (including criticising her own close friend!) and how selfish they were, and how of course I wouldn’t do those things to her, would I?

    ***

    I was told that, when my child was born, they would be taking it to raise with higher standards: they wanted to start over and do better with the grandchild than they did with me. Whether or not I actually want children is irrelevant in this situation, both in the eyes of my parents and also the result of their behaviour: even if I really want children, knowing that my parents had staked a claim on the child is, er, off-putting. The whole thing is awful and possessive and intrusive, particularly if you’re expected to gestate.

    Either way, I’ve clued in my partner to my parent’s attitudes so he can back me up and help me reinforce a clear line. However, I’m relying on the assumption that my parents respect my partner; if LW’s mother badmouths LW’s partner, it might possibly be less effective–but, LW, it’ll help you feel less alone and put-upon, at the very least, and that support can help when facing a really long battle over your own bodily autonomy.

    • Holy shit that’s rly rly toxic wow

    • Oh. My. God. No words.

      (Although I would be tempted to look up current prices for being a gestational surrogate, since it seems that is what they’re expecting you to do, and tell them ‘OK, you want me to have a baby so that you can bring it up? Going rates for that are £10 000 [or whatever] – let me know if this is acceptable, and we can sit down and draw up a contract.’)

      (No, no way would I recommend *doing* that. Just enjoying a fantasy about the looks on their faces.)

      • For the love of all that is holy, do NOT get these people in contact with a surrogate mother! They should not be having another child.

        And if you do have a child, do whatever you can, before the baby is even born, to legally protect that child from these $*#&@!*(% people, and make sure that no matter what happens to you, they will NEVER get their hands on that child, even for an afternoon.

  29. rr said:

    LW, this sucks, I’m sorry. I’ve got the same thing, with a medical condition that means that pregnancy and giving birth is a really bad idea, and my dad is just like this. Most of the time I just brush it off, but every so often, I get Annoyed enough to start being like “here is the medical reason why this is bad, you know this is bad, why do you keep pushing this”, but even that doesn’t help, since he just comes back with things like “oh, it’s never a *good* time to have a baby, you make do” or “lots of people have bad experiences with pregnancy” (…and it’s their decision to do it? Just like it’s my decision not to?).

    So I have no good ways or advice on getting the parents to stop with this. Although I am hoping that in a few years, I can get the relevant biology removed, so if nothing else, I can say “not physically possible any more, let’s move on”.

    • policychick said:

      I’m sorry, rr. That sucks. Can you perhaps say something like, “We’ve discussed this, I’m not [physically/mentally] capable. Either drop it or this conversation is finished.”
      And stick to it? Walk out of the room when he starts in. Or hang up the phone. Make good on the boundary.

      Honestly, you don’t owe your dad (or anyone outside who you chose) an explanation regarding your reproductive bits. It might be beyond where you are, but – the next time he comes down with the ‘make do/bad experience get over it/breed anyway’ I’d say, “Well you can birth your own, Old Man, if it’s that easy.” And walk the fuck out.

      He’d choke on that, I reckon.

      Maybe not the best way to go.

      • I want to say, “Gee, thanks for loving me so much you want me to die, just to attempt to give you a new baby to cuddle.” And then walk the fuck out.

  30. Temperance said:

    LW, I’m not sure if this is something you would consider or not, but you could always point out to your mother that just because you have children, it does not mean that she’s going to have the kind of interaction with them that she wants or expects. I take tremendous joy in the fact that my 4-year-old niece has called me “grandma aunt temperance” since she was very small, because I fit her understanding of what a grandma is (person who loves her and is some kind of relative).

    My mother has a personality disorder and was very unstable and abusive when I was a child. She’s still unstable but can’t abuse me because we don’t speak. Whenever she would crow on about wanting to be a grandmother we would think to ourselves about what an awful mother she was, and be thankful that we could control her access to any future kids. My mother was obsessed with being a grandmother since I was in high school …. which, no.

    • I’m sorry you grew up with that, and happy for you that you have such a sweet niece.

      • Temperance said:

        Thank you! My sister’s kids are my favorite people. My nephew calls me Aunt Temperance, but I love him anyway. Niece refers to my husband as “Uncle Grandma”, which I also find adorable and hilarious.

        • Uncle Grandma! That’s great! Please tell me you’ve recorded her saying that? Being an auntie can be a lot of fun.

    • efmather2006 said:

      This. My mother really wanted a big family gathered around her to love and admire her, and my sister is the only one of 3 children who obliged her with biological grandchildren. But, that also meant that Sister now longer has as much time for her family ( meaning our mother – her husband and kids aren’t her “real” family in our mom’s mind). And wait, the grandchildren don’t always want to spend all their free time with (maternal ) grandmother. And oops, Sister didn’t name them solely after our mom, and they don’t resemble her, or like to garden the way she does. It’s true that our mother is tough to make happy, but most of her unhappiness and hurt comes from things that nobody can control, and the powerful fantasy that family will always live you and make you happy.

      • Catherine from Canada said:

        Um, are you my sister? because, yeah, you’re talking about me, my life and my mother.
        (Who I no longer speak to because not only does she resent my husband, children and grandchildren, she constantly criticized them to the point of verbal and emotional abuse and then chose to tell my pregnant, bi-polar, suicidal daughter how her behaviour made my mother feel. Enough.)

      • Temperance said:

        I would assume that you’re my brother, but there are 4 of us. You absolutely nailed it, though. My mother tried to get my sister to not get married to her now-husband so “the baby can be part of our family”.

        My mother still hasn’t forgiven her for not naming the children after my dad’s relatives. (She idolizes them.) My niece and nephew get to have their own names, and they’re cool, fun little people. The amount of anger that my mother has over my niece’s middle name being “Jean” is hilarious.

  31. Dear LW,

    Please move out ASAP. Having your own place will help.

    Even before you move out though, you can change the subject when kids come up.

    Your mother: You’re not getting any younger! You need to start planning for your children now.
    You: I’m not going to discuss children. What do you think of my new haircut?
    YM: It is fine but will be hard to manage when you’re pregnant.
    You: Ah, so you’re wearing the sweater Uncle Kim knit! It’s such a nice color on you!
    YM: Thanks, but about babies
    You: Ok I’ve changed the subject twice. You didn’t listen. I’m going to my room. Talk tomorrow.

    This isn’t easy to pull off, but it’s possible. Leaving the room may give you a respite until you move out.

    Jedi hugs if you want them.

  32. How about, “What would you like, Dad, a living daughter OR a living grandchild? Choose one.” That should shut him up if you need a nuclear option. Apologies to rr if I misgendered you.

  33. Willow said:

    “can we eat or do I need to storm off again to prove a point?”

    Now I have to clean my keyboard and maybe change my pants.

  34. Frankie said:

    Alternatively, wear this shirt around your mother at all times (remove spaces, hopefully this will work):

    https:// cdn.shopify.com /s/files/1/1829/4817/products/beat-babies-shirt.jpg?v=1490396814

    (not actually recommended as a strategy but it’s probably satisfying to think about)

  35. Ewwww…..your mom actually wanted you to get pregnant before you graduated???? I hope not, but that last sentence in your letter….ewwwww.

    • Inspector Spacetime said:

      Yeah, I think we’re all glossing over the fact that LW’s mom wants her to FORM ALL OF HER CAREER DECISIONS AROUND HAVING KIDS. And, presumably, to not have a career “when” she does have kids. WTF?!?!

      Not saying that that’s not a valid option of course, but for that to be the only option in the mom’s head? What is this, 1947?

      • Temperance said:

        Hah. My own mother tried to trick me into quitting undergrad (long story) and begged me not to go to law school. She wanted me to not have an education so I could be a traditional Wife and Mother.

  36. lanibgoode said:

    My aunt threw a FIT when she found out her granddaughter was getting her tubes tied and would not be having any more kids. The thing is, though, my cousin already had a son from a previous relationship, her SO had a kid from a previous relationship, AND they had a kid together. How is three not enough for her? I talked to my cousin a few weeks after the tantrum and she said, “I wanted to ask grandma, are you gonna pay for all the stuff the kid needs for the next 18 years?” I never did hear how my aunt reacted to another of her granddaughters getting a full hysterectomy, but since that cousin has NO kids at all I can’t imagine it went well either…

  37. My aunt threw a FIT when she found out her granddaughter was getting her tubes tied and would not be having any more kids. The thing is, though, my cousin already had a son from a previous relationship, her SO had a kid from a previous relationship, AND they had a kid together. How is three not enough for her? I talked to my cousin a few weeks after the tantrum and she said, “I wanted to ask grandma, are you gonna pay for all the stuff the kid needs for the next 18 years?” I never did hear how my aunt reacted to another of her granddaughters getting a full hysterectomy, but since that cousin has NO kids at all I can’t imagine it went well either…

  38. Cinnia said:

    Thank you, Captain! This is excellent advice. I’ve known since I was 11 that I never want biological children and unfortunately have had to deal with overbearing busybodies about it every time it comes up. Having a clear script and plan of action is so helpful for when it gets overwhelming. (Why is it always a) women who feel defensive because THEY have kids or b) men who feel paternalistic and patronizing?)

    LW, I do recommend you get away as soon as it’s realistically possible, especially if the constant commentary is becoming unbearable. And once you’re out, definitely make sure boundaries around this topic of conversation are enforced. If confrontation is hard for you, practice speaking firmly about it before you communicate with your mom again. (Maybe BF can help you?) Or if that might threaten your personal well-being, consider limiting contact. Also, I hope you can surround yourself with more people who are supportive of your decision and will back you up. From the sounds of your mom and your family, it sounds rather isolating. I hope you’re going to be okay.

  39. Goober said:

    I think I’d be more direct, and leave a letter telling her I’d rather be a homeless orphan than have a parent like her. And mean it.

    I might be a tad extreme. But that isn’t that far from how I finally left home.

  40. The Captain’s focused on how to handle your mother, in terms of getting her to listen to you. Until you do move out, a possible idea would be to keep in close contact with your sibling, and try to have an anecdote or two about your nephew at hand, to throw out when your mother brings up the never-ending argument again. “Okay, I’ll think about it. Speaking of babies, did you hear $STORY?/see the latest pictures? Isn’t Nephew just so cute?” It may be possible to get her to stop talking about your lack-of-grandbabies by getting her talking about Nephew.

    Also, two things jumped out to me in the letter (emphasis mine):
    My mother has a habit of offering unsolicited advice on all subjects and getting angry and retaliating if it is not followed.
    I am afraid that if I keep standing my ground like I have been, she will retaliate.

    Trust your gut, and expect her to retaliate. From the impression I get in your letter, she won’t be happy with your life choices unless you decide to become a mass-producing baby factory, and probably not even then – so retaliation is probably going to happen, if not for this, for some other perceived slight.

    You can’t really do anything about your mother choosing to retaliate – after all, her behavior isn’t your responsibility – but you can try to prepare for it. What has she done in the past to retaliate, against you or other people? What has she threatened to do to you or others? Use that info to plan ahead – for example, if she restricts access to important documents, try to get copies of them to a trusted member of Team You.

  41. Wiredmom said:

    I’m a mother with adult sons and would’ve LOVED being a grandmother. But they both have different disabilities. If they are fortunate enough to marry/partner I’ve decided that it doesn’t mean they need to have kids. I think they both do want kids but life is uncertain. I have, instead, decided to embrace being a mom/grandmom to my furbabies (4 cats). It actually really helps me. OP, your mom is being a jerk. Don’t be afraid to put yourself first.

  42. Cora said:

    This is admittedly passive-aggressive (boo), but do know any Cool Moms her age? Such as a mom of one of your friends? I’m thinking maybe you could go on a woman’s day out with just her, both for own sanity, and then also trying this:

    YourMom: “Well, hello, CoolMom, how are you? LW, CoolMom is here!”

    CoolMom: “Thanks you, YourMom, I’m just fine. Hi, LW! Ready to {do thing}?

    YourMom: “Oh, it’s going to be so much better when you Do Thing with your kids!!”

    CoolMom, to you: “Is she STILL going on about that?”

    You, matter-of-factly: “Yeah, you know,it’s her hill to die on. *shrug*. Bye Mom!”

    • policychick said:

      That sounds very very unrealistic. LW would have to be very close to Cool Mom, close enough to be willing to hang with both her and YourMom, AND willing to snark YourMom. And as you say yourself, terribly passive-aggressive. I’m sure there are better venues!

  43. This is maybe not the best advice (and truth be told, I don’t get the “HAVE CHILDREN” from my parents, so I realize I’m coming from a much more comfortable position), but I never hesitate to righteously, angrily declare “7 billion people is too many, I will NOT add to it”. It freaks people out and they never ask me again.

    I think there is something to be said for embracing being the “odd one out” (It’s really not that odd. I keep meeting more people who refuse to have kids). The more I emphasize the “odd” things I like or do not like, the more I am surrounded by people who actually get me and like me for who I am. As long as you are safe FIRST, I think it can really be worth it to through a controlled tantrum, as it were.

    • CeeMee said:

      I so agree with the captian’s advice. My sibling was driving me to distraction telling me I was too old to have children. It was an incredibly painful topic, and she just would not leave it alone. Finally realized I had never actually told her how hurtful it was. One angry/crying scene followed by one tear of only communicating via text, and I think we’ve resolved it!
      Really, unsolicited advice on other people’s fertility? Always a bad idea…

      • “driving me to distraction telling me I was too old to have children. ”

        What did your sibling hope to accomplish by telling you that you are too old to have children? Did your sibling think “If I harp on this often enough, CeeMee will get younger”?

        What could sibling possibly accomplish EXCEPT hurting your feelings?!

  44. Alianne said:

    Myself and my entire Team Me is with you, LW.

    –Spouse and I are not having kids because of a combination of medical issues and–after lots of discussion–realizing it wasn’t really something either of us felt the urge/desire to do. Our respective parents are great about this, various aunts and uncles and cousins have decided to just shove their children at us during family events and…wait for pheromones to kick in, I guess (spoiler alert: they haven’t!).

    –BFF is ace and has never wanted kids. Her mother will literally sit in front of her ostentatiously knitting a baby blanket, and say things like “You’ll never know REAL love until you hold your own baby in your arms!”

    –Another friend and her husband are blithely childfree, and once packed up and left Christmas early when the baby-related needling from their parents got too sharp.

    –Another friend has had three miscarriages and one failed round of IVF, and she and her husband are working hard to accept that it’s not happening for them and that they can be happy and the best Cool Aunt and Uncle out there. Her parents were initially gung-ho about doing everything possible, but when they saw how depressed she was after so many hopes dashed, they became fully supportive of them both and said “We want to have *you*, not your hypothetical children.”

    Your life is YOURS, and if you don’t want kids, that’s YOUR decision to make. Move out when you can, retreat into personal space when you can, and stand your ground.

  45. kelly said:

    I had to use the walk out method with my verbally abusive father. If he started saying mean and nasty things, I would just say, “OK, well, bye,” and leave. We’d already had all of the discussions I was going to have with him about it. I didn’t explain myself further before leaving–they’ll try asking you what the problem is, but that’s just a ploy to keep you there. Just go, and try again another day.

  46. LittleLove said:

    I knew as a child, I didn’t want kids. I was absolutely positive in junior high school that I did not want kids. When I met my husband of now 40 years when I was still a teenager, I made it very plain that although I was sure he would be a great parent, I did not want kids. I love kids! I was a nanny for years! I have nieces who are a major part of my life! I just always knew that I didn’t want kids. Fortunately for me, my mom was okay with that. I have no advice beyond stand your ground, don’t bother trying to reason with your mother and good luck. I got a few raised eyebrows and inquiries over the years but I have found a firm “I have never wanted children,” worked for me.

    • MrsLokiofAsgard said:

      I have several close friends who don’t want kids. They absolutely love other people’s children and are the best babysitters but when it comes to having kids of their own? Hard pass. In those first few months after the birth of my first child I wondered why everybody didn’t want to be a parent. Of course, I was riding the euphoric new mommy high. It wore off around the fourth month and since then I’ve been convinced that women who knew they didn’t want kids and didn’t give in to societal pressure are geniuses. FWIW, all of my childless friends have lives I envy a bit. All of them are homeowners, most of them travel several times a year. They can have hobbies that take money and time because they seem to have more of both. One of my friends has a good response when someone gives her a hard time about the no kids thing. “Being a parent is a lot like climbing a mountain. It’s hard, backbreaking work and if you make it through the climb the stories you get to tell are magnificent. But not everyone climbs Everest, do they? In fact…aren’t there people out there you know shouldn’t attempt the climb? Well, I’ve seen how the mountain looks from the bottom and frankly, I’m not interested in the climb but I’ll listen to the stories!”

  47. Toomanyanimals said:

    Not helpful for the LW, but I’ve found variations of the following to be GOLD for when people ask if I’m/we’re planning kids:

    “Kids just aren’t going to happen for us, I’m afraid” or, if someone is being really pushy: “Kids just weren’t possible for me”

    Depending on the situation I might say it with a smile or quite seriously – I’ve found the latter good when travelling in countries with significantly different cultures and/or a different language. People read into it whatever they like and no-one has EVER asked a follow-up question.

    I still feel a bit guilty that I disappointed my Mum by not having grandchildren. She is a great Mum and an amazing Grandmother but she has (mostly) respected my choice

  48. In addition to what everyone else is saying, I would like to suggest, get a Team You together for moving out of that house. Assume your mother will be unhelpful/unsupportive/sabotaging of your efforts to leave her home. Make a plan for moving that does not in any way depend on either of your parents for help. If you may need a large vehicle for hauling furniture, either ask to borrow a friend’s truck or budget for renting a U-Haul. Start getting packing materials together. Use your own stuff, your own money, and lean on your own friends; none of that big nosy family always taking your mother’s side. Start hoarding used cardboard boxes from the grocery store. If you’ve never lived on your own before, you may need to throw out some of your stuff to make moving easier; throw it out, you’ll be okay. Get the heck outta that house and do not wait for anyone’s permission.

    Good luck! Freedom awaits!

    • I would add, try to keep both Team You and your moving plans secret, until it’s time to spring into action. I don’t trust LW’s mother not to sabotage it, if she has warning.

  49. You have a legit medical condition. You could also try the strategy of “I was told I will never be able to have children, thanks for rubbing salt in that wound.”

    I would start by recruiting the rest of the family with sad talk of how you have the news about your condition, and that you can’t have children. Get a few on your side first, then when she brings it up, she looks like the callous ass.

  50. mb said:

    Yikes, my shoulders are scrunched up by my ears just reading about these arguments foisted upon you. I’m so sorry you’re having to deal with this instead of enjoying your post-grad school, non-baby filled life (congratulations!).

    I think the Captain and all commenters have the “no babies, not now, not ever” conversation covered.

    My only addition is, once you’re eventually safely out of That House and have some breathing space and if you have the funds/insurance, to schedule an in-depth medical review for the mystery condition.

    You say your mother has never accepted the existence of your condition which means you’re potentially deprived of key facts about your own personal medical history. If it’s safe for you (I know plenty of people don’t trust doctors for a variety of extremely legit reasons or maybe you’re under your parents’ insurance umbrella and it’s too risky), it’d be great to have a clean slate with all the medical information – plus updates because conditions can change! – at your fingertips.

    It could be that there’s nothing new or that you haven’t heard before. Or you might find out (like I did when I did a full panel in my thirties vs. my teens for my own personal mystery medical thing) that your condition causes depletion in VITAMIN _____ and that’s something to consider in terms of treatment. Or someone could finally explain, explicitly, what makes a pregnancy so risky/impossible…without the lens of your mom’s gimlet I DESIRE GRANDBABIES eye distorting your diagnosis.

    None of these things are going to change your mind about kids. The reason why I suggest the above is it appears that your mother has had a lot of control over your bodily reality. If she doesn’t hear what she wants, she accuses you of lying and making up a medical condition (aka the very definition of bullying and gaslighting). I’m guessing that means you might not have felt comfortable or it was simply too exhausting to schedule follow-up appointments or ask questions about your condition. I think actually naming the thing and possessing full, unfuzzy, detailed knowledge about what mystery medical condition means to and for YOU (and NOT to your mother) could be powerful and validating. Best of luck, OP!

  51. You could try my approach. I told ol’ sperm donor that if he wanted grandchildren so badly, I knew the perfect solution.

    “What’s that?”

    “Marry a woman who has some.”

  52. Anonnnnn said:

    Uhhhhg OP, I go through this. Not with my mom but with other family members. No matter how many times I say I don’t want kids, every time I say it again they act like I’ve said something incomprehensible.

    Them: Can’t wait until you give us a niece/nephew/grandbaby/great grand-baby!

    Me: I don’t actually want kids.

    Them: Er…? Wha…? Anyway about that weather…

    Repeat at every family reunion forever.

  53. Crane89 said:

    (“he doesn’t make enough for you to not work!”)
    One single line made me hate this JerkMother so much I can’t even … iiurghh
    LW, I really hope you can get free of this situation.

  54. Jordan said:

    This is super helpful for me as well, thank you! Godspeed, LW.

  55. nnn said:

    Probably not a viable strategy, but an entertaining internet story:

    In another forum, a woman told a story of how her mother kept pressuring her to have children, so she started responding to her mother with “You could always adopt.” Every single time the mother raised the idea of her adult daughter having a baby, the adult daughter would raise the idea of the mother adopting a baby.

    Eventually, bizarrely, the idea took, and the mother adopted a baby. Now the mother is thrilled to be raising a baby, and the adult daughter is thrilled to have a baby sister that she can visit and play with and then hand back to her mother and go home and have a full night’s sleep.

  56. LW, you beat me to it! I was actually just thinking about asking the Captian a version of this question yesterday before deciding to sleep on it instead. I’m in the exact situation as you only I’m a bit younger and my sister is SUPER gay and somehow even less interested in children than I am so as things stand now, my mother has a near zero chance of having any grandchildren. A fact which makes her very Catholic self VERY CONCERNED for us and our souls (Yet she was surprisingly ok with my sister being gay. I guess everyone has limits) I 100% agree with everything the Captain has said here, particularly around the controlled explosion of anger. In my experience, one mildly rude remark can leave a more lasting impression on someone who is interested, nay, dedicated to pushing past your boundaries than a 1,000 discussions about why they need to stop. Of course, use it as a last resort but don’t let the fear of being rude stop you. As the Captain said, your mother is the one being super rude here. You are allowed to push back in a reasonably angry way.

  57. Lily said:

    “she gets to tell you her opinions”

    Best opinions’ battle I ever had with anyone: My Dad was Very Concerned About My Health. A lot. And no version of “Thanks, I already handle it” would lead to anything.

    So when he told me “I need to be able to tell you my opinion!” I answered with: “Okay, let me explain that to you. You can have any opinion you want. You can choose to tell that opinion. I get to tell you my opinion about your opinion which is that it is fucking annoying. You’ll have to live with the consequences of telling me your opinion which may include me never wanting to speak to you again, ever. Is this clear?”
    He agreed and I never got concern trolled be him again 😀

  58. She-Ra for President said:

    De-lurking to add: I just wanted to emphasize Captain’s point B as a way of reinforcing situational awareness. Short of birth control tampering (and seriously, if this is an issue, make yourself safe in all possible ways), this is not something she has any control over.
    Context: SHE CANNOT MAKE YOU PREGNANT.

    No matter what retaliation looks like in your household, this doesn’t change. No matter how many arguments or conversations are had or tears are shed this is unequivocally factual and non-negotiable. I tentatively offer that maintaining full-focus awareness of this fact may be comforting to you in your efforts to handle this emotional load. She could demand any number of impossible and absurd things we could imagine here (Not able to turn lead into gold? You’re just not making an effort!) and it makes not a shred of difference. You don’t owe her explanations (that she doesn’t respect anyway) so stop explaining.

    Others have offered multiple ways of tuning out this discourse from ignoring her, to blandly agreeing, to making a scene. I could suggest responses to her/others along the lines of “How do you intend to make that happen?” or “Since you/we have no possible way of influencing this outcome, what do you hope to gain by this conversation?” but many here have suggested much more creative/adventurous approaches I’m sure. My hope is to help you manage the emotional stress associated with any of those approaches by maintaining laser focus on the context. I’ll say it one more time: she is demanding the impossible with zero enforcement capability full stop
    From that point right there, emotional detachment is your next step.

    (I’m going to add one additional observation here: the teeny tiny shred of possibility in the back of your mind that you *might* theoretically side step the medical issues at vast expense and danger to yourself is making you feel the pressure of defending a choice. Let go of that and see how that feels. Let the hedge of “nearly impossible” simply become “impossible” in your inner narrative and thus that detail never ever changes, is never ever negotiable: “I’ve told you that’s impossible Ma, so what are you really asking here?” “You know that can’t ever happen Mums, why would you bring that up?”)

  59. I agree with the Captain’s advice: Work toward getting out of there as soon as you can, because it will make boundaries easier to draw. As in, you get to close *your* front door (or not answer it to begin with).

    It can be expensive to move out, but as the Captain noted perhaps you’ll find roommates or decide the chance to live in peace is worth the temporary penury.

    On the topic of being able to afford to live elsewhere: If it’s allowed, I’d like to offer you free PDFs of my two books about how to make it through financially tough times. They’re full of frugal hacks but they’re also about mindset and living your best life on the money you currently have, without losing your dignity or your hopes for the future.

    Should this interest you, e-mail me at SurvivingAndThriving (at) live (dot) com. Seriously: No strings attached. I won’t add your name to a mailing list or anything.

    (And moderators: If this was a huge gaffe then I apologize. But could there be some kind of go-between in that case? As in, I send the PDFs to Jennifer so she can forward them to Enough Already?)

  60. Anisoptera said:

    I came here to emphasise that “Be Boring” advice. It is very very good advice and fantastic for getting people to back off. It comes in several levels, from “OK Mum”+change subject, through to just happening to need to leave the room every time the topic is raised. I don’t even mean storming off, just getting a drink or going to the toilet or whatever and not coming back for a while. If this is a kind of person who follows you going out is also good. Whatever you have to do to not engage.

    I recently used this with a terrible prying woman I worked with who would grill me about my (lack of) love life and didn’t respect boundaries at all. I would literally walk away whenever she raised it. One time she even shouted after me to come back and talk to her about it and not be so prudish (I know right! She was the head of HR too…whut). Me walking away didn’t train her out of it, but it massively reduced the amount of time and emotional energy I spent dealing with it. I’ve also used it on my own mother who also doesn’t understand boundaries and loses her shit completely if you try to openly and honestly set them. Anyway, so, while if you’re lucky Operation Boring might actually succeed in getting someone to stop stomping over a boundary, it’s also a great way of dealing with people who’ll never learn to respect boundaries such that you can still control the interaction and reduce the amount of stress and energy involved.

    I know it’s hard to avoid an emotional reaction when your parents push your buttons like this. Sometimes I’ll go instead for the “wow that’s pretty unkind” or “why would you say something so terrible” and I’ll let my dismay and disappointment show. But crucially, that’s not the same as debating whatever topic it is. Debating drops you right back into parent-teenager interaction patterns and also creates negotiation around non-negotiable things. Disappointment and dismay? That’s a very distinctly adult reaction and fairly powerful for resetting that sort of relationship.

    She might decide there are specific actions you should take and try to pin you with direct questions about what you’re doing about those actions (which given the subject matter could get really intrusive…I’m sorry!) – if that happens know that it’s also possible to just say “I’m not going to discuss this with you” over and over again as she cycles through whatever tantrum she’ll cycle through when you don’t comply and answer. You’re not a mystical creature bound to answer if she asks three times. Be a broken record. Weirdly it was doing this that finally got my father to intervene and ask my mother to stop grilling me (it was shortly after I’d broken up with my partner of 11 years and on the long drive to their house from the airport* she would not let it go – she wanted details). If there’d been drama he would have stayed out of it. But after calmly repeating “I don’t want to discuss this” over and over again for about 15 min he asked her to stop asking.

    *see how I casually mentioned the airport there? I live a plane flight away from my family, and it’s a real solution that you might want to work towards. Nothing reinforces a boundary like a thousand kilometres of distance.

  61. Elektra said:

    What about stating the medical facts and while refusing to argue or explain them? As in:

    “That’s nice mom, but medically I cannot safely have children”.
    “You can think what you want about my health, mom, but it doesn’t change the medical reality”.
    “My clock has already stopped, mom, because medically I cannot safely have children.”
    “It doesn’t matter what he earns, mom, because my body is what it is”.
    “The medical advice is that I cannot have children safely, and I am not going to put my life at risk by trying.”

    Don’t explain further. Don’t justify or go through the gory details. Don’t leave room for doubt, like ‘very difficult’. Just say it how it is. She will retaliate, at which point you can:
    – “Ok, mom. I’m not discussing this with you any more”.
    – Leave the room, or the house.
    – Go stay with your boyfriend or a friend for a day or several days if possible.
    – Blow up as the Captain suggests. She deserves it. I think yelling “Thanks mom, it’s good to know you want me to risk dying so you can have your precious grandbabies” would be appropriate, seriously. Your mom is so far out of line it would be worth seeing if that will stop her in her tracks.

    About your boyfriend, I think a script of “I will not listen to you insult my partner” and ending the conversation would be appropriate.

    But really these are all band-aids, and I know it’s tough, but I think the only way to make things better long-term is to move out and get some distance between the two of you. It sounds like your mom has no respect for your boundaries or autonomy, and sadly that generally doesn’t change overnight. Hopefully in time things will change, but in my experience that requires an adult child to grab their independence and insist on it before an overbearing parent will change their ways.

  62. LW, as another one whose mother has never forgiven them for not giving her grandchildren, I can testify it gets easier over time. Or at least, for me, it did when I hit forty, and the chance of me having a kid with Downs Syndrome (Trisomy 21) went up eight-fold. Then again, my mother was a midwife, and knew the various risks associated with “elderly primigravidae” (aka women who have their first child after 35). I’m now 46, and she’s largely stopped bugging me about the subject. I’m probably cut out of the will, and I’m forever last in her affections (given we get along best if we’re in separate postal districts, this is no real hardship, quite honestly), but she’s stopped worrying me about potential grandchildren. My partner agrees with me about this (he doesn’t want kids either) and we’re both realising we’re on the autism spectrum, which means any kid of ours is also likely to be autistic as well, which just adds fuel to the fire. (We’re also both unemployed and on the dole. Come to think of it, Mum stopped bitching about grand-kids not long after I wound up on the dole…)

    My original reason was much more straightforward: I have chronic depression (goes with the whole “woman on the autism spectrum” thing, it turns out) and I know from personal experience that depression is a deeply self-centred condition. Which means I don’t feel it would be fair on any potential kid of mine to have me as a parent, because I have to spend so much time and energy monitoring my own state of mind and my own mental health, I don’t have much over. From personal experience, I know while some kids (waves to my younger brother) can cope just fine with depressed parents, other kids (raises own hand) need a lot more emotional contact and emotional input than depressed parents can manage (even with the best will in the world) – and you don’t know which kind of kid you’ve got until after they’re born, and after they’ve got growing. (At least part of the reason my mother isn’t fond of me as a result of my saying this is because she takes it as a personal negative judgement on her, which it wasn’t originally intended to be. I don’t argue with her about it because quite frankly, it stopped her nagging me about giving her grand-kids).

    But either way – if you can hold out until your forties, you’ll find the incidence of nagging goes down. Or if it increases, you can counter by getting your mother checked out for early-onset dementia.

    (Oh, and my mother managed to satisfy her baby-craving by offering child minding services to my various cousins as they’ve had kids.)

  63. Irene said:

    I also do not want to have children and have had many very painful conversations with my parents over it. It’s hard to explain why you don’t want to have kids in a way that doesn’t sound like they shouldn’t have had kids either, y’know? So I have *some* sympathy for them, it’s a tough conversation to have all around. I struck jackpot with my parents who are, all things considered, very nice people and we get on very well. This actually makes it more difficult somehow, because if they were outright jackasses I could just deploy the Captain’s methods… My biggest struggle right now is not just accepting their disappointment in me, but also MY disappointment in THEM: that these people who are otherwise so supportive and reasonable about so many things could be so stubborn, narrow-minded, and hurtful about this issue – seriously the stuff my dad has said about one of their childless woman friends… I’m guessing their struggle is similar. But boy, do I wish we never discussed this subject ever again!

    • Scarlet said:

      I have to disagree that your having no desire for children is akin to telling your parents they made the wrong choice. It is true that a lot of people seem to interpret “I don’t want kids” as “I therefore dismiss and judge your decision to have children”, but it’s always baffled me and I think it mostly comes from a place of insecurity. Honestly, why is it so hard to accept that different people have different goals and priorities? You shouldn’t even have to explain it. You don’t want them because you don’t want them, period.
      I’ve always known I didn’t want kids and after a while, I realized explaining why to people just invited more pointless arguing. Don’t imply this is up for discussion. You said your piece, if they’re “disappointed”, they should deal with it. Their disappointment is their problem, not yours. Parents will always be disappointed when they don’t understand your life choices, but that’s the nature of life, unless you want to be a stand-in for their desires.

  64. Just Plain Neddy said:

    What I don’t understand is this: we have a cultural understanding that you shouldn’t get a dog if you aren’t a dog person. It’s a big responsibility, and you need to be ready for everything that’s involved; not just the cute parts. Yet when it comes to babies, people completely throw that idea out the window. Don’t actually like children at all? You’ll change your mind when they’re yours. Don’t have the money? You’ll make it work somehow. Now is not the right time? Now is the PERFECT time, and your biological clock is ticking, young lady. I realised a long time ago that I don’t want kids. Many of my friends now have kids, and I see what’s involved in parenting and it’s reaffirmed that I don’t want to do that. I said to a teacher friend that I’m not having kids because I don’t want them, and she said “thank God you’ve acknowledged that! I see so many kids whose parents had them because it’s the done thing, but they aren’t really wanted, and they know it.” If I had a kid, I’m sure I’d make it work somehow: I’d feed and clothe them and help with homework and do all that stuff, but I’m pretty sure at least one of us would be unhappy.

  65. On the topic of scenes being memorable, this reminded me of a story I have loved for years. It’s called “The Revolt of ‘Mother'”. Here’s a link to read it online:

    https://americanliterature.com/author/mary-e-wilkins-freeman/short-story/the-revolt-of-mother

    My favorite bit: “She handled the pease as if they were bullets.”

    Mind you, there was no screaming or swearing, but Mother made it absolutely clear that this was her hill to die on, and everyone in town knew it.

    Good luck, LW!

  66. JenniferP said:

    [Moderator Hat On] While I slept commenters started having a debate about the “selfishness “of having children re: climate change and disability/medical issues, the glorious superiority of a childfree lifestyle, etc. I deleted the same angry comment that used the word “breeders” to describe parents four separate times when I woke up this morning.

    Once again, this ain’t Reddit.

    If you want children, have them. If that’s medically difficult and you need assistance or there are medical risks, more power to you, may you get all the care and support you ever want or need so that everyone can be safe and cared for.
    If you don’t want children, don’t have them. But also, do not crap on people who do decide to have them.
    Factoring your own health history into decisions to reproduce is normal. Being pregnant might kill me. I want to live. Ergo, no babies for me!
    Debating whether disabled people in general “should” have children = eugenics. Are you a fucken Nazi? No? Then don’t act like one.
    There is the very thin line here, too, where “I could never have kids if it meant passing on the conditions that affect me” is like “I think abortion should be legal but I need to remind you that I personally would never have one.” Who is your audience when you say stuff like that?

    Your opinions about whether other people should or should not have children have the same weight as your opinions about what other people should eat or how they should cut their hair, namely, zero.

    Comments are closed.

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