You probably fall into one of three camps:
1. OMG BABIES! I WANT ONE!
2. I’m not sure if I want kids. I’m definitely not ready right now.
3. No slobbery money-vacuums for me!
I happen to fall into the third. And if you’re reading this, you probably do too. By now, you’ve likely been forced to defend this choice at least once, but probably closer to 5,493 times. Given all the experience I have acquired in this debate, I’ve developed a handy guidebook for how to respond to people’s (at best) curious and (at worst) rude questions about your childfree decision.
And because we all have our different communication styles, I’m offering a variety of responses, buffet-style (because sometimes the pancakes are cold and you’d rather have the waffles that were just set out).
First, there’s the “What’s the point?” approach, which I’m dubbing The Dismissive Approach, perfect for when someone pries into your personal life but you know they won’t take your answer seriously anyway. Then, there’s The Mature, Logical Answer, for those days when you’ve achieved a sufficient amount of sleep and can tolerate yet another insensitive comment about your life choices. And finally, there’s The Quick Zinger, which is great when you’re fatigued from constant condescension and you just DGAF anymore.
1. “You’ll change your mind.”
The Dismissive Approach: “I don’t think so.”
The Mature, Logical Answer: “I’ve actually put a lot of thought into this, and for several years. I would rather trust my instincts and forego parenthood than “try it out” and regret it. I can’t change my mind back after I already have the baby.”
The Quick Zinger: “Not when I remember all of my disposable income won’t be going toward diapers.”
2. “My life didn’t have any meaning before I had kids.”
The Dismissive Approach: “That sucks. It’s not for me, though.”
The Mature, Logical Answer: “That’s cool that you find parenthood so meaningful. Personally, I have a lot of passions and hobbies that give my life so much meaning. In fact, if I had children, I wouldn’t be able to dedicate as much of my life to those pursuits, and that would devastate me. I’m a little hurt that you think my life doesn’t have meaning just because my life goals are different than yours.”
The Quick Zinger: “Wow, what a sad existence. Were you locked in a closet all those years or something?”
3. “Don’t you want to make a contribution to the world?”
The Dismissive Approach: “Yes. Just not in the form of a baby.”
The Mature, Logical Answer: “I do! I am super excited about [insert project or hobby here]. I think it could have a major impact. I’m afraid having children may hurt my chances of making that happen. Plus, by not having a child, I’m contributing by helping curb the overpopulation of the world. That’s something I really care about.”
The Quick Zinger: “I’m contributing by [insert groundbreaking hobby or life goal here], not creating fudge machines who grow up to be smartasses who ruin all your vacations.”
4. “But babies are so fun!”
The Dismissive Approach: “Sometimes. But not always.”
The Mature, Logical Answer: “I take the concept of parenthood very seriously. I admit that it’s fun to play with a baby every now and then for a few minutes, but I know I would not be happy raising one 24 hours a day for the rest of his or her life. There are many parts of parenting that are not so fun, and I know I’m not cut out for that lifestyle.”
The Quick Zinger: “Especially when they wake you up five times a night with neon green shit spread up their back.”
5. “It’s the circle of life.”
The Dismissive Approach: “Maybe your life, but not mine.”
The Mature, Logical Answer: “That made more sense in earlier eras, but it doesn’t hold up today. Our world is overpopulated, which is seriously draining our resources. I may not be continuing the circle with my own offspring, but I’m helping make life better for everyone else by [insert your superhero endeavors here].”
The Quick Zinger: “I’d like to spend the ‘pre-death’ chapter of my existence not hating my life.”
6. “But it’s something you and your partner share and bring into the world together!”
The Dismissive Approach: “That’s a decision between me and him/her.”
The Mature, Logical Answer: “Maybe that’s what you and your partner wanted, but we didn’t feel like that was for us. We share other things, like vacations, coffee breaks, boozy brunches, going for walks at sunset with our dog, spontaneous happy hours, that silly bowling league we were in for a while, and that one time we tried a DIY Pinterest craft—that was a disaster, but so much fun! Oh, and we love sharing quiet Saturday mornings together. We take turns making each other breakfast each weekend. It’s our own little ritual.”
The Quick Zinger: “That will bring us great comfort when it leads to our parental stress, mutual hatred of each other, statistically probable divorce, and never-ending custody battle.”
7. “You’re just being selfish.”
The Dismissive Approach: “I think it’s the opposite of selfish, but we all have our own opinions.”
The Mature, Logical Answer: “I am saddened that you think that about me. You might think it’s selfish of me to pursue other life goals, but my goals are just different than yours, and I don’t think that makes mine selfish. In fact, I think it’s pretty selfless of me to recognize that I wouldn’t make a strong parent and not put a child through that. Especially if you consider the positive effect my childfree life will have on the environment!”
The Quick Zinger: “If you think about it, it’s kind of selfish to make your own baby so it has your eyes when there are thousands of orphans and foster children out there for you to raise. But that’s just me.”
8. “Who will take care of you when you’re old?”
The Dismissive Approach: “Assisted living facilities.”
The Mature, Logical Answer: “I do not see that as a valid reason for having children. That means I would be completely giving up the life I want just for the sake of having someone begrudgingly care for me when I’m older. Most elderly parents just go to nursing homes or assisted living anyway, regardless of whether or not they have children.”
The Quick Zinger: “Have you ever seen someone look happy about having to feed his elderly parents? Unclog their toilet? Drive them to the dentist? Escort them to the bathroom? Didn’t think so.”
9. “So you don’t want a family?”
The Dismissive Approach: “I have a family already.”
The Mature, Logical Answer: “Of course I want a family! I think we have different definitions of what a family is. You don’t need to produce offspring to have a family. I am very content with the family I have now, but I would like another cat to round us out.”
The Quick Zinger: “I want a family that isn’t comprised of teenagers who call me an asshole behind my back.”