Being DINKs, it’s not uncommon for us to get comments in passing about how easy and nice it must be. Clearly we must have more time, more money, and more energy than people with kids. Obviously we’re wrong for not wanting kids and we’ll want them at some point. Right?!
It can get aggravating at times, and I’m dedicating today’s post to tell people to stop treating childless-by-choice people like we’re some sort of fluke, don’t know what we want, or are irresponsible for not bringing another life into this world.
Let’s dig into some of the bullshit things Kristin and I hear semi-frequently. If you couldn’t tell, this is going to be an epic rant. You’ve been warned.
“Don’t worry, you have plenty of time to change your mind.”
This is by far the most common response we get when we tell people that we aren’t having children. Let’s back up for a second though. 9 times out of 10 when the conversation comes up, it goes something like this:
“Oooo, you guys got married this year, moving into a new house, next comes the kids!”
“Oh, we actually aren’t having kids. We’ll just get dogs instead.”
“Oh don’t worry, you have plenty of time to change your mind.”
I’m not sure why being child-free is still taboo in this day and age, but for some reason it still is. I used to just brush this one off and let it slide, but now I’ve made a point to tell people that we are 100% certain that we aren’t having kids.
Sometimes this raises more questions – is it a choice or a medical issue? Most of the time people drop the conversation altogether and we move on to something else, but not always.
There are countless people who want kids but are unable to. I can’t begin to imagine the emotional distress and frustration and sadness a situation like that would bring. But I would guess that being told “you have plenty of time to change your mind” to someone in that situation would be infuriating and heart-breaking.
Telling us we have plenty of time to change our minds is a very insensitive thing to say when you don’t know the details of our situation. If you do know those details, then it’s implying that we don’t know what we want ,and that you know better than we do, which is also infuriating. So please, just stop.
“Why did you get married if you aren’t having kids?!?”
Because we love each other and want to spend the rest of our lives together. Kids aren’t a requirement of marriage, despite being told otherwise. I’m not sure why some people think that the only reason to get married is to reproduce, but it wasn’t why we got married.
In fact, part of the reason we got married was specifically because neither of us wanted children. We were compatible and make a good team.
“You will never know real love if you don’t have children!”
Believe it or not we have heard this – more than once. This is particularly upsetting because it points to a weak relationship with others and it implies that Kristin and I don’t love each other.
I’m not trying to deny that the love one feels for their children is different, and in some cases likely more profound, than the love one would feel to a spouse. But there are plenty of parents who don’t love their kids, and plenty of childless couples who remain happily in love with their spouse forever.
This one again undermines the foundation of the relationship child-free people have, and it’s really upsetting to realize that people think they don’t know real love without having kids. What would they call how they feel about their spouse? Fake love?
That’s not how Kristin and I view our relationship, and I would hope no other couple would view their relationship like that, but their words can suggest otherwise.
“I’d love to be as tired as you are!”
Our favorite way to piss off tired parents is to proclaim how tired we are. The classic response to a declaration of our physical condition is to attack us and deny that what we’re feeling is, in fact, tired. Kids are a lot of work – I get that. It’s more than I can comprehend and I don’t think anybody truly does until they’re a parent themselves.
But discounting our feelings just because you have your own is foolish and shuts us out. If it wasn’t clear, Kristin and I are very open and honest with each other, and we tend to extend that to our friends and family, our coworkers, sometimes even random people.
There is one surefire way to get us to not be open and honest with you, though, and that is to tell us that what we feel is less significant and less important than what you feel. Other people get tired and instead of denying their feelings, Kristin and I will simply acknowledge what they’re feeling, or offer ways to help should it be appropriate.
Kristin suffers from insomnia and has sleepless nights frequently. It’s mentally and emotionally draining, and yeah, it makes us tired.
“You can afford it, it’s not like you have to pay for diapers.”
Diapers are expensive. Even if you get cloth diapers, you’ll have to shell out some cash for them up-front, and doing laundry that frequently I’m sure is not cheap. There are other things too implied by ‘diapers’ – food, clothes, sports and clubs, college…the list goes on.
Kids are expensive, there’s no denying that. Just because we don’t have that expense in our life, however, doesn’t mean that we have insurmountable amounts of money to spend on stuff. We have goals – like paying off the house early and retiring well before we hit traditional retirement age. High on our list is travel – though not in a permanent state – and, yeah, sometimes we enjoy nice things. We love going out to eat and we spend money on date nights frequently.
The thing about money is that it’s very personal. Just because you have a line-item for ‘diapers’ and not ‘expensive-ass-date-night’ doesn’t mean that we can afford anything we want. Our incomes are still modest, we still watch our spending, and we still track our progress toward big financial goals. We’ve just chosen to align our money with what we value, not what you value.
Believe me, we have heard it all. And, truth be told, we’re sick of it. We don’t give people with kids grief for having kids. It’s time that childless couples get the same respect.
We Have Goals
We have a lot of things we want to do, but our goals do not include having children. Some of our goals are for leisure and fun – things like traveling, for example. Others are for leaving the world a better place, and having a positive impact on others.
Having children is not a requirement to having a successful life. There are other ways in which we plan to positively impact those around us. Helping and educating others, bringing joy and amusement to them, and supporting them are all important to us.
We also want to have fur babies – so many helpless animals in this world get mistreated, and that’s heartbreaking to us. It may be a ‘small’ decision but it’s profoundly impactful to another life.
Just because raising children isn’t on our list of things to do with our lives doesn’t mean we have wasted them.
We Work Hard
This is why we’re tired. We both work hard, and hard work can be exhausting. All of our hard work is building a better life for us and we want to help build better lives for others as well. We won’t do this directly by having kids, but we’ll do it in other ways like I’ve already talked about.
There is this stigma of child-free couples that they aren’t hard workers and don’t want to put in the effort. We just want to be lazy, watch TV, drink, and relax – right?
We Had An Expensive AF 2017
And finally, just because we don’t buy diapers and have other expenses related to kids doesn’t mean we can afford everything we want. It turns out that having a wedding for 100 people 2000 miles away is not cheap; we knew that.
We were prepared to pay for it all ourselves without incurring debt (to be clear, we did have a little bit of help from parents and such but the vast majority was our hard-earned money). Building a house, also not cheap – and we sacrificed to make it happen.
Being freed of some expenses doesn’t mean we suddenly don’t care about where our money goes. We still budget, track our progress toward major goals, and don’t want to spend frivolously on stuff.
2017 has been the most expensive year of our lives, by a WIDE margin, and we need to be even more diligent on saving than we otherwise would. 2018 probably won’t be much better as we settle into home ownership, figure out our work situations (since I’m on a contract that may leave me jobless for a short period of time), and try to drive our savings rate up significantly.
We Still Love Kids
After all this ranting, I need to clarify: we love the kids in our life SO MUCH. We have two smart, sassy, wonderful nieces. We both love them to pieces. Our friends and neighbors have kids and we love spending time with them as well.
We aren’t anti-kid, and don’t judge anybody who DOES decide to have kids. It’s just not for us.
Another point of clarification: our friends and family have generally been extremely supportive of our decision. At first the conversations were a little difficult but it gets easier and easier.
We’re DINKs. We will always be DINKs. And we’re damn proud of it.
What has your experience been regarding kids – good, bad, or otherwise?