How to respond when people ask you when you're going to have kids : Life Kit If you've decided not to have kids, your life will look different from what you might have seen growing up. Here's how to build your child-free life, with or without a long-term partner. We talk about finding community, planning for the future, making a financial plan and responding to some of the comments and judgments of other people.

So you don't want kids. Here's how to respond to unwanted comments

So you don't want kids. Here's how to respond to unwanted comments

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A growing share of childless adults in the U.S. don't expect to ever have children, according to a 2021 Pew Research Center survey. Some people gave specific reasons, like medical conditions or finances, but a lot of people said they just don't want to.

If that's you, you might find yourself facing unwanted commentary or questions. Angela L. Harris can relate. She's child-free by choice, and she says people often question her choice or want to know all the details.

Harris has a doctorate degree in clinical psychology and is the founder of #NoBibsBurpsBottles, an online community for Black women who are child-free. She says, first of all, to remember that you don't owe anyone an explanation: "If you don't feel like explaining, don't explain. Your life is your life."

Hear more on building a child-free life by choice in the Life Kit episode at the top of the page or on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

Harris tends to share. "I explain my choice all the time, especially if someone's curious about it," she says. "That's the way we're going to decrease the stigma."

Sometimes Harris' responses might be more sincere; other times, she opts for levity. "I think there's a playful and joking way in which you can respond," she says.

Here are some of her responses to common comments:

Illustrated image that reads: "How to respond when people comment on your child-free life." The image depicts Angela L. Harris, a Black woman with shoulder-length hair wearing glasses and a pink shirt. Harris is the founder of an online community for child-free Black women called #NoBibsBottlesBurps.
Ana Galvañ for NPR
Ana Galvañ for NPR
Illustrated image that shows two people with speech bubbles that say &quot;Come on every woman wants children.&quot; Angela L. Harris responds, &quot;I&#039;m living proof that not every woman wants a child.&quot;
Ana Galvañ for NPR
Illustrated image showing a person with a speech bubble that says: "You'll never know true love until you have children." Angela L. Harris responds: " ... There are different forms of love, right? I love my parents, I love my siblings, and so I don't have to bring a child into this world to know what true love is."
Ana Galvañ for NPR
Illustrated image showing a person with a speech bubble that reads: "You know you're gonna die alone." Angela L. Harris responds: "As a child-free woman ... I have to plan ahead because I don't have kids. But I also don't think that a person should have kids with the expectation that those kids that they brought into the world will take care of them."
Ana Galvañ for NPR
Illustrated image of a person with a speech bubble that reads: "When are you gonna give us grandchildren?" Angela L. Harris responds: "Mama? You're going to take care of these kids when I have them? OK, I didn't think so."
Ana Galvañ for NPR

Harris acknowledges that having this conversation with your parents or your partner can be difficult. She stresses waiting until you feel ready to have the discussion.

"At some point when the person is comfortable [and] confident in their journey, I would say sit down with your parent and say, 'Hey, mom, dad, siblings, cousins, I don't plan to have children. I would appreciate if you stop asking me when I'm going to have children.'"

And in terms of talking to a partner? "The key word is conversation," says Harris. "If two individuals decide that one wants children and the other one doesn't, there shouldn't be any manipulation or trying to change someone's mind. It shouldn't be, 'If you love me, you'll consider this.' It needs to be a mutual respect of each person's choice."

Your Turn: If you're child-free by choice, we'd love to hear how you respond to unsolicited questions and comments.

What comments and questions do you encounter as an adult who has chosen not to have kids? We'd love to hear how you respond. Email us at lifekit@npr.org with the subject line "Child-free," your response and your name and location by Wednesday, May 3, and we may feature it on NPR.org.


The audio portion of this episode was hosted by Marielle Segarra, produced by Clare Marie Schneider and edited by Meghan Keane. The story was adapted for digital with art direction and development by Beck Harlan. The digital was edited by Danielle Nett.

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