When to have kids or whether have kids at all is one of the most challenging decisions for a couple. There are numerous factors in play when a person plans a future and a family. What makes it all the more difficult is the unsolicited advice and pressure from family, friends, relatives, and sometimes even strangers. While some of the advice or questions may come from a good place, they often feel intrusive and stressful.
If you’re in a similar position and wondering how to deal with nosy relatives and their annoying questions, read on for some handy tips.
Pressure to become a parent
Chances are that soon after you get married, family members and relatives start dropping the baby question.
I was only 24 years old and married for merely 4 months when a distant relative first asked about my baby plans. I was honestly taken aback by the question and even more by the authority with which this person confronted me.
This was just one of many such occasions in the first few years of my marriage after we decided to wait before planning a baby.
Where does the pressure come from?
Many people still find it hard to wrap their heads around the concept of a woman making their own choices regarding motherhood.
A lot of women want to have a baby in their late 30s or 40s as they wish to achieve emotional and financial stability before bringing another life into this world. Some don’t want to have kids, and others may prefer options such as adoption and freezing their eggs.
There is more pressure on a woman than a man to have a family and kids because people identify a woman as a procreator and believe this to be her primary duty. While my first experience of social pressure was within 4 months of getting married, my husband wasn’t bothered for around 4 years until we went to my gynecologist for fertility examinations.
Sometimes, concern from close relatives stems from cultural values that define personal status through marriage and kids. In such cases, informing them that you’ll wait before having a baby or don’t want to have a child can make for a difficult family discussion.
Countering the pressure to have a child
It gets frustrating when you keep being nudged by every other relative and friend you bump into. It can become more painful and stressful if you’re trying to get pregnant but dealing with infertility.
Here are some tips for handling these awkward situations delicately and countering the pressure to have a child:
1. Don’t get defensive
This is, no doubt, your life decision, and no one gets to choose for you. Still, it does get annoying having to explain your personal choices. You don’t have to defend your motherhood plans to anyone. When approached with questions or remarks like “Isn’t your biological clock ticking?,” try to end the conversation with a reply such as “I’m working on it” or “I’m not financially ready for a baby.”
2. Reply with composure
Constant pushing and prodding on the matter of having a baby can easily make you fly off the handle. I once almost snapped at a former manager at my office for asking me 4 times about my family planning. However, it’s essential to keep your cool and reply calmly. You can be assertive without being aggressive.
3. Tell them how you feel
At one point in time, I realized that every conversation with my in-laws eventually led to them asking about my plans for having a baby. This felt like a massive breach of my personal boundaries, and I started avoiding family gatherings or weddings, where such discussions were unavoidable.
If you are in a similar situation, you can do what I did: tell them respectfully how you feel. Explain to them that although you understand where their concern comes from, it is your and your partner’s decision to make, and you’ll let them know when you both start thinking about extending the family. This might not always be received well, but it should keep the questions at bay.
4. Open up to someone close
It helps to have a close friend or relative going through the same wringer. Talk to them and let off some steam. It will not only make you feel heard and understood but also feel lighter by sharing your feelings. If you are dealing with infertility treatments, it can be distressing to answer questions about stuff you’re struggling with, like the future pregnancy and its likelihood. In such cases, it’s even more important to talk and vent.
5. Talk to your partner
As I said, the pressure to have a baby is stronger on a woman, and chances are your partner doesn’t know how many questions and comments you might be getting from people. Talk to him and share your feelings and frustrations. Make him aware of your emotional state, and if needed, ask him to intervene and change to course of conversation.
When husband/boyfriend pressures you to get pregnant
The pressure and stress can seriously affect a couple when the partners differ on the matter of having kids. You may yourself in a sticky situation if you want to wait for a few years but your partner doesn’t.
- Make your preferences and feelings about having kids very clear from the beginning. If you want to have kids, would you prefer to bear the child or adopt or foster one? Some women are unsure about having kids and want to decide later, when they have more stability and maturity. In such cases, they may want to go for alternative methods, like freezing their eggs, intrauterine insemination (IUI), or in vitro fertilization (IVF).
- There’s nothing wrong with taking time to make life-altering decisions. For a healthy relationship, it’s crucial to keep your partner in the loop and keep the conversation open.
- If your husband/boyfriend is aware of your reservations about having kids and still pushes you to get pregnant, have the uncomfortable talk and figure out if you can meet halfway. You could evaluate your individual needs and preferences after 5 years and decide later. If that doesn’t help, maybe it’s time to reconsider the boundaries and future of the relationship.