Friday, September 6, 2013

When One Partner Wants Children And The Other Does Not...

Dear Tazi:

I have been dating my boyfriend for two years now, and he wants to get engaged. We never seriously discussed the future (we are both 20) and I thought this was something we should do before talking about getting married. We are pretty compatible, but we have one major issue that we cannot seem to overcome: children. He wants them; I can’t stand the thought of being a parent.

I was raised by a wonderful foster family from the age of 10 to the age of 15 because my parents were deemed to be unfit. I wasn't physically abused; in fact, my parents never touched me – ever. I was never hugged, never tucked into bed, never received any kind of physical affection. When I turned 15 my older sister – who had just finished college a year early – legally adopted me and I have been with her ever since. We had the same upbringing, and she always makes sure I know that I am a worthwhile person and that our parents (who were drug addicts, which is why they lost custody of us) loved us, but that they had a bad addiction that made them want drugs more than our company. My sister is planning her wedding right now, and she wants to have a big family. I am happy for her, and look forward to having nephews and nieces. I mention all of this so you can see the whole picture and know that I am a well-adjusted adult who simply does not want to have children.

My boyfriend is insisting that my past has “tainted” me and that with counseling I can “overcome” my fear of being a parent. Tazi, I am not afraid of being a parent; I simply do not want to be a parent! “Jerry” says that this is a deal-breaker for him, and that we may as well break up now than go through the process of pretending that things are going to work between us. While I do not want to break up, I am not going to change my mind. I tell Jerry thing, and he suggests that maybe I will change my mind and that he will give me some time to think things through. A week will go by and he will bring up the subject again, and I will tell him that I have not changed my mind or considered counseling.

I am getting pretty sick of Jerry’s attitude and am thinking of breaking up with him on principle. I feel like he is trying to control my future and make my decisions for me. I know I will be perfectly miserable without him at first, but that as time passes I will get over it. I am not so sure I can say the same thing about staying and having children just to please him. I don’t want to burden my sister with this, since she is busy with wedding plans of her own, and my foster family is super religious so I know what they will say – that God’s mission for a woman is to marry and bear her husband’s children, something I obviously don’t agree with on many points. What do you think, little kitty? Got any insight for me? A big snuggle right back at you if you do!

Young But Mature

Dear Young But Mature:

The decision to have or not have children is an extremely personal one, and each person’s reasons are unique to them. Might you change your mind as you get older? It is a possibility, but not one that anyone should build their future around, least of all your current boyfriend. Jerry needs to respect you for the woman you are today, not as the woman he hopes you will one day become.
I know people (men and women) who have had children because their spouse wanted them, while they would have preferred to remain child-free. In general, the parent who did not want children shows tolerance for them, but that is a far cry from joy; they love their children, but they do not like them or enjoy their presence. If you know now that you do not want children I recommend that you take precautions to ensure that you will not have them; just refrain from anything with permanence (tubal ligation, hysterectomy). This way, on the off chance that you do change your mind, your options will remain. Once you reach a certain age – say, 30 – more permanent solutions would be reasonable to consider. I say this because I have also met people who swore that they did not want children only to change their minds as they got a little older. Until then, you should discuss long-term birth control methods with your doctor, most of which have an effectiveness rate of greater than 99.99%. While there is an excellent chance that you will not change your mind, women who have followed this path have told me they are glad that they did.

As for your dealings with Jerry…you are both young and while that is not a guarantee of a break-up it does mean that the two of you will continue to grow and change as you experience life as independent adults. There is no guarantee that you will grow together as opposed to grow apart, as you are currently discovering. You are right to stand up for yourself and not let Jerry bully you into questioning your feelings on parenthood or any other subject upon which you disagree. It is obvious from his repeated ultimatums (we should break up/I will give you another week to think about it) that Jerry does not want to break up with you, so it seems to me that you will have to be the one to end things. Be strong and remember that a break does not always mean a break up; it just means that you need some time apart from each other to figure out some things that need figuring.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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