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10 Things to Never Say to Your Childless Friends

Being child-free is not an invitation for insensitive comments

Published on: December 14, 2017

Side eye

I've been there

It was 2009 and I had just gotten back from graduating college when my 92-year-old grandfather threw out this humdinger: “Now that you’re done with school, you can settle down and start a family.” I just stared him in the face. 

Despite what a nearly century-old man thought “girls of a certain age” were “supposed” to do, I didn’t spend countless time and thousands of dollars on a college education to not put it to use. I was only 22 years old and I had plans. A husband and kids weren’t in the picture.

Since then, I’ve often wondered if children will ever be a part of my plan. A piece of me wants them; another doesn’t. Now that I’m in my 30s, you’d think I would have made up my mind. I haven’t.

What I do know is that, if I do decide to have kids, adoption is my first choice. Because of that, I don’t feel the same kind of age-related pressure that many women who want biological children might feel. And given the independent (translation: single) way I often live my life, most people who know me know not to hound me with questions about when I’ll have kids. In fact, it was my very own mother who correctly predicted many years ago that my brother — six years my junior — would both get married and have children before I did. (Check yes on the first; we’re just waiting on the second.)

That said, I have been on the receiving end of those questions, and I’m certainly not the only one. Tons of women and some men around my age get these questions and comments on a regular basis. While many of us understand that these interactions are free of ill intent, they’re also annoying as hell.

I spoke to people without kids about the comments they hear most. Their experiences range from innocuous yet irritating to presumptuous statements about life goals. For others, the questions are invasive, offensive and emotionally challenging, opening up old wounds.

So, dear reader, don’t be that person. Here are 10 things you should never say to those without kids.

Last names have been removed throughout for privacy.

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