Originally Published: June 3, 2018 5:55 a.m.
Dear Annie: My husband and I have made the decision to refrain from having children. People are very nosy, always asking when we will have kids, as we have been married for six years and I am 32. When I tell them we have chosen not to have children, which I consider a decent response, I get negative feedback. Some say, “You know, you should give your husband at least one child.” Others say, “Well, having children is the best part of life. You’ll definitely be missing out.”
How could I explain our choice in such a way as to elicit a simple “OK”? I am tired of validating my personal decisions every time I meet someone new. Thoughts? — Child-Free and Tired of Judgment
Dear Child-Free and Tired of Judgment: I admire you and your husband for choosing the path that is right for you and sticking to it in the face of social pressure. That takes courage and a firm sense of self. It would have been wrong to set out to have children when you knew in your heart you didn’t want to. You can try explaining that the next time someone gives you grief. You can also say with a kind and confident smile, “I’m glad parenthood has brought you so much joy, but it’s not for us.”
In the end, there’s no magic combination of words that will make people mind their own business. There will always be those who think they know what’s best for everyone else and aren’t afraid to say it. Just take comfort in knowing that their judgmental comments say far more about them than about you.
Dear Annie: I’d like to respond to the recent letters from “Planning Ahead” and others about aging parents moving in with adult children or to a senior living community. My mother has been a widow for 12 years. She was very active and independent, but she fell and hit her head at home, which caused bleeding on the brain, and had to be hospitalized. After two weeks in the hospital, she went into intensive rehabilitation. She desperately wanted to go back home, so we hired a live-in caregiver. After the caregiver left, we researched some retirement centers. It was still too difficult for her to be independent. But after researching the assisted living facilities, we felt they weren’t going to be enough for her. My sisters, my husband and I decided it would be in her best interest to move in with us, as I was in a position to care for her. Never in a million years had I ever considered being a caregiver to anyone, as I have always worked in the public sector. But what a blessing it has been. I’ve grown closer to my mother than I ever thought possible, and it is truly an honor to care for her. I will be forever grateful for this time I’ve had with her and believe it was the best scenario for our mother. — A Happy Caregiver
Dear Happy Caregiver: I’m so glad your mom is doing better. You’ve spoken to a huge benefit of having an aging parent move in: You get to share more quality time than you most likely have since you were an adolescent. Thanks for writing.
“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to email@example.com.