ray13

Harassment with being Child-Free

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My husband and I have decided to be child-free. He has had a vasectomy. We also tend to move fairly frequently (one a year/ every 2 years), which means new wards/meeting new people. Whenever I hit Relief Society I get the  "So how many kids do you have" type questions. I respond with "none. We aren't having kids." or something similar. And I immediately get hit with a sigh, or "you'll change your mind later sweetie". They just don't seem to grasp the fact we don't want kids and we are happy. Once people get to know me and they pursue more, I tell them No we are sure. My husband got a vasecotmy. We won't be changing our mind. We have lost friends over this because we are going against the church. 

I have never liked kids and never wanted one. 

Anybody else going through something similar or can offer words of encouragement / advice on how to deal with it. 

It got so bad in my last ward that whenever family came up in class and they started talking about children/grandchildren a lot of the older women would stare at me and start whispering and I could hear my name.    My husband doesn't have the same issue. They ask about his kids and he says "No. we arent having kids" and the elders class is like ok whatever. He doesn't get any of the harrassment I do so he doesn't understand so I can't really talk to him about it. He thinks Im over-reacting. 

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Not being a female, it's hard for me to relate.  You're right that in Elders Quorum we seem to miss out on some of that drama (our first was born 3 years after marriage--not for lack of trying--and it was amazing how much judgment my wife faced in those first few years due to our purported "selfishness", whereas I heard nary a word).

I don't know how to make it hurt any less; but as for a snappy retort ripped from today's headlines, may I suggest you try the line--"Actually, I'm gay"? :satan:

Edited by Just_A_Guy

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First, welcome to the forum.  I'm sorry you've had to deal with this and it's unfortunate that you would lose friends over it.  As far as responding when asked, maybe something like "we've decided not to have kids and thank you for not judging us for that choice" or "we've decided not to have kids but I hope we can still be friends".  Also, make sure you're not expecting to get critical comments (ie you find what you look for).  Hope this helps.

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Why does an explanation need to go with?  Why not simply, "none".  The end.  If they pursue it, something like, "Thank you for your concern, but this is a personal matter."  To say something more personal (like that you don't like / want children) is to invite more personal inquiry.  If you want to avoid personal inquiry, don't say anything personal.

Alternately, there's the fine art of diversion:

Nosy-Sister: "How many children do you have?"

You: "None.  How about you?"

Nosy-Sister: "We have 6.34. Why don't you have children?" (aside: how anyone can ask that is beyond me)

You: (ignoring her question entirely) "Oh what are their names, ages, interests, schools, IQs?  Which one is the best?  Which one can't do anything right to save his life?  Did you ever leave one behind at the gas station?  I bet it would be really hard for witness protection to hide a family that large.  You do avoid witnessing organized crime, don't you?"

Nosy-Sister: [nigh on eternal gushing about her children; or left speechless by the organized crime question]

You: "Excuse me, I need to find the lady's room."

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Oh, improvement on the diversion:

Just now, zil said:

Alternately, there's the fine art of diversion:

Nosy-Sister: "How many children do you have?"

You: "None too many.  How about you?"

Nosy-Sister: (royally confused about what "none too many" can mean and wondering if you meant "one too many" and how any mother could say such a thing)  "Er, we have 6.34..."

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I have some Mandarian speaking friends who originally came to church for English practice, because Mormons are friendly, and who eventually joined the church. They asked me for conversation topics. Eg Are you a convert? (Then stand back. The saga begins!). They made a list of topics and once they had a list, they never used them because with the list, they no longer felt awkward. So how about making a list?

Suggestion: Yes, people who ask these questions are rude and inappropriate but...they are also very likely in one of a few categories:

1) not very bright and socially awkward. This is a hard affliction. These people have no idea what is going on around them. People avoid them. They get fired or miss opportunities.  They don't know why. We have a branch president like this here. People loath him.

2) not very spiritually developed. Also a hard affliction. The Holy Ghost probably doesn't visit very often. After death, they will be in the school room while you are designing continents with those lovely crinkly bits around the coast, just like Norway!

3) They lead very small lives. 

Someday, you may serve with these people or visit teach them. Why make your life harder? Just say, 'None, how about you? Do you have any pictures?' The saga will begin!

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I like what @zil said about just not giving a reason for why.  I think people are wrong to treat you differently or to be cruel to you in any way because of your decision.  That being said, I also believe that your decision is wrong.  As you pointed out, it is against the teachings of the Church, and the commandments of God.

Quote

The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. (The Family: A Proclamation to the World)

Lesson 17: The Commandment to Multiply and Replenish the Earth

I'm sure you are likely well familiarized with this topic and will leave it to the single quote.

My wife and I are unable to bear our own children.  As a result, it is hard for me to have any sympathy for you, because I know we would do almost anything if it meant she would be able to bear children.  My wife can definitely empathize with you; she has always received a similar, albeit slightly different, form of ousting among the women at church.  Most of the women seem to only talk about their children, and even now that we have adopted children, they all talk about giving birth and taking care of babies and she is still left out of the conversations.

People are flawed and make mistakes.  I believe it was a mistake in the first place to make the decision to not have children, if you have a healthy, capable, body that would function to do so.  It is also a mistake for people to treat you unkindly,or to harass you as a result.  I don't think you will ever escape it until you are aged beyond the years where you would be expected to have children in your home (even then only possibly), because people everywhere mess things up.  I do sincerely hope that you find something that works to help lessen the backlash, but I think you will find few in the church who will condone your decision.

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Guest MormonGator
7 minutes ago, person0 said:

I like what @zil said about just not giving a reason for why.

I agree. You'll be amazed how easy your life gets when you stop explaining yourself to people. 

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There are consequences to every decision.  The commandment is to multiply and replenish the earth.  You decided on not having children.  People proselyting for you to multiply and replenish the earth is a consequence to that decision.  Just take it for what it is and move on.  You can CHOOSE NOT to be offended.

It's the same for people who choose to dye their hair with all 7 colors of the rainbow.  People will stare, people will think you're a rebel, people will think you're an attention-starved person, people will think it's cool, and people will get offended (there's always something to be offended about including somebody culturally appropriating clown hair).  You can choose to be offended by their reactions or you can choose to have patience with those who are just not that savvy about somebody going against the norm.

I for one will be one of those who would say - man!  You should have children!  And that's because I have 2 children and they make me so happy that I wish everybody could experience this kind of happiness.

Edited by anatess2

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13 hours ago, ray13 said:

Anybody else going through something similar or can offer words of encouragement / advice on how to deal with it. 

 

Oh, absolutely!  It's really simple - stop caring about what other people think about you and your life choices.  Life got so much easier for me, in and out of the church, once I realized that my reasons for doing things mattered, and random comments from well-meaning but uninformed people really didn't.  There were a tiny number of people in my life who's opinion mattered - I could count them on one hand.

You can approach stuff like this with lighthearted good humor too.

"When are you going to have kids, sweetie?"

"Oh, I don't think my wife would like that."
"My hubby had it shot off in the war, so that's not in the cards."
"We're too busy teaching our million cats to take over the world."

 

Actually, in a true story, my wife's younger brother did something one time.  Someone was in his face offering some unwanted advice or perspective or something.  He took a deep breath and yelled "MUUUUUUHHHH!" in the person's face with so much volume it blew their hair back.  People within 50 feet were startled.  The best part of this tactic is, the other person gets embarrassed instead of you.

Edited by NeuroTypical

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My wife and I have struggled with infertility for years (we finally had a daughter; sadly, she may be our only child).

I can honestly say that, when people even casually ask you stuff like "when are you going to have children?", it can be quite painful.  I would strongly advise avoiding the subject in casual conversation (as it really is no one's business but the couple and the Lord).

If someone does harass you about children, you may have to flex your forgiveness muscles.  If someone asks, you can always say, "maybe someday", which is a nice gentle response.  If they press, you can say, "I don't want to talk about this."  Anyone with any sense will drop it at this point.  If they continue, then it is time to say, "none of your business".

Edited by DoctorLemon

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2 hours ago, DoctorLemon said:

If someone does harass you about children, you may have to flex your forgiveness muscles.  If someone asks, you can always say, "maybe someday", which is a nice gentle response.  If they press, you can say, "I don't want to talk about this."  Anyone with any sense will drop it at this point.  If they continue, then it is time to say, "none of your business".

In your case, you have a made-to-order Princess Bride quote:

"Thank you very much for bringing up such a painful memory.  While you're at it, why don't you give me a nice paper cut and pour some LEMON juice in it?  WE'RE CLOSED!!!"

Edited by Just_A_Guy

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IF the person insists....My motto for uncomfortable questions is..."Just because someone asks a question, doesn't mean I am bound to answer."

Silence works like a charm.

So yes, this is the face I put to let someone know I don't like what they are asking: :mellow:

 

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I just wish people would use some sense when talking with others sometimes and avoid painful topics.

I remember, right out of law school, I went through a period of unemployment.  I remember sitting in Elders' Quorum one day during this time period.  This guy sits down next to me and is like, "Are you new here?"  (No, I had been in the ward for five years at this point).  He asks, "what do you do for a living?"  I explained I just took the bar exam and was looking for a job.  He then says, "Well, I considered law school and I could have gotten in anywhere I wanted, but I did my research and found that there just aren't any jobs to be had and lots of student debt.  So, I went and got an MBA instead, and now I am making six figures."  I am not making this up - this is what he said to me, knowing full well I was unemployed.  For all of you Jane Austen fans, it was very Mr. Collins of him.

In retrospect, I should have offered him a medal then and there for his flawless life choices.  

People, please think before you open your mouths. . . 

Edited by DoctorLemon

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16 minutes ago, DoctorLemon said:

So, I went and got an MBA instead, and now I am making six figures."  I am not making this up - this is what he said to me, knowing full well I was unemployed.

"Ah, a securities trader!

My kind put your kind in prison, you know . . ."

Edited by Just_A_Guy

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39 minutes ago, DoctorLemon said:

I just wish people would use some sense when talking with others sometimes and avoid painful topics.

I remember, right out of law school, I went through a period of unemployment.  I remember sitting in Elders' Quorum one day during this time period.  This guy sits down next to me and is like, "Are you new here?"  (No, I had been in the ward for five years at this point).  He asks, "what do you do for a living?"  I explained I just took the bar exam and was looking for a job.  He then says, "Well, I considered law school and I could have gotten in anywhere I wanted, but I did my research and found that there just aren't any jobs to be had and lots of student debt.  So, I went and got an MBA instead, and now I am making six figures."  I am not making this up - this is what he said to me, knowing full well I was unemployed.  For all of you Jane Austen fans, it was very Mr. Collins of him.

In retrospect, I should have offered him a medal then and there for his flawless life choices.  

People, please think before you open your mouths. . . 

Those people are so obnoxious. I think we've all met the "I can one up you" guy. You mention you can walk five miles an hour, they tell you they can do 8 miles backwards. It comes from their deep sense of insecurity, in my view. 

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"He took a deep breath and yelled "MUUUUUUHHHH!" in the person's face with so much volume it blew their hair back.  People within 50 feet were startled."

Just a reminder - when someone is cluelessly causing you pain in a public setting, this response is neither cruel nor judgmental.

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7 hours ago, MormonGator said:

I agree. You'll be amazed how easy your life gets when you stop explaining yourself to people. 

Many speak of the wisdom of never leaving room for discussion or a problem for another to solve for you.

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21 hours ago, ray13 said:

My husband and I have decided to be child-free. He has had a vasectomy. We also tend to move fairly frequently (one a year/ every 2 years), which means new wards/meeting new people. Whenever I hit Relief Society I get the  "So how many kids do you have" type questions. I respond with "none. We aren't having kids." or something similar. And I immediately get hit with a sigh, or "you'll change your mind later sweetie". They just don't seem to grasp the fact we don't want kids and we are happy. Once people get to know me and they pursue more, I tell them No we are sure. My husband got a vasecotmy. We won't be changing our mind. We have lost friends over this because we are going against the church. 

I have never liked kids and never wanted one. 

Anybody else going through something similar or can offer words of encouragement / advice on how to deal with it. 

It got so bad in my last ward that whenever family came up in class and they started talking about children/grandchildren a lot of the older women would stare at me and start whispering and I could hear my name.    My husband doesn't have the same issue. They ask about his kids and he says "No. we arent having kids" and the elders class is like ok whatever. He doesn't get any of the harrassment I do so he doesn't understand so I can't really talk to him about it. He thinks Im over-reacting. 

You and your husband made a decision which is specifically contrary to the teachings of the church.  Now you want encouragement/advice?  

Ok, ignore them.  

You have lost friends over this?  Were they really your friend?  

Are you "friends" with people who have different belief systems than you do, but still go to church with you? 

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I love each and every one for the aforementioned responses. Now, I've always been the sweet, gentle one, but motherhood and teacherhood have... done bad things to my persona, such as my sass level increasing tenfold. (A few weeks ago, I totally went into teacher mode and chewed out a bunch of obnoxious kids in the movie theatre--and their parents got in trouble instead of me). 

Anywho, yes, I'd go with any of those. I range more toward sweet and downplaying, but if that didn't work, I'd call them out "Are you really going to be the judgmental person who cares about my ovaries?"

Or something that like. But I would more or less spell out for them what they were doing.

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In my ward I am noticing more people with different personal point of views on life being more outspoken on the pulpit during fast and testimony meeting and/or assigned talks. Its so refreshing to know that we do not all fit in one box.

 

Edited by priesthoodpower

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9 minutes ago, priesthoodpower said:

In my ward I am noticing more people with different personal point of views on life being more outspoken on the pulpit during fast and testimony meeting and/or assigned talks. Its so refreshing to know that we do not all fit in one box.

 

Amen.  I think that part of the church is changing. You no longer have to be super conservative, eat/drink only milk and cookies, think the same way on every issue, etc. Good riddance to those days. 

Edited by MormonGator

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52 minutes ago, mdfxdb said:

You and your husband made a decision which is specifically contrary to the teachings of the church.  Now you want encouragement/advice?  

Ok, ignore them.  

You have lost friends over this?  Were they really your friend?  

Are you "friends" with people who have different belief systems than you do, but still go to church with you? 

So the fact we decided not to reproduce makes us going against the church?

So the church would encourage us to reproduce even though there is a 90% chance our children will get a disease

that will kill them before they reach 5 years of age?

I don't think the church would encourage a family going through that heartbreak.

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9 hours ago, NeuroTypical said:

Actually, in a true story, my wife's younger brother did something one time.  Someone was in his face offering some unwanted advice or perspective or something.  He took a deep breath and yelled "MUUUUUUHHHH!" in the person's face with so much volume it blew their hair back.  People within 50 feet were startled.  The best part of this tactic is, the other person gets embarrassed instead of you.

 

6 hours ago, Just_A_Guy said:

In your case, you have a made-to-order Princess Bride quote:

"Thank you very much for bringing up such a painful memory.  While you're at it, why don't you give me a nice paper cut and pour some LEMON juice in it?  WE'RE CLOSED!!!"

 

1 hour ago, Just_A_Guy said:

Another potential response:

Arch your eyebrow, and sinisterly ask "Haven't you watched The Handmaid's Tale"?  Then, walk away.

I can't decide which one is best...  I'd say that depending on the individual who asked the question or made the comment, you should rotate these around and pick the best response.

Me?  I personally would have the most fun with the MUUUUUUHHHH!   But I kinda have a reputation already, so... (now, I'm interpreting that "MUUHH.." as a maniacal laugh.  Is that correct?)  I tend to do that laugh a lot.

Edited by Guest

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