DEAR AMY: My spouse and I have decided not to have children.
This is for several reasons, including: (1) we have multiple pets whose companionship brings us immeasurable joy, and are quite happy when we are together with just us and our pets; (2) we are both busy working professionals with established careers who travel a lot for work and don't see each other as much as we would like to as it is; and (3) health and financial reasons.
My spouse has a brother and a sister, each of whom is married with their own young children. When we get together, all they can talk about is their kids.
I understand that children are a focal point of your life if you are a parent, but that's not the only aspect of a person's personality. What about their hobbies, work, politics and other contemporary events?
When they do invite us to get together, they talk about kids exclusively and to such an extent that it leaves me and my spouse feeling isolated, almost as if we are inferior for not having children.
They also don't seem to understand or respect that, for us, we love our pets as if they were our biological children, and we are quite happy with our decision not to have our own kids.
Any advice on how to bridge this gap and have better quality family time at get-togethers?
– Cheerfully Childless in
DEAR CHEERFULLY CHILDLESS: Of course family members should show a personal interest in you when you are with them!
However, here's some tough love: If you want to have better “family time,” then you should stop seeing family gatherings as cocktail parties, and more as time to dive into family matters. Right now, this extended family revolves around children. I agree that this single focus can be monotonous – to say the least. But for these parents, children are their hobby, work and current events.
You should never feel less-than when you are around these young families, and it is completely understandable that you wouldn't share their obsession. But, during the times when you are in their households, you should tolerate their overall focus on their children.