ASK AMY

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - Life - (You can email Amy Dick­in­son at [email protected]­dick­in­son.com or send a let­ter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also fol­low her on Twit­ter @ask­ingamy or Face­book.)

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

Chicago

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.

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