Parents Don't Get Why Their Daughter-in-Law Won't Have Kids
by Angelica Lai
Photograph by Twenty20
Here's another thing to add to the list of things not to say to your daughter-in-law: "Why won't you have kids?" While for many it's an obvious question to avoid, one couple just didn't get why asking it was so wrong.
Last week, the anonymous parents took their dilemma to Slate's "Dear Prudence" advice column, where they aired their concern that their only son won't have kids.
"Every time we bring it up with him, he seems to have a new excuse," they wrote.
Unsatisfied with their son's response, they went straight to their daughter-in-law, who told them that her "high-powered career would be severely impacted if she didn’t plan child-bearing carefully because she doesn’t get paid parental leave at her workplace."
The parents-in-law's solution? They suggested that their dear daughter-in-law shouldn't even have to worry about working and money, as their "son is very successful" and the in-laws themselves "have considerable means." (Apparently, someone didn't get the memo that not every woman wants to have children at any given time, or ever. And even if she did, the decision has nothing to do with them.)
Their suggestion seemed to have offended the daughter-in-law greatly (we wonder why that might be), so they asked Prudie, in an eye roll-inducing twist, "How do we convince (our son and daughter-in-law) that we only want them to be happy?"
Prudie wasted no time in telling the parents that people can find happiness in ways other than having kids.
"A great way to convince your children that you want them to be happy is to stop directly contributing to their unhappiness by repeatedly badgering them about their life choices and assuming you know what will make them happy better than they do," Prudie responded.
Look, normally we would take anonymous advice columns with a grain of salt. But the truth is, people pressuring women to have children isn't a once-in-a-blue-moon thing. After this "Ask Prudie" question was posted, others voiced similar experiences.
"That's my in-laws, except they refuse to believe that I'm the main source of income or that a pregnancy would completely ruin us," one person wrote on Reddit.
"I read this earlier today and got so irritated. Sounds just like my family. 'We just want you to be happy!' I know what makes me happy k thanks [sic]," another wrote.
A great way to convince your children that you want them to be happy is to stop directly contributing to their unhappiness by repeatedly badgering them about their life choices.
"My MIL has been pestering us for 14 years. Truth is, I'm infertile, but since she's a nosy, interfering b-tch, we haven't told her," responded another.
We get that the in-laws may really want to be grandparents and have some little ones in their lives to spoil and continue the family tree. But questioning what's happening with a woman's ovaries is off limits. Period. Women are now having kids later or not at all for a wide range of personal reasons. Asking "When are you going to have kids?" or even "When are you going to have another?" can be obnoxious or even hurtful for those who never wanted to have children or are trying desperately for a baby.
Prudie didn't hold back and suggested the parents apologize to their son for pressuring him and undermining his "excuses," as well as to the daughter-in-law for "presuming she should quit her job and have children simply because (they) would find it convenient."
Most important, she added, they should never bring up grandbabies again.
"You have forfeited the right to ask innocently about whether or not they're planning on having children," Prudie said, "because you have repeatedly failed to do so politely, respectfully and appropriately."