Whether she’s oohing and ahhing at baby clothes in store windows or actually talking to you about what your children’s names might be, it’s happening: She is ready to have kids. Your kids. She wants to have your kids. You…aren’t so sure. In fact, right now, you don’t (think you) want kids. Does this mean your relationship is over? Quite possibly, but not necessarily. Take some tips on how to handle the baby talk, and figure out if there’s a future here.
Engage in Self Discovery
If you tell her you’re not sure you want kids, one of the first things she’ll ask is, “Why not?” Being prepared to answer this is a good exercise in self-discovery. So, simply ask yourself before she asks you. What are your barriers — and if you had to overcome them, do you think you could? (“Needing” to overcome these barriers is, of course, entirely a matter of your own perspective.) You don’t need a therapist to get to the bottom of why you are fighting this step. Maybe it’s not kids, maybe it’s your childhood. Maybe it’s that you don’t want kids…with her. There are myriad possibilities here — get to the bottom of it before she puts you on the spot. If you’re certain you don’t want children but want to stay with her, be prepared to deliver some strong arguments and prove that you put some thought into it. And be prepared to split up: This one is the definition of a dealbreaker.
Be Aware of Stage and Age
A woman in her 30s brings a lot more urgency to the kid conversation than a woman in her 20s. The stage of your relationship — from courting to merging homes — also makes a huge difference. A 30-something who wants to be a mom doesn’t have much time to waste; she’s eager to meet a man who’s family-friendly. If this kind of woman drops hints about wanting kids in the early stages of your relationship, respect her by telling her where you stand, so that she can move on early if it’s that important to her. A 20-something who broaches the subject of having babies is probably just trying to get to know you.
Don’t Be a “Jerk” If You Don’t Have To
Be aware that guys who “don’t like” kids are generally considered jerks. Even if you really don’t like kids, be careful about how emphatically you state it. Instead of being unequivocal, try to be tactful: Say that you’re sure kids aren’t right for you right now, and that you’re not sure they’ll ever be. (Actually, that’s pretty much your number one “thoughtful” response for all first-step deflections. And deflection is the idea, here.) Also note that many women feel it’s never too early in a relationship to start talking about babies. It doesn’t necessarily mean she wants to conceive that night (unless you’ve been together for years and this isn’t the first time you’ve discussed it). Most often, she just wants to know where you stand on the subject. So, sure, the idea might make your skin crawl, but it doesn’t have to be the end of the world tonight — keep your cool.
Next month: 4 more tips
Image by Noel Hendrickson.