Ask a counsellor: ‘Why can’t my fiancé’s mother accept that I don’t want children?’

Ask a counsellor: ‘Why can’t my fiancé’s mother accept that I don’t want children?’

The problem…

“I really love my fiancé and we plan to get married in May, 2020. We’re well advanced with our plans and it should be an exciting and joyful time for us both, but my fiancé’s mother is making my life miserable. I do not, and for as long as I can remember have never wanted to have children. However my mother-in-law-to-be cannot understand this.

“I’ve tried to explain that it’s not something I want to do, and that I think it’s irresponsible to bring children into the world right now as it’s in such a mess. I know not everyone agrees with me, but I do feel strongly about it and fortunately I’ve met a man who agrees with me, even if his mum doesn’t.

She's even accused me of being selfish

“She’s so angry with me and has even accused me of being selfish, when I think it’s the opposite! She doesn’t seem to understand the state the world is in. On top of that, my career and my future husband are important to me and I am not prepared to risk either by having children.

“My fiancé is perfectly happy with my decision and says it’s my body so my choice. As he’s supportive, what business is it of hers to think she can tell us how we should live?”

Fiona says…

“It’s not her business at all – it’s a decision only you and your fiancé can make. However, I think you may be missing the point of her behaviour. I suspect she probably desperately wants grandchildren and is devastated to think her son and you, his wife, will never give her any.

“I don’t know whether she has any other children who can fulfil that need for her but, for some women, the need to reproduce and perpetuate the line is an enormously strong biological urge. She chose to do this, and by refusing to have children, you have rejected her lifestyle choice. That, I suspect, may feel hurtful to her – but that still doesn’t make it right for her to be trying to force you to do something that feels wrong to you.

We want to focus on enjoying the wedding (iStock/PA)
We want to focus on enjoying the wedding (iStock/PA)

“Concentrate on showing her how much you love her son and how happy he is with you, and I’m sure she’ll soon come around. She may never like your decision, but she will, in time, have to accept it. I’m sure she will continue to hope that you’ll change your mind and may regularly drop hints, but try not to take it personally.

“One word of caution though; you say your fiancé feels as you do but please be certain of this. He may not be making a fuss but that’s not the same as actively agreeing with you. It’s really important that he does and isn’t going along with what you say just because he loves you so much. If he has any doubts, hopes to persuade you later, or feels that he might one day want a family after all, you could be heading for trouble – especially if his mother continues to pressure him. Do please have a heart-to-heart with him to be sure he feels as you do.

Maybe it's time to sit down and have a heart-to-heart

“You need to be looking forward to your wedding next year, so maybe it’s time to sit down and have a heart-to-heart with your mother-in-law-to-be too. Be gentle with her and explain that you’re not rejecting her choices but that the world has changed so much since she made them.

“You are absolutely right that having children is an enormous responsibility. It is surely better and less selfish to make a positive choice to have children (or not, as in your case) than simply having babies because it is expected of you. I am sure that, if more people stopped and considered the real impact of parenthood and their feelings towards it, they would have far fewer problems.”

:: If you have a problem you need help with, email Fiona by writing to help@askfiona.net for advice. All letters are treated in complete confidence and, to protect this privacy, Fiona is unable to pass on your messages to other readers. Fiona regrets that she cannot enter into personal correspondence.

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