A Mom friend recently posted a list in her journal about non-parent etiquette toward other people's kids after an unfortunate confrontation with her mother and little brother who recently moved down the street from them after living hours away, causing all sorts of boundary issues. What got me, though, was that while it was designed toward her parents, she said it was for non-parents. I found this interesting, but I can't tell her that.
So instead, I'm going to express my irritation in this journal by posting a list of my own:
PARENT TO CHILD-FREE ETIQUETTE
i.e. "Things you cannot say to me if I can't tell you 'I don't know how you do it' without you getting bent out of shape and thinking I'm insulting you."
1. "You don't know what life is until you have children." Also, "life isn't worth living without children," and "children are the reason we're all here." You're not doing anything but insulting me, telling me my life is worthless. Do you know how it feels to be told your life is worthless? We are happy, we are happy with each other and in our lives.
2. "I didn't think I wanted kids either, until I had my own." I think I speak for much of the childfree community when I say that we believe that if you don't want kids, you have no business having them. It is irresponsible to risk that you might not like it once you have the children, and it's unfair to the children. Not ever woman can be a mom. Not every woman wants to be a mom. Deal with it. Oh, and ditto on "it's different when they're you're own kids."
3. "You're going against God's plan!" This one is up there with the "why did you get married in the first place" commentary. I won't even go into all the reasons this is inappropriate, whatever religion you subscribe to.
4. In a nutshell, comments like "you'll change your mind", "you'll regret it later", and "you don't know what you're missing" are also off-limits.
Ask me questions, be open-minded, open a dialogue with me. I want to talk about it with you, to help you understand my side of the story. But if you enter that conversation with the intention of changing my mind or convincing me that I'm making a horrible mistake, we'll never get anywhere. Understand that this is horribly disrespectful to me.
I promise to never try to convince you that having children was the wrong decision, that you made a huge mistake, or that one day you'll end up regretting your life and wishing you could go back in time and do it over without the kids.
Open a dialogue. Don't lecture. Don't judge.
That's all I ask.