Etiquette School is in session! > "I'm afraid that won't be possible."

No, I'm not going to have children

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This is my first post, so I apologize in advance if this is in the wrong seemed the best suited for this inquiry.

A little bit of background: I am an only child, despite the fact that my mother wanted to have 12 kids.  Yes, 12.  I am firmly and completely decided upon the fact that I will never have children.  No offense to those that love kids, but I am not one of them.  The problem comes in that my mother feels that I should make up for the fact that she only had 1 child and need to have a lot of grandkids for her.

My boyfriend and I have been together for 2+ years and from day 1, my mother started bringing up grandkids.  At first, I just shrugged it off and didn't reply or made a funny comment about not having kids.  After about a year of it, I sat her down one day and flat out told her that I wasn't going to have kids and that she needed to accept that.  She seemed to take that well...until the last time I saw her.

She told me "I don't care if you don't want to hear it.  I want grandkids, I am going to keep hoping for grandkids and I'm going to keep telling you that you need to provide me with grandkids."

So, I guess my question is..."What now?"  I'm big into personal responsibility - if you can change something, do so; if not, learn to accept it and move on.  She's into the mindset of "If I want something and you are hindering my results, then you have to do what I say, so I can have what I want."

Our relationship has REALLY been affected by this, to the point that neither my boyfriend or I can stand spending time with her.  Pointed barbs, comments about kids and what not simply pepper conversations.  If it was a non-family member, I would simply cut them out of my life.  But this is my mother.  Has anyone ever experienced anything like this and remedied the situation?  Any suggestions would be wonderful...after more than 2 years, I'm tearing my hair out...

My suggestion won't calm the situation down necessarily, but if you're desperate you can try it. It's kind of a half-way direct cut - basically, the very first time she brings up grandkids, you leave. Every time. Warn her beforehand and follow through every time. So, for example in a phone calls:

You: Hi mom!
Mom: I want grandkids!
You: I'm not going to discuss this ever again with you, Mom. The conversation is over - I love you, and I'll call you tomorrow.

Then hang up. Same thing if you're visiting; as soon as she starts, collect your things and leave immediately. Do not discuss or debate your response with her, just go. It takes a lot of discipline, it's a huge PITA, and it might make the situation worse. But in the end, if she is harassing you so much you can't stand to be around her anyways, (and if she's harassing you so much that you would, if she was any other person, cut her out of your life altogether) I don't really see what you have to lose. But fair warning - the first time you fail to follow through, you're back at square one.

I'd reply with a nonchalant "Dont hold your breath." and then bean dip.

After 2-3 bean dips, I'd flat out say "I've tried very hard to avoid this topic and keep things pleasant between us. I'd appreciate it if you 'd do the same." flat out like that.

Then I'd do the hang up/get up and leave thing. (And yes, even if it took you hours to get there, you should get up and leave. At first, you can go for a walk, a coffee, whatever. If that doesnt work, then just go home. Nothing makes a point like being able to follow through on it. The fact that you're willing to immediately turn around and travel hours over this issue will really drive home (heh heh) how important the issue is for you.

"What you want does not over-ride my wishes for my body and life.  If you still want a relationship with your DAUGHTER over mythical GRANDCHILDREN, you'll respect my wishes.  Otherwise, you can find someone else to adopt so you can have grandchildren.  I'm serious, and you're severely damaging our relationship.  The choice is now yours."

Truly, it's one of those times when your needs are not subject to her wants.  Be blunt, make it clear she is hurting you with her badgering, and if she wants so-called "grandchildren", she can foster children, or volunteer in an area of need.  You have my sympathies on dealing with this.  It's horrible when someone is that dismissive of your very valid choice.

I also recommend going the route of "this conversation ends NOW." It depends on your mom's personality type whether it's effective right away, or uncomfortable but at least it gets you away. You also do have to be very vigilant about it.

A couple other things you could try. You could try the Serious Conversation again. Sit her down alone over a cup of tea and tell her that her fixation on you having kids has negatively impacted your relationship with her, and as a result you have chosen to spend significantly less time with her. Don't let it become about whether or not you're having kids. The issue is that she's constantly bringing up a topic you told her was closed, and that needs to stop. It could be her going on about your job or your hair color or your house or anything--anything where you've told her the matter is closed and should not be discussed again, and she's disregarded your wishes.

You could try remarking casually, "Mom, perhaps you don't realize this, but you've brought up the issue of grandchildren in every conversation we've had this month." Maybe she really doesn't understand how often she's mentioning it and will stop if you point this out.

You could also try taking a sympathetic approach. Since you are the one in control of your reproductive habits, not her, you can afford to be magnanimous and perhaps chat with her about baby names she likes, or what trips she would take the kids on, or things like that--but all with the underlying tone of, "Well, that's a nice fantasy that's never going to happen." Maybe giving her some room to breathe on this subject will take the edge off her longing. You could also encourage her to spend time with other small children in the family, like your cousins' kids, or to volunteer somewhere in the community with children--T-ball, children's library, preschool, crisis nursery, etc..

Obviously these approaches depend on your and your mom's personality--for example, the sympathetic approach would be bad if you're sure it will only make her hope harder, or obnoxiously "talk up" kids to you in an unrealistic way. But, if you think she will take it rationally, it might help you both understand why she wants grandkids so much--does she want to see the family extend itself (in which case perhaps she could transfer her affection to cousins' kids or, more indirectly, get into genealogical research), does she want to cuddle babies (volunteer at crisis nursery/infant hospital), etc..


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