Complete Without Kids

Exploring all facets of childfree living.

When and How Do You Tell Someone You're Dating that You Don't Want Kids?

Talk about the kid issue on the first date!

When it comes to romance, the discussion of whether or not you want to have kids needs to happen right away, perhaps on the first date. Why?

There are a few big lifestyle issues that can't be ignored when it comes to compatibility and when deciding whether or not to proceed in a dating relationship. Take religion for example; it would be tough for a devout Christian to be married to an atheist.  And then there are politics! An individual who always votes Republican is likely to have huge disagreements and incompatibilities with someone who is ultra liberal.

So, if these life perspectives need to be brought up early on in dating, shouldn't the most important and life-changing decision of one's life also be discussed? Instead, the kid issue is often ignored until a couple is settled into marriage, and in many, many cases, not discussed until an unplanned pregnancy occurs. Many people are uncomfortable bringing up the topic of potential parenting, and others may not have even thought it through themselves. But ignoring the issue may result in falling in love with someone whose life dreams are not in line with yours.

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So, if you're heading out into the dating arena, consider these tips on how to talk this over with your date.

Tip number one:

Put the kids topic out on the table right away. The decision of whether or not to have a child is the most important one of a person's life, and it's a deal breaker in a relationship. Many people today still consider having children to be the norm, and when dating, they assume that the person sitting across from them in the coffee shop also plans to become a parent. Think about it—if you hope to be a mom or dad someday, wouldn't you want to know if the person you're getting to know had no interest in becoming a parent? Parenting and being childfree are incompatible life-styles. A person who truly yearns to be a parent can't simply replace this by becoming a Boy Scout leader, and a person who truly wishes to remain childfree cannot do so by having just one child or by having a spouse who agrees to do the bulk of the parenting.

Tip number two:

Be honest with yourself and with your dating partner. Realize that not doing so will lead to a strained and likely failed relationship down the road. It doesn't work to "talk" someone into having a child or to expect him or her to be excited if an "accidental" pregnancy occurs. Too many marriages are severely damaged when both parties aren't able to participate in the child decision.

Tip number three:

If you and your partner agree on the child decision, take it a step further and test yourselves. If you've decided to not have kids, check out some childfree websites and spend time with other adults who are childfree. If you've decided that you want to have a child, spend time with friends and relatives, along with their children. Make sure that you really enjoy the path you're choosing.

So, take the challenge! Speak out openly and honestly from date one-and you and your date will both profit.

 

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Ellen Walker, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and the author of Complete Without Kids: An Insider's Guide to Childfree Living By Choice Or By Chance.

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