Help! My Boyfriend Is His Parents' Only Hope for Grandchildren—but I Don't Want Kids.

Advice on manners and morals.
June 6 2013 6:15 AM

End of the Line

I don’t want kids—but that means my boyfriend’s parents will never have grandchildren. Am I evil?

(Continued from Page 1)

Dear Prudence,
My husband and I recently found out I'm pregnant (yay!). We have very few disagreements and generally see eye-to-eye on most things. But we fundamentally disagree on whether or not to find out the gender of our unborn child. I don't want to find out; he does. I could go through all of the arguments, but neither of us views it logically. Me: It doesn't really matter what the gender is, I'd rather be surprised. Him: Hates surprises. This is one of the few things in life that there's no compromise, because you either find out or you don't. I also don't think that it would work for him to find out and me not to—I know the answer would be revealed one way or another. How can we resolve this?

—Future Mom

Dear Future,
Relative to the length of human history, it’s only in the last nanosecond that we’ve had the technology to know the sex of an unborn child. For endless millennia, parents-to-be have accepted they’ll just have to wait for the baby’s arrival and in the meantime they just paint the cave a neutral color. Your husband’s argument that he doesn’t like surprises is specious because anyone who can’t handle surprises should not get into the parenting game. You’re right there’s no compromise position here, except maybe to be told that one of the baby’s sex chromosomes is X. But all things aren’t equal in the childbearing business, and to break this deadlock, I say the choice goes to the person who’s actually doing the gestating. In any case, in a few months this mystery will be resolved and you’ll realize how silly it was to fight over this, because having a child is a series of unfolding mysteries. As for this information coming out beforehand, when I was pregnant I elected to be told our daughter’s sex. Then at one of my last obstetrician appointments before my due date, as my doctor looked at the sonogram screen she said to me, “I can’t remember. Did you want to know what sex she is?”

—Prudie

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Dear Prudence,
My husband and I are in our late 30s and I am lucky to be able to raise our three young children full-time. My father gave each of his three daughters money to buy our homes as wedding gifts. Although my mom left him when I was in my teens, we all managed to spend holidays together and life was pretty darn perfect. Five years ago he met a woman with two teenagers, fell in love and remarried. I couldn't stomach being around her and her children in the beginning. But I have accepted that I have had this person shoved into my life and have come to like her. I hate to admit it, but her children are good kids. But it sickens me to see this happy little family living in my childhood home, and I refuse to visit. They take my three girls to dinner or movies once a week, but it’s my father’s wife who calls to make the plans. I’ve decided unless my father asks, I will refuse to respond. My sister says I should be glad that at almost 70 years old he is happy, and to cut them some slack. But this is eating me up and I am getting to the point where I am honestly done with my father. How do I get through to him?

—Secretly Seething

Dear Seething,
The question really is how your sister can get through to you. You have a wonderful life, yet you’re eaten up with resentment that your father has also made one for himself. Not only that, these newcomers have expanded the universe of people who embrace you and your children. The best I can offer is this literary assignment. Read the poem “In the Desert” by Stephen Crane and reflect on whether you really want to be this creature:

I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
Who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it.
I said, “Is it good, friend?”
“It is bitter—bitter,” he answered;

“But I like it
“Because it is bitter,
“And because it is my heart.”

—Prudie

More Dear Prudence Columns

Skin Deep: Should a husband tell his wife how he feels about her physical flaws?” Posted March 22, 2012.
My Gay Husband: He’s closeted, but I don't mind. Should I set him free anyway?” Posted March 15, 2012.
Gastric Warfare: I fear my mother-in-law is poisoning me, but my husband doesn’t believe it.” Posted March 8, 2012.
Smell Ya Later!: Should I break up with my fiance because he thinks I have horrible body odor?.” Posted March 1, 2012.

More Dear Prudence Chat Transcripts

The Wrong Touch: In a live chat, Dear Prudence offers advice on a frisky roommate, felonious family members, and friends who become lovers.” Posted April 2, 2012.
Whoa, Momma: During a live chat, Dear Prudence offers advice on having children after tragedy, elective surrogacy, and the demands of parenting twins.” Posted March 26, 2012.
Should I Leave My Infertile Partner?: In a live chat, Dear Prudence advises a man who wants to bolt after learning his girlfriend can’t have kids.” Posted March 19, 2012.
Sex Education: In a live chat, Prudie advises a student whose pregnant friend doesn’t know where babies come from.” Posted March 12, 2012.

Emily Yoffe is a regular Slate contributor. She writes the Dear Prudence column. 

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