I recently found out my sister has no plans to ever have children, and I 100% support her decision, but I wanted to know if there are annoying things parents do without realizing they are annoying to you, so I don't do them to my sister. Other than the obvious, of course (bingos, expecting free babysitting, etc).
Maybe don't talk about how your kid(s) is/are your only reason for living.
Or about how your life was total crap before you had kids but that now you have a reason for living and your life now has meaning. You were special before you had kids and hopefully your parents treated you special.
If your own parents need help, don't let the burden of helping them fall all on your CF sister -- she has a life too that is just as important as yours.
Remember your sister's special occasions because she will probably be remembering the special occasions of your kids (her nieces and nephews). To your sister, your kids are extensions of YOU -- she's only giving them gifts because they are related to you. Reward her for being special to your kids as well. (maybe a dog or kitty shower if she adds a new pet to her family -- not every time, but once or twice might be nice).
If you need money or help, try not to tap only your CF sister for funds. Apparently there's a whole "Circle of Moms" out there just waiting to offer you love and support -- ask them first if you ever need money or assistance.
Try to empathize with your sister's feelings. She may not want kids, but that doesn't make her an uncaring person. She probably loves her nieces and nephews just as much as you do. Please realize that other people, not just parents, can actually experience pain and other emotions.
Treat your sister like you would like your children to be treated -- with love and respect.
I'm glad that you support your sister 100%. I don't know that there is an easy answer to your question, as everyone is different. You may need to ask her directly. For instance, just because she doesn't want to have children of her own, does not mean that she won't enjoy spending time with yours, or even babysitting for you. Parenthood is just not a desirable choice for everyone.
No bingoes, is a good start, and should be well appreciated.
Joined: Sun Oct 16, 2011 4:57 pm Posts: 1071 Location: Canada
If your sister reacts in what seems to be an overly sensitive manner to a comment regarding children or her choices, don't take it personally.
Often the childfree will feel bombarded by pro-natalism and be made to feel inferior because of our lifestyle. We deal with a lot of ongoing commentary at work and from acquaintances about our decision and it can become frustrating. In polite society people tend to lash out at those closest to them rather than the people who are the real problem. If she seems snappy over what you thought was an innocent comment, she's likely just lashing out or venting. Find out what's really going on rather than allowing tensions develop between you.
Don't feel like you need to tiptoe around the topic of children though! As others have said, everyone is different and even though she doesn't want her own, that doesn't mean she's not interested in them at all!
Have a discussion with her to find out if there are any "hot topics" that she would prefer you avoid.
One thing that really irks me is when my childed friends call me just to chat, and they wind up parenting through our whole conversation. I realize that you need to interrupt the conversation to stop your child from hurting themselves, etc., but please don't tell her to hang on 20 times while you either have a conversation with a child (or others) or have to give the child directives every 3 minutes. It always makes me feel like nothing I have to say is as important as the child's declaration that there's a bug in the hallway.
P.S.- Thank you for asking this! It really shows how good of a sister you are, as well as a person, to consider her feelings this way!
_________________ "Love is composed of one soul inhabiting two bodies."- Aristotle
Thank you for being so proactive in your support of your sister!
I whole heartedly support everything emmaj said - that really covered the majority. I can only think of a few other things. If your sister offers any parenting suggestions or advice, please don't discount it just because she doesn't have any kids of her own. She's been a child, seen others raising their kids, and isn't as emotionally involved as you are which can give her just the right perspective. On top of that, you might have one child that particularly takes after her and, because of that, she can give you some fantastic insight into what really works for that child and what doesn't. I really wish my aunt had stepped in at some point and explained to my parents that their form of discipline simply didn't work for my personality type. It would have worked for either of them and it worked on my brother, but I was different and, because their style didn't work for me, I was labeled a "difficult" child. I wish my aunt, with her similar personality, had pulled them aside early on and pointed out a better system. I suspect she didn't because she didn't have any kids of her own at that point and felt it wasn't her place. Fine but, well, it would have made all our lives a little easier.
If she's interested in being an involved aunt, let her. With as few strings as possible. If she just likes certain ages, indulge that as much as you can without causing sibling problems. If she isn't a kid person then don't force yours on her.
Defend her to others. She's not selfish (well, she may be, since I don't know her, but she'd be selfish whether she had zero or a hundred kids and unselfish under the same conditions.) She's not putting off "growing up." She's not missing out on the most wonderful experience ever since, for her, it wouldn't be. It might be for you and mazel tov if it is. You're you. Your friends and family are themselves. She's her. Different strokes and all that. Which it sounds like you totally get, but please understand that many of us have to fight those around us simply for the right to be considered an "adult" at the same level as those who have kids, even if those kids were the product of really stupid, irresponsible decisions.
Thank you again for your obvious care and support of your sister!
Joined: Sun Jun 26, 2011 9:08 am Posts: 3975 Location: UK
Great thread and wonderful advice from the guys.
I'm in the child-hating camp, that doesn't mean I want to hurt them, it means I want as much distance as possible between me and them.
It's possible your sister maybe too, so please don't assume she has any more feeling for your kids because there is a blood relationship and don't think that 'exposure' to children would lead her to see the error of her ways.
Unlike a lot of the people here, who are actively involved in their nieces and nephews, I'm not. Being around kids makes me unhappy and stressed and thats not good for them or me.
So, if she turns out to be one of 'my kind'....don't push it, try and equate it to being forced to sit in a room with a couple of rattlesnakes.
I think the support of your sister is great and I'm really glad you've asked...as others have said, don't try and second guess your sisters thoughts and feelings, just ask....Children are not a taboo with the CF.
Very best wishes..
_________________ 'I think that God, in creating Man, somewhat overestimated his ability'..Oscar Wilde
'Let it be awful, let it be wonderful, but let it be uncommon'.......
Thanks so much for your answers and for being so civil. That one about parenting through phone convos is good because I do that all the time and it never occurred to me that it might bother someone. Well, that's why I asked.
My sister seems to get along well enough with my kids, she lets my daughter sit in her lap and plays GI Joes with my son, I get the impression that she doesn't mind kids, just doesn't want her own. My mother says my daughter is a lot like her so if she has any tips I'll probably listen.
And LaTormentia, I do kind of understand how you feel about kids, I feel the same way about cats. Can't stand the creatures but certainly wish them no harm. To each his own, right?
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