I don’t want to have children

Hi Meredith, love the column!

From what I've read in the comments, it seems that at 23 I'm considered a baby by the LL crowd. Yet, even at this age I am thoroughly convinced that I don't want any children and most likely will NEVER want any. Of course, I recognize that I'm still young and that people change, but I feel this way for many reasons (I won't bore you with my exhaustive list). Ultimately, while I don't dislike children in general, I'm just not any good with them. I admire the mothers of this world (including my own), but I'm seriously not up for parenting myself.

I've made my feelings on this subject abundantly clear to my friends, family, and boyfriend. (Let's call him Charlie.) We've been dating for over a year now and we're very happy. Charlie accepts how I feel about having kids and acknowledges that I have legitimate reasons for feeling that way, and he agrees that he doesn't want children right now (thank goodness!). However, Charlie keeps mentioning that there's a possibility that he will want children someday but that he's not sure how much he might want them. Just last night, he tried to open up a discussion about life with/without children, and he told me that he can't really imagine that spending your life doing anything other than raising kids could be "worthwhile."

Charlie's almost 30, and it seems that already his biological man-clock is ticking. He's said that he could be happy just being Uncle Charlie -- but the fact that he keeps bringing up this topic makes me think that he actually REALLY REALLY wants kids and is just trying to change my mind. He's told me before that he wants to spend the rest of his life with me.

When does this situation become a deal-breaker? Am I supposed to just wait until he realizes I'm not going to change my mind? I believe that if he wants a family, then he deserves one. I don't want to invest myself in this relationship for years and years if it's going to blow up spectacularly when his man-clock goes off.

– Child-Free and Happy, Somerville

It's time to talk to Charlie about how you want to spend the next five to ten years. Forget the kids for a minute and think about the immediate future. Do you want to travel? Move? Go back to school? He needs to understand where you are in life. You've only been dating for about a year and it doesn't sound like marriage is even on the table for you right now. Does he understand that, CFAH?

After that discussion, look at him right in the eyes and say, "I love you. I want to be with you right now. But I don't want to make a baby with you. And while I might change my mind in a decade or so, I probably won't. And I don't want to be ditched by you when I turn 29 because you realize when you're 36 that you're desperate for a kid."

I know that all of this information is sort of out there already and hovering over both of you like a dirty diaper, but it needs to be stated clearly so that you both get what all of this means.

See if your five-year plan appeals to him at all. If it doesn't, you're just in two different places. You're 23. He can't make you 30 just because he is. In your situation, age really matters. You're not his peer. He needs to respect that and plan accordingly.

Readers? Will she change her mind? Should Charlie be dating someone his own age? Is it possible that he could be happy without kids? Should they break up or wait this out to see if their desires change? Discuss.

– Meredith