Dear Margo: You Do Not Have To Answer Every Question That Is Asked

My husband’s family wants us to have more children. How do I tell them it’s none of their business? Margo Howard’s advice

You Do Not Have To Answer Every Question That Is Asked

Dear Margo: Like many women, I don’t exactly see eye to eye with my husband’s family. He is from a large family where everyone (except him) still lives in the same zip code. Each “branch” of the family has at least four kids, even when there isn’t the financial wherewithal to support them. My husband left at 18 and vowed not to live there.

We will be returning to the “nest” for his youngest brother’s wedding, and I know (from previous experience) that I will be hounded about why we have only one child, because only children are spoiled and we are harming our son by not providing a sibling. The comments range from passive-aggressive snark to direct attacks. It is emotionally exhausting. I resent knowing I’m going to have to explain and justify our decision, because it’s personal and, quite frankly, none of their business. I’m hoping you can give me one or two sentences with which to respond to the judgmental busybodies. — Already Dreading the Trip

Dear Al: What you are calling “passing aggressive” is to me just “aggressive.” Here are your sentences: “I am surprised you would ask such a personal question. Why don’t we talk about your sex life, instead?” Should any of these clods persist, simply stare at them, silently. — Margo, fittingly

“Breaking Up” with a Parent

Dear Margo: I left for college at 17 and had a falling out with my folks, who, in retaliation, withdrew my school funding to get me to return home “where I belonged.” Fortunately, my best friend’s family welcomed me with open arms and got me back on my feet.

Fast-forward 20 years. I am done with my BA and am working on the law degree I always wanted. My frustration is that both parents were mentally and physically abusive during my years at home. (One threat was to send me to “the home for wayward teens” if the dishes weren’t done to Mom’s satisfaction.) My dad and I have been able to talk about my formative years and put the pain behind us. The problem is my mother, who is still trying to raise the 17-year-old who is no longer and is refusing to deal with the 40-something I am. Phone calls with my mother become a barrage of “Why aren’t you married?” and “God wants you to have children!” and “Why can’t you be more like your perfect brother?” (This brother, by the way, can’t hold a job but has five children.)

I recently moved and did not supply my new address or phone number; neither do I answer emails from her, because I wish to have nothing to do with that woman for the rest of my life. I love my dad, but they only have one email address between them. They are so enmeshed that there’s no distinction between where one ends and the other begins. Any letters, phone calls or emails will be read by both and answered by Mom. I know my dad would be hurt if I called to say, “Hey, I like talking to you, but I can’t stand Mom and won’t email or call if she’s around.” What is the best way to break up with a parent? — In a Bind

Dear In: I salute your choice and suggest you phone your father, risk his being hurt and tell him you have, with much thought, chosen to be estranged from your mother. Tell him you’d love to be in touch with him if he understands the boundaries — and that the ones you’ve set do not include your mom. Then the ball’s in his court. My guess is that your father won’t be able to break the pattern of decades and will remain loyal to your crazy mother, which is perhaps as it should be. — Margo, assuredly

* * *

Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via the online form at Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.


Every Thursday and Friday, you can find “Dear Margo” and her latest words of wisdom on wowOwow

Click here to follow Margo on Twitter

55 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Briana Baran says:

    Re: L#1: I still have a little difficulty understanding why people even write to advice columnists for answers to situations like this. It’s simple: No need for sarcasm or snark, just state your position, “He left because he wanted his freedom from your way of life. We’re doing it our way, not yours, and never will. We’re happy, our child is happy, and you need to butt out“. There isn’t any need to become emotionally exhausted unless you feel you’re doing something wrong…if not, and I don’t think you do…knock the ball into their court and let them purse lips and huff and sigh. Any hint of further comment should be met with, “Subject closed”. Don’t be angry, look them in the eye, be firm, and be strong.
    My first MIL kept whining about our immediate failure to provide her with a grandchild (she had ten kids she couldn’t begin to afford and the birth of which almost killed her…and 20 grandchildren by that time). I told her, “I don’t like kids, he doesn’t like kids, we couldn’t afford them if we wanted them…and your god doesn’t feed them, raise them or pay the bills. Don’t bring it up again”. She had an “asthma attack”. Right. But the subject disappeared.

    • avatar wendykh says:

      Don’t even do that much. The second you start to justify, argue, defend, or explain it becomes something they think they have a vote it. “We’re having one. It’s our decision. We live here because we want to. We’re adults and make our own decisions. You choose where you live and how many kids you have. We choose ours. If you persist in these constant criticisms, we won’t visit anymore because it’s not pleasant for either of us I think.” 

      Thing is…your husband needs to be the one doing this LW1. Not you. It’s his family. And somehow I suspect his solution is to ignore them and let them yammer, making life miserable for you. :-/ 

  2. avatar JCF4612 says:

    LW1: “We were lucky with our first wonderful child. But given the way you all behave in this family it’s too scary to take any further gene pool risk in breeding some sort of meddling fool … like you.”

    LW2: Lay it out. “Pops, I care for you and like being in touch, but I’m cutting it off for good with mom. I’ll call from time to time, but we’ll talk only if she’s not around. Take it or leave it.”   

    • avatar Cindy Marek says:

      Lol!! I like both your replies, and especially to L #1 made me chuckle out loud. 😀

  3. avatar Cindy Marek says:

    L #1: Excellent comeback, Margo! Being curt and direct seems the only answer. Her in-laws must have a real stone-aged mentality. And yes: It is NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS. Memorize Margo’s comeback and USE IT.

    L #2: I agree with JCF4612’s reply (above). You’re going to have to lay it out to your father.

  4. avatar mmht says:

    LW#1:  How about “Because we only wanted 1 and I can’t possibly understand why you people breed like rabbits.”  If they are going to be rude and obnoxious be just as rude and obnoxious back to them.

  5. avatar martina says:

    LW1 – When people ask me how many children I have I always answer one, two if you count my husband.

    • avatar Pinky35 says:

      I can relate to your response. I have a 17 year old step son as well as my 5 year old. So, when people ask me how many kids I have, I always say I have my son, a step-son, and my husband. So, three! 🙂

  6. avatar Amanda ECW says:

    My MIL used to ask me every time we saw each other when, exactly, we were going to make her a grandmother. I finally told her that sure, we’d go ahead and have a baby for her-as long as she paid all the costs and raised it herself, because we didn’t want one for US yet. If that doesn’t work, look ’em dead in the eyes and say “We don’t believe in having children we can’t afford.” Then change the subject or walk away.

  7. avatar Pinky35 says:

    Because I only have 1 child of my own (a son), not counting my step-son (and my husband!), I get asked a lot when I’m going to have another. I usually just tell people kids are expensive and right now is not a good time for us to have another. Yet, my mom usually persists giving me promises of moving out to where we live to help us take care of a new grandchild (particularly if it’s a girl). However, she will never do that (and deep down I really don’t want her to!). And my in-laws, as wonderful as they are for helping to take care of my son now, just don’t have the energy to help me with another. So, I would rather just stick with the family I have and be happy. After all, it’s a lot of work raising three kids!

  8. avatar David Bolton says:

    LW1: Try this scenario:

    Nosy Relative: “When will you two have a second child?”

    You: “We already did.” (bursts into hysterical sobbing)

    • avatar ann penn says:

      Look very sad and stricken and say

      “I’m sorry, but that subject is very painful for me; I just can’t discuss it”

      • avatar David Bolton says:

        The only drawback is the possibility that then they’ll want to know all the details.

        The other option is to say that “we’re adopting HIV-positive twins from sub-Saharan Africa—when would you like to babysit for us?”

        • avatar JCF4612 says:

          LOL … Triplets with full-blown AIDS and a side complication of Hepatitus C might add more urgency to the need for sitters. And don’t forget to ask for financial help!   

    • avatar Lym BO says:

      Been there, done that. Not really funny.  Plus, some gal will want to share and compare stories.

      Maybe: “We don’t want to have to choose a favorite.”    


  9. avatar Marze35 says:

    LW1: Try this scenario:
    Nosy Relative:”When will you two have a second child?”
    You:”You never know what the future holds . . . How’s Johnny doing in 6th grade – is he a cub scout? does he like it? Do you have a summer vacation planned? Are you going camping again? . . .”
    These are people you’ll be associated with all your life and wouldn’t it be better to have a pleasant relationship with them? You can always say something non-committal and ask them a question about themselves or their children – they are like everyone else and will enjoy talking about themselves, given an opportunity. They’ll probably start thinking how nice you are to be showing an interest in them.

    • avatar David Bolton says:

      Oh, come on.

      It was a joke—I seriously doubt anyone would actually do such a thing.

      That said, I think it’s important to consider the whole of paragraph 2 of LW’1 letter which pretty much details the impossibility of establishing a pleasant relationship with these people, not to mention the fact that the husband MOVED TO GET AWAY FROM THEM. In my opinion most people try the “pleasant” approach first, and then they write a letter to Margo. I imagine these people have an established pattern of “dig in and don’t let up”—and are a little too busy being nosy and controlling to “start thinking how nice [LW1] is to start showing an interest in them.” While it’s true that sometimes a fire can be put out by a simple breath—sometimes it takes something dramatic, like an explosion or a bucket of water. 

      • avatar Marze35 says:

        The last part is probably a little too “Pollyannaish”, but as a childless married woman living 2700 miles from my family and in-laws, I’ve had good responses to the “change the subject” approach. Sometimes with some families, once you leave, anything you’ve said is going to be repeated, dissected, embellished, misconstrued, and blown up into something you’ve never intended. If you’ve given them nothing negative to start with, there are fewer ways it can come back to bite you. And if the unexpected happens and there is another child, you’ve avoided all the comments that would entail.  The “too personal” a question works with outsiders, but should harder to use with family – not that I’m saying she needs to explain everything or anthing to them, but just that they might feel they are closer to her husband as family than a rude stranger.
        It’s easy to read into the tone of LW1 comments, and depending on your background, see it in a whole different way. I’d love to be able to live near my family, but can’t – LW1 seems to thing living where you grew up is is a bad thing. Her husband vowed to leave at age 18 and not live there — how mature are most 18 year olds? People can change – both her husband and his family – and the dynamic that made him want to leave could be different later in life. If you go back anticipating a dreadful time with dreadful people and you just want to leave, it’s possible that they can tell and react to that. The LW1 herself appears to pass judgement on how many children her in-laws should have.

        • avatar srob813 says:

          Coming from a very small (and small minded) community I can completely see where the letter writer and her husband are coming from.  In a lot of these places the only thing that measures a person’s accomplishments is how many kids they manage to have.  Uhm, there are 7 billion of us now, we aren’t exactly in short supply!  It’s not that the husband thinks that living where you grow up is bad, it’s that living where HE grew up is not what he wants out of life.  And well, clearly he has a point since they are bombarded with these questions EVERY time he returns home.  And as far as LW passing judgement, I can’t tell you how many people I graduated with who brag about all the kids they have and CAN’T AFFORD.  So yes, I’d say she hit the nail on the head thinking they have poor judgement.

    • avatar Nikki Sunset says:

      I like your solution, Marze 35. ust because someone asks a question does not mean that I will answer it or discuss it. I often change the subject to talk about them instead, just like you suggest. 

  10. avatar Lila says:

    Ugh, one of my biggest peeves: other people telling you how many kids you should have.  LW1 says “The comments range from passive-aggressive snark to direct attacks. It is emotionally exhausting.”  It’s harassment, plain and simple. 
    So each of the family has 4+ kids, and some can’t afford it?  I think maybe they want her to be as stupid and miserable as they are, and there might be some element of thinking that people who actually… you know… plan their families with some thought to their resources are snobs, or something.  Well, no thanks, maybe LW1 doesn’t want to live on the set of Deliverance.
    Margo and the commenters here have some good responses, but unfortunately in my experience, none of them will work.  When some no-account buttinsky wants so badly for you to have kids, there is NO good answer to put them off.  Miscarriage?  Oh, you can try again, honey.  Infertile?  Oh, they have treatments for that now.  You can’t carry a child?  Well, honey, you could adopt.  Career concerns?  Oh, you can get day care.  Can’t afford more kids?  Oh, the Lord will provide, Hallelujah.  There, see how easy that is?  
    As for any form of “It’s none of your damn business, so butt out,” that might dampen the frontal assaults, but I doubt it would have any impact on the low-level snark.  There are lots of ways to make snide remarks and then deny that any offense was meant, but it’s still harassment.

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      I almost inundated my keyboard. I’m picturing a child whose parents were very closely related before marriage, from the shallow, murky end of the gene pool playing a banjo at the family reunion…while Maw and Paw ask, “When ya gonna build a little nest, heh?” and everyone yucks it up…especially the cousins eye-balling the husband’s ‘mighty purty mouth’…
      Cruel, Lila, but to the point. My Number 1 MIL had ten children in twelve years. She asked her priest for a dispensation after #8 because the doctor said she’d die if she had another. Golly, he said “No, God Will Provide”. She lived, barely, through #9, and the didn’t have the strength to even brush her hair. Another request for mercy from the white collar, and another resounding “No. be fruitful and multiply”. #10 put her in the hospital, and the Voice of the Lord did finally grant the dispensation…for there was no room at the orphanage, and no one to take care of the ten hapless babes (dad worked ore boats, logging, iron mines…hence was only home to…you got it…make more babies…and the other siblings had a minimum of 6 darlings each…going up to 13). Living on beans and potatoes, uneducated, running wild, and encouraging her children to produce as many “gifts” as she did.
      One of them cost the state of Illinois in excess of $700,000 for neo-natal care for her premature cocaine babies…all four of them (one set of twins)…all by the same dead-beat, drug dealer, addict boyfriend. He married her in the seventh month of her third pregnancy, and she divorced him six months after giving birth about six weeks early. Everyone else raised her kids. Mama was just fine with it all…because the babies were baptized…and the Lord did provide (in the shape of the State).
      Everybody who got married in that family got a crucifix and a Bible for a present from holy Aunt Margaret. I got a soup pot…I think to boil myself in hell. For fainting from anxiety during every pre-canna church service. Heh.

    • avatar srob813 says:

      When people ask me when I’m going to have kids….I’m not even married!…I tell them as soon as science develops the ability for me to give birth to an 18 year old.

  11. avatar JC Dill says:

    LW#2, Use technology for your problem!  Get a Google Voice number and give it to your dad.  Tell him that it is ONLY for him to use, and ONLY when your mom isn’t around.  Tell him that if your mom calls the number for anything other than an emergency (e.g. your father is in the hospital!) you will have it disconnected.
    This allows you to give your dad a way to communicate with you, that you can shut off if he won’t follow the rules.
    You can also create a gmail address for your dad, and explain to him how he can login to gmail and get email from you.  Again, if he lets your mom use it, then you will simply filter all email from that address to the trash and it won’t reach you anymore. 
    Set the gmail password to something like: donotletmomhaveaccesstothisaccount and tell him to NOT save the password in the browser (so mom can’t just go to gmail and be automatically logged in), and to remember to ALWAYS logout when he’s done.
    Your dad may not be willing to follow these rules, but at least you will have given him an option, and if he’s not willing to follow the rules for YOUR mental state, then you know that he’s made his choice and it’s not your fault, you didn’t cut him off, he cut himself off.

  12. avatar JoyJennings says:

    For LW1, why get into their life choices or respond with a cutting remark about their sex life if you haven’t seen these people in years? Just pat the asker on the forearm and say, Those are very personal decisions, and we don’t want to discuss them. Then smile kindly and step away to freshen your drink or use the restroom. Repeat as needed. You don’t have to return obnoxious behavior in kind.

    • avatar David Bolton says:

      Honestly I think you and Lila have hit this on the head between you. 

      • avatar Lila says:

        David, I’m in favor of a flame thrower. Joy seems to favor a classy response. So between us, perhaps a well-placed polite phrase that singes their eyebrows?

  13. avatar MariaPalatine says:

    Can’t you just say: “One child is our choice.”  You don’t have to make excuses, which they will just try to overcome.  My mom’s irrefutable response to all attempts to overcome her way of thinking was always, “I don’t know why.  I just do.”  

  14. avatar Katharine Gray says:

    Re LW #1, I’m inclined to agree with Joy and those suggesting that a polite but firm response suggesting the topic is not open for discussion and a change of subject is the best way to handle this although I cracked up at David’s responses (and knew he was joking).  Its clear LW#1 thinks her husband’s family are subpar so I’m at a bit of a loss why she even lets their comments bother her. Obviously, she is happy with her choice so why be concerned about what others say or think about it? 

    Re LW#2, good suggestions about using technology to get around the mother and still communicate with the dad but my guess is the dad won’t follow the rules… either because he is too browbeaten by his wife or because he holds out a desperate and unrealistic hope that LW#2 and her mother will reconcile.  But its certainly worth a try.  I congratulate LW#2 on getting on with her life and letting the toxic mom go.      

    • avatar Mandy says:

      ” Its clear LW#1 thinks her husband’s family are subpar so I’m at a bit of a loss why she even lets their comments bother her.”
      If you get pestered and hounded enough it will bother you eventually.  Putting up with nosy questions and snarky comments for years will eventually break most people.

  15. avatar Margo Farr says:

    I had one child and was asked all the time by my ex hubs family when we were going to have a second.  My normal response was with humor…..Ummmm, we figured how not to have another, so we’ll just stick to the one we have.  I never cared if they were shocked, this is our life, our choice, etc. 

  16. avatar kjholly says:

    LW2: here’s one you can use, especially when a group of the hometown crowd have you cornered.

    “Hubby is hung like a horse and sex is just too painfull to try for another child”

    Then limp away to refresh your drink

  17. avatar Jay Gentile says:

    Forget email. Get a post office box. Write good, old-fashioned directly to your father with the P.O. Box as a return address. He can answer or not answer, and your mother can suck eggs trying to find your address.

  18. avatar Dippidy Do says:

    I also have a husband that comes from a large family.  He was the 9th of 10 children.  Fortunately, the only remarks about the number of children we have came from his mother. I just tried to be non-committal in my response to her. Unfortunately, his mother passed away about five years after we got married so I don’t have to face those questions any longer.   However, I have to say that I would have a problem with responding as Margo suggested.  Many of my in-laws are crude enough that they would probably enjoy, even relish, an opportunity to discuss their sex life.  Since I have no interest in discussing anyone’s sex life, I would never ask that question, even in an attempt to point out how rude the other person may be.

  19. avatar A R says:

    LW1: My favorite answer to super-nosy folks actually is, “Actually I’m not going to talk about that with you.” Then you just look at them with a half smile until someone gets uncomfortable enough to change the subject.  🙂

  20. avatar namedujour says:

    I have two sons. They are 6 1/2 years apart. From the time I was pregnant with my second child, the question was always, “Was it an ‘accident’?” And they would giggle and wink as if it were funny.

    My oldest is nearly 27 and my younger son is 20. People still ask.

    There are many reasons why people might have children who are spaced apart: fertility problems, miscarriage, marital problems, financial problems, stillbirth, child mortality… my reason was one of the aforementioned, and which one it is, is none of your business.

    To wink and giggle is really insulting to the child, not to mention the parents. My child was NOT an accident. And thank you.

    The same is true for only children. Leave parents and their birthing habits alone. Please. 

  21. avatar toni says:

    LW-: “well, John and I believe in quality not quantity. We know your kids and absolutely respect your different choice.”

  22. avatar Sister says:

    Hi Margo and All
    Dear In a Bind: I registered just so I can write to you.

    Do you live within driving distance from your father? How about a standing lunch date with dad instead of trying to phone, email, etc?
    Fathers’ Day would be the perfect time to start. Why not mail a card with a written invitation to a father-daughter lunch?  If you don’t hear back from your dad, call to confirm (cross your fingers that he answers the phone and if he doesn’t, bite the bullet and ask your mother to put him on the phone). Tell your dad the lunch is *special* – just for him. This phrasing and initial context may seem reasonable enough so that he will come without his wife. (Then make it special and focus on the positive stuff.)
    While you are there together, suggest that you and your dad have a monthly lunch date – same time and location each month. Then dispense with attempting phone calls, email, etc to him and the hassle of navigating around your mother. If you meet him in a place that has a bookstore, mall, park, or whatever else you enjoy, then if he doesn’t show, you have had a pleasant outing anyway. 
    Personally, I think it is unrealistic and a bit unfair to ask him to try to carry on phone calls or communicate with you regularly behind his wife’s back. You have severed the relationship with your mother, but he is still her husband. However, it’s not unreasonable for him to go to lunch with you  occasionally without her accompanying him. Tell him you would like to concentrate on having a good relationship with him. Try not to say anything (harsh) about your mother during your lunch, and if he mentions her (she is part of his life), just say you hope she is well. Then move on to other subjects. If he presses, say you do not wish to pursue a relationship with her. (Perhaps it’s not necessary to speak definitively about what you will or won’t do in the future.)
    I would try to be understanding of your father’s painful predicament of being in the middle, and thick-skinned enough so that even if his wife is in the (general, not immediate) vicinity while you lunch together, that it will not bother you. (For example, maybe they ride there together, but she goes shopping while he goes into the cafe to meet you.)

    Just be clear that if she approaches your table, you will quickly end the date, “It’s been lovely to see you, Dad. Sorry, must dash. We can ‘try again’ next time.” If the same thing happens the next time, maybe skip a month and then try again; tell him you look forward to seeing him at the next father-daughter luncheon. That gives him time to reason with his wife that if they want any news and connection with you, it will have to begin on your terms… which is sans Mother.  …Perhaps over time, you may feel comfortable offering his wife a cordial greeting as you are departing (as a concession for your dad).

    Life is short. It’s good not to let other people drive you nuts, but also not worth spending energy trying to keep unpleasant people further away than necessary. That is, negative energy keeps you entangled too. Wishing you success in freeing yourself emotionally from your mother, and congratulations for forgiving your father.

    • avatar kjholly says:


    • avatar Lila says:

      Sister, I like the idea of an occasional lunch out, assuming the LW lives close enough.  But – I doubt the LW has ever actually said anything to either parent about wanting contact with Dad but not Mom (“What’s the best way to break up with a parent?”)  Much as she dreads hurting Dad’s feelings, at some point she’s going to have to lay it out for them.
      I think she might first try to at least give her Mom an ultimatum, or conditions for communicating/visiting:  “Understand that I am a 40-year-old adult.  I am done with all the criticism.  The instant you pester me about my life choices or compare me to my brother, the visit/phone call is over.”  And then stick to that.  As soon as the words leave her Mom’s lips, instantly interrupt and say, “Well, that’s it, gotta run.”  And hang up, or get up and walk out.  If her parents want to see her at all – and her mother probably does, despite all the harping – maybe they will begin to adhere to her conditions. 

      • avatar Lila says:

        Oh, PS:  40-something is kind of old for her Mom to still be telling her that “God wants her to have kids.” That topic should be forever closed.

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        It took me a long time to get my mother to actually accept (forget understanding, but I take what I can get) that the boundaries I set in stone were real. A lot of “I told you that was off-limits. Bye, mom”, and “I don’t like lies, bye, mom” for many months.
        Set the boundaries with her before you talk to dad. When he asks what’s up with her, then explain. It has nothing to do with him…but you’re not going to listen to blahblahblah-your-brother, or blahblahblah-when-are-you-having-children anymore, ever again from her. It is her problem…not yours, not his. Her malfunction. Don’t put the burden on him…she’ll do that for you, trust me.
        This is not an ultimatum, it is the setting of limits for your sanity and well-being. You can control what you allow to happen to you, affect you, hurt you. She has no power over you unless you let her. These were hard won lessons for me…my mother is a malignant narcissist…and I now talk to her once a week and it is stress free because it is on my terms. I have rolled on by, let the past stop having any power over me (and that was no easy thing), and begun to view her as a human who cannot harm me, damage me, or touch me because I choose it to be so. Ultimatums are deadly…setting boundaries is healthy and empowering because you can change them as you will, when you feel strong and well and healthy.
        Don’t ever expect her to understand or accept you, but expect her to accept your limits. She is what she is, you can’t change her…just her behavior toward you. I wish you well.

  23. avatar R Scott says:

    LW1 – “So, Sheila, tell me, when are you two going to have another baby? Huh? What’s the scoop”?

    “As soon as I find my uterus. I’ve misplaced it. I know, huh? Who loses a uterus? Well, I guess I do. If you run across it let me know. You can’t miss it. It has my name on it”.

    LW2 – Get Dad is own email account and let him know if he shares it with your mom you’re done. Yes, he has ties to your mother that are not your issue but he also needs to grow a spine and respect you and he’s not doing that now.

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      R Scott: I had a doctor lose my uterus. It’s emmis. He is peeking around down there and he says, “I can’t find your uterus”. I said, “I was there last time. I didn’t loan it out to anyone”. The nurse was standing there with a look like she just kissed the wrong end of a baby.
      It’s an excellent response. It apparently can happen. Ask my former doctor…

  24. avatar CanGal says:

    LW1 – Here’s what I told my mom when she was pressureing me to have more kids:
    “Having a child because my mom likes babies is a really stupid reason to have a child.”
    She actually had the nerve to tell me I was too lazy to have more children – the doctor told me it was inadvisable for me to any more kids after I had my first.  Not to mention the fact that we could not afford to have another child.

  25. avatar Briana Baran says:

    To LW2: I have a slightly different take than Margo. I lost my father when he was 57, and I was 26. I wish that he had lived long enough for him to have known that I would learn to understand the person he was, to see his grandsons, to know that I would grow tough and stand on my own and find love and my own success. He wasn’t the best of parents growing up…but my mother was, and still is, at 80, something else again. She was my nightmare.
    Stick to email. What do you care if your mother reads it? It’s your triumph over her abuse and refusal to acknowledge you as a person when she reads of your successes and happiness. Your dad loves you and has made his peace with you…don’t potentially cut him out of your life by telling him that he has to make a choice between your mother and you, which is what it will be if you tell him, “Don’t let mom read my emails to you. Don’t tell her I called. Don’t tell her anything about me”. He cannot change your mother or force her to apologize or accept her responsibilities regarding her abuse of you in your childhood, nor can you demand that he leave her, ignore her, or stop sharing information with her about you. He may even be doing this because he wants to make her see how happy and successful you are.
    If she calls and gives you a ration of grief, don’t get angry, just say, “Mom, I have to go now”, which is only the truth. If he calls, and you talk, and he says, “Mom wants to talk to you”, just tell him you don’t want to, and that you need to go. Keep it simple, keep it honest. You’re in your 40’s, and your father has accepted his accountability and loves you. Accept him too, and let the chips fall with your mother. An angry speech may remove your dad from your life into the silent realm of feeling he’s done everything possible…and it wasn’t enough.
    Yes, people, I miss my dad. More than anyone can know. I grew up hard, and I never got a chance to tell him that I understand. He didn’t get to meet Rusty, or his grandsons. Rusty’s dad died at 53, just 5 months after we got married. He never got to meet his grandson…or see his son be successful and happily married for going on 18 years. I am not a sentimental person…and dead is dead, and forever is just that.

  26. avatar Beloved says:

    LW1 Tell them you were born a man and science has only found a way for you to have one child!

  27. avatar Briana Baran says:

    I just have to say it: the comments from readers including their husbands in their child count is just…too…sad. Even if they’re all “tongue in cheek”. Right. Either you all are living with losers…or your husbands are some unfortunate males. I had two husbands like that…walked out on the first, and kicked the second all the way back to his Mama’s house. She treated him like a baby in diapers…so I figured she could change them for him and put up with his s**t too, while she was at it. 
    It’s just a sad commentary on the way some things never change.

  28. avatar wyrdotter says:

    For LW1, as a childless-by-choice adult female, I’ve found that looking mildly at the person inquiring about my child-bearing plans, tilting my head just a bit to the side, like an inquisitive pug puppy, and pleasantly asking, “Why do you need to know?” then just maintaining eye contact usually suffices. You haven’t said anything rude, you haven’t raised your voice, called names or flung poo; you’ve just asked a perfectly legitimate question in response.

  29. avatar wendykh says:

    Tell them you’ve had your tubes tied on medical advice. Boom. Conversation over, never repeated.