Ask Fiona: Why can't my parents accept I don't want kids?

Columnist and trained counsellor Fiona Caine answers another set of reader dilemmas...

Your parents need to respect your decision not to have children

I HAVE never wanted children, and nothing about the way the world is now has convinced me otherwise. I have a good life, good job, plenty of friends and there are many things I want to do and places I want to visit. This might sound selfish to some, but it's who I am and I am not going to change.

I've had two serious long-term relationships, but both fizzled out when it became clear I was not interested in starting a family. Everyone who knows me is aware of this, and almost all of them have accepted it. The only people who seem not to have got the message are my parents. They still keep prodding me about starting a family some time. I have explained many times that I am happy as I am and have no intention of ever having children, but it's as though they are not listening.

Last week they came to stay for a couple of days, and they hadn't been here half an hour before they got around to the subject. I managed to stay calm and explained, once again, that it simply wasn't going to happen. I'd like to say they didn't mention it again, but sadly no. Over the course of two days, they brought it up no less then five times – and each time they got the same response.

The pressure is getting to me now. I really don't want to get angry with them, I do love them, but if I hear one more plea for grandchildren, I fear I might just blow my top. Why can't they get the message?


FIONA SAYS: They probably have got the message, but for some reason they just choose not to believe it. Or, having had a family themselves, they simply cannot comprehend that someone would choose to be child-free. This must be so frustrating for you, and I can completely understand how it might now be making you angry.

Indeed, it may be that you eventually have to get angry with them, in order to get the message through. However, before you go there, it's probably worth trying once again to help them understand first. One option would be to write them a letter that sets out your position and why you've chosen not to have a family. This gives you plenty of scope to explain things, and might take some of the emotion out of the situation.

Your other option is to consider having a calm conversation with them.

Arrange to see them so that they know it is you seeking them out, rather than the other way around. This should lend more weight to what you want to say.

Explain why you don't want children and that you will NEVER have them. Then ask them to respect your decision. Let them see how much it is upsetting you to deal with their constant pressure to have grandchildren. Stress that you love them, but also make it clear that you know this is probably disappointing for them. I am sure that once they see you are serious about this, they will be better able to accept the path you have chosen.


MY children want a dog and let me know it constantly. I have tried to explain to them that living in a flat with no garden, in the middle of a town, is not the best place to have a dog but they won't let it go.

They are only seven and nine and I just know that, even if I get a small dog, I will be the one that has to care for it, walk it and clean it. I am a single parent with limited resources, so what do I have to do to make them understand?


FIONA SAYS: Not an easy one, this. Their need for a dog is emotional, so all the logic in the world about how unsuitable it is, is unlikely to sway them. A dog is clearly out of the question; however, I wonder if a more easily managed pet might be a good partial solution?

A hamster, a budgie or some goldfish won't have the same emotional feedback or companionship as a dog. If you can keep them involved in its care though, it will teach them about the real responsibilities of looking after an animal.


I HAVE been married for three years. In that time, my wife has gone from a smart, happy person who took pride in her appearance at our big wedding, to what can only be described as a slob. It started I suppose about four months into our marriage when she gave up her job. Since then, she has put on a lot of weight and seems content to lounge about the house all day in jogging bottoms and a hoodie. That is when she bothers to get up and get showered, which I am sure isn't happening as often as it should, as she does smell occasionally.

As far as I can tell all she does all day when I am at work is watch rubbish daytime TV and eat. I don't think she drinks at home, but I can't be certain. I think she may be depressed but whenever I ask her how she is or suggest that she might want to think about going back to work, she says she is fine as she is.

Our love life has all but dried up and it used to be so good. If I am honest, I do now find it hard to respond to her, looking as she does now. We hardly see our friends anymore and I am sure they have noticed the changes in her. I hate what she has done to herself and our marriage. I do still love her, but wish we could get back to the way we were when we first got married. The problem is, I have no idea how to do this.


FIONA SAYS: I am sure she is completely aware of how she has changed. I'm equally sure she knows just what you think about it too, and despite what she says, she is NOT fine. I think she is either depressed or very unhappy, or both.

I can't tell from your short letter what might have caused this. It's possible that the transition from a centre-of-attention wife at a big wedding to the everyday life of a dependent wife has triggered this change in behaviour. Giving up her job may have knocked her confidence badly. Whatever the reason, if you want to rescue your marriage, you need to gently persuade her to open up and talk about what's bothering her – and you won't do this by being judgemental about her appearance and what she does with her time.

Instead, be supportive and show her that you love her and that you're willing to help her through any problems she has. If she still won't engage, encourage her to speak to her doctor or a counsellor. If she's depressed, and I think she probably is, she needs to get help and treatment soon to stop this from progressing any further. In the meantime, you may also find it helpful to contact Relate (


I AM 32 and live at home with my parents. I have an OK job but it's dull. I don't have many friends, and those I do have don't really know me at all, because I lie to them all the time. I don't know why I do it and I can't stop myself.

If they do something good or bad, I have to chip in and say I've done it too, just better. Which is a lie of course, because I never do anything. I lie about everything – I've even lied to my parents, I told them that I am a boss at work, when I am nothing of the sort.

I have lied so much that it's hard to remember where I have told lies and where I haven't. What is wrong with me?


FIONA SAYS: People tell small white lies all the time, usually because they've made a mistake or to gain some sort of advantage over others. However, when someone cannot stop lying about all aspects of their life, it becomes a real problem. The good news is you recognise this already, and that you need help, which are huge steps in the right direction.

Please consider counselling. Compulsive or pathological lying is not a mental health disorder as such, but support and treatment from a counsellor can help to unravel the cycle of constant lying. If you can't find one, your GP can refer you. You might also consider courses and other activities to help boost your self-confidence and self-esteem.

If you have a problem you need help with, email Fiona by writing to for advice. All letters are treated in complete confidence and, to protect this privacy, Fiona is unable to pass on your messages to other readers. Fiona regrets that she cannot enter into personal correspondence.