by Platt Devost
With Father's Day fast approaching, men can be feeling the pressure to be super dads.
Another group, men without kids, face peer pressure and the push from their families to "hurry up" and get a baby on the way.
It's estimated that 15 to 20 percent of all new marriages choose to be childless. Couples who choose children as part of their ideal family are postponing their first child's birth and have fewer children than in previous decades.
Scott, a 32-year-old professional shares, "For the last 10 years, whenever we've gotten together with my family at holidays, the first question has been, 'When are you starting a family?' At first, we said we weren't ready yet. Now we say that we're considering not having children. I love my mom and dad, but I dread get-togethers."
Scott continues, "My parents just don't get it. They'd love to be grandparents and have made that quite clear. Even when they say nothing, I feel the unspoken message that they consider me a disappointment, if not a failure, for not having kids yet."
Some men find that their life choices might not include children. Some can't wait to be dads. Today, there's also a growing number of men who are experiencing fertility issues.
The American culture assumes that men and women who choose to be childless are selfish, immature, refusing to grow up and become responsible. They face pressure from their friends, peers and family to conform to the social timetable of courtship, marriage or partnership and then children.
To make an awkward situation harder, the constant pressure from the parents and in-laws makes that pot full of emotions ripe for boiling over!
Handling general societal pressures can seem like a piece of cake when you're facing pushes from the family. While they always mean well, their comments have gone past hints and teasing and feel thoughtless and hurtful.
Here's how you can get a grip on the situation:
Find out why your parents want you to have kids. The most common reason grandparents-to-be share is that they think having grandkids will give meaning to their senior years. Running a close second is that they feel like parenting helped them become better people and having children enriched their lives. They'd like you to have that perk, too.
Share your Decision-Making Tactics. Clearly communicate why you made up your mind the way you have. You can always ask your parents or in-laws, "Why do you want me to have kids?" You won't know unless you ask!
Shift the pressure from you to them. If your having children is more about "them" than about you, kindly suggest ways that they can focus on meeting their needs instead of intently focusing on yours.
Ask for support for your choices. Your parents and your partner's parents made their decisions about kids. Now it's your turn. Ask for support. You might be pleasantly surprised as they dial back the pressure and encourage you in your life choices.
Have you faced pressure to start a family? How did you deal with the situation? Did you find clearly communicating your decisions helped? Let us know!