I am well aware my dogs are not kids

Moses and Alma are not my “children”.

They – and the cats – are not our “furbabies” and we are not using them as practice kids nor for exhibiting nesting behaviour (unless, perhaps, the nesting period is longer than a decade?).

Both the Husband and I grew up with pets in the home. Dogs and cats are part of what makes a home a home; even once out on my own, it wasn’t long before there was an unauthorized cat smuggled into the apartment.

I say Moses and Alma are not kids because I am acutely aware they’re not. It’s intentional.

We have our pets on purpose; we also don’t have any children on purpose.

Dogs, not kids

Dogs, not kids

The Husband and I are happily DINKs. That’s double-income-no-kids, for those who forget their junior high social studies. Or, perhaps, we’re DONKs: dogs-only-no-kids. (But I don’t think sociologists recognize that term… yet.)

Sure, I may be occasionally tempted to respond to a story about a toddler’s drool with a story of Moses’ drool, but that’s not because I think he’s the equivalent of a toddler; it’s because I find some common ground with my own experience of sharing a home with a drooly creature. It’s intended to be funny – and probably gross – but it’s not supposed to be insulting or demeaning to the child.

Moses exhibiting frozen drool

Moses exhibiting frozen drool

And it certainly doesn’t mean that I think my role as a dog owner – no matter how extreme I take it (raw diets, crazy vet bills, hours of training, a blog…) – as anything at all equal to the responsibilities of parenthood.

Any dog/child comparisons I may make, though intentionally rare, do not mean I think of Moses and Alma as children. They’re dogs. They’re part of the family, of course, but they fill the role they’re supposed to: pets.

Sure, they’re a commitment that requires training, a good diet, medical costs, daily walks, etc. I frequently stress the importance of being a good pet guardian. But they’re still not kids, which (I can only assume) are a whole different, scary-looking thing. They certainly appear to be, anyway. I mean, I’m able to  leave my dogs home alone for ten hours while I’m at work. You can do that with a two year old dog. You can’t do that with a two year old human.


The Husband and I are soon to celebrate our sixth wedding anniversary and we continue to be childfree.

Something about this piques interest in people, and, for whatever reason, it is a frequent go-to for small talk with acquaintances, coworkers, and business associates.

Truthfully, I have no idea when ‘small talk’ was expanded to cover biology, reproduction, bedroom activities, and major life decisions; that sounds like pretty big talk to me.

No kids? Why not? Well when are you going to start? Don’t wait too long. You’ll change your mind. You’ll regret your decision. Don’t worry, your clock will start ticking and you’ll get baby fever when you turn 30. [I’ve since turned 30, and my temperature is fine.] There’s no point in waiting – you’re never truly ready, anyway. If you wait until you’re ready, it’ll never happen. You don’t know unconditional love and happiness until you have a baby. Don’t you feel like you’re missing out? That’s a selfish decision. Having kids is part of being human. Everyone should have kids. [Have you read the news lately? Not everyone should reproduce.] Don’t you want to pass on your genes/your name? It’s part of God’s plan, to populate the earth and whatnot. [Personally, I’ve never been a fan of the buffet approach to religious texts.] Who is going to take care of you when you’re old? Don’t you want to give your parents grandkids?

stop listening

I’ve mentioned before that I am an introvert, which means personal stuff is off the table for sharing with… well,  all but a select few. But the intrusive nature of these exchanges isn’t the only thing that raises my hackles, though that’s certainly a big part of it.

It’s also the ridiculousness of it.

Most of the people who interrogate me on the state of my ovaries won’t be affected in the least if we decide to have kids in the future or not at all. And even if they are affected, that impact does not at all put any weight on our decision to create and be responsible for a new human life. Those aren’t decisions to be made by committee.

Not to mention, my reproductive status reflects nothing about your family and your own decisions, or my opinion of them. Someone having a child does not validate someone else’s similar decision to have children. Nor does not having kids insult those who do.

That’s the most irritating part about this issue: just let everyone live their lives.

If you ask, and I confirm I don’t have kids, just move on. No need to badger with “Why not? When are you going to?” I’m not a riddle that needs to be solved.

It’s none of your business and it doesn’t matter.

To you, anyway. It actually might matter a great deal to the person being asked, but it is certainly not your place to pry (consider how much pain you might cause when harping on this issue and the person in question has been struggling to conceive or may never be able to).

Unilaterally turning my reproductive status into a big deal, and a defining part of my identity, is disrespectful and incredibly close-minded. I don’t know if you got the memo, but women are much more than just their uteruses. (Uteri?)


Sure, I realize that by being a married, thirty, and childfree female I’m not necessarily following the status quo. But who cares? And if you do: why?!

This is not intended to equate childbearing with death.

This is not intended to equate childbearing with death. [Comic: Pearls Before Swine, Stephan Pastis]

The Husband and I make decisions based on our lives and our goals. I expect you to do the same. And I don’t expect our decisions to be the same as yours, because I don’t expect our experiences and situations to be identical. No one’s are.

So when you harass someone about having kids, or not having kids, or having only one kid, or having too many kids, or adopting kids… what’s the point?

Or if you question someone’s choice to not get married; or keep/change last names after marriage; or have a home birth; or get an epidural; or breastfeed; or bottle feed; or be a stay-at-home parent; or a working parent; or an attachment parent; or two working parents… what’s it to you? Shouldn’t you be too busy with your own goings-on?

No one should be expected to quantify major and personal decisions to every person with whom they have a fleeting conversation. It is just concern-trolling? Or is it to validate your own decisions and ideas of happiness in the choices of others? Because that would be ludicrous.

For example, I do not at all understand how someone could decide to have six kids. That sounds ridiculous (and expensive, and tiring) to me. But it’s not up to me. And as long as I’m not on the same airplane as them, it doesn’t affect me. If they’re happy and capable – great! Who am I to weigh in on that?

Or if someone says “I don’t like big dogs” or “I’d never have a big dog” or “I don’t want a big dog”, I don’t take that as a personal insult. They like small dogs. Their experiences have lead to a conclusion and it’s a statement of opinion and preference. They’re not saying “everyone should have a little dog” or “no one should have big dogs”. They’re just saying what they like. And that’s totally fine because someone else choosing something different from me is not an affront to my own decision.

How one person lives life is not a judgmental statement on how someone else lives his or hers. Thus, our decision to be childfree does not mean we think everyone should make the same choices, or even expect that everyone else could. And it doesn’t mean we don’t understand that people change their minds as their lives change.

I expect this sentiment to be reciprocal.

And if you think I’m overreacting… I’ve actually had a 60-something male coworker tell me my eggs will dry up if I don’t have a baby soon. I’ve been told my life will be incomplete without kids by a 20-something male business acquaintance during an introductory meeting. I’ve actually had to sit a female coworker down and utter the words “my reproductive potential is not appropriate office conversation” (even then, it hasn’t worked). I’ve, more than once, had people start to whisper that I “must be” pregnant simply because I didn’t order an alcoholic beverage (sick, tired, working, driving, going diving, simply wanting something else – all apparently less reasonable excuses).

Drawing an obvious parallel here.

Drawing an obvious parallel here.

So yes, my experience is that people are intrusive on this issue. I find it perplexing, discomforting, and irritating.

As the saying goes, live and let live.

Or, more contemporarily, you do you.


So, no, random acquaintance, we don’t currently have kids. It shouldn’t matter why and you shouldn’t think yourself privy to that information.

And no, Moses and Alma are not our pseudo-kids; they’re our dogs. But if you’re just looking for something to converse over, I’m happy to talk about Moses and Alma for hours.

So how about you – any other DONKs out there with similar experiences?

For more great reading on this subject, check out this post: You Shouldn’t Need a Reason for Not Having Kids. Though this post has been in my head for a long time, reading the Thought Catalog one definitely prompted the timing. 

This post is part of the Thursday Barks & Bytes Blog Hop, hosted by 2 Brown Dawgs and Heart Like a Dog. Go pay a visit to the hosts and check out other hop participants.


About ThatJenK
Writing from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. 90% pictures of my dogs; 10% miscellaneous opinions nobody asked for.

59 Responses to I am well aware my dogs are not kids

  1. snowieners says:

    I can relate. I don’t think marriage or kids are for everybody. I also believe some people change with time and could be able to adapt the traditional model into something meaningful that could work for specifically for them.

    I also have 2 pets (no kids) and I love them very much.

  2. Yes! We’re DONKs too! And I’m 38! When I was 30, I wasn’t sure. I thought we might have kids someday, but now we’re pretty well set. Our dogs are our babies… But they’re not our children, if that makes sense. Although, I confess we call them the “kids” sometimes.

  3. tylersat99 says:

    I am also an introvert so most of the time I don’t stop to chat. A large number of people around here do not know about Newfoundlands and almost none Landseer’s so I always get questions. If we are walking, in the car waiting for my husband or in the pet store (Mica) Lexie has no patience for pet stores I will answer any questions. I love to talk about Lexie and Mica and also can talk forever.
    My personal life is mine and it doesn’t get to come up for discussion.

  4. There is no reason for people to question your choices. The world would be so much better off if people took care of themselves and not worry about everyone else. I think Moses and Alma are fabulous and I’d be happy to talk about them for hours with you! LOL! Bark More, Growl Less Barking from the Bayou!

  5. Sue says:

    Sigh. Why can’t people mind their own business? Better yet, worry about truly BIG things in this world? I’m older. My husband and I get the same kind of invasive nonsense from people about why we don’t have grandchildren. (Yes, my husband gets it in the same way I do.) I used to respond that Andy isn’t married, so at least he was doing things in the right order (said with a big smile and then I changed the topic or walked away) until the follow up became: Is he gay? Said with great “sympathy.” What do you say to that? Nope, not gay. Not married. No children. No dogs, so there’s not even a grand-dog. And no… it is so NOT your business! That kind of “conversation” can run off the rails pretty quickly. ‘Cause see, my life choices, and Andy’s, are just fine with us and it is a mystery to me why we’re called on to defend or explain them to strangers! So, in sum, my sympathy to you! And congratulations for a very well written article!

  6. Jodi says:

    Thanks for joining Barks and Bytes blog hop!!

    IMO it’s no one’s business except you and your husband whether you have children or not. I don’t understand why people need to know. I have one daughter that is not having children. She’s made it very clear, she loves her nieces and nephews, but wants none of her own and I totally commend her for it. More women today are making choices not to have children and I see nothing wrong with that at all.

    I’m sorry you have to deal with insensitive folks who don’t understand personal boundaries.

  7. gvannini says:

    YES! This is so great. We are DINKs/DONKs as well and plan to be forever. I do not like children, I have no interest in having children, and I am very happy with my household of dogs. It drives me crazy when people tell me, oh, you’ll change your mind… or any of the various slew of other obnoxious comments. Why is it anyone’s business if we want kids or not? Awesome awesome post.

  8. Very well said. People need to mind their own bussines, what do they care if you chose not to add to a burgeoning planet. I had two friends. Dr’s both of them, no kids, and extremely happy. They traveled, the loved each other, and had a blast in life. ( I was jealous ) Somehow you need to find a way to tell people politely, or maybe not, to shut the hell up and mind their own business.

  9. DONKS, huh? I love it. 🙂

    When I was in my 20s and 30s I don’t remember lots of intrusive questions about whether I would have children. Maybe it’s just where I lived (Philadelphia) or that times have changed. With the growth of the internet and reality tv, oversharing seems to be the new normal.

    Or maybe I was just lucky.

    On the rare occasion that someone pushed, I’d explain that since mental illness existed on both sides of my husband’s family (schizophrenia and bipolar disorder) and depression on both sides of my family (an aunt committed suicide), it would be unfair to take the risk of giving our child a strong genetic predisposition to mental illness. I got no follow up questions from those people standing agape in front of me.

    If you want to borrow my story, it works great. 🙂

    But several of my friends now in their 20s and 30s have expressed lots of pain from intrusive questions. And if it’s painful to friends who are child-free by choice, I can only imagine how horrible it must feel to someone who would like to have children but can’t.

    Maybe you need to print up cards with a link to this post so you can walk away from nosy questions. It would be a good reminder to people to concentrate more on being kind and less on being nosy.

    • ThatJenK says:

      Ha! I’m not sure I have the guts to try to borrow your story, but it might be worth a shot just to see the reaction before confessing otherwise!

      But I think you have a good point – the increase in general oversharing has likely lead to an increase in intrusiveness.

  10. raisingdaisy says:

    You should consider becoming a columnist – you write so well and express yourself brilliantly. I agree with you completely. My daughter is in her 20s and has no intention of getting married – for now. That could change down the road, but right now she prefers her freedom, and she has every right to make her own decisions about her own life and change her mind later too. She’s already getting flak for it from others in her own generation – oddly enough, they’re usually the ones in very bad relationships but planning to marry anyway, or they married right out of college and think everyone else should do the same thing – even though they constantly complain that they’re in serious debt and have no freedom because they work two jobs each. Yeah, really great expert advice there! And I took flak for deciding to be a stay-at-home mom and not try to juggle a job and a child – that’s what was right for us. I guess no matter what you do, there are those who will say you should be doing the opposite.
    Anyway, each person has to choose his/her own path in life, and no one else should have any say in it. Aren’t we supposed to “celebrate diversity”? Well, that includes honoring people’s decisions not to have kids, not to marry, not to go to church, not to eat meat, etc. etc. Turn a deaf ear to those people (although I know how difficult that can be) and keep living your lives in the way that works best for you. What a shame you have to put up with such nonsense.

  11. harrispen says:

    My husband and I are DONKs. We’re lucky that our families always knew we didn’t want kids and never hassled us about it. This was a well written piece. Loved it.


  12. FleaByte says:

    Nah, we have kids AND dogs. Some days I like the dogs much more than the kids. And you’re right – there’s no real comparison between the two. None.

    People are odd. We want to know, to fix, to make our opinions heard. It’s like that’s what makes us matter. Like we don’t exist or matter if people don’t listen to us. Very sad. I think, just my opinion, based on my own self doing this, that people who so desperately need to tell others what to do just need to feel like someone is listening, like they matter. Obviously they’re going about it the wrong way. Obviously.

    I like the idea of printing up the link to this post. Maybe prefacing it with Pamela’s story, adopting it as your own. It’s actually my story, too. Mental illness and depression. Yet we had children. And passed it on. Sad, yet happy. *sigh*

  13. Abby says:


    (Also, that’s one of my favorite “New Girl” GIFs ever… describes me oh-so well.)

  14. Jessica says:

    ALL OF THIS. (Our sixth anniversary is in April, I’ll turn 33 in May. We’d be DINKs if I looked a little harder for a job.) My husband has a coworker who nags me about when we’re having a baby every time I see him. I swear, next time I’m going to look him straight in the eyes and ask him why he thinks my vagina is his business. I’ve given him every reasonable answer, and he always has some kind of comeback. I think maybe the v-word will stop him cold.

    I also have a list of fantasy comebacks for strangers, including: “How much money do you make?” “How would you feel right now if I said I were desperately trying to get pregnant and couldn’t?” “The day that my top of the line birth control fails.”

  15. Bravo! The best part about turning 50 was that people finally stopped saying all those things to me. I try to tell my younger women friends that it’s okay to be direct with these people and just say “Really? How is that any of your business?” I mean, why bother trying to be polite to people who are obviously being rude to you? Good luck. Hang in there. It does get better. 😉

  16. 2browndawgs says:

    Yes DONKS here as well and celebrated our 25th last year so we have had a long time to deal. I have never really cared what people think so if I get what I think is an inappropriate question, I am likely to respond with an equally inappropriate answer. Usually shuts the person up. 🙂

    But with no kids, you do have to have a back-up plan so I have told my college age nephew that he will have to make sure we get in the ground whenever that time comes. 😉

    Thanks so much for joining Barks and Bytes. I really enjoyed your post today.

  17. I really have missed reading your well thought out posts! This one was intriguing to me because I do have a child and a dog, and as it turns out, I completely agree with what you have written. However, the main reason why I needed to respond is because I’m one of those women who struggled for 5 years trying to have a child, did the whole fertility treatment course of action, and then finally went for adoption. Throughout that time period, it was a roller coaster ride of emotions. And inevitable that family question would come up at very sensitive times. But of course, I would just smile and answer as politely as I could “maybe someday”, but inside I was screaming at them. Anyway, because of all that nonsense, I was almost ready to just choose life without a child and I would have been completely happy. But… as it happens, we now have a child, and sharing my life with my husband, my son, and my dog is brilliant. But no more brilliant than anyone else’s life how ever they choose to live it – child, no child, dog, no dog, you get the picture. Thanks! Keep rockin’ the keyboard!

  18. Hawk aka BrownDog says:

    Hi Y’all,

    Great post. Relatives are the most intrusive into your personal life, according to my Human.

    Y’all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

  19. Beryl's Mum says:

    I guess I’m a SINK then? Single Income No Kids! Or a DONK 🙂 When I was young and married I don’t remember being asked often enough to get annoyed as to why I didn’t have kids, or when was I going to have kids. But it would have annoyed me a lot if I got asked as often as you do. It’s your business, your life, end of story. I will be 60 later this year so the question doesn’t arise any more 🙂 One benefit to getting older. But should I get asked I usually say I’m not grown up enough myself yet to have kids!

  20. I do occasionally refer to Chester and Gretel as our “furkids” but it is usually in response to “do you have children” and I say “no. we have dogs. Our “furkids” are probably as close as we will ever get to the real thing.” I HAVE raised a child. My little brother was half my age and, at 16, we had pretty absent parents. I had to step up for a few years until they got their stuff together. I WOULD liken “raising” dogs to raising kids in that your freedoms are somewhat restricted with both and they are both something outside of yourself that takes love and attention. However, I definitely know the difference between dogs and children. I mean, you can’t scream “shut up” to your children and put them in a wire box. Ha, ha. Seriously though, children are a whole different (and scary) responsibility than dogs and comparing them directly is minimizing the amazing human fortitude it takes to raise a child.

  21. Jo says:

    Well said.

    I’m also child-free, by intent. It did take menopause, however, to stop people asking when I was going to start having kids. And even now, I am assumed to harbour regrets about my choice. Sigh. I have a dog, a partner, and a busy career, which is plenty. I like (some) kids, and I am a truly great aunt, but never wanted to have children.

    Given that there is some research out there that indicates parents many (most?) times regret having children, I wonder how much of the societal pressure is a bit of “everyone should suffer” rather than a genuine desire to share the “joy” ;-).

    Hang in there. It is becoming increasingly accepted that women can (shock, horror) lead a happy and fulfilled life without reproducing. The planet will thank you.

  22. Mel says:

    Hear! Hear! I am So with you on all accounts. I sometimes call my dogs my kids for convenience (calling them “the dogs” all of the time sounds weird to me), but I in no way think they are my kids. They are dogs. I treat them as such. I don’t dress them up (except on very rare occasions for humorous blog posts) and I don’t talk to them in baby talk, or have them talk to me in baby talk (which is a real pet peeve of mine).

    I don’t have kids and though I sometimes wonder what my life would be like with them, I do not have a hankering for them.

    To me, the worst of the comments you mentioned above is the whole “You’re being selfish.” one. To whom are you being selfish? How does not having kids equate to selfishness? Who are you hurting by not having kids? Every bit of data we have says this planet is WAY over-populated and that it’s killing us slowly as a species. So who is being the selfish one?

    Okay. Rant done. Sorry. Your post got me revved up.

  23. Wow – great post. I am a fellow introvert and DONK…Too old now to get those types of questions, but I love Pamela’s answer…that will shut them up for sure. And to follow up on Mel’s comment…why is it selfish to not have kids, isn’t having kids selfish too…to want this little reproduction of yourself that you can mold into whatever you want? Huh? My dogs are my dogs, although I do refer to them as my family because they are. Pay no attention to the intruders, their ignorance and insensitivity is showing.

  24. Sage says:

    You’ve made some excellent points and I commend you for your decision. It IS a personal matter and why should someone else care? I had two kids and one of them is a DONK. It’s OK–they have a full life and enjoy every minute of it. The other has one child and that will be it. I respect both of their decisions and love them for it.

  25. Great post. Oh so much to say about this. (In fact, the novel I’m working on now touches on some of this – it’s about a dog-mom who is not really understood by her sis/mother. So much to say about it, I made it a theme in an entire book….)

    Luckily I’m old enough now that folks just do the ‘Do you have kids?’ thing and when I say “no, just dogs”, I get them talking about their own kids and we move on. But, back in the day, I did get the occasional “selfish” remark (which really annoys me) and the “who’s going to take care of you?” question (as if that’s a decent recent to have kids?!). Anyway, on that one I just say that we plan on tempting one of my nephews away from his own parents because, unlike his parents who spent all their money raising/educating the boys, we have an actual inheritance to leave behind. 🙂 But… I must say, I’ve never had MALE coworkers comment on my reproductive choices. That is so not cool. Is this all part of the over-sharing world we live in now??

    I did sometimes wonder when folks would push us about this stuff if it was simple a “misery loves company” thing. After all, as someone mentioned above studies show that childless folks are happier. I seriously used to suspect some folks of just wanting us to be in the same boat they were. A sleepless, cranky, diaper-filled boat.

    I could not agree more that everyone just needs to “let everyone live their lives.” If you want to be judge-y about other peoples’ choices, do like I was taught – whisper about that stuff behind closed doors! 😉

    BTW, have you read… I thiink it’s called “I Can Barely Take Care of Myself.” A memoir by a fellow CBC’er. It’s a good read.

    • ThatJenK says:

      Yeah, it’s maybe a bit odd that the men are intrusive, but I also work in a male-dominated field in a conservative part of Canada. I’d be lying to say sexism is uncommon and I’ve even called out female colleagues for promoting misogynistic ideas in the work place.

      I’ll check out that memoir – thanks for the recommendation!

  26. Oh my god, yes! About that, and about waiting until I was 40 to even get married in the first place. My response was always similar to “and that’s your business because?” In other words, I cut them off at the pass. And when necessary, let them know in no uncertain terms that the conversation was over then turned and walked away. I’ve always hated rudeness like what you wrote about. I just won’t tolerate it. And those I’ve had to walk away from can suck an egg if they don’t like it. They need to focus on their own lives, not mine or yours. I’m glad you posted this today.

    While I do refer to my dogs as my “fur-babies”, “fur-kids”, or myself as a pet parent, I DO realize they ARE dogs and I do my best to treat them as such. They eat DOG food and DOG treats, whether I buy it in a store or make it myself. And don’t even get me started on the “unconditional love” topic! Have a great day!!

  27. Emma says:

    Mom always wanted four kids, but she can’t have kids and by the time that was figured out, other options weren’t really options and that was that. She absolutely hates it when anyone makes a comment about her not having kids. You never know why people are childless and for some it may be a real depressing or sad subject. Don’t ask people, it is no ones business except for the person without the kids. We are fur kids but we aren’t kids, we have our limits. I only wear clothes for an occasional photo, but Mom needs to nurture something and we are it…nothing wrong with that. We are allowed to be real dogs, play, get dirty, eat gross stuff, we replace the kids Mom could not have.

  28. kimberlygauthier says:

    You are preaching to the choir! (side note: I didn’t know you fed raw – I would love to chat with you about it). I call my dogs my babies, my kids, my fur kids. I refer to myself as a dog mom, a fur mom. I’ve gotten in trouble for it all; I even had a woman tell me that by calling myself a dog mom, I was disrespecting that the hard work she did raising her kids. Sigh.

    It’s all in fun. Terms of affection. I don’t approach parents and share stories of our dogs when they’re talking about kids. I don’t compare our dogs to kids except to say I don’t have to send them to college, And I don’t believe that I somehow gave birth to them.

    I just love love love dogs; obviously since we have 4 of them.

    I hate it when people (especially in the professional arena) question me about our choice not to have kids. I don’t mind talking about it, but I do mind correcting the assumptions. Or the presumptions that I can’t possible understand _____ because I don’t have kids. “When you have kids, you won’t be as interested in dogs, blogging, etc.” it’s rude. So I’ve started responding with a “let’s back up and talk about sex with my boyfriend first – oh, no?, that’s TMI? – then I guess we’re done here.”

    • ThatJenK says:

      Yes! Raw feeder for many years – always happy to talk about it, too!

      I agree there’s no real harm in most use of ‘fur mom’ and ‘fur kids’ – it’s often just the easiest way to communicate!

      And yes! One of my least favourite things to hear is “you’ll never understand/know ___ until you have kids”. The word “until” is presumptuous and full of expectation. And when they talk about knowing true happiness or love… wow. Implies a lot about my life being less, or lacking, or unwhole. To them, maybe it is – but I’ll be the judge of that, thank you.

      • Karyl says:

        Ooh that one drives me nuts too. Like, first of all, yes, I do understand real love and real worry and all that other stuff because someone doesn’t have to have come out of my uterus for me to love them that much.

        Second of all, of course, humans being social animals we are certainly not at all capable of empathy for a situation even if we have never been in it. (Granted there are certain things that ARE harder to fathom if you’ve never experienced them, but to assume that certain things can only be experienced by having children? I don’t really think I buy that.)

  29. Nailah Bone says:

    SINK(?) here! 🙂 I’ve noticed that as I near my 30’s people are getting more aggressive about prying into my personal life. I have no problem pointing out when people are being rude so lately I’ve taken to just telling them that they are offending me and that if I were to tell them that they’d change their mind about their newborn they’d be extremely insulted. If that doesn’t work I inform them that we obviously can’t be friends, flip my hair dramatically and sashay away. We are all fabulous in our own way, don’t let people tell you otherwise.

    PS I call myself a dog mom but am fully aware that Nailah is not a human. I think it’s a just a cute way of expressing my (maybe a bit extreme) love for her. 🙂

  30. Eliza says:

    I love this post, thank you! I am 30 and been happily married for 7 years. We have two dogs who are hugely important members of our family, but again we have no misconceptions that they are children. Thank you for saying what irks me on a daily basis!

  31. Amanda says:

    Wow I could chat with you all day about this! I live in a DONK relationship as well! My hubby and I have animals, no kids, and we plan on keeping it that way! Very well written and I agree with it ALL 🙂

  32. I’ve been pretty lucky that most of the people I encounter do a decent job of minding their own business. Now that my husband and I are middle-aged with a houseful of pets, I guess it’s pretty obvious that the kid option has been off the table for a while.

  33. Yvonne says:

    So… my pets are my kids. That’s just how it is. I raised three kids. Love them to pieces! Have two and a half grandchildren (the half one is due in August)… and I do think having pets is equivalent to having kids. Do I think pets are people? In some ways, yes. If we gave our pets the respect we give people, say ‘kids’ in this instance, there would be stiffer punishment for cruelty and neglect and a lot of bad people would be punished … saving a lot of women and kids from their anger.

    Anyway, I love this article. I love that people are able to share stories like this and help others understand the love they have for their pets, who are not (to them) kids. I repeat… my pets are my kids, now. They do NOT replace the kids I have, nor do they replace my grandchildren… but they exist in my life as the kids of the family. I don’t mind saying so. And, I bristle at people who think they have a right to ask you why you don’t have kids and ask me why I spend so much money on my dogs and cat.

  34. Karyl says:

    Do you know the source for this image: https://backalleysoapbox.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/problemwithpink.jpg ? I kind of want to repost somewhere but I want to link back to wherever it came from if possible. 🙂

  35. OhMyShihTzu says:

    BRAVO!!! I don’t have any children and at the end of the year I will be 45! I don’t look like it, like some of my friends from high school, they look old and … well you get the picture 🙂 lol Having no kids was not a choice of my own, but it was what I was dealt with. All my “kids” which I do call them, fill a perfect spot in my life. And yes I know they are not “real” kids, but to me they are just little toddlers… and frankly I really don’t care what other people think and I will tell them so if they comment about me, my family, dogs and the fact I have not birthed any children 🙂

  36. Novroz says:

    Great article, Jen!! I really enjoy reading it!

    I have the same feeling as Yvonne there. I always say that my turtles are my babies. I know they are not human but they are the ones that I showered with my love. If I ever have kids, I know the love I have for my kids will not take away my love for my turtles (although many people around me are saying the other way, they keep saying you’ll forget your turtles once you have kids)

    I am not married yet and just like you (with children issue), everyone keeps asking me when am I going to get marry? I got so tired replying them. I do want to get marry but I don’t want it to happen because of status.

  37. Pingback: Dogs and Gender – Does it Matter? | Back Alley Soapbox

  38. I’m actually quite surprised looking at the comments that a lot of commenters actually are married have no kids/no intention of having kids. Amazed. I actually do want children, whenever they deign to appear. And I think they will be hard work.

    My dog doesn’t argue back. Children do. 😛

    My dog is not my child. My dog is my gym membership 😉 Haha.

  39. Will you allow me to post this on my twitter?

  40. Clowie says:

    I actually heard someone say (with no idea why the person was childless) that people who don’t have children are selfish! I think the people that have kids without thinking it through first are the selfish ones.

    • Karyl says:

      I think I have heard this before too, and I always just get confused at that. Yes, I am terribly selfish for recognizing I am not in a good position to devote every ounce of my being to a tiny human that will rely on me for everything. Or for recognizing that I would just plain not do well as a parent for another human being (I understand animals so much better).

      Selfish is the people who have kids then don’t bother to care for them or teach them how to behave. Who let them run amok in the grocery store and ignore them as if they’re just some accessory they bought, then freak out if someone else speaks up about it. Selfish is having a kid, then treating that kid like they owe you for a choice YOU made.

      Narcissism is not bound by demographic. And even if someone chooses not to have kids for “selfish” reasons, at least they recognize that and don’t bring a kid into the world to deal with that selfishness.

      *cough* Sorry… mini-rant…

      • Clowie says:

        I agree with every word.

        I don’t understand why some people think everyone should be the same, or why they have a problem with people making different choices from them.

  41. terra toby says:

    I’m sorry people are so insensitive. My daughter and son-in-law are white; she’s a blue eyed blonde; and their 2 kids are adopted from Ethiopia. If she wrote a post in this vein it would be at least as long as this one. Some of the things people say are plain stupid; some actually vault all the way to hilarious. Add in that our grandson is autistic, and she gets a lot of judgement just going about the day. Except for the people (equally annoying) who gush about what a saint she is, and I’m here to tell you she’s as human as everyone else.
    Our oldest daughter and son-in-law are DINKS (or maybe CONKS?)…and even I have enough sense to let them do as they wish without asking questions about it. I don’t think she gets bugged about it too much at work thank goodness.

  42. Really wonderful post and I can relate to so much of what you said, as a fellow introvert and SINK. I’m single-with-dog (and cat), 37, with no intention of having kids. People used to pester me all the time about it but since I’ve been divorced it seems to have petered out. I’m not entirely comfortable with calling myself a “dog mom” (though I’ll sometimes say to Ruby “your mom’s a klutz!” or the like). I prefer to partner with, not parent, my animals, and perhaps this comes from a lifetime around horses, who are most /certainly/ not kids.

  43. i’m quite late to this party, but i had to get my ass to a real computer so i could comment with an insane rant.

    i sooooooo feel you. i’m just turning 33 in a couple months, and so every single one of my friends is popping out babies and every single person on earth thinks what’s going on in my uterus and why is their business. makes want to punch, well, babies.

    i’m to having kids. ever. regardless of my status as a dog lover/owner/parent/dictator/whateveryouwannacallit. and people seriously need to chill out. my favorite part is, of course, the look of shock and horror people give you when they first hear your stance on things. which is when i just want to say, “hey, f*%k you!”

    and though i still get really really pissed off about this and much of it is greatly painful even to someone like me who is child-free by choice (it’s amazing how many things are actually offensive to women who choose to not be mothers when you start to become sensitive to it. i am probably the only person who was annoyed about the How I Met Your Mother finale for reasons related to babies and women with careers, but i digress.), i’ve started to get great joy out of being really effing rude to people in response.

    you see, i don’t like babies or kids. i find them annoying and gross and kind of creepy and weird. don’t want to have my own. don’t want to hang out with yours. don’t think the pix are cute. don’t think they should be in restaurants or on airplanes. sorry, not sorry. and this gives me the opportunity to respond to people who demand to know why i am not going to spring forth from my loins a bouncing bundle of life-ending terror–oops, i meant “joy”–by telling them exactly that. and then they get really really horrified and don’t know what to say, especially if they have kids, are pregnant, or are all freakin baby crazy. it is FUN. and it’s all i’ve got to fight back with.

    • ThatJenK says:

      lol! Insane rants are my favourite!
      AND – *spoiler alert* – DO NOT get me started on the HIMYM finale! So disappointing! You can claim ‘ingenius red herring’ all you want, it doesn’t mean they took a great character (Robyn) who was outside the template of a female TV character and plunked her right back into the most traditional of gender stereotypes at the very end: married with two kids. Ugh.
      /second rant

      • Lauren @ Life With Desmond says:

        god yes. and how about the barney thing? oh he’s magically “cured” by an unplanned, unwanted baby? ok sure. whatever you say.

  44. I have three kids, three cats, and a dog. My neighbours on one side have 10 kids, the neighbours on the other side have 9. My friend down the street, who is three months older than I am, had her 10th last year. Babies are kind of a big thing where I come from. In fact, I am constantly questioned about why I would want a dog, which is expensive to keep and messy and puts fur on my clothing. I tell these people that my dog is always thrilled to see me, while my teenagers seldom are. Pets bring joy and love into a home in an entirely different way than kids do, and I value their presence.

    I am a VERY firm believer that NO ONE should have children if they don’t want them. Children are extremely precious, and must be wanted. But just because something is precious does not mean it *should be*, or *must be* wanted. Silver is a precious metal, but I hate polishing the stuff and don’t own any. The contents of your uterus are absolutely no one’s business but your own, and anyone who thinks otherwise needs to be corrected. Swiftly.

  45. Pingback: 6 Apps Every Introvert Needs for the New iPhone | YourDailyLink.Com

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