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Señoras, stop wondering when I have kids – I’m not

There is the saying: “Always a bridesmaid, never a bride.” Well, for me, playing with my Cabbage Patch Kid as a kid, I’ve always been the babysitter and never the mom. But I didn’t set myself up as a babysitter in anticipation of the teenage labor market. This inclination was the basis of a decision I made when I was 13: I don’t want and I never have children. To this day, I could still hear the collective telenovela gasping my tías when I first told them that I didn’t want children. My little cousin’s birthday reunion immediately went from eating tres leches to feeling like being on Caso Cerrado. A tía asked me my age, without breaking eye contact, as everyone at the table was waiting for my answer with raised eyebrows. “23,” I replied. Without a breath, a tía sounds: “Oh, you’re still young!” You will change your mind. Almost immediately after, another tía added: “You just haven’t met the right guy yet!” All I could say was, “Maybe”. That was four years ago, and while that gasping moment still makes me laugh, their questioning and dismissive attitude negatively impacted my night and my sanity. Being chubby, young and female is hard enough in my Mexican family. In many Latinx families it is common for los jóvenes to get feedback on our weight, asking them “y el novio?” or pressure to share when you have children. As a gordita and serial columnist, I have faced this issue on several occasions. But this last question – about “when” and not “if” I have children – always bothered me more than the others, knowing that it is an expectation that I will not meet. Is there a wikiHow on how to tell your Latino parents you don’t want kids – Kaylee 🇸🇻 (@KayleeSancheese) July 30, 2020 I’ve come to understand that my family’s harmless questions are ingrained in cultural trends, but that still leaves me with a feeling of insufficiency. “[Some] people can go to family celebrations and just eat and drink. Women will look for this question [about procreating] almost immediately, ”says Rosemary Magaña, Certified Clinical Advisor. “These messages can affect our self-image and can trigger other thoughts, like ‘I’m not good enough’, ‘I’m not doing what I’m supposed to do’ or ‘Why don’t I want to have kids? Maybe there is something wrong with me. Speaking from personal experience and over ten years of working with Latinx communities, Magaña was clear: there is nothing wrong with decisions like mine. What’s wrong are the cultural expectations that drive us to live by a checklist, the same expectations that nullify our belonging if we don’t meet them. The emotional implications also lie in questions such as “When are you going to have children?” “It implies that someone wants kids,” says Gloria Osborne, a licensed cognitive behavioral therapist and clinical social worker. “You ask them when they want to have kids instead of asking, ‘Well, have you thought about having kids?’ It is a very different question. When you ask a question like “when” someone is questioning what they are doing. It is also important to remember that questions about having children can create an uncomfortable situation or have psychological effects on those who may be struggling with infertility. if you’re latina, don’t want kids, and can withstand the pressure, you’re on top 😇— nikki 🇵🇷 (@nikkihorizns) December 24, 2020 My ex-partner and I had been together for five years, then the “Cuando se van a casar?” and the “Y los beibis?” were abundant. Neither of us knew how to respond, so we would giggle awkwardly and shrug our shoulders. Even though I’m single now, I still get this question – which made me think about how I can respond to my family while respectfully setting boundaries. As a first generation Latina whose parents emigrated from Mexico, where family roots run deep, I learned the importance of respecting older generations. It meant never questioning their beliefs, traditions, or standards of behavior. So how do those of us who don’t want kids end the seemingly inevitable question without sounding disrespectful? “You can just answer ‘no se’ and move on. You can completely change the subject and come back to them, ”advises Magaña. “If you’ve got the energy, you can say, ‘You know, I’d rather not answer that question. It’s not something I’m comfortable talking about. Dealing with these conversations is becoming more common as an increasing number of Latinas in the United States are choosing not to have children. Latinas’ birth rates fell 31% between 2007 and 2017, which experts attribute to generational differences between immigrants and their daughters and granddaughters, reports The New York Times. While the numbers are a sign of the times and ease some of the traditional pressures, I continue to be called selfish by some in my family – and I’m not alone. Camila Gutierrez, a Colombian from the San Fernando Valley, has known since she was 15 that she doesn’t want children – and she has made it clear to her family. “Older people, and even some people my age, think it’s a selfish decision,” Gutierrez said, reflecting on how her mother was heartbroken when she first heard it. “The decision not to have children comes from a generation of people who really thought about what it means to have children. Some of us don’t want the responsibility of raising someone without being sure that we can offer them everything we need, from financial support to emotional and psychological support. For a while, I began to understand not only that I was selfish in not wanting children, but that there was something fundamentally wrong with being selfish at all. I thought it was directly against our collectivist culture to be selfish, that you had to compromise your desires in honor of your family and your heritage. So as I continued to let my family and friends know that I didn’t want kids, I still felt guilty about my decision. Then other mujeres – including friends, mentors, bosses and even my younger sister – confidently told me that they didn’t want to and that they didn’t have children either. This sense of community inspired me to free myself from these conflicting expectations. Now, I embrace selfishness because it means making my own decisions, breaking through generational trauma, and claiming joy while honoring and respecting my roots. Jacqueline Mendez, a licensed marriage and family therapist who has decided not to have children, made a poignant remark that struck me: “We are selfish,” Mendez said, smiling and nodding. “What I like to remind people is, ‘What’s wrong with being selfish?’ It’s my body. It’s my choice. I will be selfish with myself. Like what you see? How about a little more R29 goodness, here?

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