You’ll Change Your Mind

by Sarah on October 10, 2013

I would imagine that most child-free people in the world have a good guess as to what this post is about.

But just in case you’ve never had the pleasure, let me explain.

You see, frequently, when an intentionally child-free person says to someone, “I’m not planning to have any children,” or “I don’t want children,” or anything in that vein, many times the unfortunate response is, “You’ll change your mind.”

And to be honest, I think this is just one of the most heinous things one person can do to another.

I want this article to be really smart and persuasive, which it may or may not live up to, but here’s the thing, when it comes right down to it. Telling someone that they don’t know their own mind and that you know what they want or will want better than they do?

It’s just fucking shitty. So stop doing it.

Why You Should Listen To Me On This One

Here’s the thing. Telling someone else how they should or will think is downright heinous.

We each get to have our own experiences of the world. Mine is not the same as yours.

If I was going to pick up lunch for us, and you asked me to get you a burger, and I said, “Oh, you’ll change your mind!” and came back with a salad instead….

You’d be pissed. Right?

It’s kind of like that, although thankfully, nobody can just hand me a baby.

Imagine what it would feel like if you announced to your friends/family that you (and/or your partner) were going to have/adopt a child, and they all said, “Oh, you’ll change your mind!”

That would feel pretty horrific, right? And also cause some anxiety?

Yeah, I think so.

Hearing, “You’ll change your mind,” over and over again can certainly cause a person to wonder a lot about their own sanity or, if they have a strong sense of self, about the sanity of the rest of humanity.

Furthermore, I suspect that hearing it often enough can influence someone’s decision on the matter. And having a child because one is afraid of missing out on an experience is not a good reason to take on an 18+ year commitment to the life of a small human being.

There are more than enough people having children right now. And bringing children into the world if they’re not really wanted seems like it wouldn’t be good for either the child or the parent(s).

People who don’t want children should be free to not have them. And by free, I mean not just “legally allowed” but also not stigmatized or made to feel like they are crazy.

In an ideal world, I might even mean something like, “having access to support structures that are specifically geared towards them.” A lot of my friends are moms and all, but sometimes I just want to be around other child-free people. Unfortunately, due to the current stigma surrounding this option, it is significantly easier to find a meetup group geared towards moms or parents than it is to find one for child-free individuals.

But What If You Change Your Mind?

When I complain about this “you’ll change your mind” phenomenon, sometimes weird people say things like, “But what if you do change your mind?”

I’m not really sure why this is a question.

I mean, if I changed my mind, I would tell the people who needed to know about it. And then I would probably go about figuring out how to have a baby. You know, the life-level logistics, not the technical details.

But even if I do one day change my mind, which I suppose I have to accept as an albeit tiny possibility since I’m actively trying to not be influenced by the End of History fallacy, nobody gets to say, “I told you so!” Me deciding to one day have children would still not ameliorate the shittiness of anyone having said, “You’ll change your mind,” to me in the past.

So what I’m saying, folks, is don’t say this. Not about anything. And particularly not to intentionally child-free people.

We’ve heard it before, and we’re just going to think you’re obnoxious.

Trust me.

I read an article a few months ago about a scientific study showing that something around 50% of parents wouldn’t choose to have children if they had to do it again. I haven’t been able to find the article again though, so if anyone knows where it is, would you send it to me? I’d like to write more about this topic if it’s appealing, and I have a lot to say about that article and some of the other myths surrounding parenthood.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

MNM October 14, 2013 at 3:26 pm

I don’t really have much to add, but I completely agree – it drives me crazy when people tell me I don’t know my own mind, whether it’s about something big or small. Also, as a side note, my experience is that for most Meetups that involve adult-oriented activities (going out to bars, restaurants, live music, dancing, whatever), most of the people tend to be child-free or have older children that are independent, just by default. I mean, who can get/afford a babysitter to go to a Meetup regularly these days? 🙂


Jane October 13, 2013 at 9:31 am

This reminds me of a conversation I was part of a few years ago. Everyone there was childless, except three people who’d had children in their late teens and were about 7ish years older than everyone else. Interestingly they all said that they had had children just because they thought it was what you did when you grew up, and wouldn’t have chosen to have them again. I’m so used to hearing people saying “children are the best thing that will ever happen to you” that is was a bit of revelation to realise that for some people it’s way more complicated than that.


Cordelia October 10, 2013 at 9:07 pm

“If I was going to pick up lunch for us, and you asked me to get you a burger, and I said, ‘Oh, you’ll change your mind!’ and came back with a salad instead….

You’d be pissed. Right?

It’s kind of like that, although thankfully, nobody can just hand me a baby. ”

That is quite possibly the best analogy I’ve ever heard for the situation, and I will be using it as my default response whenever anyone throws the “You’ll change your mind” retort in my face.

I would also be *highly* interested in reading that study. (And then also using it as part of my default response to in-my-face-throwing.) 🙂


Julia Bushue October 10, 2013 at 12:58 pm

I think Daniel Gilbert might have something about that in “Stumbling on Happiness”…and there’s some more research out there, too.


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