Some researchers believe there's a biological clock ticking for grandparents, too. Just as women of childbearing age may feel a real biological urge to have a child, so a man or woman past childbearing age may feel the urge to have a grandchild. So don't come down too hard on the pushy parents-in-law; they may not be able to help their nagging you to reproduce.
What makes otherwise sane in-laws butt into such a personal matter as a couple's choice whether or not to have children? In-laws' interference in your baby making (or lack thereof) isn't casual, Gentle Reader. In-laws often have very definite reasons for sticking their noses where they don't belong when it comes to the baby issue. Here are their Top 10 reasons for urging you to produce a child:
They want to see their bloodline continue.
They yearn to have the family name passed down through the generations.
They've built something they value, such as a family business, and they want to keep it in the family. Children can ensure the continuation of a business, in-laws often think.
They believe that your decision not to have children (or to postpone having children) reflects badly on them. For example, your in-laws might fret that you don't want children because you had such a dreadful childhood. While this may indeed be the case, take your childhood trauma up with your therapist, not your in-laws. After all, that's why your shrink gets $95 an hour.
They see reproduction as a religious issue.
They feel threatened by difference. Married people have children; otherwise, why would they get married? By not having children, you are deviating from "normal" behavior, they reason.
They want to keep up with the neighbors, their colleagues, or the rest of the family. For some in-laws, kids are a status item, like cars, computers, or coffee.
A relative once told me to have kids for "payback." "I bought all those baby gifts," she said, "it's about time we got some of it back."
Grandchildren keep them busy. It gives them something to do when the bridge game has been canceled or the yacht race rained out.
And the number one reason why your in-laws pressure you to have children...
They genuinely enjoyed raising kids and they want the pleasure again. This is the most difficult reason to argue against. After all, what kind of ingrates would deny their family the pleasure of kids?
Okay, so now you know the reasons why your in-laws are on your case about creating a clone the old-fashioned way. What can you do about the meddling and pressure? Try these ideas:
Assure your in-laws that you appreciate their concern. After all, they very likely do have your best interests at heart.
Explain that your reproductive decisions are your own business, plain and simple. Stress to your in-laws that they don't have any input in this decision. Encourage them pick out your shower curtain or plastic pink flamingos, instead.
Be tactful and stay cool.
Stick to your guns. Don't provide any color commentary, play-by-play, or instant replays of your amorous adventures.
Keep your sense of humor. The first year she was married, my friend Shelley got baby gifts from her mother-in-law in lieu of Christmas gifts. Now, since Shelley wasn't pregnant and had no immediate plans to become so, she could have shoved the rattles and rompers down her mother-in-law's throat. Instead she just laughed about the too-obvious hint. (Then she returned all the gifts and bought the luscious cashmere sweater she wanted in the first place.)
Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Dealing with In-Laws © 1998 by Laurie E. Rozakis, Ph.D. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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