AdviceHey, Bonita!

I Want Kids, but My Boyfriend Doesn’t

Hey Bonita,

I’ve been with my boyfriend for a little over three months now, and it’s going great. We get each other’s humor, we have the same interests, we have fun together, he even met my incredibly judgmental parents, and they loved him. I know it’s only been three months, but I’ve developed strong feelings for him. Probably too strong for the amount of time we’ve been together, but I haven’t been worried because I can truly see a future with him. 

We seem so compatible in every way except one. I recently found out that he probably doesn’t want kids. Having kids is a HUGE thing for me and, honestly, a deal-breaker. We discussed it, and he is super understanding and willing to accept whatever I decide. And he’s giving me space to figure it out. 

So what do I do? I don’t want to get really far into the relationship only to have it end because of this. Wouldn’t it be better to break things off before we get too invested? Is it naïve to assume he’s going to change his mind in the future? I’m only 21, and I’m not planning on having kids until I’m like 30, so this issue is very far in the future. Should I let that affect my decisions now? 

I don’t want to break up with him. I know this is cliché, but I’ve never met anyone like him, and I want him in my life. And ultimately it’s up to him, right? If I decide I’m willing to take this chance, then he has to be mature enough to tell me when/if he knows for sure whether he wants kids or not. But that’s also putting a lot of pressure on him. Right now, I feel like I want us to cross that bridge when we come to it, but I don’t know if that’s the right thing to do.

Hey Friend,

You’re talking about something that’s nine years down the road for you, and believe me when I say that the 30-year-old you will be very different from the 21-year-old you, and in beautiful and positive ways. Same goes for your boyfriend and possible future baby father. When I was 21, I was positive that I’d never want kids. I also thought I’d be an MTV News anchor with a loft in Central Park West and a white woman for my housekeeper, but here we are.

I have no comments about your being so deeply in love after only three months, except congratulations. Yeah that’s fast, but if you’re both in agreement that it is true love, then rock on. I heavily admire your tendency to look ahead and plan for the future, and I especially appreciate your family planning. More people should do what you’re doing.  That said, I’m too close to 40 to try and convince you that 10-year plans always work out. Plans change and paradigms shift. His lack of desire for kids could absolutely change, and your attachment to giving birth at 30 could change as well. Also—and I truly hate to say this, because you are in love but you chose to write to my pragmatic ass—in nine years, you may very well have a different partner who is completely on board with starting a family with you. I believe that you will get what you want in some capacity, but I don’t think it’s helpful to have these discussions right now with your current partner. It’s a long ways away, and your time would best be used to plan for future things that you can affect right now, like your careers and housing. Instead of daydreaming about marriage and kids so early, I’d rather you get focused on your career plans and put your degree (I assume you’re in college) at the front of your mind. Where do you wanna live after you graduate? Can you afford a family home there? Does your boo wanna move in after graduation? Does he like that city, too? Are you living together already? Should you live together as renters before buying a home together and getting married? Will your careers be enough to provide for the lives you want to live with each other? There’s a lot to consider with babies and families beyond whether or not you want to have them at all.