Dear Savvy Auntie,

My niece is 8 years old and has recently been asking lots of questions that appear to be part of her making sense of the relationships around her. She has also asked her nanny about the nanny's sister who has died. And, she has asked me a couple of times about why I don't have children.

The question threw me into an adult mindset about the issues I have faced with adults asking me the same thing. I attempted to respond in a straight forward way but struggled to explain. I wanted her to know that I wanted children and that things in life do not always work out as we hope. The reason I don't have children is circumstantial/timing. I also want her to know I adore children and her.

What I attempted to do was explain that not all people have children, that I love to be with children and enjoy their company. But the next time I saw her, she asked again why I didn't have children. I repeated my first response. She suggested I could have children now and I said that when you get older it is harder to have children. She was perplexed and said I was not old. She suggested maybe I could adopt children and skipped off.

I found it very hard as I knew my own emotion was getting involved and I was over-thinking things. Letting her know that I love her very much and that it's just a fact that not all women have children is very helpful to me. I realize that not being a mother I have less experience with questions that prod at our own emotions and how to respond to them in a simple way.

Otherhood Auntie

Dear Otherhood Auntie,

It seems like you are doing a thorough job in explaining why you don't have children to your niece. Since she continues to ask, perhaps she is asking something a little different. I suggest next time she asks, slow the conversation down. Ask her if she knows someone who adopted a child who does not have a child, and someone who is pregnant. Don’t ask these questions all at once. I believe her more pressing question will appear…

I suggest you address your feelings on the topic with a counselor who will also indirectly help you feel more confident answering your niece.

Best of luck,
Natalie Robinson Garfield


Content Rating