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June 21, 2012
The Real Issue
Since You Don't Have Kids . . .
by Cyndie Swindlehurst


I have a demanding job, but I do not have children. I consider myself a helpful person, and I love it when people in my ward approach me to help them in some way. But sometimes, people ask for my help by saying, "Since you don't have kids, I'm sure you have time to . . . ."

Like I said, I like to help people. But it really irritates me when people assume that I'm always free because I have no children. How should I respond?


In other words, people keep saying that you have nothing to do with your time because you have no children. This, understandably, bothers you. It also makes you want to refuse to help them whether or not you can.

The only thing you can say in protest is, "I'm sorry. I can't." Do not elaborate further, no matter how awkward the silence or what they ask about your plans. You may feel odd refusing without elaboration, but once you are used to it, I think you'll find it liberating.

Do not respond with a snappy comeback. The point of a snappy comeback is to make someone feel stupid and embarrassed by pointing out his bad manners. This is, in fact, a very rude thing to do. If you snap back, you will escalate a thoughtlessly rude remark into an actual confrontation. And your rudeness will then be used to justify the original remark.

I suggest that you try to overlook such thoughtless remarks. People are rarely deliberately hurtful. You'll be better off if you chalk up their comments to inadvertent thoughtlessness instead of malice, no matter what their real motives were.

However. I would just like to point out that the people I know with kids have way more time than the people who don't have kids but do have jobs. I had no free time when I had a job but no kids. I was working all the time. All non-work activities, from shopping to reading novels, had to happen on Saturday.

It's completely stupid to assume that people without children have gobs of free time to chaperone dances and drive to and fro and go on pioneer treks. I personally feel that the parents of youth, for example, should supervise youth activities. But that's another topic.

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