They say that laughter is the best medicine.
Shared jokes can bring a family together, introduce new friends, or brighten a darkening day.
What happens, though, when you make a joke and it only serves to drive people apart?
This was the problem that brought Redditor and Original Poster (OP) Noswellin to the “Am I the A**hole”(AITA) subReddit for outside opinions on the matter.
“AITA for saying I prefer sushi to children?”
OP started with a little backstory.
“Okay so straight to it.”
“My husband and I (both in our early 30s) have been together for over a decade and made the decision to not have kids.”
“I like kids, I have nieces and nephews, we just don’t want them for our own reasons.”
“He had a vasectomy which only a few people know about.”
“Our families are aware we don’t want kids as they’ve asked this before during different major life events (our wedding for instance).”
“We recently bought a 3 bedroom home with a nice yard in a nice area.”
“Excited to show our new home to family and friends (major upgrade to our previous home), we hosted a housewarming.”
“During the party, one of my sibling in-laws (Alex) made a few indirect comments about all this space, and kids would love it in our house, etc.”
“Eventually they asked point-blank when we were having kids.”
“I made a lighthearted joke about it, which is my go-to for this question.”
Before getting to the start of the issue at hand.
” ‘Oh, well, I like sushi too much to have to give it up for a pregnancy. Plus not drinking for pregnancy and breastfeeding? No thanks!’ I tried to make it very light-hearted and laugh it off.”
“Most people just laughed along.”
“That seemed to anger Alex and I was told ‘children are a joy, and a good mother puts her kids before everything else’.”
“I agreed, ‘children are a joy, I like spending time with the nieces and nephews, and obviously I can’t be a good mom if I chose sushi over kids so I just won’t be a mom’ (paraphrased).”
“Still trying to brush it off in a gentle way because I’m not trying to start a fight by telling them to stop asking in front of everyone because I know my tone will be seen as rude and abrasive.”
“We move on, but Alex is still annoyed and making little comments in their group about how flippant I am about it and how when it finally happens, then I’ll understand.”
“My husband heard this and said jokingly said, ‘well, if she gets pregnant, that’ll be a problem for the divorce lawyers’.”
“That seemed to piss them off more but they stopped.”
She became concerned about the consequences of her joke.
“With holidays coming up, we have not been invited to Alex’s usual Halloween bonfire.”
“When husband spoke to his parents, they told him Alex was annoyed we were so careless and callous about our childfree status and to say what we did and they realized we had taken permanent steps to ensure we never had kids.”
“That we know they had to do IF to have kids etc. And we are AHs to just not care.”
“I feel bad because they did do IF and lots of fertility treatments to have their kids, and even then they still had a few miscarriages.”
“I can’t imagine wanting kids and struggling to have them and then deal with miscarriages.”
“But at the same time, I’m so tired of justifying living my life how I want.”
OP was left wondering…
Having explained her dilemma, she sought guidance from Reddit.
Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Redditors decided: NTA
Some responses were logical.
“Just because they had difficulty having children they don’t get to judge you for choosing to not have children.”
“Regardless, they also don’t get to bring up the topic then act hurt when you give an honest, non-offensive answer.”~sa5m_i_am
Others looked for deeper meaning in the question itself.
“I’ve always found it a bit backwards that I’m often expected to explain and defend why I don’t want to have kids.”
“But you ask the same thing of people who want them and you frequently get a surprised pikachu face and ‘because’.”
“Like, you just want to create new life but you’ve never thought about why?”
“But my list of a thousand reasons to not do so isn’t good enough?”
“I will say it has gotten a bit better since I hit my 30’s.”
“But I think I’ve been written off as a spinster since I’m also still single.“~RedoubtableSouth
Commenters told personal stories…
“After my 3rd miscarriage, my neighbor was on her 4th baby, 3rd unplanned.”
“I admit I was seeing red for almost a month.”
“But… That was my grief, pain, and envy, and still bleeding out the life I had carried and lost while watching her neglect kids her husband did not want.”
“It was like watching someone light the winning lotto ticket on fire or take a sledgehammer to a Ferrari.”
“It still wasn’t an excuse to be rude or mean.”
“I put on my big girl pants and stayed polite.”
“And… My frustrations didn’t mean I ever felt anyone should have children they didn’t want.”
“If you love kids, you should want them to be longed for and cherished, not merely tolerated.”~LostDogBoulderUtah
While there were other, more direct, answers.
“Don’t ask if you can’t handle the answer.”~jammy913
A few offered up their own jokes.
“I quite like ‘I promised my firstborn to a witch and don’t want to come good on the deal’.”~Melodic_Arm_387
“My go-to funny answer to that question is, ‘I also like dolphins but I don’t have one of those either’.”
“Alex is taking this way too personally.”~Thia-M3762
OP did return to add some clarity.
“Edited to add: To the few people messaging and commenting about me being the AH for not wanting kids: I’m not asking if I’m the AH for my kid decision, I’m asking if I’m the AH for saying the sushi over kids comment.”
“To everyone else: holy guacamole, I’m overwhelmed.”
“I never expected to get so many responses.”
“I am trying to read all of them and the advice given.”
“I feel terrible my joke was taken the way it was and that I hurt my ILs(in-laws), I truly never meant for that to happen.”
“After the bonfire this weekend, we will be reaching out to have a heart to heart, if they’ll accept it.”
“Either way, I’ll be apologizing for hurting their feelings, let them know I love their kids and them.”
“But I will also be firmly putting down any further attempts to discuss our child-free status if the conversation is about changing our minds.”
“I have not told them our reasons for being childfree so I think perhaps if they are willing to listen, I’ll explain them and hopefully the conversation can be constructive.”
“I don’t want to go into the holidays with my husband on the outs with his brother.”
“Thank you all!”
Jokes are meant to bring people together.
They are also there as a safety latch – a release valve against painful or sensitive subjects.
Be patient with those who dodge questions this way – maybe they just aren’t comfortable talking about it.
Maybe they shouldn’t have to?