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How 20 child-free adults respond to the question, 'Why don't you want to have kids?'

Ana Galvañ for NPR

Angela L. Harris is child-free by choice and says people often make comments about her decision or want to know all the details. "I should write a book about all these comments," she says.

If you're child-free, you don't owe an explanation to anyone, says Harris, the founder of #NoBibsBurpsBottles, an online community for child-free Black women. "If you don't feel like explaining, don't explain. Your life is your life." If you do feel like responding, we shared some of her responses to common questions about being child-free in a recent interview with Life Kit host Marielle Segarra.

We also asked our child-free listeners to share their go-to responses to questions from strangers and family members. From the blunt to the lighthearted, here are a few replies to add to your repertoire.

Responses have been edited for length and clarity

"We can't, our cats are allergic." — Jamie Blair

"There are many things I'm good at doing, like juggling and removing stains, that I would never want to do all day and night for the rest of my life." —Genevive Bjorn

"I'm 68 now, and my standard line for the last couple of decades is 'Oh! I forgot!'" — Trudy DiLeo

"My husband and I decided not to have children long before we decided to get married.
Someone: you know gay couples can have kids too?!
Our response: 'We know; we keep trying to get pregnant, but nothing sticks.'" — Nicholas Tollar, Jr.

"Hell, I can't even keep plants alive!" — Joan Chrislip

"Children deserve someone who loves them and enjoys taking care of them, no matter the physical, mental, or financial toll — and that's why I will never have them." — Rosie Wilt

"I would embarrass them too much." — Barb Bush

"I never felt the desire to be a mother. I love the freedom of not having children. — Tracy Beasley

"Just because I have ovaries doesn't mean I have to use them." — Kristin Charlton

"I can't imagine why you'd ask such a personal question." — Penny Bonkowski

"There are people in this world meant to be moms and dads, and there are people in this world meant to be aunts and uncles. The challenge in life is to recognize which one you are meant to be. I am meant to be an uncle."— Bruckner Chase

"I love the life I have and the family I've built. There's nothing missing." — Amber Stockham

"At a bridal shower early on in my marriage, one of [my mother-in-law's] relatives asked me 'When are you having children?' My mother-in-law, who was next to me, gently put her hand on my hand and answered for me (still the best response I've ever heard) 'You know, some of the happiest marriages have no children.'" — Nancy Jo Seaton"Children just aren't in the cards for us." — Jennifer Rowe"Humor is generally how my husband and I talk to others about our choice to not have kids. If people keep at it, I say that we both have many reasons for why we don't want kids, but the only reason that truly matters is that we don't want them." — Shelby Cooper

"I prefer to borrow the children of others, spoil them, then send them home." — Sare Anuszkiewicz

"This isn't a haircut; this is my life and the choices I'm making for it. If I'd said I wanted children, you wouldn't tell me to grow out of it." — Missy Ballinghoff

"I love my husband, free time, and privacy too much to share them." — Elizabeth Gray "I'm an artist, I don't have time to raise a family." — Cheryl Kandel Gimson"I often get the comment, 'But you'd be such a good mom.' And I always just say, 'Thanks.' Not elaborating or explaining myself generally results in people changing the subject." — Lauren Zettlemoyer

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