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“My friends are outraged that I insist on a child-free wedding”

Dear Eva,

I’m getting married in a few months (yay) and just sent out the invites. A few people have already been acting weird (boo) because we said the party would be kid-free. An old friend got really upset and said that meant she wasn’t coming. I just want a simple life! I feel like I should send everyone a message saying, “Okay, they can bring their kids if they want, but my fiancé doesn’t want them to.” We don’t have kids and were hoping for an adult party, but should I just send the message and accept it?


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No way, Talia! No! God, this kind of thing gets on my nerves. It irritates me in an almost physical way, like hay fever or a bug bite on your shin. It’s your wedding, and if you want your friends there, present and pissed and dancing, instead of running off at six with excuses to put Nathan to bed, if you want all the attention on you and not on whether someone’s daughter ate too much cake or threw nuts at a grandma, then that’s your right.

Still, I think it might be helpful to zoom out a bit here. Maybe your friends aren’t reacting to your wedding invitation, but to something bigger and altogether more complicated. There’s a mini-culture war brewing over the place of children in society. Maybe you’ve noticed. There’s plenty of news about grown men yelling at babies on airplanes, about diners being outraged by parents changing diapers next to them in the restaurant, about the rise of adults-only travel. With it finally becoming acceptable to remain voluntarily childless, the battle lines seem to have been drawn, and it is into this chaos that your wedding invitation has landed.

It’s possible that the friends who feel offended by your request will interpret this as some sort of judgment, or a sign that you don’t care about them or understand them, their lives, and their choices. Personally, I’m always a little surprised by how simplistic the arguments seem to be in this culture war that pits those with kids against those without, as if we’re completely different species. In my experience, that’s not the case. Of course, priorities can change when you have kids, but just because you’re a parent now doesn’t mean you suddenly love having kids around all the time, want them on your lap at an old friend’s wedding, and loudly ask why that lady over there has “witch hands.” Even though you’re going to be a parent, hopefully you’re still human. And just because a person chooses not to have children doesn’t mean they detest them or resent parents or harbor any combination of other bitter negative feelings that could be derived from a request for an adults-only party.

Of course, organizing childcare is a hassle and sometimes impossible, but instead of making you feel guilty (because you invited them to a party!) or asking you to change your wedding plans (your wedding plans!), those friends could have simply and politely told you they couldn’t come and sent you a small bouquet of flowers, or suggested a celebratory lunch instead. I think you should stand firm, I really do, and take comfort in the fact that many of the oddities you encounter are misguided. Rather than being angry at you, I’d say they’re angry at the way parenthood sometimes seems to split our lives in half.

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