Advice

Ask Ada: My Partner Doesn’t Want Kids Because Of Our Disabilities

Plus: when do you have to disclose your disability at work?

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Welcome to Ask Ada, Folks’ bi-weekly advice column for people impacted by health issues or disability. Want Ada to help you with a problem? Email Ada at askada@pillpack.com or tag @folksstories on Twitter with the #askada hashtag.


Dear Ada,

I’ve been married for five years, and I’d like to start a family. However, my husband does not. See, we both have disabilities. I have Diabetes and he has Rheumatoid Arthritis. When the conversation came up in the past, we both agreed that we don’t want to pass our “bad genes” to anyone else. But I don’t necessarily feel that way any more. I have a lot of love to give, and besides our health concerns, we are in a good financial situation. Plus, we have a large extended family who would support us having children. How can I convince my husband to change his mind like I did and start a family with me?

It all starts with an honest and vulnerable conversation. There’s no way to tell how your husband feels now without speaking with him directly. 

But, before you do, I’d like to suggest organizing your talking points so that you’ll be prepared for what may turn out to be an emotionally-fueled conversation. If you need help stating your main points clearly and succinctly during the discussion, you’ll have these notes to fall back on.

First, focus on why you’ve changed your mind. What is it personally that has made you want to grow your family? Why is it important for you to step into a parenting role? Before your husband will even consider whether or not his decision is flexible, he’s going to want to understand your thought process and what motivated you to change your mind.

First, focus on why you’ve changed your mind. What is it personally that has made you want to grow your family?

Next, lay out the rational reasons why you’re on board with this. Like you said, you’re in a good financial situation. You have a large and involved extended family. Consider some of the other things that might make him feel more secure about having children. Do you have good health insurance? Is there enough space in your current home for more people? If he had any other objections besides passing down his “bad genes” here’s where you’ll want to address them.

Finally, consider your options. If sharing your DNA is the driving factor for why you both do not want to have kids, there are other options. What about growing your family by means of adoption? This first conversation may not cover how you’ll bring children into your life, but you’ll definitely want to think and talk through this part.

There’s one thing I want to caution you about. You asked for advice on how to make your husband change his mind. You can’t. You can’t convince him of anything. 

You asked for advice on how to make your husband change his mind. You can’t. You can’t convince him of anything. 

Your husband is the only person who can change his mind. If he’s willing to consider it, allow him the time and space he needs to ruminate on the idea. You’ve had all the time you needed to to think about whether or not this is the right move for you. His won’t be swayed just because of one conversation. It might take time. And, if he stands firm on not wanting to be a parent, keep talking about his reasons for wanting that, too. Consider couple’s counseling. Choosing whether or not to start a family is a major decision in any marriage. Not agreeing now doesn’t mean your union is doomed — it just means that you’ll both have to put in effort to get to a place where you both feel as if your needs are being met.

Smiling hired female company employee unpacking box with personal belongings at workplace on first working day in shared office, happy intern or newcomer got new job excited to start work concept

Do I Have To Disclose My Disability At Work?

Dear Ada,

Do I have to disclose my disability at work? I just started a new position at a new-to-me company, and I don’t think I’m going to need any accommodations at work — at least at this time. At my old job, I disclosed my disability when I was hired, but never needed any accommodations. I always felt like my superiors walked on eggshells around me — maybe because of the disclosure? — and I want to start fresh in this new position. Am I mandated to report my disability?

Congratulations on your new job! You can start it with a clear slate, as there’s no need to inform your new supervisors about your disability — so long as you’re confident you don’t need any accommodations.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was created to protect employment rights (among many other types of protections), but it does not force anyone to disclose their disability in the workplace unless accommodations are being requested. 

With it being your first day soon, you may think that a disclosure must occur before any work begins. That’s not the case. While some employees will need accommodations immediately, such as needing an accessible desk for a person who uses a wheelchair, others may not need anything until further into their career, like in the case of an employee whose schedule needs to be adjusted to accommodate for weekly therapy appointments.

Before you make a decision, study the job description carefully. Ask questions or for clarifications. View your workspace. If you’re confident accommodations won’t be necessary, then all you have to do is sit back and enjoy your new position. 

If you’re confident accommodations won’t be necessary, then all you have to do is sit back and enjoy your new position. 

If you determine at a later time that there’s something that will help you do your job better, ask for it. If necessary, you may need to disclose at that time. Just remember, in an ideal situation, accommodations will be requested before anything were to affect job performance.

 So don’t hold information back because you’re worried about how you’ll be viewed. Your former superiors’ behaviors shouldn’t reflect on the new management team. Who knows — you may even find an ally in your new organization.


Are you facing a problem that is being complicated by a health condition or disability? Folks’ advice columnist Erin Ollila wants to help. Email askada@pillpack.com and tell us your problem.

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