I’m worried I might be a bad person, as I cannot tolerate children. I even find my nieces and nephews very annoying. I’m 26, single and don’t have kids – and can’t imagine a time when I will. Children appear to be at the centre of everybody’s world, but I don’t get it. I don’t want to be labelled as mean, but I can’t pretend to be someone I’m not. What should I do?

I sense there are complex issues at play here. Some people simply aren’t maternal, and that’s fine; we’re not here to judge you or your choices.

You are still very young and it’s understandable that you don’t feel children are relevant to your life at the moment. You’re putting the cart before the horse and jumping a couple of steps ahead of yourself. It’s important to take things at your own pace, focus on what makes you happy and let life’s big events take care of themselves, which they do when we don’t overthink them.

However, it’s vital to remember that there’s also a difference between not wanting children and being actively mean to them, and it’s this that may be causing you discomfort. Yes, children can be annoying sometimes, but we were all young once.

Also, the label – children – is very broad. If you think about the stages of childhood, they encompass many years and guises. For example, a newborn is very different from a grumpy 16-year-old, who would stretch most adults’ tolerance levels!

Childhood in its broadest sense might represent 20 per cent of your entire life. Now that’s a lot of people over your lifetime you’re struggling to tolerate.

Perhaps it’s time to explore the feelings you find so difficult to cope with. Maybe your childhood was unhappy and subconsciously you are worried that your experiences may be repeated in your own parenting. In reality, it’s a very positive thing that you are aware of these feelings before you make any decision about having your own kids in the future or not, and it may be worthwhile to spend some time with a counsellor.

I suggest you step out of your comfort zone and spend some quality time with youngsters. Try talking to them and engage on their level; I think you’ll be surprised to find that they can be really funny, uplifting and heartwarming. They’ll also return that interest and care.

So, don’t rush your life or worry about what may or may not happen later on. Live in the now and make the effort to be someone who is fun to be with. No one knows what the future holds, but what is certain is that whether you end up having your own or not, kids are still your family and you should get to know them and be a part of their lives.