“So, when are you two having kids?”
If you’re over the age of 25 and married, you probably get asked this question about, oh I don’t know, 378437 times a year. From well-meaning aunts to nosey neighbors, this is a question that can pop up anywhere, anytime.
Sometimes it’s meant as a conversation starter at a networking event. Sometimes it’s said jokingly by a friend in the throes of new parenthood. Sometimes it’s said seriously by an aging parent. But no matter who says it, the question always comes out of nowhere.
All of a sudden, you’re on the spot…
I genuinely believe that when people ask “when are you having kids,” that it comes from a good place. Usually it’s because they either want to get to know you better or find a way to connect with you. However, it NEVER comes across that way for those of us who desperately want kiddos. To us, it always feels loaded, invasive and heartbreaking…like our infertility is being rubbed in our own faces.
I’ve legitimately skipped social gatherings for fear of being asked this very question.
So how are we supposed to respond?
For a long time, I just had a vague yet standard, “Oh ya know…one day…” answer. But as the years ticked by and we still weren’t pregnant, I started resenting this question and answering it more honestly. If people were brave enough to ask, I figured they should hear the truth. Why should I contort my reality to make them comfortable? So I started being more bold in my replies, using it as a learning opportunity to educate people that it’s not really an appropriate question to ask someone and that it can be the cause of a lot of pain.
I found though that when I had a canned response at-the-ready, I felt less anxious about these social gatherings. I knew if anyone asked at any given moment, I had an answer I felt comfortable with. So what were some of the things I said? Here’s a list of some of the different ways I’d reply…
Option 1: “Wow, that’s a pretty personal question…”
Try turning the question right back around on the asker. Just make sure you can articulate why you believe it to be inappropriate, since chances are they’ve never thought this before and might ask you or seem surprised.
The upside: You’re educating them and letting them know that this question can be hurtful and is personal, potentially saving other couples from having to answer it in the future.
The downside: It can come off as rude and defensive…and sometimes can bring more attention to a conversation topic you’d like to avoid altogether.
Option 2: “You know, we’ve actually been trying and it’s taking longer than we thought…”
Honesty is the best policy sometimes. Of course, this depends on how open you and your partner care to be about your experience with infertility. That said, this was a favorite reply of mine. It made people realize that you never know what someone else is going through…yet I didn’t have to launch into our entire medical history.
The upside: They might drop the subject entirely or might share some information about their own fertility struggles. Being honest is a great way to try and connect with people. Plus, it teaches them first-hand that this question can be quite insensitive…chances are, they’ll feel pretty sheepish about asking.
The downside: It forces you to be vulnerable…and you might potentially get some dreaded “Just relax!” advice, which totally blows…
Option 3: “You know, we might not have kids…”
You don’t need to say why or make a big production out of it, but sometimes saying that you might not have kids can be enough of an answer to get people to back off and drop the entire line of questioning.
The upside: You’re potentially buying yourself more time and might get to avoid this question by the same person in the future.
The downside: While it’s not really a lie per se (who knows if any of us will have kids), it definitely dodges the key reason as to why the question can be so painful. Most riskily though, they might try to CONVINCE you about why having kids is great…and that is never fun to hear…
Option 4: “We’re actually focusing on our careers / travel / friends / home / pets / marriage / new business right now.”
You don’t owe anyone your truth, so if you feel uncomfortable responding in an authentic way, feel free to use this gem. I like this answer because it can make the asker feel like “Oh crap, they have a LOT going on in their lives and I guess it’s not just about babies…”
The upside: You get to sound interesting and worldly and like you DGAF about being pregnant or babies.
The downside: It’s a lie. Lying feels gross. And sometimes you’ll still get the dreaded “biological clock” speech, which just rubs salt in the wound…
What are your favorite replies to this question?
Honestly the best advice is to just reply in a way that makes you feel as grounded and in control as possible. If you want to glaze over it, that’s fine. If you want to shut it down, that’s fine too. If you want to fake a migraine at that exact moment, go nuts! Just make sure you’re answering the question in a way that makes you feel empowered, rather than dumped on. You don’t owe anyone your truth. You own your story. Hard stop.