This subject is one that I’ve dealt with a lot personally. This is written from the heart, and while you may not agree with my approach, I hope that you’ll hear me out.
As my husband Chris, & I approached our one year wedding anniversary the “when are you going to have kids?” question popped up more and more often. I can understand that for a lot of people this can be a nice way to show interest in what you’re up to as a couple. But isn’t it just a little odd that we (as a society) think it’s okay to pry into the private business of two people just because they got married?
I have to admit that in the past I’ve asked newlyweds this same question. It seems like it’s second nature to ask people who are dating, “any idea when you’re going to get married?”. So, it kind of makes sense that we’d ask a newly married couple when they plan on starting a family. It’s not that we’re voyeurs prying into the intimate details of their marriage bed (although it does seem that way from some inquiring minds), but more that we’re interested in what makes them happy, what they’re up to, and what their plans for the future are. Many people remember the joy of being newly married, and the hopes of starting a family. Your single friends may not know what else to talk about, and feel like asking about kids is a simple way to show they’re interested in you as a new, married couple. Keep in mind that they might also be afraid that now that you’re married you’re going to immediately become “married with kids”, and where will that leave them? Some folks may honestly not realize that there are financial, fertility, or emotional issues attached to getting pregnant and having a baby. Newlyweds
The Good, the Bad, and the Totally Inappropriate
While most everyone feels comfortable enough to ask this intimate question (I’m looking at you random bank teller), each person also has their own advice as to when you should start a family.
- The mom of four who spends more time carpooling than anything else? She’s quick to tell you to enjoy your sleep while you can, and how EVERYTHING is going to change once you have kids. This may also be accompanied by a longing “take me with you to happy hour” look.
- The 30-something professional who waited too long to get married and start a family? She’ll be trying to convince you that your eggs are drying up, and you shouldn’t be wasting any time. “RUN! Go home, and have sex RIGHT NOW!!” she’ll yell.
- The empty nester/well-meaning in-law for which messy diapers and sleepless nights are but a distant memory? She can’t imagine ANYONE not wanting to have a gaggle of little ones, and will be certain to tell you how much you’ll be missing out if you don’t have children. Newlyweds
Getting all these different views thrown at you can be a little overwhelming. It can seem as if you no longer have control over what is a major life decision, and that everyone will judge you no matter what decision you make.
To Each Their Own
We have some very close friends who got married a couple of years ago and they have been very vocal about NOT having kids. They love to travel, drink wine, and eat at nice restaurants (if you’ve yet to have kids, just a heads up, those things are a lot harder to do with kids in tow). My mother-in-law seems certain they’ll change their minds and can’t imagine any married couple not wanting to have children. I fully respect & support their decision, because I appreciate their honesty to themselves. There are so many people who have children just because it’s the next step in the formula: college, marriage, kids. They’re usually the disconnected, unenthusiastic parents you’ll see tapping their foot in impatience… Newlyweds
“You’re Going to Feel a Little Pressure”
With the celebration of our marriage, I got to step into the world of the medically insured (woo hoo!). So, about a month ago I had some time off from work, and managed to cram a year’s worth of doctor & dentist visits in to a week an a half. Stay tuned for my post on how we fail to take the time to do the things that are really important to our own health because we’re so busy taking care of everyone else. During my initial visit with my new general practitioner I was given a lecture on my age (35) and the risks of waiting too long to get pregnant for the first time. Based on a few of her comments during this semi unprofessional dressing down, I picked up on the feelings of this young, well-educated woman who missed out on her chance to have children. There was disappointment, fear of failure, & heartache. I realized that while I didn’t necessarily appreciate her comments, she was trying to prevent me from falling prey to the same scenario. Newlyweds
If you can’t say anything nice…
Instead of walking into a potential landmine and/or committing social suicide, try asking these types of questions to your freshly married friends & acquaintances:
What was your favorite thing about your wedding day?
- What are you guys looking forward to in the next year?
- What was the most memorable piece of marriage advice you got from people before the wedding?
- Are you planning any trips to meet new family members?
There are any number of questions you can ask that don’t involve a couple’s reproductive plans.
If you find yourself on the receiving end of the “having kids” question, I’ve come up with a few ways to respond to those people who feel it’s necessary to pry into your private life:
Why yes, I’m in my fertile window right now, & we’re planning on having sex this evening around 9:45. Would you like me to call you after, and let you know how it goes? This works best with complete strangers, and even better if you can walk away immediately afterwards like you’ve dropped the mic and you’re walking offstage.
Oh, we don’t really like kids. Grubby little buggers. We prefer to spend our time drinking and watching Game of Thrones. Parenthood is so overrated. This also provides a decent amount of shock and awe like the previous response. It says, “I refuse to cave to the pressure to have kids, and I’m perfectly content with my life.” It will remind those who have children what it was like before they had kids, and they could watch something besides the Cartoon Network before 9 pm.
Or, you could take the high road, and just respond with this:
We’re going to make that decision as a couple, and if we choose to have children it will be when it’s best for our family. Yes, this is less likely to make their eyes go wide with shock, but it still gets the point across that it’s none of their damn business and shame on them for asking.
However you choose to respond, know that the decision you and your partner make when it comes to having children is up to you, no one else.
Who has asked you inappropriately about having kids, and how have you responded? Comment below, shoot me an email at [email protected], or visit TheGuiltFreeParent. Share this with your friends and family so they’ll know what to ask BESIDES “when are you having kids?”
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