Awkward, presumptuous questions are nothing new – when you’ve been with your partner for a few years, you start getting the “Oh it’ll be you next!” comments at every wedding you go to. Then, when you do get married, the questions about babies start. I remember when we moved from our one bedroom flat into a three bedroom house, so many people (including colleagues who were just making small talk in the office kitchenette) saying “Ooh! Lots of space for babies!” to me. “Oh no!” I’d say. “Too soon for that. We’re going to turn our third bedroom into a games room.” Three months later, I was pregnant. “We KNEW you’d be having babies soon!” those same people chimed, happily.
Which is all well and good. But WHY is it deemed an acceptable subject of chit-chat? Why do
some most people think that asking about something that is closely linked to a) the state of my ovaries and his sperm count b) my emotional maturity c) my bank balance, is in any way an OK thing to do? It’s such a personal thing. There can be so many reasons that a couple haven’t had a child. Putting someone on the spot while they make a cup of tea before a work meeting is just so awkward.
And of course, it doesn’t stop there. Now my child is over the age of 2, I am asked on a semi-regular basis variations on this question:
“When do you think number two will be along, then?” / “Have you thought about having another baby?” / “Do you guys fancy having any more kids?”
*screams silently into a pillow*
The reality is that people asking these questions are just making “polite” conversation. They’re not trying to create an awkward situation or make someone feel uncomfortable. But it’s a bit like walking into someone’s house, taking a look around and saying “So, are you thinking about moving any time soon, then?” You just wouldn’t do it, would you? It implies that their current situation somehow needs to be upgraded. “Nice car, mate, but do you think you might buy a BMW in the next few months?” (Just. Rude.) Yet for some reason, it’s perfectly socially acceptable to ask if someone is going to upgrade their family.
Next time, someone asks me if I’m thinking about having a second child, I’m going to say one of these things to them:
1. “We’ve been trying for ages, but every month, my period comes and I feel a bit crushed. Maybe my ovaries have just stopped working? What do you think?”
2. “To be honest, I struggled so much with a young baby, first time around, the thought of having another makes me feel physically sick.”
3. “The cost of having a child is £148,000. Sadly, I’m not the editor of Vogue, and I don’t have her salary either.”
4. “Oh my God, no. I hate kids. Eurgh.”
5. “Well, we would. Except that means having SEX. Eurgh.”
Yes, it’ll appear rude, and might create an awkward moment, but why should the people asking these questions be the only ones allowed to create an awkward moment?
*and breathe* Never one to end a blog post on a downer, here’s a gratuitous shot of my SUPER CUTE tot blowing bubbles at a cat. (Psst! Tell me if you can think of any good responses to awkward questions….)
I used to say “ho ho ho! one’s enough! phew!” but then though ‘f’ it and started saying, ” we can’t have another baby without IVF” (the actual truth) and watch their faces drop and squirm with awkwardness! we all make polite chit chat like that but I always think twice before I ask anyone I don’t really know. Now my daughter’s nearly 13 I still get “you’ve just the one then?” please!
Can’t believe you’re still being asked that and your daughter’s nearly 13! (Actually I can)
Absolutely going to use these responses! We were married for 9 years before I had my baby. Can not tell you the rudeness that I experienced from practically everyone I met. Why is it “open season” on baby chit chat for any woman as soon as she is married?
It’s weird, isn’t it?
My friends just had triplets and is already being asked, they are only 6 months old! I wonder if my granny got these kind of comments? She had 11 children…….. Can you even begin to imagine?
Haha! i frequently used the…
You actually have to have Sex to have another baby.. Theres no chance of that in our house!
1 “time” later BOOOM! baby on the way!
Baby number 2 is not even here yet and i get asked “Do you think you’ll try again for a girl?” ARGH!
Oh yes, everyone is a bit obsessed with the “you must try for a girl” thing. Oddly, I don’t think people who have two girls are ever asked if they’ll try for a boy. Wonder why that is!
No. No. We’re also asked if we’re trying for a boy. All the time. My girls are 6 and 2. My husband got snipped. Definitely sure we’re not having a third. So please, for the 7th time this evening, please stop asking me if we want another, if we want to try for a boy, why not twins. Blah blah blah. Then don’t get your fat ass panties twisted when I tell you to please stop asking. TYVM!
So are you going to have another one then? (snigger) ;-). I keep being asked if I’m planning a third, as my youngest is the same age as your daughter. I’m thinking of just saying that my husband has had a vasectomy!
You get asked about a THIRD? Oh blimey Nic!
They go in for big families around these parts. 3 is definitely the new 2. One of the school run mums just had her 5th. Nuts!
The ovaries one is a bit out of taste
There r many ppl who do have problems falling pregnant
That’s my point though, people don’t know whether that’s the case with me or not. It’s said in a flippant way but it’s an important point to make.
I absolutely love this post Alison! So true, it’s already started here. I get ‘are you done?’ on a regular basis.
And your youngest is only 6 months old, Katie! Astonishing.
I have 2 lovely children, the youngest is just over 18 months and so many people have asked this question. I find it so hard. My response of the moment is, ‘I’ve had 8 pregnancies, don’t you think that’s enough?’ I’ve found either people don’t quite know what to say or reply with a horrible sarcastic comment (then I mentally make a note to cut all ties!) I don’t care they feel awkward, they’ve asked me a really personal tear jerker question and it’s none of their business!
Well done for having the guts to make them feel bad about the question – and in a subtle/clever way too.
I LOVE this (only capitals will do!) We’re in the situation of desperately wanting a second child, but it’s not happening and I can’t get over the number of people who deem it acceptable to ask about our plans. I’m a dentist and get it from my patients – virtual strangers – all day every day. I definitely want to try out some of these responses!
It’s unfair when people don’t know what you’re going through, isn’t it?
I totally understand where you are coming from, people think its fine to ask personal questions. My sister is unable to have children, and is always asked by curious or should I say nosey people why she hasn’t had children yet. Most people are embarrassed when she answers there question, but some have no respect for her privacy and carry on asking questions! 🙁
That must be so tough for her xx
Just a simple ‘did you mean to be so rude/nosy’ works a treat 🙂
Wholeheartedly agree – unless it’s a close friend just mind your own business!
I’ll try that one 🙂
I wanted to start telling people we couldn’t have kids, just to watch them squirm. Believe it or not more than one person asked me on my wedding day if and when we’d be having kids. I felt like saying “well if you’ll excuse us for half an hour, we’ll go and make a start now if you like?”
On your wedding day? That really is funny. Oh no, not funny. Rude. 😉
Oh my god this question is driving me bonkers. Whyyyy do people think its ok to ask this question. I love answer number one. I’d love to say that with a complete straight face and them watch for the reaction. People I know have started asking 2 year old z whether he wants a brother or sister. I want to scream “shut uuuuuuuuuuppppp!!!!”
Now asking a child – that is just wrong!!
weird how many people think this question is unacceptable vs how many times we get asked it? Let’s find something else to talk about!
Good point. There are so many of us who don’t think it’s acceptable, maybe if we tell everyone we know to stop asking, no one will ask anymore 🙂
I love this post, and those answers are hilarious. I’ve got a 19 month old and a 5 week old and I’m already being asked if we will have a third!
*bangs head on wall on your behalf*
I agree I was asked if we were going to try for a third when my baby was only a month old. I have two boys so you get some older people look at you and tilt their head – oh do you not want to go for number three to get a girl? Er nope I’m happy with my boys they will be best buddies in between the scraps and mud fights.
Oh blimey, when my baby was a month old, I couldn’t even imagine having another one!
People only ask these questions as they care about you and to let you know that they are genuinely interested in your life. I know I have asked friends this and I am appalled with myself that I might have upset them. But I am only asking because I love them and I want them to know I’m being supportive. I am childless and husbandless so maybe I just don’t appreciate how difficult these situations are. xxxxxx
Oh Sauce now I feel bad. I know people ask because they care but it just makes everything a bit awkward. Tbh most people have a nice and polite answer they trot out – probably much like you do if you’re asked “when do you think you’ll find mr right?” Or something equally as annoying xx
I’m tempted to tell my MiL that her son won’t have sex with me any more next time she asks. But I can’t, so instead I say “hmm, maybe someday” and try to tune her out.
It took us 8 years and many rounds of IVF to have our first baby. Oddly, it was the perfect strangers who most often asked when we were going to start a family and commented we were ‘running out of time’! Luckily no2 came along quickly and unassisted, but it didn’t stop a work colleague (who actually shouldn’t have known about the IVF) asking if ‘this one is natural’! People should butt out and realise that they don’t know even a fraction of what’s going on in people’s lives. It’s just rude imo.
Agree that it’s rude. People can be just quite nosy can’t they?
I found that, as soon as F turned 1, I had to dodge these questions on an hourly basis! Now she’s three people have stopped asking. It’s like they just assume she’ll always be an only child because I’ve somehow missed the optimum “window” to give her a sibling. Which is a whole other subject – don’t even get me started on that one!
I think the optimum window is 18 years after the first one. No? 😉
OMG, these are the most painful questions to receive when you have fertility problems. When I was going through IVF 18 odd years ago it was emotional agony and I had to fend off these questions all the time. Then I conceived (hoorah!) but the questions didn’t stop about when the next one would be along. He did eventually arrive (and in fact so did a third which took everyone by surprise as no-one had thought to ask me that nosey question after number 2 popped out!) but my response to the question ‘when are you going to have another one?’ was usually “in 43 months and 16 days”. That left people very confused and after a bit of ‘gosh, that’s very precise’ type response and me saying ‘yes, that’s me all over’ they would change the subject. Sometimes the question was more blunt ‘are you going to have another one?’ to which I would say ‘that is a subject I only discuss with my husband’. My mother also had people asking her when her daughter was going to produce and she would say ‘I don’t know as I don’t share a bedroom with them’. It used to totally offend her as she had problems conceiving too and she NEVER EVER asked me my plans, bless her. It is the height of rudeness to ask people about such private matters, it would like asking them when they are going to pay off their mortgage or isn’t it about time they got a payrise or how much did their parents leave them in their will. Ggggrrrr!
I really like your approach of giving a very specific answer. A nice way to dodge the question without offending.
So true, our little boy is almost 2 and the questions are constant. Unfortunately we have been trying for a year and after having blood tests 2 weeks ago I have been called in to “discuss” the results. So when people ask that question, my heart does sink and I now make a point of NEVER asking anyone about it as you never know what another couple is going through.
My docs appointment is tomorrow and I really hope it’s something that can be quite easily dealt with, but we shall see. And I think I may be adopting response 1 if the questions continue to come.
Oh no, I really hope your appointment goes well tomorrow xx
Great post – as always! I have no idea why the topic is so up for general discussion when it’s so personal and private. Would LOVE to see you use number 5! 😉 x
Another one I might try is just repeating the question back at the person “So when are YOU going to have a baby?” 😉
I hear you! As soon as I was pregnant first time round all I got was ‘are you going to get married now?’
What, so a baby isn’t enough excitement, you want a wedding too??!!
Then all the ‘having another?’ Q’s start- like you said, people are just making conversation but as others commented they’ve no idea of any issues you may be having/had- miscarriage, ivf etc. And you have to be polite back just to not make them feel awkward!
Grr *tuts* people!
Great post! 🙂
great post loved it.
I have 3, the eldest is 16 and people still ask if I’ll have a 4th my stock responses “I’m actively willing my womb to wither and die” harsh? yes!
but a lot easier than explaining i’m a widow and having to deal with either the arkward silence that follows or even more personal and upsetting questions on a part of my life that even after 6 years is painful to revisit.
Haha great post. Sometimes you’ve just gotta dish it back. But you should try being Nigerian, it’s standard for people from relatives to absolute strangers to make the most inappropriate comments about you — your weight, your sex life, your marital status, your family planning, whatever. I’ve learned (mostly) to brush it off but I do think it’s a good idea to come up with a few zingers like these 😉
My reply tends to be, “I was so poorly and pretty much nearly died because of HELLP syndrome… Why would I want to risk that again? We’ve got a beautiful, healthy, happy little girl!”. Which usually gets the response, “what’s HELLP syndrome?” Or “it might be a straight forward pregnancy next time”…. MIGHT.
I get the opposite ‘you wouldn’t have MORE would you?’
People are never happy 🙂
Ugh. I’m at the “when are you going to get married” stage. When did it be okay to badger people with questions like that? Haha. It generally doesn’t bother me, but I have no idea how to respond. Um, it’s not my job to propose annnnd we’re only 23.
Love this post.
S was finally conceived by IVF ICSI after 3 years of desperately trying and failing to fall pregnant. All around me, my friends were having babies and I could not get away from people asking when I was going to have one. By the end, full of emotions and artificial hormones, I’d usual snap with a ‘its not as easy as everybody seems to think it should be’. That usually made them feel embarrassed for asking, but maybe it will make them think twice before asking somebody else
Now S is 15 months, I’m getting the questions about the next one. I’ve been getting them since he was 6 months old. Even from people who know what we went through to have him. To those people I usually answer with ‘which bit of the pain of conceiving him have you forgotten?’ To the rest, I just say that I’m happy with what I have for now and I’ll think about more when I’m ready. It helps that hubby has just moved to Dubai!
Oh dear god. I think I’m one of those people! I’ve got one daughter and get asked it all the time, but I still always ask my childless friends when they think they might have kids, or those with one or two if they’ll have any more.
I’m totally going to think before I speak in future. Never thought it could cause so much offence! *cringe*.
I love this post! We have a 2 year old girl and are constantly being asked when the second one will be on the way. It is frustrating and rude! We do want more children but I hate the pressure of the ‘acceptable age gap’. We’re really loving life with our girl and will have another when the time is right. I think this actually reflects what a lot of people’s lives are about. Looking for the next project instead of just accepting the now x
Very well put 🙂
Hehe this resonates a lot more now the gap is bigger! Someone was asking me “do you have any good news?” a few times. I gave a very long death stare in response and thank God it’s stopped…., for now.
I remember being told by colleagues “you need to get round to having babies soon you know” 2 years after we got married (I was only 29!) and literally a couple of weeks after I miscarried my first pregnancy (that I hadn’t told anyone about as it was still early days – but telling people about pregnancies early on is a whole different blog post).
Anyway we then successfully had our first daughter, before sitting back and having a 6 year age gap in between our 2 girls. My best retort when asked about when baby number 2 was coming along was “it is on the to do list, we just haven’t got round to it yet”, which tended to shut everyone up.
People started telling me – not asking – that I had to have another about a month after I announced I was pregnant with my daughter. My answer then was “can I have this one before we start talking about more?” Now we’re not planning any more and I don’t really know what to say, as I worry that “one’s enough” will end up making my daughter feel bad.
We don’t have any children (yet – we’d love some when the time is right for us) and I am horrified at the questions I get asked. From when will we have kids, to are we trying, or are we having problems to am I pregnant!! But the thing that annoys and upsets me most is that the questions come from women. The group of people who I expect better of! The sisters who have all been in my or your position. I could rant on and on about this but I won’t. Your ovaries are your business and as women we should stop with this infuriatingly nosey and rude line of questioning. Ps loving some Of the responses above. Must try to remember them!