When you’re dating someone, people want to know when you’re getting engaged. When you’re married, people frequently ask when you’re having kids. When you have a baby, people are curious about when you’re having more. When you have more than 2.4 kids, people wonder if you “know what causes that.”
I’m guilty of asking presumptuous questions, but I decided I’m not going to do it anymore. As your friend, I’m going to try and think of more creative questions for you1. I’m not going to be that friend that asks if you’re trying to have kids. When you’re with me, I want you to be able to relax and not have to justify your family plans (or lack thereof). Even if I’m curious, I promise not to be the 3rd person that day to ask you an extremely personal, possibly painful, question. If you’re like me, you feel like you have to formulate a strategic response, one that doesn’t make you a total liar, but also doesn’t paint too intimate a picture of your [sex] life (while trying not to be an asshole).
If we step back and actually think about how invasive it is to ask someone if they’re “trying” to have kids, I don’t think we’d ask it the way we do: in passing, just to make conversation or fill a silence. In some cases, these are not just irritating questions, they invoke real heartache. I have several friends who are struggling with infertility right now. I know five women who have had miscarriages in the last year. When you find yourself wondering what your 33 year-old girlfriend’s future looks like, think about what you’re seriously about to ask…and then don’t ask it.
I promise you, my fellow 20-something and 30-something year-old women, that I will not inquire about your reproductive status or plans unless specifically invited by you to discuss it.
If you want to talk to me about it, I know you will. There is no need for me to ask you every time I run into you at the grocery store. If you do decide to discuss your family plans with me, I will gladly listen. I will try not to say stupid, cliché stuff to you if you’re sad or struggling, and I will celebrate all your wins with you.
Maybe we should all promise this to each other.
I, personally, am not offended by the general “kids” question, but I tend to recoil at the “trying” question. It would be nice to only discuss it by my own choice. When people ask if we want more kids, I just politely say no. I usually don’t feel the need go into extreme detail. I don’t expect to never be asked about having more kids ever again, but my goal is to maybe take an iota of pressure off my friends and acquaintances that may be at that stage in their lives.
So if you’re reading this, consider it a contract. When we’re hanging out, I won’t bring it up. Like I said, I know you will talk to me if you want to. I promise to take all my cues from you, and I hope it makes me a better, more compassionate friend. ❤
1 I wasn’t kidding about finding more creative questions…. Have you read any good books lately? What was (or is) your favorite college class? Do you have any fun plans this summer? If animals could talk, which one would be the most annoying? Do you snore? How’s your job going? What “old person” things do you do? What makes you roll your eyes every time you hear it? Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Do you go to church? What’s your least favorite question to be asked in a job interview? Do you watch trashy reality TV (because I do)? Want to discuss politics (I probably don’t, but we can)? Have you ever tried a greyhound cocktail? When is the last time you told a lie? Do you have pets? What’s the hardest you’ve ever worked? Apple or PC? Do you think collegiate athletes should be paid? What’s your favorite recipe right now? How are your parents doing? What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten? How do you think I should deal with my kids’ tantrums? What songs hit you with a wave of nostalgia every time you hear them? What’s your favorite season? Do you have a cure for hiccups? If someone narrated your life story, who would you want the narrator to be? Have you ever done Hot Yoga? Who’s your celebrity crush? What are your thoughts on carrying debt? Do you have a favorite charity? What’s your favorite movie? Have you heard any good jokes lately?