Skip to comments.The rude `When are you having a baby?' question
Posted on 01/11/2006 12:58:24 AM PST by beaversmom
DEAR ABBY: I am a female who is almost 38 years old. Most of my adult life has been spent in school, working or traveling. It is only in the last two years that I have met someone and settled down somewhat -- although we are not married. We are both artists, so much of our time is filled doing the things that we love and believe in. Neither of us feels a giant void in our relationship or our lives that needs to be filled by a baby.
In the past year or so, several of my co-workers and other people I barely know keep asking, ``When are you going to have a baby?'' or, ``You only have a couple more years -- aren't you going to have a baby?'' or, ``Don't you want kids?''
My family doesn't even ask me these questions! I think they are extremely rude and intrusive, and I resent the simple-minded assumption that just because a person has a uterus and ovaries she must make a baby. How should I respond to these questions?
Childless and happy in Texas
(Excerpt) Read more at mercurynews.com ...
I remember hearing about an old school friend who was sent an inquiry about attending the upcoming highschool reunion. This was back in 1995. The inquiry had questions like: "Are you married?" "How many kids do you have?" She sent a very nasty letter back stating she was a lesbian and how dare these people assume she was married and would have kids. The person organizing the reunion was very taken aback because she didn't realize a simple inquiry would be met with such a hostile reaction. This old friend was always a bit out there and ahead of her time in the feminazi sense so it came as no shock to us--we had even joked she would end up as a lesbian.
Translation: we're too self centered to have children. Its all about US.
I have to say I agree with her. She should NOT be a mother.
Have the baby!!!!!!!
How much more fun comes in an 8 1/2 pound package.
Live a little, you only come around once.
I can relate to the rudeness and intrusiveness she mentions.
I too, am childless due to certain circumstances in how my life has played out (and not necessarily how I wanted them to) and it doesn't make me a liberal, a lesbian or anything else. I am very much NOT any of those things.
And I hate the ever-present "Do you have kids?" question and the "Why?" that follows when I answer in the negative. I consider that my own business and will tell people with whom I feel close.
I am an "aunt" to many of my friends' children and adore playing with them or babysitting them. But the fact that I don't have children does not make me some weirdo or conversation piece.
I have a couple of other friends in the same boat for their own various reasons and they feel just the same way.
And when people learn that I have 6 kids I always get the rude "don't you have a TV?" remark - and some cads will go so far as to "inform" me that I could get "snipped".
I would never think to ask someone with few or no kids about the type of birth control they use and why they don't have more kids...
The worst question for a woman is ..."When's your baby due?" ...when you're not pregnant.
Thanks for posting that.
My guess is liberal. Like I said not everyone wants kids and/or cut out to have them and there's nothing wrong with that but I think it's normal for people to inquire about such. I understand that some people get too nosy--they can do that about a lot of different subjects. I might ask someone a question about how many kids they have and depending on their answer won't go any further than that. Usually I know that they have one and am curious if they have any more.
I thought that's what the article was going to be...
It's good these questions are asked. It is in our society's best interest to expect child-rearing and marriage. When those start to disintegrate and disappear from public expectations, there goes your birth-rate. And up go the percentage of babies born out of wedlock.
If you can't have them or circumstances have led to other decisions, just smile and be thankful that you live in civilization that's not going to make itself extinct by failing to do something so basic as produce offspring.
I am curious about a lot of thing too. It is natural. Can you please tell me how much you and your husband (if you are married) earn a year. I am also curious about your net worth. Hope you are not offended. It appears to me you must have children and therefore do not know the feeling, if you have never had children, how offensive it is to ask that question.
People get too offended. I like Michael Medved's attitude. He's Jewish and gets confronted/asked by people all the time wondering why he's not a Christian. I personally saw this happen in Denver. He didn't get offended. He's proud he's Jewish and is happy to explain his beliefs. He doesn't think the people are rude for inquiring. He's comfortable in his own skin. And if you get asked a question that you don't wish to discuss/answer you can reply in such a way that isn't rude but gets the message across.
My wife and I cannot have children. We tried and tried and it did not work. After her last miscarriage, we decided that was it. Adoption is far away on the periphery of thought.
For us the most painful question is "Do you have kids?"
It is a kick in the bullocks.
I only take offense if something is meant to be offensive. People could ask me how many kids I have. They don't know if I have had kids to pass away. If they don't mean offense then I don't get offended. I have had people ask me if I'm going to have any more. At one time I thought that might not be possible. I didn't get offended at the question.
I dont think Do you have children? is in that league. Its the sort of thing people would carry on talking about, unlike the size of your salary.
Whats rude is to keep probing if the answer No comes back.
You are exactly correct.
Some people don't have children because they are too selfish.
Are you a woman who has never had children?
As far as the questions people ask, they seem to me to be perfectly natural. Most people are friendly and are naturally curious, and someone's family is a perfectly legitimate subject of curiosity.
Of course, there may be matters of tone in the questions. And one has the right to respond as one sees fit.
If you think, "Do you have any children?", "Are you thinking about children?" or "Do you ever want to have children?" are unreasonably nosy questions, your sense of personal space and personal importance is probably set about two twists of the dial too high.
For some people it's a highly sensitive subject. Maybe one can't have kids because of an STD, a botched abortion, or because one is queer as a three-dollar bill... things like that are your business and the world doesn't need to be told about them and really isn't asking for that level of detail -- WTMI!
If it's a sensitive, personal matter all one needs to do is say, "No, I/we aren't going to have kids, it's a personal matter I'd rather not talk about."
Up to now, everyone's been perfectly polite. If after hearing something like the above, a person who is not a very close friend or relative continues to press the issue, then they have become rude, but not in making the initial query.
If one is offended by a simple and natural question, the wrong is not on the part of the questioner. There is no right never to be offended, particularly for people whose skins are thin to the point of fragility.
I personally have seen a lot of terminally childless women get snappy when asked about children -- usually it's because they spend their 20s and 30s in pursuit of the chimera of a career (and a closet full of shoes) and at about Age 39 realize that the single men their age are chasing twentysomethings, and their deferred dream of family and motherhood is hopeless.
Leads to lots and lots of sour grapes and misdirected hostility. One of the achievements of feminism.
Criminal Number 18F
If any of you ever catch me turning to Dear Abby for advice please, please shoot me.
No fights--we can disagree and I'm not offended:)
Again, when people ask me "Why?" they are probing too far.
There are other reasons people don't have children aside from not wanting to or not being cut out for it. Neither of those reasons describes me.
Whether or not people have children should not be a measuring stick by which to judge people.
I think it's a natural instinct of parents to get their children to have kids. My parents are putting pressure on me at the moment to provide them with grandchildren. The slight difficulty in that is I'm not married and don't have a girlfriend. The term concerning putting a cart before a horse springs to mind.
When I was single in the early 90's and no boyfriend I used to get asked by co-workers (usually after someone's baby shower) "So when are you going to have one?" The only thing I think is strange is that these people are asking her when she's going to have one if they know she's not married.
Right, if in your initial negative answer you make it clear you would like to close the subject -- which there are many ways to do without being rude -- then someone is way out of line to press you on it.
And one's reasons are one's own business to reveal or not. But you're more likely to be asked the follow up if you don't make a full closure in the first responce.
There might be an exception for a very intimate friend (i.e. childhood best friend, college roommate) or close family member (mother, sister) even though these people's curiosity might hurt the most. Depends on the friend/family dynamic.
Actually, I'm with the group that thinks asking Dear Abby about damn near anything is an earmark of a loser -- don't folks learn basic etiquette anymore?
Criminal Number 18F
"Are you a woman who has never had children?"
No, Im not. But there are other things people can say that irritate me due to a bit of bad luck on my part and I know they dont mean any harm.
I dont go around asking people if they have kids (Im not really old enough to be doing that) but I see it as a normal enough question. Of course there are probably ways to get an idea of the answer (or whether its a good idea to ask) before coming straight out with it.
Don't know what it was yet, but that sort of thing (happens all too frequently around here) is rude.
That's a smart way to approach it.
I don't so much mind the initial "Do you have kids?" question; it's the almost inevitable follow-up questions that I dread. Without realizing it, people are probing an old heartache you'd rather not have to dredge up again and again.
My guess is liberal.
My mother i.e. is also an artist - AND SHE IS NOT LIBERAL!
I hate the -self putting down prejudice- that conservatives can not be intellectuals or artists or someting else that is not expected from them. Since conservaties are usually the more intelligent people they are obviously better in doing these things than their liberal colleagues.
P.S. If you want to see the homepage of my mom: www.artfever.de
More than 70% of us don't. That would be the *majority.*
,,, she's got things to do and is too busy, as artists are. The gene pool sorts itself out.
What rubbed me the wrong was about this whole thread was the assumptions and the outright pigeonholing of people based on very scant information.
On the continent we have a bonmot: To become a father is not difficult. Being a father is very.
As a happy father of 3 little boys I think it is nessecary first to find a suitable mother first than even think about kids. Furthermore is parental pressure not helpful when you have to make decisions whether a girl is the right one or not. First of all you have to love her to get happy. Children are just the result of a happy relationship.
I don't see where not wanting to have a child makes someone selfish. It seems to me that it shows that that person knows what they want and do not want. It is selfish to have children you do not want to earn the favor of other people and not be able or willing to nurture that child. There are many reasons for not having children just like there are several for having them. You can not lump everyone together and say all childless people are selfish.
I think we're seeing some of the "If you're not just like ME, you're wrong" types on here.
We all know people like that. ;-)
You are right. I have infertility issues and I get sick of people asking me about my childless state. I just answer in great gory detail about my gynecological issues which seems to make them uncomfortable. I figure I should share the wealth. Why should I be the only one uncomfortable here. Maybe they will realize that they can not judge a person based on appearances alone.
"When are you going to have a baby?"
Tonight, for dinner! They're delicious braised, with a burgandy and mushroom sauce!
I don't know that I agree with your translation, although I do agree with your (and her) conclusion, that she shouldn't have children.
It sounds to me that she realizes that bringing a child into her situation would be a bad thing. And the fact that she realizes it is something that she should be lauded about. There are far too many people who have children, only to realize that they weren't ready for them. Or, even worse, they refuse to make changes in their lives for the children.
I don't know about that... I think the question "Can I help / watch / try some" might actually be ruder!
Some people don't have children because they are too selfish.
You sound bitter about that. Instead, you should be happy for the children that those people don't have.
This type of thinking doesn't stop when people have children. The next thing you know it's "Well, you only have one child, wait till you have two - it's much more difficult" or "You think two's bad, try three" and so on.
I have to disagree, when I said I don't want kids people would say why not? I never asked why do you want kids to anyone who said they were trying to get pregnant. Some people just don't want kids.
Bad, very bad. :)