Ninja Bean Dipping Takes a Little Planning

by admin on December 3, 2015

I would like some advice on bean-dipping. Being of child-bearing age and married for several years, I often get the, “When are you going to have kids?” question. It’s a delicate subject in my marriage, and a very personal topic I don’t care to discuss.

In one-on-one scenarios, I say something like, “That’s a very personal question,” and it is a gentle nudge away from the subject without embarrassing the other person, who usually has good intentions.

Recently, I was asked this in front of a large group of people. I didn’t want to point out that I felt the question was too personal. I didn’t want to embarrass her because I felt she was more naive than rude.

It was the perfect moment to bean-dip, but my mind was blank. There was no bean-dip or other food around!

How do avoid your mind going too blank to bean dip? Do you have a couple topics in mind ahead of time? Am I over-thinking this? 1201-15

Only you know what topics regarding your personal life are off limits for further discussion by others.   You mentally draw the line in the sand delineating at what point questions become too nosy and invasive.   When someone crosses that line, you have a ready topic of discussion that you promptly redirect the conversation as if the question asked of you never existed.

Let me give you an example.  Several years ago my son was in a long distance relationship that many thought would result in marriage but did not.   We decided we did not wish to discuss this fresh news with acquaintances, particularly the nosy, gossipy ones who wanted to know every salacious detail as to who broke it off and why, and if asked what happened, I changed the subject to something entirely different, as if the question never made it to my ears.   Months later, when asked, I simply said, “Oh, that?  It’s old news,” and changed the subject again.   You don’t owe people information or explanations about facets of your personal life. People love to talk about themselves so changing the subject by asking them a question about their work, new baby/grandbaby, new car, latest trip, etc. usually works.

{ 158 comments… read them below or add one }

Jessie December 3, 2015 at 8:58 am

OP, I’m very much in the same position. To make matters worse, my husband and I both having cousins around our same ages who each have one or more children. I too find it a bit intrusive of someone to ask such a personal question. In the very least it is such a personal topic that it shouldn’t be discussed. What’s worse is that you have no idea what this couple is going through. You never know if a couple is having infertility issues or are going through a lengthy adoption process. None of your business!

My go to response has been to kind of make a joke about it and say, “We both like to sleep so much; I couldn’t possibly give that up at this time, but you will be the first to know!”

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crebj December 3, 2015 at 12:40 pm

Good answer! If the questioner presses, turn it back: “Tell me about you? your children?”

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Domsmom December 3, 2015 at 9:27 am

Many years ago I lost my mind and inquired about the childbearing status of my childhood best friend’s sister. I knew better but heard myself asking anyway because we were always so close and could talk about anything. We both knew it was none of my business and she just started a new conversation like she didn’t hear me. It was a smooth move and I got the hint in a big way without any ruffled feathers.

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Weaver December 7, 2015 at 8:33 am

Domsmom, I know that feeling – hearing yourself say something tactless, while your mind yells at you “you shoud not be saying this!” but it’s too late to stop. Cringe! I’ve done it the odd few times myself. Sounds as if you and your friend both handled it in a classy manner.

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stacey December 3, 2015 at 9:40 am

Questions that are considered nosey when asked by one party may be perfectly appropriate when asked by another. I think that relationships tend to seek their own level, by which I mean that when what is being observant about what constitutes the normal give and take of conversation with family friends and colleagues, what is in a better position to discern what an acceptable line of inquiry would be. There’s also the context of location, mood and timing to consider. Basically, don’t overstep the parameters of the relationship with the setting the conversation is being held in. Under those guidelines, an offense is unlikely to occur. When someone else oversteps, I think that ignoring the inquiry is best. If they are so foolish as to persist, you can continue to let the question and its subsequent repetitions hang there until the message is finally received…

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stacey December 3, 2015 at 9:41 am

One… and one… not what… voice to text and poor editing. I apologize.

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PJ December 3, 2015 at 11:32 am

I was childless at an age when most others were having kids. It was by choice and it wasn’t a sensitive topic for me at all, but I was surprised by how often I faced the question.

When the question came from friends at work, I felt the question was more of a way to relate, as many other women in my field put off having kids until our many years of exams were over, or chose to have no kids at all. It was a very practical (and actually very safe) topic of discussion.

When the question came from close friends outside of work, it was OK because they were in my “inner ring” of friends who were allowed that closeness– our relationship was clearly at that point. Again, it was a fine topic of discussion.

When the question came from strangers or light acquaintances, it was a little weird and I judged by the tone how to respond: “Why do you ask?” or “No kids” followed by the most awkward silence I could create, or “No kids, what about you?” often worked well to change the focus.

When the question came from in-laws, it felt like it was a demand for an explanation or like they were trying to make me set up a timeline so *they* knew when to expect kids. Not a good topic of discussion. “Why do you ask?” didn’t work well on them, but “Nope, not pregnant… what about you? You seem to be ready for more kids in the family.” was a fun way to change the focus. 😉

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Devin December 3, 2015 at 4:43 pm

I agree with you. Women of a certain age get asked quite often if they have kids. Usually its by other women with kids as a common talking point, or a get to know you friendly type question. If you feel you are constantly being asked, be mindful of your conversation topics if this is a touchy subject. If you bring up the subject of wanting children, hypothetical future plans that involve children, or remarking someone else will make a great mother (a pet peeve of mine); don’t be surprised if that person turns the question back to you on when/if you plan on having children. Serious question, is asking if someone already had kids less hurtful to those that might not be able to have children than asking when they are having one?
As far as topics to bean dip too, refocus the conversation back to previous topic. “Did I hear one of you say you had a new bean dip recipe?” ” Tell me more about your trip to the bean dip islands” And if the topic of conversation was children, focus it back on their children “So what do 12 year olds want for Christmas theses day?”

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abby December 3, 2015 at 12:56 pm

I agree. When I was trying to get pregnant, I told my close friend about it. Every time I saw her after that, she’d ask me how things were going in that department. As it took me awhile to get pregnant, those questions got a little annoying, but I didn’t take offense. She was excited for me and eager to hear any updates. Coming from anyone else, “are you pregnant yet?” would have been quite inappropriate.

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Mary December 3, 2015 at 9:54 am

My response would be “Why do you ask?”. If they press for more details, ask “How are things between you and X in bed?”. If they get offended, just say, “But you were asking about my sex life.”

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Beth December 3, 2015 at 10:59 am

Yes! I’m on the flip side where my husband and I would like a large family. While we’ve never been asked “Are you done yet?”, the response sure will be either a massive serving of bean dip and if the person doesn’t take the hint, ask the same question about the questioner’s sex life. Basically, I don’t want to know what you do in your intimate life and you don’t need to know about ours.

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lakey December 3, 2015 at 2:21 pm

I don’t think most people who thoughtlessly ask about whether or not you will try to have a baby are even thinking about the sex part. They’re thinking about having a cute little baby to coo over.
We love it when someone else has a baby because we have the fun of fussing over the cute baby, buying cute little clothes for it, then leaving the hard stuff to the parents.
That’s not an excuse for asking intrusive, none-of-your-business questions, but the motives are more thoughtless than crude.

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A different Tracy December 3, 2015 at 4:42 pm

Agree. No one cares about your sex life, and pretending that’s what they’re asking just makes you look… I don’t know. Hysterical. Deliberately clueless. Silly. Something. They’re not asking “are you doing the nasty on a regular basis without protection?”

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Lisa H. December 3, 2015 at 11:09 am

That’s a bit over the top don’t you think Mary? Two negatives do not equal a positive. Think back to the times you’ve said something out of line and the recipient handled the situation with GRACE.

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HotMango December 3, 2015 at 12:21 pm

Yes, I agree that this is not the right way to handle that question. One of the goals of etiquette is to smooth interactions between human beings. Mary’s responses would just foster rancor.

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Mary December 3, 2015 at 1:19 pm

I did suggest starting off with, “Why do you ask?” Then if they continue with the rude questions, then go for it. Otherwise some people can’t get the hint. Besides, they are asking about your sex life.

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koolchicken December 4, 2015 at 3:44 am

I’m with Mary. I’ve had people who just would not take the hint. I have one child, that birth did not go well. There will be no more. No I don’t want to go into the details in the checkout line, you’re a stranger. No, it’s not okay to ask my son to say “But please Mum, I need a sibling”. No, it’s not okay to basically say I’m a bad parent for having an only child. And no it’s not okay to essentially demand a time line for when I’ll produce another. Especially when we just met two seconds ago.

So yeah, if they think they can basically harass a stranger over whether or not they want another child, and when they plan to get on that child. Even when you’ve tried to be polite about the fact you’re really not having any more, then I think you should be free to say whatever you have to to shut the conversation down. Especially if you know you can’t just escape the situation (like if you’re in line or on the worlds longest elevator…).

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Leah December 5, 2015 at 8:25 pm

Did someone seriously ask your son to ask for a sibling? I’m horrified!

koolchicken December 7, 2015 at 1:35 am

@Leah, yes. And what’s worse is that’s it’s happened more than once. Some of these are people I know, some have been perfect strangers. It’s almost like when you’re probed in the checkout line/dentists office/bank about wanting another child and you respond you won’t be having any more people want to know why. When you won’t give them a “good” answer they start badgering you, and if you already have a kid then sometimes they think they can guilt you into having another. Cause you know, that’s appropriate…

It actually just happened AGAIN a few days ago. My financial advisor was asking me when I was having another and I said I wasn’t. She then turned to my three year old and asked him wouldn’t he like a sibling? I said to him, “But don’t you like being the favorite?” He gets the game now and said “I do, I’m the favorite. I don’t want a baby.” He’s a smart boy. 🙂

Vicki December 3, 2015 at 2:18 pm

I don’t think it’s over the top given that Mary said that she gives the questioner a chance to drop it: “why do you ask?” in most cases means “I don’t want to talk about this” and is handling the situation with grace: she’s not cutting straight to “None of your business” or “How dare you ask about our sex life?” The kind or thoughtful person who asks a somewhat personal question (and “when will you have children?” is personal even when the person asked doesn’t find it intrusive) and gets “Why do you ask?” will say something like “no special reason” and change the subject, rather than following up with “No, really, when are you going to have children?” or “Come on, when do I get to be a grandmother?”

This specific personal question is that most adults know might be painful: statistically, if you ask lots of people “when are you going to have children?” some of them will have very much wanted children but can’t have them; others may be in the middle of trying to decide that with their partners (and want to have that conversation in private, not with a random friend or relative at a party); and yet others aren’t quite ready to say “we’re hoping for May” because they’re waiting for an ultrasound, or don’t want to tell their bosses yet.

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Dee December 3, 2015 at 2:41 pm

Mary would give them two (polite) chances to repair the faux pas. After that, she is perfectly within rights to call the questioner on it.

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Kirsten December 3, 2015 at 2:49 pm

Some people don’t get the hint though and will keep asking every time they see you. It needs to be made absolutely clear that asking is not acceptable.

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Miss V December 3, 2015 at 12:50 pm

After my boyfriend and I moved in together his mother decided that clearly meant we should be giving her grandchildren and asked me about it constantly. As in, I dreaded seeing her because I knew the topic would come up and my BF and I were cery clear that we did want kids. Still, she was determined. Finally, after about six months she brought it up a dinner party she was hosing, in front of a bunch of her friends. She asked when she could expect her first grandchild. Fed up and frustrated I said ‘About nine months after the condom breaks. Pass the mashed potatoes.’ Rude? Yes. Tasteless, tacky and classless? Yes. But she finally dropped the subject. I’m sure I will be castes into E-Hell for it, but I can’t say I’m sorry it happened.

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Miss V December 3, 2015 at 12:51 pm

Ugh. Very clear that we DIDN’T want kids

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Mary December 3, 2015 at 4:49 pm

That is hysterical! I believe it’s a brilliant response especially since you’ve made it very clear in the past that you don’t want to have children.

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just4kicks December 4, 2015 at 3:28 am

@LadyV: I laughed out loud….brilliant! 🙂

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NostalgicGal December 4, 2015 at 1:09 am

Vulgar, rude, crude, and love it all the same!

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The Other Elizabeth December 4, 2015 at 10:14 am

That is HILARIOUS. I definitely won’t use that in front of my prospective in-laws (the marriage’ll happen one day, sooner or later), but in front of nosy strangers or friends being rude? Definitely.

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Brooke December 9, 2015 at 2:44 am

That reminded me of the scene from, The Room where someone asks the main character something about his job and the main character replies, “That’s confidential. You know I can’t talk about that. So how’s your sex life?”

I don’t advocate this approach, but if someone decides to do it, I hope I’m around to see it.

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PWH December 3, 2015 at 10:54 am

I agree with admin. I would just recommend changing the subject either pointedly or nonchalantly. If the person you are talking to doesn’t get the hint, feel free to repeat as necessary.

Some of these personal/probing questions can be quite difficult to answer. I wish there was a list of questions people shouldn’t ask, unless they are very close friends. I know I personally dread the children question, it is a highly sensitive and emotional subject for my husband and I. Every person’s situation is different. What some people view as a simple topic of conversation, could be viewed as a highly personal and perhaps upsetting by others.

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just4kicks December 3, 2015 at 11:00 am

We had quite the opposite problem.
I have one step daughter from my husband’s previous marriage, and together we have four children of our own.
Our fourth child was not planned, and at the time was having some female troubles leading us to believe we could NOT have another baby.
We were very happily surprised, and felt blessed when I found out I was pregnant with our beautiful girl.
After she was born (healthy, thank God) my medical problems began again in a major way and after many procedures and tests was ultimately rushed in for an emergency hysterectomy at age 37.
Here’s where the rude comments and questions began.

“A hysterectomy??? Well, Jesus! You gave birth to FOUR kids! How many MORE do you need?!?”
Did I SAY we wanted another child? No.

“You gave birth FOUR TIMES!!! Of course you’ve made a mess out of your reproductive organs!!!”
Yeah….run THAT one past the Duggars, who at last count I believe have 19 children!

And my “favorite”:
“Holy cow! FOUR KIDS!!! You DO know there are people who can’t HAVE ANY?!?”
Yes, yes I do….And I’m so sorry for anyone who wants a family and can’t have one, I really am, but I won’t apologize for my beautiful children.

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Girlie December 3, 2015 at 12:27 pm

“Holy cow! FOUR KIDS!!! You DO know there are people who can’t HAVE ANY?!?”

People have said this?!?!!? HOW RUDE!!!
You shouldn’t feel bad about the beautiful family you have created. Sheesh.

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just4kicks December 3, 2015 at 7:11 pm

@Girlie: sadly, yes…someone made that comment to me.
I know how blessed we are to have the family we always wanted, and am truly sad for folks who can’t, but I’m a proud Mama, and refuse to apologize for my wonderful kids.
Thank You!!!
Happy Holidays!!!

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DianeRN December 4, 2015 at 10:24 am

just4kicks,
Unfortunately, my husband and I were not able to have children. (In my mid-40s, I discovered that it was actually a blessing, but it was hard for several years.) I would love to know how those rude people think that you stopping at one, two, or three would have helped our situation. It sounds like there is a limited number of babies available and if you have four, you took more than your share.

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just4kicks December 4, 2015 at 12:16 pm

@DianeRN: Thank you for your nice comment! 🙂
I’m very sorry for all you have gone through.

Yes, some people did seem to think we “took more than our share”.
I could never understand it either.
Just like poor people aren’t supposed to have kids….like they don’t deserve them is just an awful mentality.
I’m aware that there ARE folks who have kids just for more welfare money, but there are rich folks who see having more kids as a tax right off.

In all honesty, we were never planning on having a fourth child, we were very content with our three boys.
I really didn’t think I COULD get pregnant again, due to my medical problems, but of course we wouldn’t trade her for the world!

My best friend has two twin boys who are in high school now, and said when was carrying them, they were supposed to be triplets.
Sadly, the third baby (a girl) died in her womb.
She told me some people have said the most heinous things to her as well.
Like, “you should be happy! Caring for twins is hard enough!” Ummm, WHAT?!?

And, “well, maybe it’s best this way…I mean the boys will have each other now, and the girl would’ve just been in the way….you know how close twins are supposed to be!!!!”
In the way?!? So, triplets can’t be close?!? Ridiculous.
I honestly don’t know what goes on in people’s heads sometimes.

Becca December 3, 2015 at 12:35 pm

My best friend has 6 amazing kids and the rude comments, a lot alluding to being on government assistance are disturbing to my childless self. They bother her a lot and I don’t blame her at all.

Granted she pulls the “when you have kids” card often enough but I just make comments about not being an adult yet or what have you. At least strangers just assume her kids are mine or I talk about them to satisfy the person who wants to connect on the Mommy level

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just4kicks December 3, 2015 at 7:13 pm

@Becca: yes, I’ve gotten that one also….hinting to being on welfare.
We are not, never were, and if we were…..Well, that’s no one’s business either.
Thanks!
Happy Holidays!

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Goldie December 3, 2015 at 2:01 pm

I have only had one person ask me “don’t you know what causes this?” and it was my own father. I was pregnant with our second (gasp! the horrors) child. I am an only child and my parents made it clear to me when my oldest was a toddler, that to them, any number of children over one was a LOT, and that they would greatly disapprove of me and my husband having more kids. So we did not plan to tell them until after the baby was born; but ended up having to tell my dad when I was five months pregnant. They were leaving for America sooner than any of us had expected, and he wanted me to come visit them and say good-bye, at the time when I would’ve been eight months pregnant. I had to warn him and mom.

Then I came to my home town for the visit, and everyone I ran into that was closer to my parents’ age… their best friend, mom’s former coworker, and of course my parents themselves… could not stop explaining to me how I’d made a big mistake and was ruining my life, and what would happen to my oldest son now, yada yada yada. My childhood friends and classmates were all polite and nice and totally accepting of the fact that how many kids my husband and I choose to have is nobody’s business but our own. But not my parents’ generation. It was like a three-week-long elaborate prank, with everyone breaking every rule of etiquette each time they opened their mouths. Were we maybe on candid camera? I’ll never know!

I frankly don’t remember what I said to them all. I was 28, and was a bit intimidated by so many mature(?) adults lecturing me all at once.

Ironically, my younger son ended up being my parents’ favorite for years. (yes, they picked favorites too, no matter how much I begged them not to…)

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Mary December 3, 2015 at 4:51 pm

I’m not sure I’ve heard many occasions where someone was given grief because they had more than one child. Usually it’s someone who keeps getting harassed because they decided to stop at one (or were unable to have any more). That’s really unusual, at least to me. Either way, it’s extremely rude of other people.

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Goldie December 4, 2015 at 9:56 am

It was unusual to me too! I certainly would not have told my mom “we’re going to start trying for another one soon” if I knew she’d respond by yelling at me for thirty minutes straight.

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just4kicks December 3, 2015 at 7:17 pm

@Goldie: your folks would flip if you had my four!
Lectures on having a second child??? How rude, not to be disrespectful to your folks, but they don’t seem very respectful of you.
I must admit, my folks do very well on not having a favorite (or showing it if they do!).
My late MIL???? Eh….um….It’s the holidays….I’ll let THAT one slide. 🙂

Thanks, and Happy Holidays!!!

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The Elf December 7, 2015 at 1:20 pm

I got a variation of that from my sometimes-clueless father. He’d joke that “accidents make people, you know.” Finally, I got fed up and said “No, accidents make abortions.” He shut up about it after that. Funny, my mother gets that we don’t want to have children. She obviously didn’t make the same choice, but she understands that it is a choice. My father doesn’t, and somehow figures we’ll come around some day. I’m now approaching the menopause years, so I wonder just how long he’s going to figure on being a grandpa?

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stacey December 3, 2015 at 3:23 pm

In the face of such provocation it must be kind of tempting to reply… “so, how’s the recovery from that lobotomy proceeding?” (But if you could content yourself with a simply “wow!”, it might still get the point across.)

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just4kicks December 3, 2015 at 7:19 pm

@Stacey: I don’t have a very good “poker face”, and most of the people who made such asinine comments to me immediately back peddled after seeing my best “What the hell is WRONG with you?!?” expression.

Thank you and Happy Holidays!!!

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AnaMaria December 3, 2015 at 3:43 pm

Seriously!?!? “Reproductive organs” are meant for just that- reproducing! In many times/cultures, four children would be a small family! If someone chooses not to have children, that’s their choice, but why is it considered self-mutilation to have more than 2.5 children?!

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just4kicks December 3, 2015 at 7:24 pm

@AnaMaria: I never thought four kids was a huge family, but after some of the comments I’ve gotten over the years, I guess most folks measure by your mentioned 2.5.
Our unofficial family theme song is “Our House” by Madness.
One of the lyrics is: “Our house it has a crowd, there’s always something happening and its usually quite loud…..”
Pretty much fits us to a tee, and most days, I wouldn’t trade it for the world!!!

Happy Holidays!!!
….And thanks. 🙂

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Kat December 4, 2015 at 8:51 am

Um, is the implication that those people would have been able to have kids if you’d had fewer?? I’m pretty sure that isn’t how that works!

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The Other Elizabeth December 4, 2015 at 10:21 am

That last comment makes me so angry. Why are you suddenly responsible and culpable for someone else’s infertility just because you have a large family?

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just4kicks December 7, 2015 at 6:43 am

@Kat and Other Elizabeth: Yes, actually more than one dolt said that to me, like I won my kids in a lottery or raffle!

Thanks, and Happy Holidays! 🙂

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Monkeys mommy December 7, 2015 at 7:22 pm

Ugh, I understand! We have three kids, and I get that. Or, my favorite- “oh, goodness, the little one was the oops baby, right?” (We have a 15, 13, and 5). As a matter of fact, he was the only one who wasn’t… Jerks…
And I’ll never forget the lovely car salesman who asked how many kids we had, then recoiled in horror when I said three, and loudly exclaimed “I hope you aren’t having any more!” What?!

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just4kicks December 8, 2015 at 5:29 am

@Monkeys Mommy: When I was rushed in for my emergency hysterectomy (I had switched to a new ob/gyn, went for all kinds of tests and an ultrasound, it was Sunday, I wasn’t due to see her until Tuesday and was having such pain I called her on call to see if she would prescribe something for me or my husband was going to take me to the ER. She called me back, and was annoyed at what she no doubt thought was “drug seeking”. She told me to wait a minute as she could pull up my ultrasound on her computer. She came back on the line and asked how long it would take me to get to the hospital as an ovarian cyst was wrapped around my remaining ovary and if she didn’t get me into surgery ASAP, it could burst.) the doctor met me and started prepping me for surgery.
She looked at my chart and my husband and me and said, “Holy SHIT!!! FOUR KIDS!!! Are you people crazy?!?” That is a direct quote.

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Anne December 3, 2015 at 11:06 am

When asked this question, I always reply, “When we’re good and ready, that’s when.” Although it’s a bit snarky, it gives the question-asker an answer without needing to be specific. It’s worked well for me so far.

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just4kicks December 3, 2015 at 11:07 am

….And one more:
My darling (not!) late MIL once UN-invited me to coffee while I was in late term with my daughter, because she had a friend who was joining her and said SHE wasn’t coming if I was, because she had been trying for years to have a baby with no luck.
“Oh….Well, you understand, don’t you?!? You have a housefull and she doesn’t have any!!! It’s just mean and selfish of you to throw your family in her FACE…She can’t stand to be around you!!!”

That’s fine…but, hey….Thanks for making me feel like her fertility issues are my fault….I shouldn’t be having coffee anyway!!!

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Mary December 3, 2015 at 1:22 pm

If you were constantly discussing your pregnancy, that might be throwing it in her face. But the mere presence of your pregnant belly isn’t exactly throwing it in her face.

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Lex December 8, 2015 at 7:30 am

As someone struggling to get pregnant, it is very difficult for me to be around women who are pregnant – even the most discrete, self-effacing mother-to-be will inevitably be drawn into conversation about the baby by those around her. If I had been invited to an intimate event (like a small friendly lunch) where a Mum-to-be was going to turn up, I would probably make polite excuses and bow out too – it’s just too painful. It’s not her fault at all, and I would never dream of demanding that a pregnant person be uninvited to an event – the problem is mine, and it is up to me to handle my own issues in whatever way I see fit and if that means I send my apologies then that is my choice. It’s unfair for a host to ‘choose’ between guests – if a guest has an issue with another invitee, they are free to eschew the event.

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just4kicks December 11, 2015 at 5:23 am

@Lex: I hope you have the family you want very soon, blessings to you, Dear. 🙂

And, yes, a coffee date with my children’s grandma would inevitably turn the conversation to the children.
I get that this friend would be sad, but the way my MIL presented it was like saying I’d be sitting there saying things like “Gosh….I have SO many children!!! You DON’T?!? Well….I have FOUR!”
….which, of course I would not, and at seven months pregnant there isn’t much I could do to hide my protruding belly.

The best of luck to you, and Happy Holidays!!! 🙂

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LadyV December 3, 2015 at 4:34 pm

So by showing up at your MIL’s house when her infertile friend was there is “throwing your family in her FACE”? Wow – I have no words for that one.

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just4kicks December 3, 2015 at 7:29 pm

@Mary and LadyV: I had the sneaking suspicion that my MIL embellished the conflict with this gal (that was kind of her MO….create drama), but after running into said friend once or twice while still pregnant, and getting the very cold shoulder and nasty looks and my very large tummy, decided MIL just MIGHT have done me a big favor with that one dis-invite!!!

Thank you both and Happy Holidays! 🙂

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just4kicks December 3, 2015 at 7:29 pm

….nasty looks AT my very large tummy…..Oops.

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Mike December 3, 2015 at 6:04 pm

You could have said, “Well, we never wanted ANY children, so I’m just as glad I don’t have to see her flaunting her beautifully barren womb!”

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just4kicks December 4, 2015 at 3:34 am

@Mike: oooh….Good one, I love it!
I also could’ve said, “Say…how DOES it feel to get a good night’s sleep and shower BEFORE noon?”

Happy Holidays!!!

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Krissy N December 3, 2015 at 11:13 am

A woman that I knew fairly casually through a 1/2 dozen times per year per diem gig had asked me several times about when my husband and I were going to start a family. She knew I loved kids, so in her mind it seemed we were wasting time or something. I usually dodged with a “we’ll see” til I finally snapped one day and said, “I can’t have any, and it’s pretty painful, so please stop asking.” She cried and I felt terrible, but I walked away. My “can’t” was actually a 5% chance (which two different fertility clinics told us, and said they couldn’t really improve those odds), and we opted to not put ourselves through the agony of trying. We were one of the lucky ones though and 5% was all we needed, and we have a beautiful 6 month old now. But it still didn’t make it any less hurtful each time a person asked about it, when I knew it likely would never happen.

But, prior to going through it myself, and realizing what a loaded question that can be (from the wrong side of it), I probably thought nothing of asking others the same thing. People often don’t realize how that “innocent” question can be so damaging. I now think of it this way – people who do not have children fall into 4 possible categories: 1) not ready for them, 2) working on it, 3) don’t want them, or 4) can’t have them. If you are not close enough with a person to already know which category they fall into, you’re probably not close enough to be asking them about it.

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Christina December 3, 2015 at 2:44 pm

I love your categories! It perfectly sums it up!

I am in the same boat, we have a small chance of being able, but we also haven’t started trying get and won’t know specifics until we do. I don’t feel like discussing my health issues with my new husbands extended family, whom I barely know still. Our go to response is just “not yet”. But I got quite upset with my MIL one time because she was harping on it and said we were her only hope because her other three children just don’t want kids. She knows my issues and still makes a big deal and I snapped and demanded she stop talking about it. I told her it wasn’t a choice for us and I didn’t understand why we were constantly questioned when the others weren’t and to lay off. She hasn’t brought it up since.

Congratulations, by the way!

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KrissyN December 4, 2015 at 9:33 am

Thank you! It was a total shock and has been quite a blessing.

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KrissyN December 4, 2015 at 12:09 pm

Oh and I should have added best of luck to you. Hope you are successful when you do try. 🙂

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CJ Carville December 3, 2015 at 11:21 am

The direct approach also helps, although it does take a far amount of courage to do it.

A few years ago, I went out to an office happy hour.  Nosy Nellie (NN) was a coworker who had anxiety if there was ever something she didn’t know first whether personal or professional: promotions, projects, relationships, pregnancies, deaths, etc.  When I ordered a drink, I got a Diet Coke.  In front of everyone, NN started asking me why I wasn’t drinking alcohol.  She had this huge smile on her face too.  I tried ignoring her, changing the subject, laughing it off, etc.  But she had to know.

Finally, I gave up, and said this, “Look, Long-term Boyfriend dumped me with no warning last week.  I don’t know why.  I don’t want to talk about it, which is why I didn’t tell anyone.  The reason I’m drinking a Diet Coke is because I drove to work today [as opposed to public transportation].  This an extremely humiliating thing for me to go through coupled with the fact that now I have to announce I’m not pregnant and probably never will be given my age.  I’m now leaving.  Given what just occurred, I’m confident someone will pick up my tab.”

NN and no one else ever asked me about it again, although NN didn’t change her ways.  Sometimes giving them the ugly truth will make them feel bad and awkward and think twice about asking such personal questions in the future.

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Ulla December 4, 2015 at 6:14 am

I think it might have saved some frustration if for the first question you had anwered that you don’t drink and drive, and gave her the “what kind of human being you think I am, do you really think I would drink and drive???” -look. And ignored any nudgin for the “unvoiced question about pregnancy” behind the actual words. Not that they are owed any answer at all, but sometimes stating the obvious is also good way to put nosy people on their place. Ugly truth works too, but I think it’s often with the price of yourself feeling more uncomfortable. :/

However, hindsight is 20/20 as they say, and it’s quite difficult to find the nice answer on the spot especially when you know that they are actually trying to fish for and the topic itself is raw. And, I have to add, that I do not like the whole “why you don’t drink alcohol”-questin. Even if it’s not meant to probe about pregnancy, it will easily come off as “you should be drinking alcohol, why are you party pooper”.

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DianeRN December 4, 2015 at 10:31 am

I have dealt with that type of NN. A comment about not drinking and driving would have been followed by one about how just one drink won’t hurt, or advice about eating with it. NN probably would not have stopped until she got a response about the baby she that she had decided was present.

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mark December 4, 2015 at 5:14 pm

I think your method works for reasonable people (which fortunately is the majority of people). But there are some nosey bots who just simply won’t be denied or distracted. With them the only option left is to make a scene.

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Lex December 8, 2015 at 7:32 am

Yeah I think it was oversold here – a simple ‘I’m driving’ would have sufficed.

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LadyV December 3, 2015 at 11:22 am

I have NEVER been able to figure out why anyone thinks it’s appropriate to ask another person about her reproductive plans. I will barely tolerate that from the prospective grandparents – and even then, only if they have the sense to back off after asking a time or two. Suppose the woman to whom you’re saying “When do you plan to have kids?” has fertility issues, or has just suffered a miscarriage? Even if it’s just a matter of waiting, or even not wanting to have kids, it’s no one’s business other than the prospective parents.

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Lex December 8, 2015 at 7:36 am

Oh I put my mother in law in her place over a family dinner not to long ago. She and I generally get on pretty well but there had been some minor tensions between us over a difference of opinion on how I choose to clean my home, and Fiances brother, wife and spoiled son were at dinner. Sister in law is too old to have more children – she had Nephew quite late in life and is quite a bit older than BIL, so there is Zero chance of Nephew ever having siblings. The conversation got onto how much Mother-in-law/Grandmother spoils her grandchildren and she shot a none-too-subtle jibe about how Fiance and I should hurry up and give her more Grandchildren…

Yeah I wasn’t backwards in coming forwards about telling her that wasn’t going to happen any time soon. It was awkward but mercifully she’s not mentioned it since.

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Shoegal December 3, 2015 at 12:10 pm

I would like to know where this term “bean dip” sprang from? Only from this site have I learned what it meant but both my DH and I have never heard of it before. A general search on the internet does not list a definition – and all I get is recipes for bean dip.

As for the OP – I believe you are asking for topics to have at the ready – Perhaps an upcoming holiday, event, newsworthy topic – i.e. sports, theater, movie would be something to always have on hand. So when the question pops up: “when are you going to have kids?” You say, “HEY!!! Is anybody going to see the new Star Wars flick?” or “How about those bears?” or “I saw the cutest cat video on the internet!!!” Takes practice (my husband is a master at it!) but be prepared with your topic and when prompted – redirect.

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shhh its me December 3, 2015 at 12:46 pm

It an euphemism for the basic outline of how to change the subject.

“When do you plan on having kids?” , “Have you tried the bean dip? Aunt Martha made it she adds plums ” Literally ignore the questions and start talking about something else. At some point people started using “Have you tried the bean dip?” as the example so often , the phrase has become the name of the technique .

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Lerah99 December 3, 2015 at 1:12 pm

“Bean Dipping” is basically a polite way to change the conversation.

For example:
Person 1: “When are you and your husband going to finally have kids?”

Person 2: “What an interesting question. Hey, have you tried the bean dip Nancy brought? It’s delicious!”

Person 1: “No I haven’t tried it. But how about it? When will there be the pitter patter of little feet in your home?”

Person 2: “This bean dip really is wonderful. Please excuse me. I’m going to go see if Nancy will share the recipe.”

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Mary December 3, 2015 at 1:26 pm

Bean dip is basically following your advice as to having a new topic. “How about that bean dip?”

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Goldie December 3, 2015 at 2:08 pm

The bean dip is from one of the five (I believe) phrases that Admin recommends in sticky social situations – “I’m afraid this won’t be possible”, “Sorry, I cannot accommodate your request”, “This is an interesting assumption”, “So kind of you to take an interest” (there might be one or two more, I forget), and, when you want to distract a nosy person or change the subject – “Have you tried the bean dip?”

Now that I think of it, I cannot find the complete list of these rules anywhere on the site. I could swear I’ve seen them all on one page before. Does EHell still have them as one list? If not, maybe we need one?

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sweetonsno December 3, 2015 at 2:37 pm

Joanne Ketch, apparently. (I searched “bean dip” and “change the subject” and got a few hits. One attributed the phrase to Ms. Ketch, who says she developed the “Bean Dip Response” as a way of handling unsolicited parenting advice.

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admin December 3, 2015 at 4:40 pm

The oldest archived example of the use of bean dip on the current Ehell forum is here: http://www.etiquettehell.com/smf/index.php?topic=15674.0 October 2007 and since the person starting the thread obviously knew what it meant, I suspect the phrase was in usage way before that date. This post shows it was in common use on the forum in 2007: http://www.etiquettehell.com/smf/index.php?topic=16160.0

But this forum is the third version of it….prior to this it was a BeeHive forum and before that it was on Delphi Forums and before that was an email list called EtiquettEmail (created in 1995). This version of the forum was begun in December 2006 so I’m confident the word was being used on the BeeHive forum prior to 2007.

Ehell members’ usage of the phrase predates Joanne Ketch’s by a few years.

Urban Dictionary has the first entry for it on October 15, 2007: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=bean%20dip&defid=2634648

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Tracy P December 3, 2015 at 3:17 pm

That’s because it is a phrase unique to this site. Given time it might filter to the outside world, but for now, it’s just here.

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JD December 3, 2015 at 12:12 pm

OP, you know you will be asked this on occasion. Until you feel like you want to answer that question, if you ever do feel like it, have some topics prepared in your head ahead of time. Tailor it to your situation or the crowd if you must, but even if it’s just, “Do I have something on the back of my shirt? I think I brushed up against some dirt,” have something ready so you don’t go blank. I don’t think on my feet very well, so I learned to do that when I suspected I was going to be asked about something I didn’t want to answer.
Or, do what my son-in-law did when a family member started grilling him and my daughter on when they were going to have kids, saying, “you don’t need to wait longer, it’s your turn, so you need to have one”, etc. He said he didn’t take directions well, and just wasn’t going to be able to talk about that subject, all said in a pleasant, but firm voice, and that was the end of it. What was funny to me was that I was standing there knowing my daughter was indeed pregnant, but in the very early stages, and she wasn’t prepared to announce it yet.

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Green123 December 3, 2015 at 3:02 pm

Or, do what my son-in-law did when a family member started grilling him and my daughter on when they were going to have kids, saying, “you don’t need to wait longer, it’s your turn, so you need to have one”, etc.

‘Lady, I don’t breed on command’

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Julia December 3, 2015 at 12:21 pm

I think it’s important when we respond to questions like this not to take offense and not to give it. We live in a country with a few thousand different cultures, and people have very different ideas about what is and isn’t private. Of course, one should never “have” to answer a question in polite conversation, but letting the other person know you don’t want to answer can be done with civility, even friendliness. A little smile and a quick change in conversation are all that is required. Unless the other person really is a jerk (and most people aren’t, in my experience), they will get the hint and move on.

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abby December 3, 2015 at 12:52 pm

When will you have kids is not only a rude question- it’s also kind of a dumb one. Unless you’re currently pregnant when asked, you don’t *know* when or if you’ll have kids.

Essentially, the person asking is really saying, so have you just not wanted to get pregnant thus far (and if so, I have some opinions on that), or have you been trying without any success (in which case I have more opinions about that), or are you currently pregnant and you just aren’t telling me yet?

I actually think “That’s a really personal question” is a pretty good response. It may come across as a rebuke, but I think any other gentler response may just be an invitation for more questions or comment.

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OP December 4, 2015 at 7:54 pm

I actually said “I don’t know!” Twice, but it obviously doesn’t change the subject, which is where I want to do better. I guess I’ll memorize a couple new topics.

Some suggestions that other commenters made, I will definitely use: “How many kids do you have?” or “What ages are your children?”

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Lisa H. December 3, 2015 at 12:53 pm

I was old enough to know better, but for some reason I checked my brain at the door of my hubs Christmas party. The waitress that was assigned to our area appeared to be pregnant and so I asked her how far along she was. She wasn’t pregnant. Much to my dismay the floor did not give way for me to disappear into, but she handled the situation with the utmost grace I’ve ever seen and for that I was grateful. Strange questions like this don’t require a snarky answer, just some redirection for the dolt on the asking end of the question.

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Miriam December 4, 2015 at 2:17 pm

I think the first time/genuine mistake deserve a gentle answer, but by the 20th time I’m not sure that the snarky answer hasn’t been earned?

My neighbour mistaking immense weight gain following a back injury? I laughed it off, and tried to reassure her I wasn’t offended…

My cousin *insisting* that I *must* be pregnant (despite my repeated denials)? I think she deserved being told by my mum that “after two years gestation, don’t you think she would have had it by now?” I don’t know if that qualifies as snarky (or a clue-by-four), but it got the message across, and she *finally* let the topic drop!

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NostalgicGal December 3, 2015 at 1:00 pm

I lived this. Most of our family (both sides) were a) it was getting pretty serious anyways b) they were engaged but had to move the marriage up fairly suddenly to fairly soon. I wasn’t and we got married because we wanted to (only one of his siblings that didn’t have to (aka 3 at the altar)) (as far as my cousin, about the same, only one that didn’t have to or move it up). It did look so as we met end of July, he proposed just after Christmas and we got married near end of April (my cousins and such actually had a betting pool going that I was going to deliver in the 6 months after and they lost.)

We really didn’t try to have a family; and due to issues from my mother’s side (I am generation 3 and generation 4 is all going through it right now and generation 5 is just starting) that the rate of miscarriages is high and between 30 and 40 (most right around 30) have a hysterectomy. Especially about the first five years after we got married and I didn’t lead off with a kid before the first anniversary, people started asking.They didn’t have to know if we were trying or not, they didn’t have to know the status of I miscarried I would look them in the eye and say we have not been gifted with a child yet, and IF and WHEN it happens, we’ll be glad to let everyone know.

Spouse and I accepted it as we did take some precautions to not, if we did succeed then we would accept our ‘gift’ and if it didn’t that was the way it was to be. Over two decades ago all the plumbing came out, I haven’t been a happier woman for being rid of that, and no, we do not curse anything or hold it against anything either. It is just the card that was dealt our hand of life. My biological clock didn’t ‘bother’ me, it ‘cursed’ me if anything.

The reply:
I would look them in the eye and say “we have not been gifted with a child yet, and IF and WHEN it happens, we’ll be glad to let everyone know.” worked wonderfully for me in most any situation. It didn’t go into any details on if we were or weren’t trying or whether we wanted kids or not, or if I had a miscarriage again. It was a good answer and just enough information. And all I felt like sharing

Then happily pick any topic you choose and keep going. Even if it’s flower arranging or the time you found that humongous hairy quarter inch long spider in the tub and about broke every window out of the house screaming about it….

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Becca December 3, 2015 at 1:00 pm

My favorite “how do you think that’s appropriate to ask” is when I moved to another town and the immediate question was “Are you moving in with your BF?”. No and thanks for making it extremely awkward since we’ve only even known each other for a year at that time. I had this unrealistic timeline pushed on us on top of it being my first relationship in my 30+ years. Yes, you’re excited I may not actually be an old maid, bless your hearts, bleh.

I just get snarky or change the subject to whichever suits the conversation. Don’t over think kt and if you don’t have a plan just say “It’s not a matter that concerns you. What else have you been up to?”

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Lerah99 December 3, 2015 at 1:05 pm

My friend, Nicole (not her real name) is child free by choice.
Her younger brother was born with a genetic disorder that caused him to be mentally retarded and have many physical ailments.
She watched the huge emotional and financial impact that had on her family and decided she didn’t want children.

She and her husband are in complete agreement on it.

They’ve been married for 8 years and are in the early 30s.
Some well meaning women at her church decided that she must have fertility issues since she and her husband don’t have any kids.

Imagine Nicole’s surprise one Sunday during prayers when the pastor said “And we lift up Nicole and Jame in Jesus’ name. May you bless them with the children they so desperately desire…”

She had to have a quiet word with her pastor so it didn’t happen again.

A couple weeks later one of the ladies in the altar guild approached Nicole and scolded her for being so selfish as to deny her husband children and her parents grandchildren. Nicole responded by saying, “That’s so sweet. I had no idea you were friends with my parents. I’ll let them know you inquired after them.” and walking away.

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Dezrah December 3, 2015 at 7:47 pm

Nicole is my hero. She gets all the virtual high-fives for such a perfect response.

I’m a little less impressed her Pastor though. He really should’ve made sure that Nicole and Jame were on board before making the announcement, but one faux pas isn’t too bad. He definitely compounded his mistake though by oversharing with this lady instead of sticking with a vague “you may keep them in your personal thoughts and prayers, but we will not be mentioning them in a group setting.”

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Lerah99 December 4, 2015 at 1:09 pm

Yes, she gets full points for a polite reply and not engaging.

Her pastor was horrified.

It turned out that a woman who volunteered in the church office, Ms. Busybody, had added the request. The book was out in the open because it never occurred to anyone that someone might lie about a prayer request.

Ms. Busybody was banned from added prayer requests a couple months later when she added one that said “For Nicole and James – we beg forgiveness for the abortion that made Nicole sterile.”

Ms. Busybody was also informed that her volunteer service in the church office was no longer requested.

Nicole was baffled by the whole thing. Nicole and Ms. Busybody had been in the same women’s Bible Study class at the church, but they weren’t friends.

Nicole thinks the woman disliked her because when Ms. Busybody recommended “The Way Home: Beyond Feminism Back to Reality” to the group, Nicole pointed out that many women in the group were working mothers or single mothers and might not enjoy a title that condemns their lives.

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NostalgicGal December 4, 2015 at 1:34 am

My DH and I weren’t trying as I mention elsewhere, we were taking precautions. I have the markers of two genetic defects (and was tested and am positive) and he has one (that skips every other generation, he has it, his kids wouldn’t, his grandkids would). So we weren’t trying. As said if we had been blessed with me going term, we would have accepted our gift. We were the only ones on both sides of our generation that didn’t produce a kid within 6 months of the wedding. Nor anytime soon after. I had to sit my parents down after 3 years of marriage (I am an only) and explain carefully that the issues on mom’s side I had pretty severely, and we’d just found out about the defects I carried. So we weren’t trying. They might not ever get any grandchildren. Were we considering a donor egg? No, he had an issue too, and I doubted I could carry to term (that was pretty new and expensive treatments then. Adopt? No. We had decided upon if we get gifted fine, if we don’t, fine. But we didn’t want THEM hoping any longer. They took it very well after the difficulties they’d had to get preemie me; but it was one of the harder discussions I ever had with them. DH’s side it was easy, he was near the bottom of 7, and I had a niece four months younger than I was. It wasn’t such a deal to them.

I never had a pastor, reverend, minister, or priest mention my name and ask that I be blessed with a child. If they had I would have stood up, and said ‘I have prayed to the almighty and I believe my prayers have been answered in the way HE intended’. then leave everyone else to figure it out.

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Lerah99 December 4, 2015 at 1:11 pm

I think it was more than fair to sit down with your parents and have that discussion.
That way everyone is on the same page and there aren’t any false hopes of “Maybe next year for a grandbaby.”

Yes, Nicole was really shocked in the moment. She said she was glad she had the rest of the service to think about how to approach the pastor.

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Kat December 3, 2015 at 1:51 pm

“I don’t know, are you offering free child care for life if I have one?”

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lkb December 3, 2015 at 2:05 pm

It seems to me the OP can rely on the stock E-hell approved phrases:

Silence

“So kind of you to take an interest.”

“Why would you need to know?”

“Have you tried the bean dip? Seen the latest (TV Series, Movie etc.)? How ’bout that Sports Team? Politician? Celebrity?…”

Or just plain, “It’s really nobody’s business other than me and my spouse. and/or It’s not something I care to discuss. and/or That’s a rather personal question, isn’t it?”

I’ve been on various sides of this: married-but-as-yet childless (including miscarriages), having three children and, unfortunately putting my foot in my mouth. Not easy but not anything to stress about really. It’s on the questioner, really.

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lakey December 3, 2015 at 2:13 pm

Wrong to ask about reproductive plans because:
There may have been miscarriages.
There may have been the death of a child or baby.
There may have been years of trying without success.
They may not want children.
The marriage may be on shaky ground.
There may be medical issues.
It’s none of my business.

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Ellie December 3, 2015 at 6:43 pm

I had a miscarriage in March. A week later I was at a wedding and the pregnant sister-of-the-bride asked me when we were going to be having kids. I blabbered such a weird answer and walked away she had to know something was up. What answer do people expect you to say? “Oh anytime now, want to see my ovulation chart?” You’re right, there’s a multitude of reasons behind not being pregnant and absolutely none of them are anyone’s business.

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just4kicks December 4, 2015 at 4:29 am

@Ellie: I’m so sorry about your miscarriage, many blessings to you, Dear.

I’ve told this story before on other posts.
My husband and his ex had a few miscarriages while they were married.
The last pregnancy before they had their daughter, she carried a baby to full term only to have the child die in her womb.
They of course were just devastated, and of course, she was admitted immediately to the hospital.
As the doctor (a family friend who actually delivered our children) and the nurses were delivering the baby while my husband and his ex wife just sobbed.
As the team finished up, a nurse came running in the room to announce “Hey you guys! When you’re done here, you have just GOT to come the most beautiful baby I’ve ever seen!!!”
My husband said he has never even thought of hitting a woman out of anger, but on that day, he was just gobsmacked.
The doctor got up and physically dragged this nurse by her arm out into the hallway, where he SCREAMED at her for a good five minutes.
The nurse came back sheepishly later in the day to apologize for her actions, and my husband told her get the (bleep) away from them and a few choice other phrases until she fled in tears.
To this day, neither of them know the sex of their deceased child….they didn’t want to know.

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Mary December 4, 2015 at 11:10 am

I’m not sure if it would have stopped this nurse, but at the hospital where I delivered our first daughter, they had a system. There was a card holder next to the room number outside each room. If all was going well, or a healthy baby had been born, there was a picture of the sun shining. If it was a tragic situation and the couple had lost the baby, the baby was stillborn, etc., there would be a card with a picture of rain clouds and rain drops. This was to prevent the wrong type of thing being said by staff and for them to know the situation before they entered the room.

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just4kicks December 5, 2015 at 2:18 am

@Mary: That is a wonderful (and discreet) way to handle that. Kudos to them.

My husband said that years later, he and his then wife were discussing what happened to them when their child died with close friends.
One of the friends said, “even if your child WAS born healthy, that’s still pretty damn rude of the nurse to breeze in and say that! Everyone thinks THEIR child is the most beautiful baby ever born!”

Ellie December 4, 2015 at 5:55 pm

Thank you for the sympathies. Currently I am 7 months along in my second pregnancy, so fingers crossed it continues to go well.

My jaw dropped reading about that nurse! Sounds like she learned a valuable lesson that day, though at the expense of the poor grieving parents. Good on the doctor to immediately chastise her. I don’t blame your husband at all for letting her have a piece of his mind too. Yikes.

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just4kicks December 6, 2015 at 8:08 am

@Ellie: Congratulations!!! 🙂
My fingers and toes are crossed for you, many blessings to you and your child.

NostalgicGal December 5, 2015 at 1:30 am

It wasn’t delivering a child. Medications and I sometimes have strange interactions, reactions or side effects. I had my appendix out in the old style day where they cut your side open. They gave me Demerol. It did two things, in about 15 minutes I would mold onto to whatever I was on top of and go to sleep and sleep for a few hours (we joked I could fold over the back of a chair and do so). The other was it killed every bit of desire for me to eat or drink a single calorie or drop of water. One afternoon I watched a glass of ice and water melt. Nope didn’t want any. I am the one that noticed as it drew to time for next injection I actually wanted a swallow of something, and this was after spurning yet another salt soup and paste meal tray and the doctor came to talk to me about was there ANYTHING the kitchen could send up or they could send out for that I might even think of eating or drinking, and I mentioned the about the time it wore off I was interested. I needed it bad yet for the pain so the chart instructions were very plain to FEED ME first then give the meds. Or a nice big glass of water or 7 up if it was between mealtimes, then give me my shot. Well, I cleaned up my supper tray such as it was, I was hurting but I did want to swallow it, then I got my shot and went to sleep. Next morning at 7:30 am the nurse comes in to get me up, seen the chart, and wants to give me my shot. No, I’m supposed to eat first. (she’d seen the chart). She convinced me the breakfast tray was on the floor, she’d give me the shot, go drop the sharp and be right back with breakfast (like a few minutes, so I agreed. She bustles off. A good hour later the tray shows and the orderly brings it in and I slide it on the rolling table as far footward as I can push it, and cross my arms and wait. Doc is making rounds and wants to see how I fared, and seen a still covered tray pushed away. “What happened?” so I told him what the nurse had done and it’d taken over an hour for the tray to show. He looked at my chart, noted when the shot had been given and found that nurse on the other side of the building. She got massively chewed over she read that chart, she lied to me, if I didn’t start eating and drinking I wasn’t getting out of there (I was 2 days overdue on having the IV in) and convincing me to take the shot against written orders because it was convenient for HER not to have to come back in an hour to give me the shot wasn’t going to happen again. EVER. Someone got my tray, I watched ice cubes melt; and I got my lunch tray then a different nurse gave me my meds. I learned from that one to to ask what you were giving me, pill or shot or whatever and why? Politely but you’re going to tell me. I’ve saved getting several injections of stuff I’m terribly allergic to and stuff like that.

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just4kicks December 7, 2015 at 6:50 am

@NostalgicGal: Well, that nurses actions just take the laziness factor up to 10+!!! Sheesh.
I’m glad they switched out the nurse for you.
I must admit though, the first time I read your comment, and you stated the nurse said your meal was “on the floor”, I thought she had physically put your food on the ground! Eww.
Then I re-read it and realized the food tray was making the rounds on your LEVEL.
Thanks for the (unintended) chuckle…..my pre-coffee brain, not yours! 🙂

NostalgicGal December 7, 2015 at 10:14 pm

Just4Kicks it Was in the era where nursing went from a decent profession to the era of the beancounted to death overworked underpaid hardworking woman in white, but. She purposely lied to me to get me to take the shot when it was against the written instructions when it was more convenient for her. That nurse was still on that floor at lunchtime but they got a different one to step over to my room to give me the meds as written. That had been a big hospital and the fact you could hear that chew-out and most of it pretty clearly across that whole floor, that doc was (righteously) ticked this time. We found out oral (pill) form didn’t hit me that sharply or that fast, and I could leave the hospital then guaranteed that I could and would intake enough to recover.

Dee December 3, 2015 at 2:40 pm

What about just silence and a gentle stare at the questioner? If you can’t think of something to say and are shocked into silence then that might be the response that is comfortable for you. It isn’t rude but it can be uncomfortable for the asker and, in a crowd, there will always be someone quick on the draw who will fill in that uncomfortable gap and save you. If the question is posed one-on-one then it’s okay to just be silent. Even just look at your toes if you don’t know how to keep the stare. It’s not your job to work your way out of a situation someone else put you in, so doing nothing is perfectly acceptable and a great default setting.

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Green123 December 3, 2015 at 3:01 pm

I’m childfree very, very much by choice, but am of an age that means I frequently get probing questions about when I’m planning to spawn. My usual answer is ‘Oh, I’m not allowed. Psychopath, y’know?’

That shuts ’em up. 🙂

Or if they’re really persistent I say ‘Oh, I have LOTS of babies! And proceed to bore them silly about my pets – this is Fluffy, he’s 6, and he was born in a shelter and I rescued him and he likes smoked salmon and hates the rain…..’

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JAN December 3, 2015 at 4:44 pm

I love both these scenarios

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The Other Elizabeth December 4, 2015 at 10:45 am

Oh, now I HOPE I get asked that question by a Stephen King fan. “Oh, I’m saving myself for the Walking Dude.”

Anybody? Anybody at all? *crickets*

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Kate December 4, 2015 at 7:25 pm

I would be equal parts impressed by you and terrified.

Do you have pure grey hair at a young age by any chance?

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JayeRaye December 4, 2015 at 10:41 pm

the Walking Dude – I laughed so hard tea came out of my nose. Don’t worry admin, no one was around to see it and I cleaned it up immediately. 🙂

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don't blink December 10, 2015 at 11:02 pm

I LOVE this answer 🙂

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The Elf December 3, 2015 at 3:20 pm

When at a total loss, I flip it back to the questioner. “We’re not. Do you have kids?” If they ask a follow-up question, I ignore it and ask them a follow-up question about their kids. (I’ve never had someone without kids ask me follow-up questions about having kids.)

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WMK December 3, 2015 at 3:26 pm

OP,

Age has given me the wisdom to know that there are some subjects (religion, politics, and now children) that I, myself, would never discuss with another person unless I know them really well.

For me, the decision not to discuss whether a couple decides to have children or not, came right after I had a miscarriage 13 years ago. It was a very painful time for me to be asked “So, when are you going to have kids?” and I vowed never to put another person into the same position. The other thing that prevents me from asking this question is this: What if the couple I’m asking that of is having fertility issues which makes the question more painful or they’ve chosen to be child free by choice?

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Kayesse December 3, 2015 at 4:42 pm

We are lucky to have one beautiful DD and are often asked when/if we will be planning another. We were discussing this recently and believe that most questions come from a position of excitement, happiness and curiosity rather than anyone wanting to be offensive or intrusive. If a friend/acquaintance is usually polite and tactful why would they deliberately want to be rude or hurtful with questioning about children.
My usual response is that we would like another one but we can’t really control these things (which leaves things vague) or depending on the audience ‘when it’s Gods time for us’.

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A different Tracy December 3, 2015 at 4:48 pm

It seems like some posters are lumping “do you have any children” with “when are you going to have children,” and they’re (IMHO) not the same at all. “Do you have children” is a getting-to-know-you question that makes no judgements or assumptions. I don’t think there’s any excuse to answer that question rudely (unless, of course, it’s inappropriate for that person to be asking for other reasons, like they’re interviewing you for a job, or they’re a complete stranger in the grocery store, or whatever).

OP, when you are actually asked the “when” question, I think you might have accidentally come upon a good response – stare at the asker in confusion and say nothing.

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Mike December 3, 2015 at 6:12 pm

How about: “We’d love to have children, but we don’t know how to begin. Neither of us is able to figure out what goes where. Do you have any advice?”

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KrissyN December 4, 2015 at 12:15 pm

Hahaha…i love this. There are definitely some people who I wish I had used this on. People who would have cracked up, but also gotten the message.

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Dezrah December 3, 2015 at 6:53 pm

My go-to line is I’m waiting for the bird to move out first (my bird is a Congo African Grey Parrot with an expected lifespan for another 20+ years). Most people take the hint but if they keep pushing I go on about how expensive his college will be (again, the bird’s) and how I hope he gets a scholarship. I’ve only had one person go so far to say, “No, I’m serious. When are you guys going to have kids?” To which I replied, “Yeah, I know you’re serious. That’s why I keep trying to deflect.” He seemed a little put-off but he dropped it and we all had a pleasant evening.

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MM 2 December 3, 2015 at 7:05 pm

I’m the youngest boy after 3 girls. Two just got married. The third is getting married in May. I am always being asked if I’m dating anyone, whether I need help looking for someone, etc. I always point to the four older guy cousins and say “they have to get married first”

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Tara December 3, 2015 at 8:03 pm

I don’t want kids, and I’ve been married a bunch of years, so I’ve had to answer this question a lot. I found that “We’ve been trying a long time, but…” puts a permanent end to that question. It’s not true, sure, but it’ll make that person think twice before they ask the next person the same question. Asking about someone’s reproductive plans is always rude, unless it’s someone you might want to reproduce with (dating before things get serious). Saying you can’t have any kids, and acting sad about it, makes the person asking realize EXACTLY why it’s rude to ask.

If it’s a situation where you’re closer to the person, a good response is “we don’t have any definite plans, kids will happen when they’re meant to.” That could mean never, so it’s all-purpose.

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missmiminute December 3, 2015 at 8:16 pm

Agree with admin – don’t answer at all. I am unmarried an of an age where this is expected, and when asked I simply deflect back as if I already answered without having done so. “What about you, anyone special in your life?” for example. You could try, “What about you, do you want kids?” or “How are your littles ones?” Etc

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FunkyMunky December 4, 2015 at 1:28 am

My oldest sister has 5 children and my seecond sister has 4 (and antoher on the way).

My usual response is “as soon as [DH] and I can overcome the urge to eat them”, smile and change the topic/find elsewhere to be.

A month ago I had an ectopic pregnancy. I’m hopingI can keep up my usual response going, since this particular nosy question tends to surface around the holidays.

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Aelfie December 4, 2015 at 1:40 am

I’m at the age and stage in my marriage where one of the “getting to know you” questions tends to be “And do you have kids?”

My stock response: “Nah. We’re happily married with three cats. But I have two nieces and a goddaughter. I love being an auntie!” That sometimes gets me a look at cute baby photos or kitty photos on people’s phones, as well as discussions on kids and “that cute thing So-and-So did.”

So, OP, if you’ve got cats or dogs or parakeets or fish to talk about, that might be a good subject to “bean-dip” onto. And if the question is “When?” an easy answer is “When it’s time.” Then change the subject.

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Lex December 4, 2015 at 3:58 am

OP, my Fiancé and I are getting married next year and have been trying (unsuccessfully) for a baby for over 2 years now and I’m rapidly approaching my mid-30’s where the risks of problematic pregnancies increase beyond where I’m prepared to go. All we’ve managed to achieve are miscarriages so I can totally and unequivocally understand your position on this. We get asked, hassled, guilt tripped (don’t even get me started on my mothers’ ‘you’re so selfish, what about Meeeeeeeeeeeeee’ speech the other day!!) and otherwise harassed about having children ALL the time. Back when we first started trying I used to use variations on the theme of ‘Work in progress’ or ‘We’ll get there eventually’, but as time has marched on and we’ve suffered the painful cycle of anticipation and disappointment (which I’m certain many of you are all too familiar with) over and over again, I’ve become somewhat bitter and cynical about the whole thing.

We’ve been to the doctors and apparently there is ‘nothing wrong’ with either of us so they can’t help us – there is nothing to treat. I can’t have IVF because as a severe hormone-related migraine sufferer I can’t take the hormone drugs – I could end up having a stroke.

I used to play the privacy card but it came across as stuffy and standoffish (I know, how dare I want to protect my privacy?!). I’d like to be a bit snarky about the whole thing, or make a joke, or even change the subject, but after all this time it’s become a sore and festering wound and I have to admit that I’m nowhere near as circumspect as I should be. Whenever people start hassling us about it, I just bluntly inform them we can’t have children and that I’m going to fill my house with Cats. That usually shuts them up because when faced with the fact that they’ve embarrassingly asked about a painful subject to an infertile couple, they usually end up looking like the bad guy. Petty? Probably. Passive-aggressive? Definitely. But after years of hiding our private torment there are only so many times people can poke at a wound before it bleeds.

In our experience, the more you try to avoid the question, the more people will dig and pry – people have no tact when it comes to infertility. Keep bean dipping or changing the subject will just defer the question. I prefer to be brutally blunt so as to leave no-one in any doubt whatsoever. But to each their own.

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The Other Elizabeth December 4, 2015 at 10:58 am

I don’t think there’s anything petty or passive-aggressive about your response. Being blunt or up-front is not impolite (unless one is the kind of person who thinks being scathing or overly harsh and critical counts as bluntness). You told them the simple facts, as much as you are comfortable sharing, and if they are unhappy with your response, that is their problem.

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NostalgicGal December 5, 2015 at 1:40 am

Have they checked your testosterisone level? Part of what runs through my mother’s side is slightly elevated testosterisone, issues with producing enough progesterone, and extra long cycles where sometimes implantation after fertilization can be an issue. I’m sure you’ve done enough medical to fill a few trashcans with paperwork related, but that is one I can think of. I couldn’t tolerate hormonal treatment either but it might give you an answer. One that was suggested to me was after follicle burst (I could always feel them) was to have a D&C. You will not get preggers that cycle, but your lining should be lighter/thinner for the next couple cycles and that could help with implant. Yes I’ll go sit on the tuffet inside the ehell door for should mind my own beeswax but it’s non direct hormonal messing with you, just trying to help what you do have along.

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Lex December 7, 2015 at 6:42 am

I’ve had blood tests and I wouldn’t have a D&C voluntarily if you paid me. I don’t have problems with my cycle at all. Everything is perfectly normal. Well, mostly. I miscarried a couple of years ago and since then the length has fluctuated some, but according to my doctors I’m fine. I’ve had an Hystereosalpingogram to check for blockages – NOT a comfortable experience, more blood drawn than a blood donor. Apparently I’m too fat – they can give me some tablets to make me hyperovulate but I’m too fat. So basically I’ve been told ‘there is nothing wrong with you, but we could force you to ovulate if you weren’t as fat as you are’.

Like I say, there are only so many times a wound can be poked before it bleeds. Our philosophy now is that we’re not going to do anything to PREVENT me getting pregnant, and if it happens we’re good with that, BUT we’re going to stop actually making a concerted effort to try.

Having said that, we’re getting married towards the end of next year – I will probably fall pregnant at the least convenient time possible.

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NostalgicGal December 7, 2015 at 10:24 pm

I totally commensurate as having had most of the technotorture known to womankind.

I have had many a friend, relative and other that just went for it and did the gamut.
(friend, been on BC for 5 years, they say it usually takes you a year to three to get back into the swing of it and get preggers. So when she got married she tossed the pills. We figure she got pregnant on the first cycle after or within 2 weeks of the wedding. Others, had two a few years apart, they’re in high school, and the afteroops (more than 10 years gap). The one couple had saved up for their dream cruise and she went early, two days before the cruise started (they had bought trip insurance so they used that to pay for #3 that was 11 ad 14 years younger…..)

Best of luck to you and may you prove the doc’s wrong!

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Julie K. December 4, 2015 at 5:58 am

After months of questions, my ex-boyfriend’s mother offered me a family heirloom china cabinet or a car if I would “just give her a grandchild.” I said “Before we could even consider it, I have to pay off $60,000 in student loans and other debt. Now, if you’d consider paying that off, we can talk.” The subject never came up again.

My husband and I have chosen not to have children, and he’s had a vasectomy. Anyone who knows me well enough to ask knows this (I am not shy in my opinion of children). Now, if we get asked, I just say “We can’t.” and let that hang in the air.

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Mary December 4, 2015 at 11:11 am

The paying off student debt is a good response also.

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NostalgicGal December 5, 2015 at 1:49 am

I used that one in the 9 innings and overtime with my mom’s dream wedding for me (the one she planned when I was four and what was she always wanted; and she needed about 15x the budget she thought she needed. DH to be and I were both broke college students, my father was going to borrow X (not 15x) so I said if you want to borrow that kind of money and it won’t buy this wedding anyways, why not just give it to us so we could pay off some bills. One of the times Mom hung up on me. (waste on (to me) overpriced c*** that was going to be used or worn once then tossed for standing there and saying a few words and a party afterwards; or help us actually get on our feet and survive after the words were said. (would have really helped in surviving those first few years) Student loan debt can be there with you for a VERY long time…..

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A different Tracy December 4, 2015 at 9:24 am

To those of you who had success with “we’ve been trying” – I’m glad it worked for you. I personally don’t recommend it, though. Often it simply moves you from one line of questioning to another (“What have you tried? You should do X. You should just adopt.”) When my husband finally told his mother to stop asking because we’d been trying for several years, she started giving *suggestions* instead. Because, you know, a woman who had three unplanned pregnancies ~30 years ago knows a lot about fertility treatment. (sigh)

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Lanes December 7, 2015 at 8:12 pm

Yeah, the adoption one… I’ve had this.
Birth #1 did NOT go well and it’d be a very calculated risk to attempt birth #2, so we’re not sure whether we’ll stick with one child, go down the surrogacy route, or indeed, adopt.

But to have someone say “you should just adopt”, like it’s as easy as popping into your local supermarket and picking one off the shelf, is just ignorant and rude.

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BH December 4, 2015 at 10:29 am

Wow, my answer for years was “When the time is right!”
It satisfied everyone, at least on the surface, no one pushed the issue. Apparently this month “the time is finally right” for us, and she is due on the 29th.

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CW December 4, 2015 at 10:40 am

I have a 10 month old and now I’m getting the “So are you going to have a other one soon?!” question occasionally. My go-to usually is, “Only if you’re paying for daycare!”

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Lanes December 7, 2015 at 8:16 pm

I love this response, thank you. I’m in need of a good response at the moment, with questions coming at me now my first (and possibly only) is 8 months.

And who the heck decided that 8-10 months was a good time to start trying for another? I’m still in the blurry minefield of teething, I’m not signing up for another just yet!!

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NostalgicGal December 7, 2015 at 10:33 pm

College friend of hubby’s wanted a dozen children. They started having them about 2 years apart, three boys, then a girl, then something happened-a four year gap-and she actually got out of diapers and toilet training and had another boy. His plans came to a screeching halt as as #5 was delivered she demanded her tubes tied, and signed the papers, him yelling all the way. She said you can carry #6-12 and by the powers that be you get to do ALL the diapers details (changing, washing, etc) and toilet training. He has at last count 8 grand children and he’s STILL ticked off she wouldn’t go for having 12 kids (he was good to family other than he was ‘fatherhood ended at conception–no real helping with stuff she really needed help with (2 am diaper change, go to grocery store and actually keep track of them, etc)

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Emma December 4, 2015 at 12:20 pm

My husband is the youngest of three boys. Oldest brother and wife have two kids. Middle brother got married and on the day after, their aunt was asking when they were going to have kids. Oldest brothers wife FREAKED OUT. She yelled and screamed for a good ten minutes about how awful that question was. How hurtful it could be, etc etc. Middle brother and his wife ended up pregnant a few months later, but now that my husband (youngest) and I are married, we’ve never been asked once. It may not have been the most tactful, but I’m thankful.

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CJ December 4, 2015 at 1:07 pm

“We are staying pretty busy practicing” or “it is not for lack of trying” or some other variant of this. Makes people blush and they tend to drop it. I would get a bit crass if they keep asking, i.e. what have you tried…double reverse cowgirl? My former mother in law asked at my wedding rehearsal as well. I simply told her we would get right on it as soon as we have the money for a hospital birth ($20-50 grand here in the states) and asked her if she would like to chip in. I am an awful person lol.

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milinda December 4, 2015 at 1:48 pm

I find that short cryptic responses work best, especially if the question is one that is not inherently intrusive, but your situation is difficult and personal, unbeknownst to you inquirer. For instance, I have a transgender 17 year old. When people meet him, yet vaguely remember that I once had a daughter, they often say, “Didn’t you have a daughter?” I just say, “Yes, I did.” and stop there. No one so far has inquired further, and I don’t have to launch into a defense of his condition to quell their curiosities.

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InTheEther December 4, 2015 at 3:17 pm

My go to for any subject I didn’t want to get into has always been pretend ignorance and/or give non answers. A shrug and barely verbal “i_on-kno” doesn’t give the questioner anywhere to really go. Or you have “People keep asking me that. It’s wierd how much interest my reproductive system’s getting”. Now they have the option of dropping the subject or being weird.

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Lex December 7, 2015 at 6:35 am

LOL the snark in me would want to say something crude about how interested people are in where my Husband puts his *ahem* member.

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mark December 4, 2015 at 5:22 pm

I remember the one time I asked some lady I knew if she was pregnant because it looked like she was “showing”. I got answered to the effect that she was simply getting fatter no baby. The pain of being told that remains with me. Ever since then I’ve been very reluctant to bring up reproductive issues with co-worker, acquaintances, or friends. I’d prefer not to feel that awful again.

I noticed a co-worker was showing and I waited for 6+ weeks before I finally asked her if she were pregnant. She was on the same team I was on and very open person so I was certain I wouldn’t offend but I still waited until it was painfully obvious.

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Lex December 7, 2015 at 6:34 am

Yeah this is a difficult one – I’ve never asked simply because I don’t want to be in this position – I usually wait for the woman in question to say something about being pregnant – usually something like ‘can’t wait for this baby to be born now’ or ‘the nursery is coming along well’. I remember starting a job a few years ago and I was only the 2nd female employee in that particular office – the other woman was married to one of the directors and I thought she might have been pregnant but was too polite to ask – I think she was about 7 months pregnant before I overheard her talking about her ante-natal appointments with her husband. It pays to never assume.

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Cat December 4, 2015 at 6:56 pm

The best response I know came from a man who took a photo of Pride furniture polish along with a bottle of Joy dish washing liquid. When someone asked him about children, he gushed, “We already have our Pride and Joy! Want to see the picture?” Then he would show them the photo of the polish and dish washing liquid.
Outside of that, I suppose, “We haven’t decided”, or, “As soon as we can afford it. Want to make a contribution to our child fund?”, will do.

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WMK December 6, 2015 at 3:50 pm

Oh my goodness. You must have met my father-in-law at some point in your life.

He has that exact picture in his wallet and will ask people of they want to see his “Pride and Joy”. 🙂

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Lin December 6, 2015 at 4:31 pm

That is a fantastic response!

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iwadasn December 4, 2015 at 7:09 pm

While inquiring WHEN someone will have children (or even assuming that they will at all) is definitely rude and intrusive, I don’t think asking “Do you have any children?” is a rude question at all. Especially when you’re just meeting someone, it’s a getting-to-know-you, looking-for-common-ground type of question that doesn’t need to be met with snark or anger.

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Lerah99 December 7, 2015 at 9:43 am

Agreed.
“Do you have children?”
“Where did you grow up?”
“What do you do?”
Are all standard getting to know you questions. Nothing offensive there.

But, “When will you have children?” is far more personal and intrusive.

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EllenCA December 5, 2015 at 4:52 pm

I’d like to add that the questions don’t stop when you pass out of your child-bearing years. In my fifties and I occasionally still get variations of “No kids? Why not?” “Don’t you regret not having children?” “Oh, you’ll never have grandchildren!”

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NostalgicGal December 7, 2015 at 10:37 pm

I go with the ‘that is what life dealt us’ and ‘we have a ton of family and friends, if we need a kid fix we can babysit and hand them back’. That last one works both for kids and grandkids questions.

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iridaceae December 6, 2015 at 4:09 am

I get asked if I have/want kids from time to time. I respond with “nope; I have a cat. I don’t need kids!” cheerfully and since I am single this moves me into “crazy cat lady” territory and saves me from answering any more questions.

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Kelly Taylor December 6, 2015 at 6:54 pm

“Do you have children?” IS a rude question, because it presupposes that your primary quality is reproducing.

I got “When are you going to have kids?” for two decades, and from family members who then wanted to argue, debate, or negotiate with me about the subject. I worked up a number of standard replies, because frankly, it was none of their business, and it was something my husband and I discussed several times before ultimately deciding on no kids. So when Cousin Mommy would start with “When are you going to have kids? You’ve been marred X years! You need to give your husband a baby! How can you be so selfish?” I usually said:

*We’re still practicing
*No, thanks
*”Husband? Want to have a baby this week? No? Good, me too.”
*Not until BBQ season
*No, I hate kids

My family, however, is pushy and nosy and intrusive, so often, they would decide to nag, so I had a follow up:

*”C’mon, do you REALLY think WE should be responsible for a baby?” And then I’d follow up with all the logistics from our actual life: “You know we’d end up trading it for front-row concert tickets,” “Babies aren’t litter-box trained,” “You know I hate kids, so the second the thing would start screaming, I’d put it in the closet,” “We don’t want anyone trying to play with our collectible toys,” “The cats would eat it.”

Usually the absurdities would end the discussion, because, really, DOES ANYONE think we should be raising a kid?!

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A different Tracy December 7, 2015 at 9:10 am

“Do you have children?” IS a rude question, because it presupposes that your primary quality is reproducing.

No it doesn’t. It considers that having children is something that many people do.

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Library Diva December 7, 2015 at 11:12 am

“Do you have children?” IS a rude question, because it presupposes that your primary quality is reproducing.

No, it doesn’t. It’s a normal, getting-to-know-you question. I agree that it can be asked in a rude manner, and I think it is rude to ask a couple “when” they’re going to have a baby, and especially rude to keep pressing the topic. But the fact is, most people do wind up having children by a certain point in their lives. It’s hardly outlandish to think that a woman of childbearing age may have borne a child or two. People might ask this question for all sorts of reasons: a new neighbor might be hoping for playmates for her children; a casual acquaintance may be hoping that their killer Doc McStuffins joke will land; a co-worker may be dissatisfied with their child’s pediatrician and seeking a recommendation. I don’t have any kids, and I don’t get offended when people ask me that. I only get offended when they have follow-up questions as to why.

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EllenCA December 9, 2015 at 12:14 pm

“Do you have children?” IS a rude question, because it presupposes that your primary quality is reproducing.”

Only when followed up with “Why not?”

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