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When did someone else’s family planning becoming appropriate casual conversation?

Ben and I have been married for three years.

Since we got engaged the most frequent question I have consistently gotten is, “So when are you going to have kids?”

What they really meant:
Are you having them right away?
What are your life plans for the next few years? Do they involve kids?
Do you know you shouldn’t put off anything for kids?
DO NOT have kids – they’ll ruin your life. 

After a year or two of marriage what they meant:
I’m just trying to get to know you and am curious about when you’ll add kids to your family. 
Why don’t you have kids yet?
Do you even want to have children?

Sometimes they come from close friends and family – but generally I like the rule, ‘if you have to ask, you don’t get to know.’ Sometimes the questions come from a kind and caring place, sometimes from a harsh and judgmental one. But it doesn’t really matter – because think about the question…think about what you’re asking…think about the potential answers. Are you really comfortable asking that? Do you think they’ll be comfortable answering?

When I was in college I had no trouble answering the question, and to be honest, it didn’t bother me at all. I was waiting (at least) till I graduated. I felt no need, no pressure, no expectation, and no desire to go through pregnancy, childbirth, or child rearing while taking a full course schedule and working 20 hours a week.

When we moved to Cincinnati it wasn’t as easy to answer, because the days of full time school were behind me and I wasn’t working full time yet. Those first few months though, I didn’t have an answer for myself so there was no need to be uncomfortable telling anyone else.

It was a few months later, when I desperately wanted to be pregnant that it got a little bit harder. They would ask and I would have a thousand responses come to mind:

Do you really want to know the inner workings of my reproductive system? Do you want to hear how my period has come once in the past eight months? Do you want to hear about how I’m dreading the specialists, the tests, and what they might tell me? Or maybe you want to know about how much fun the actual trying process is? Do I need to explain how it works? ….

But, I just smiled and told them ‘sometime’.

Now I get the questions and I want to laugh, because little do they know but there is a little miracle inside me right now. Right as they ask their unnecessary questions, its stealing my nutrients, making me sick, and bringing me so much joy already.

But how do they know? I could be like my dear friend, having seen every specialist and still waiting, heartbroken. When I get these questions I get angry for her, because I know she’s getting them too. It doesn’t matter how genuinely curious you are, how good your intentions are, or how great your ‘need to know.’

I find myself doing it to, wanting to know what other people are planning, if they’re going through what I did, or something far more difficult. Maybe they just don’t want kids, or maybe I think I deserve to know if they can’t yet.

But I don’t. And you don’t either.

So please, please, please, think before you ask. 
rant over. 

P.S. This was written sometime during my first trimester…but its been on my mind for years. What do you think? When is it appropriate to ask? Is it ever? What’s the best way to ask? 


P.P.S Now that I have a baby I want to ask EVERYONE who is married when they’re having kids. If they already have them I want to know when they’re having the next one. Mostly, I think, its because I want to talk about kids because Lincoln takes up SO much of my life at the moment. I don’t really care WHEN they’re planning on growing their family, I’m just really curious and eager to find something to talk about. But, I bite my tongue 95% of the time and remember getting those questions myself. So I’m a bit more forgiving of those kind, curious souls who asked me about my reproductive system and marital intimacy as casual conversation. 

^this picture reminded me of the popular baby announcement pictures where they line up feet/shoes and add in baby booties (full anniversary shoot here)

why you SHOULDN'T ASK people when they're planning on having (more) kids -- especially if they've just had a baby, they haven't had kids yet, or if they're currently pregnant

25 Comments

  1. Jake and I have had struggles getting pregnant as well, and I go these questions all the time. After losing 2 babies all I wanted to do was yell at people and cry my eyes out at the same time. I wish that I could show every one in the world this post because most people don't think before they ask. and problems having children, I feel, are more common. thanks for this post. I am so excited for you and Ben! you will make wonderful parents!!

  2. Thank you for discussing this! This is a decision between husband, wife, and the Lord. I don't understand why people think they need to be in on the decision too. We never know what struggles someone is going through and asking insensitive questions doesn't help. I am so thrilled for you! You will be a wonderful mom. Thank you for sharing this rant I've had for a long time!

  3. I don't think it's appropriate to ask, because as you said, you don't know anyone's situation.

    After we announced that I was pregnant, we got a few "Wow, that was quick!" comments because we had gotten married 6 months before. It bothered me, because they had no way of knowing some issues we had and it's our decision.

    People just don't know when to say something and when not to!

  4. "Do you really want to know the inner workings of my reproductive system?"

    I'm always unimpressed when people try to dig for private, personal information. Do you really, really want to know all the intimate details? Why do you need to know about our relationship/finances/fertility?

    If someone wants you to know about something, they will actively volunteer the information. If you have to ask or dig for the information, they probably didn't want you to know.

  5. First off, congrats! This is a great post. I am newly engaged and already recieving these questions. I'm sure it's going to come more often in the first years of marriage. The answer is, I don't know. We shouldn't have to explain ourselves to everyone. It is a personal question and it amazes me that people ask so often.

  6. We waited five years to have kids, and I was surprised by how little we got asked this. I don't know if people just assumed we were having trouble getting pregnant or what, but I was glad not to have to answer, since I was just never sure when I'd be ready to have kids.

    On the other hand, I'm always super curious about other people (but I'd never ask, of course).

  7. I get so annoyed with these questions. I get asked the marriage followed by kids questions all the time. I don't see how it can be anyones business but yours and your significant other's. Reading this I remembered a conversation I had with a friend who was getting married back in January. She had mentioned that her husband to be would make a great father and without thinking I asked "think you'll start right away?" and without a beat I apologized immediately. She laughed and said they would try to and not to worry as I was a close friend, but even so I felt I was over stepping boundaries.

  8. Totally get this convo girl! My husband and I have been married for a little over 4 years and are just about to start trying but goodness everyone and their mom has asked my why we haven't had kids yet! So annoying! So happy for ya'll!! xo
    McKenna
    stylewaltz.com

  9. I love this. My husband and I have been married for a little over 4 years now. I used to get this question all the time, and it didn't bother me. I know people are just naturally curious and growing your family is just the thing you do after you get married. My heart breaks though for the couples that are struggling to get pregnant. That's such a sensitive issue and you don't know if someone is going through that struggle. We plan to start trying for a family later this year, and while I love being able to tell some people that, I also don't want to tell anyone because *what if* I have that struggle. In other words, I don't think it's ok to ask. Like you said, "if you have to ask, you don't deserve to know."

  10. Thank you so much for this post! We've been trying for a baby for a while now and it hurts so much whenever I get questions like you mentioned above. I know most questions are just curious and well-intentioned, but it's still a sensitive topic. It gives me hope to see that you have a sweet little miracle on its way and I seriously can't wait for when I'm in the same situation. Congratulations and I hope the morning sickness isn't too rough! 🙂

  11. I get those questions all the time. It doesn't bug me when it comes from immediate family, but when people from church I hardly know start asking, I'm immediately on edge.

  12. I used to ask a lot more, just out of genuine excitement and me just assuming everyone wanted babies! In the past few years though I've had very close friends and families struggle with infertility and I am so much more guarded on that topic and let people tell ME if they want.

  13. First of all – I don't think I have congratulated you and Ben yet with this amazing little miracle! I remember I smiled when you shared the news with us all a while ago, I'm so happy for you guys!!

    I'm currently in that phase where people are sometimes asking about our family plans, because we've been dating for 5 years, but it's sort of clear given our life circumstances that a family expansion won't be for tomorrow. I can honestly tell my friends that I want to have children one day, but right now I'm a full-time student and Kenneth has just started his first job. We're in a situation where we could have and support a family, but it's not the best situation it can be yet so we're waiting. I never really thought about what happens when I graduate and start working too. Your post today has opened my eyes to that. Will people have expectations? How will I handle those? What will I say? What will happen if a pregnancy isn't as easy to accomplish as we hope? I've never given those things a thought, but I will after reading this blog post. Thank you.

    I hope all is well with you and that little wonder you carry with you. Enjoy every moment you can!

  14. That is so weird! Tim and I have literally never had anyone ask us anything about future children. That would be so weird.

  15. I have reached the point where I want to punch people in the face when they ask when we're going to have kids! Our go-to answer is "when we do, we'll let you know," and a smile, but one of these days someone is going to get either an earful about my medical situation, OR a question about their own reproductive system. People seem to have no idea that they could be basically stabbing a woman in the heart by asking that question.

  16. Blah. The number one question I hate. It always comes up when other women we know announce their pregnant. My friend told me in Holland, where her family is from, it is completely rude and inappropriate to ask when people are having children. My husband and I are on what's called the 5 year plan. We want kids, but not in the job I'm in now (weird hours) and I would like to stay home with my kids.
    I agree, think before you ask 🙂 Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Allison over at http://allisons-eye.com/

  17. I think it's up to how comfortable you are asking the particular person. I have many friends/acquaintances who live incredibly open lives.

    Me? I'm the nosy type, come from a nosy family so I guess I'm used to "intrusive" questions. I know it and so do my friends. I don't ask any question I don't want to have to answer though and my life is a pretty open book so that leaves little.

    When we're asked by someone I don't consider close enough to share with, I like to answer "When Dad/Bro can be the full time Manny" or "When we can afford daycare without crying" or "Maybe tomorrow, I'm busy today." or most recently "Later. I have mojitos to drink this summer."

    Closer friends/family know we're trying. I take each question/comment/suggestion as they come and assume that each one comes from a place of love, excitement, and thinking how awesome we are and how awesome it would be to have little ones of us running around.

    Each person is different and has a different story so I'd never try and tell someone else how to feel about this, but I feel like with the rest of life, you need a sense of humor about it.

  18. I don't know why people think other people's timing for a family is any of their business, or how they started their families.
    Others like to jump the gun on that question right when a relationship happens. If a couple has been dating too short or too long, people ask "marriage so soon?" or "are you ever going to get married?" then when engagement comes, "why such a short engagement?" or "you're waiting a year + to get married?" and finally when marriage comes, so does the baby talk. "When will you start?" "Any baby plans yet?"

    For me, we were married 9 months when our surprise pregnancy came and we got the question, "was it planned or unplanned?" it is non of your business when or how we start our family and I find it very rude to ask if your baby was planned or not because we are having a baby so early in our marriage!

    Stop being nosey ad enjoy your own relationship and when/how you'll start your own family, it's a lot more fun focusing on your family than others…. I promise!

  19. Couldn't agree more. Family planning involves personal decisions that you shouldn't have to be cross-examined about. So sorry you had to go through that, and we are very excited for you and Ben!

  20. Totally agree! My husband and I just hit our two year anniversary and although babies ARE on our mind from time to time, that doesn't give anyone the right to ask. People have been asking me since we hit our 1 year! It's crazy. I talk about these things with some of my girlfriends, but that doesn't mean I am going to talk about it with my neighbor lol!

    http://www.afternoonstyle.com

  21. First: Congratulations!!

    I strictly adhere to the "never ask a question if you aren't ready for the answer" rule. But with that said… I think it's a balancing act grace and humor.

    When I was in my 20s, I found the question incredibly nosy and judgmental, much akin to "when are you getting married?" Over time though, I've realized family planning and complications in becoming pregnant can be incredibly scary and daunting. Having my boys in my mid 30s, and now almost 40, I've found it's often a genuine question when someone is trying to get to know you better, or if someone has questions – or having their own complications – and cannot easily bring it up. I'm also often asked if we're going to try for a girl (we have two boys). I usually respond with a joke, like "no, shop's closed" or "with our luck we'd have twin boys" but if I see the person is genuinely asking, I give a thoughtful response because 9 out of 10 times the person is trying to decide if they want another child or not.

    I don't think anyone expects a detailed explanation about the reproductive system, but if we're honest about our complications even if it's limited, we start to realize others care a great deal. After our miscarriage, those who knew about it would ask if we were going to try again. With whatever kindness I could muster, I'd say "I'll let you know should it happen, but until then can you please not ask. I know you don't mean to cause pain, but it hurts to answer these questions." It empowered me greatly and allowed me move forward; but it helped them further understand *why* the conversation was being shut down. The amount of love, grace and care shown at that point was unbelievable – and we weren't asked again. It made me realize people understood far more than I gave them credit for with such a delicate, personal matter. A majority of those people weren't giving us sad puppy dog looks nor were they judging us, or trying to be busybodies. I had to be honest with myself during that time and saw I was projecting all of that on them. And what was great, when we announced the pregnancy of our second son, they rejoiced with us in a way that will forever be one of my greatest memories.

    1. I agree with your comment Asia. Sometimes we judge people cuz they intrude by asking but we don’t know if they are trying to make a decision based on their questions… I say this ‘cuz I was personally one of them. I’m 20 years old and married. After our first miscarriage the question hurt but if one wisely analyzes from where does this question comes from or answers thoughtfully, one would get surprised of how much comfort and understanding can come from one person. We tend to make infertility and miscarriages a rare and unique problem in our lives that we don’t open our eyes to see thousands of families among us struggling with our same problems too.

  22. The family planning interrogation never ends! We got pestered about if and when we would have a baby. For a while, we didn't want to, and I got tired of the people who kept trying to convince me that we did want children (that's more rude than asking if we have kids). Then we had a little surprise "souvenir" from our anniversary trip the one year and had our daughter. People backed off because we finally had one. Now I'm constantly fielding questions and comments about her "needing" a sibling (we don't want to have any more). Seriously??? Back off and let my husband and me plan our family as we see fit!

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