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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

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  1. 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!


  2. 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.

  3. 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!