(This is a polite, no shaming note. Absolutely no shade to anyone who has done this to me. I’ve certainly done it in the past! You live and you learn, right?)
Please, please let’s make 2016 the year we stop asking people (women and men!) “When are you going to have kids?” Or telling them “Oh, when you have kids you’ll get it.” (often accompanied with one of those smug head nods, just for extra funsies).
I’m a 32 year old married woman so I hear these questions a lot. And I’m sure most of it comes from a good place, BUT! let’s just get this out there:
Having children is an intensely personal decision and journey. It’s not an easy one for everyone.
There are so, so many reasons why people don’t have children and it can be a really stressful, hurtful period of your life if you’re in the midst of your ‘childbearing’ years. Being asked about it can cause awkward conversations if you’re going through something you might not want to share with all and sundry. It can also put you in a weird space where you don’t want to make other people feel bad for asking, which is also a joy.
Some people don’t want children. Some people can’t have children. Some people aren’t sure if they want them OR if they can have them! Some people are desperately trying and not getting anywhere. Some people aren’t ready to have children yet. Some people can’t afford it.
Some people have miscarriages (an awful lot of people actually, but you wouldn’t necessarily know because people don’t talk about it). Some people might have genetic markers for something they don’t want to pass on. Some people might have medical reasons for avoiding it. Some people might be trying, but quietly.
(One of these is me! Holler).
Even if someone is happy, healthy and actively trying, asking someone when they’re going to have children or even saying, innocently, “when you have kids you’ll understand!” can potentially open up a whole world of pain and anguish (and in my opinion that second one is just downright rude/condescending, even if it’s not meant that way).
If someone wants you to know what’s going on, they will. Until they do, consider it off the table. (It’s also not okay to ask people with one child when they’re having another one, fyi. Maybe one is enough! Maybe they can’t have any more. Etc.)
Like I said – not trying to shame anyone or make anyone feel bad, just. Trying to explain how it can feel from the other side
In the immortal words of Maya Angelou: