Friday, September 7, 2007

"So, when are you going to have another?"

My last post, about Family Values and what makes a family, brought up another issue I've been thinking about writing a post about for a while: people you barely know asking if you are going to have a baby.

I read several blogs by people who have struggled/are struggling with fertility issues. And I have lots of friends who struggle with this. It's very painful for them to have to answer the question about having a baby.

My husband and I were very fortunate to NOT have to struggle with that. As soon as we decided to start trying to have a baby, I was pregnant (I had typed "we were pregnant, but corrected. The MAN isn't pregnant. WE might be expecting a baby, but the woman is the one who is impregnated. Why do we say "we are pregnant?" anyhow...)

But within a year of the May Queen's birth people were already dropping hints, or downright asking, when we were going to have another baby. Everyone from family to strangers at the grocery store. Things like "oh, she needs a baby brother or sister so she learns how to share."

Now that The May Queen has started kindergarten the comments have started afresh. "Oh, she's off to school, time to have another one!"

Arg.

I know very few people who make the decision to have a child lightly. There are many factors that will lead a couple (or person) to decide to have a baby, and just as many factors that may physically make it difficult for that to happen. It is often the source of much tension within a couple - the stress of not getting pregnant, or the pressure to have a certain size family, or one partner wanting a child and the other not wanting a child, or the struggle over finances or the worry about daycare or age or health concerns or....

Whether or not someone is going to have a child is a very, very personal issue. It brings up a whole myriad of emotions, from one seemingly simple question or comment.

If a close friend asks me, in the course of a conversation, about whether or not we are thinking of having another child I will answer that question thoughtfully. If someone I barely know makes a comment, I usually just smile and laugh, or tell them that we are probably done. I know that most people who ask this or drop the hints mean well so I don't go into the whole tirade underneath. But you would think that people would have become aware enough, by now, that this is not a "nice weather, huh?" kind of conversation. It's personal, and if you're not a close friend, my decision to have a child or not is none of your business.

31 comments:

thailandchani said...

You're totally correct. It is no one's business. I don't know why that's become a topic for casual conversation. Manners seem to have gone the way of Model Ts. :)


Peace,

~Chani
http://thailandgal.blogspot.com

niobe said...

When I get an overly intrusive question, I'm always torn between laughing it off and giving the questioner an answer that will make her very sorry she asked.

Julie Pippert said...

I never ask that. I have strong feelings about people asking, commenting about family structure.

And it's because we did struggle so hard to have our two kids.

I hear that question---whether to me or another---and I still wince.

It's not just kids, either, it's family structure: when you gonna find Mr. Right, huh, when you gonna have babies/more babies...

I wish I had a sense of humor about this. My sense of humor is pretty big, but it can't reach this topic.

AWESOME post and THANK YOU for getting it, and talking about it.

Julie
Using My Words

Magpie said...

hear hear! i just laugh and tell them i'm too old. which is true.

but them the whole time that we were trying and NOT pregnant, i told them we had cats. that disarmed so many people that when i finally 'fessed up to fertility treatments (and later, pregnancy), they were stunned: we thought you didn't want kids. but, i'd never said that.

Christine said...

i think it is so rude to ask outside of an intimate conversation, as you noted. people make all sorts of decisions about having (or not) kids and it is quite frankly no one's business if or how many you have. people should realize that

1) it is personal and

2)their comment might be causing a level of pain they cannot understand.

Alpha DogMa said...

This never ends.

I've two boys, and am often asked "will you try for a girl?" Yes, because two healthy boys is not enough. I shouldn't be satisfied.

My girlfriend has one of each gender and people ask her is she'll have another as a tie breaker.

Another friend who has fertility issues once answered the question of more babies by exclaiming, "Not if my cervical mucous has anything to say about it" and then went on in some detail about her medical history. She felt if the bounds of polite conversation were being bent, she would go ahead and shatter them.

b*babbler said...

Amen to this.

I had people asking me if we would have another while my first was STILL IN THE NICU.

No joke.

Will people never learn?

slouching mom said...

Spot on. That kind of question is RUDE. I'm with Chani -- where have manners gone?

Amy York said...

Right on!!
As a surrogate mother past (and hopefully soon again), I definitely get what a sensitive subject infertility can be for folks. What's right for some isn't right for others as well and the suggestion that you are doing something wrong just because you aren't doing what someone else chose (or was able to do!) is quite rude in my book! It's not a weather question, indeed... but for some reason people don't seem to get that!!

stacy michelle said...

i wholeheartedly agree, people who ask this question don't generally realize what a big question it is. i (being one of those friends you spoke of, who struggle with fertility) broke into tears more than once from comments like "so-and-so is pregnant, when are *you* going to have a baby?" i tend to come down on the side of responding, "well, we've been trying for x years now, doctors say it might not be possible." usually shuts them right up!

i was even more astonished when, at a cousin's wedding, my grandma turned to me and said, "were you paying attention? did you see how that's done? it's your turn now, you know." what??!?! at that point in my life i was single and happy, not really even thinking about dating, let alone marriage. i just stood there with a dumbfounded look on my face.

sheesh.

Jennifer said...

I have three kids and people still ask me. I have no idea why people ask about things like that. Is there really nothing else to chit-chat about? What ever happened to endless talk about the weather? ;)

Blog Antagonist said...

People who know us don't ask. They know I've had my hands full with DO since the day he was born. My sil chose to have only one child and she gets no end of grief about it. Her daughter is 12 now, and people still bug her about it. It's terribly rude and intrusive.

nomotherearth said...

Yeah, I don't get why people feel the need to ask this. Um, do I know you??

jen said...

oh a-freaking-men. and i really hate that they look at me sideways when i say, one is enough, yo.

mybayouvieux said...

hey girl. found ya! why didn't you tell me you were here? would have been readin you a long time ago!

Emily said...

The correct answer to this is "We are actually looking for a sperm donor/surrogate right now. Are you volunteering?"

BipolarLawyerCook said...

Nicely put... lots to think about, no matter what side of the equation you come down on.

thirtysomething said...

Yes! People can be SO invasive. These questions should be reserved for close friends and family for sure.

Alley Cat said...

I just gave my mother crap for that exact question. She knows we have issues, yet she still nags about having a second. Then there is my favourite response from people when you tell them you are stopping at one - "You CANT have just one!!!" I HATE that!

blooming desertpea said...

I'm with Chani, where have the manners gone?

Jonathon Morgan said...

I love my daughter to death, but every time someone implies that I'll be having more children anytime soon, I have a small moment of panic, wondering if they, in fact, know something that I don't.

Furrow said...

jeesh! right on. everyone has said what I was going to say. as one who struggled with IF, it was/will be especially annoying. the old folks in our family still don't get it. even though I'm due to give birth in a few short weeks, they go on about how long we waited, like we did it to spite them.

Beck said...

I always just say cheerfully "Children are SUCH a blessing!" and leave it at that.
As for the little cakes - they're just icebox cakes, stacked vertically instead of horizontally. The Girl made the one you were looking at.

Victoria said...

Absolutely! It's soo wrong. Will someone please tell *my children* to stop asking me when I'm going to have another. It's just plain rude. =)

v.

Amanda said...

You know what gets me are the questions about when, and then when "when" comes they say "so soon?"

You are right on target!

ewe are here said...

Hmmmm. I think my comment got eaten by Blogger on this one last night.

And I wish it hadn't, because I was offering up an apology. While I don't generally ask people (except good friends who I already know what their family goals are) 'when' they're having another wee one, I have been known to ask 'if' someone is planning on having children or another child or just having the one. And I know I asked you 'if' you wanted more children. I sincerely hope you weren't offended by my asking; I know I absolutely supported your choice to have just one (not that you need my support), because I do agree it's a very personal decision.

Funnily enough, I was really annoyed by this very topic yesterday when I was reading the news. Apparently, the Pope (I'm not a big fan) has come out and called Europeans selfish --yes, selfish!-- for NOT having more children. Yes, not having more children is selfish and a crime against humanity according to the Pope. I was absolutely incensed when I read this, because I think it's the height of selfishness to have children when you don't really want them, or to try to push someone into having children when it's really none of their business. (This includes potential grandparents, I might add. No one is 'entitled' to grandchildren.)

Aliki2006 said...

You are so right to handle it this way. It's a personal question and not one any one should ask lightly--especially of someone who is not a close friend.

Jen M. said...

Commenting on this belatedly. I couldn't agree more. It's like asking a stranger how sex is with their partner or something equally intimate and personal. Whether it be "when are you having another?" or, in my case, "Are you DONE yet?"

People are idiots sometimes. I just want to respond in kind, you know? With a terribly obnoxious rejoinder.

painted maypole said...

Ewe- no worries about your question as we strolled about Cambridge - we were 2 friends having a conversation. :) And about the Pope - perhaps he's afraid that the only way catholicism will continue is if people are born into it? Hmmmm.....

Kelly Brooke Fugate said...

If we hadn't been "vasectomized" recently, after our second was born, I would be much more volatile every time someone mentions me having another. I have an easy answer, yes, but it still pisses me off sometimes.

Susanne said...

Interestingly people will stop asking that question in a year or two. I know because I wrote a post with a very similar headline as yours 1 1/2 years ago. And I haven't been asked about it for about a year now.