If you have been trying to conceive for a while, you dread those offhand, well-meaning questions about your family planning. It might come from your aunt at the dinner table or an old college friend you run into at a bookstore, but the question usually takes some form of, “When are you going to have kids?”
For whatever reason, matters of conception and childbearing seem to be fair game as conversation topics, even when the asker is not particularly close to the one being quizzed. If your first impulse when such questions come is to explode, you’re not alone, but preparing a controlled, honest response is generally preferable than giving into your frustration.
Starting With the Obvious: Nobody Knows When They Are Having Kids
Undoubtedly, such questions are seen by those who pose them as innocent small talk, but at their very root they betray a misguided assumption that anyone knows how large and on what timetable their family will come along. A polite, yet clarifying starter response might be, “Well, no one really knows when they are having kids, do they?”
Then, to stave off a dreaded follow-up question, you might say, “We’ve learned that we don’t have to much control over that timetable.” Hopefully those statements will give enough information without oversharing and turn the conversation to less prying topics.
Drawing Encouragement from Others Who Have Been There
One blogger, Lindsay Cross, wrote about the variation of the question she receives the most, since she is battling infertility after giving birth to a daughter. Someone will meet her daughter, turn to Lindsay and ask, “When are you going to give that little girl a sibling?”
Cross wrote: “What on earth were my response choices? I am simply not open enough about my sex life to say, ‘We’re working on it.’ The truth, that we’ve been trying for over a year now and I have monthly emotional breakdowns every time it doesn’t work, didn’t seem like great conversational fodder, although it might have put a few of those questioners in their place. I would love to pretend like I’m secure enough to simply not dignify those questions with a response, but I’m achingly polite and my mother was there. Mostly, I smiled and nodded.”
On any TTC message board, in any support group or waiting room of a fertility clinic, women can share similar stories.
You Decide How Much To Share
In more intimate social settings, you might feel comfortable talking about your journey in some detail, and even conversations that start out awkward can lead to genuine empathy and deep connections. But there are other times when revealing personal things will lead to more stress and frustration than just a simple, curt response like, “I really don’t know.”
You can even give no answer and change the subject, sending a clear sign that you don’t want to follow that particular line of questioning. Most people have no desire to cause you pain, but instead they are just blurting out what seems to be an easy conversation starter and inadvertently step on a landmine. Be forgiving (because you have undoubtedly said something like this before), sidestep the topic gracefully and move on, hoping that you have done your small part to educate.
How do you handle the question “when are you going to have kids?” Got any helpful responses your fellow TTC friends should hear? Share them with us!