Q: I find it extremely annoying when people ask when we plan on having kids. Firstly because that’s a very personal question. Secondly because when we say we don’t want kids, people get all defensive and start telling us that we’ll change our minds. As if they know us better than we know ourselves.
We’re getting married this fall and kids seem to be the first thing everyone asks about when they find that out. Dealing with that topic recently got more complicated, frustrating, and depressing.
Just after I turned twenty-two a couple months ago, I found out that it’s unlikely that I’ll be able to bear children. I’ve suspected this for a long time due to issues I’ve had since hitting puberty, but having it confirmed by my doctor really hurt. We’ve both been trying to work through the lost possibilities, even though we never really pictured being parents.
So now when people start asking about when we’ll have kids, it’s painful on top of irritating. If I tell people I don’t want kids, they don’t let it go! I can’t figure out why, but for some reason people take it as a personal attack and will relentlessly push the subject. If I decide to open up and tell them I can’t have kids, they act like it’s painful for them or tell me all about my options. I don’t want to hear any of it.
How do I deal with people who just won’t drop it?
A: Dear Anonymous,
I really don’t know why people insist on asking personal questions, let alone forcing their opinions on you.
When I’m feeling generous, I assume it’s because these folks have had such a wonderful, rewarding parenting experience that they want to spread the gospel of the joys of having children. That they’re just afraid someone will miss out on all this goodness and are trying to save you from regret.
Other times, I think some parents don’t feel completely content with their decision and are very sensitive to an insinuation that it might have been the wrong one. “How dare you imply that there’s another choice, and that choice might be better!” sort of thing.
But, mostly, you’re right. It’s people being nosy and newsy and assuming they know what’s best for you.
Cut them off before they get started. When the topic arises, shut it down. “I prefer not to talk about that,” followed by a swift subject change is something that only gets easier with practice (and may be better received than “YOU DON’T KNOW MY LIFE!”). Most people are socially inept, even the nice ones. We suck at polite chit-chat. We have no clue how to respond well when we hear about tragedy. Avoid all of it. You shouldn’t have to navigate an awkward conversation on top of managing your hurt.
I’m sorry you’re facing this, Anonymous, and I hope you eventually find some peace with this news. Hopefully cutting off strangers intent on poking that wound will help.
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO ASK APW A QUESTION, PLEASE DON’T BE SHY! IF YOU WOULD PREFER NOT TO BE NAMED, ANONYMOUS QUESTIONS ARE ALSO ACCEPTED. (THOUGH IT REALLY MAKES OUR DAY WHEN YOU COME UP WITH A CLEVER SIGN-OFF!)