I recently read an article announcing that Melissa Rauch, an actress from The Big Bang Theory, is expecting a child with her husband after suffering a miscarriage.
Through my own struggles with infertility, I appreciated a comment that she made in her announcement. I am a woman in my mid-thirties and have been married for quite a while now, so people frequently ask me the “when are you going to have kids” question.
I am not a sensitive person. And my struggle with infertility and the ability to come through that struggle stronger are all topics for a different blog post. However, some people are very sensitive about it and it just strikes me as an incredibly rude, personal question for anyone to ask about someone else’s plans to have children.
For example, a friend of mine has been married nearly ten years and they don’t want children. But if she’s asked and answers honestly, people are shocked and look at her a bit disdainfully. You don’t want children?!? But what business is it of theirs?
For the first few years when people would ask me why I didn’t have children, I’d sidestep the question with a laugh and say, “Maybe someday.” But now I answer honestly, too. “I won’t be having children, but thank you for bringing it up. Unfortunately, after years of trying I have been deemed unable.” They become uncomfortable, of course. But perhaps it will teach them a lesson in how to treat others.
I do not cry, and I am not offended when I am asked. I harbor no sadness, resentment or regret over the cards that I have been dealt in my life. But not everyone has reached that point yet, and there is something to be said about the nosy rudeness of people asking this question.
And the problem isn’t the small talk questions you ask when getting to know someone. “Where do you work?” and “Do you have children?” are fine questions. But I recall when I first started my job, I had been married for nearly three years at that point and when my coworkers found out how long I had been married they immediately asked, “Why don’t you have children? Don’t you like kids?”
What a thing to ask someone who is struggling!
The worst is when I am standing with my mother and chatting to someone she knows and then they look at me and say, “When are you finally going to give your mother a grandchild?!” I always feel like responding, “Well, I will when you learn not to behave like a jackass in public.” People!
The key here is to be a socially competent person. It’s not that hard. Don’t pull a disdainful or shocked expression when you find out someone married for fifteen years is childless. Regardless of the reason, whether it is an inability or lack of want, no one wants your opinion or mine.