The right way to ask people when they plan to have kids

Okay, students. Professor Judge E. Dog is back today with another useful lesson. You may have friends or family members who seem stubbornly unwilling to shout their reproductive plans from the rooftops. When interrogated asked, they give “cute” answers such as “When we’re ready, we’ll let you know” or “I just want more puppies.”

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. There are countless articles out there advising people how to evade your questions and hide this important information. These devious masterminds have a host of skillful dodges at their disposal. What’s a Nosy Parker to do? It’s just not fair. You’re just embracing your inner Mary Worth. Where are the tips about the right way to ask this question? (Here. Those tips are here.)

In a perfect world, everyone would just send out a monthly newsletter giving you an update. (By “everyone” I mean women of childbearing age, whether single or married. They’re the ones that owe you an explanation, after all.) It would bear a clever title (“Egg Drop Scoop” or “Z is for Zygote”) and contain features such as:

  • Ovulation Station: Which Days We’ll Be Doing It
  • Fertility Now: Mind Over Matter
  • Just Keep Swimming: This Month’s Sperm Count
  • Cashing In: A Visit to the Sperm Bank
  • Poll: Who is your favorite sperm donor?
  • Adventures in Fur-tility: Pets as Practice for Children
  • I’m Sorry, But Your Fetus is in Another Castle (surrogacy stories)
  • Missionary to Mars: Positions We’ve Tried
  • Money Schmoney: All You Need is Love
  • I Wish I Was a Seahorse (male guest columnist)
  • Opt to Adopt: The Baby Behind Door #3
  • Myrtle the Fertile Turtle (advice column in the vein of “Dear Abby”)

The newsletter (“Fallopian Follies”) would be discontinued when your friend either tells you that she doesn’t plan to have kids or goes through the Change.

If the former, the final installment of the newsletter (“Under and Ova”) would just be the words “I’m sorry” in giant red Comic Sans. It would also contain an email address to be used solely for the purpose of entreating your friend to reconsider this horrible decision, whether she is now childless or is already a mother of seven.

(In some cases, your friend would be allowed to set up the email to send this auto-response: “As you already know from my monthly newsletter, Adventures in Baby-Making, I am infertile. However, thank you for your well-meaning message reminding me of that fact. I’d hate to take my mind off of it for even a second.” However, you would still be permitted to send your friend information on invasive procedures that she may or may not have already considered, as well as the website of a shaman in Siberia who has done wonders with the implantation of alien fetuses.)

Alternatively, if the newsletter (“Rattle Tales”) ends due to menopause, the final installment will contain a long essay by your friend either (a) detailing how she has failed as a woman or (b) explaining that the children she does have are the light of her life and how anyone without children has failed as a woman. No email address will be provided for follow-up questions and the essay will be the final word on the subject. Although it’s important to remind your friends of the poor choices they’ve made, I do not recommend provoking a woman mid-hot flash. Safety first.

Alas, people are selfish and not a single issue of “All My Unborn Children” or “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Womb” has appeared in your inbox. You’ve had to result to social media mommyjacking in hopes of finding out the answer. Never fear, I’m about to teach you how to ask people when they’re going to have children.

Are you ready?

Step 1: Open your mouth.

Step 2: Shut it.

It’s that simple!

When it comes to reproductive plans (and many other personal matters), I’m in favor of a “Don’t Ask” policy. Note that I dropped the “Don’t Tell” part – I believe that half is optional. People can tell or not tell you whatever they want. However, let’s not pretend that admitting you don’t want children is some sort of shameful secret or that it’s something requiring an explanation or justification to anyone else. Leave the judgy pants at home, okay? Live and let live. Enjoy any resulting cat or dog photos that appear on your friend’s Facebook page.

Angry birds Bella: I Still Want More Puppies

After all, someone needs enough free time to create things like this artist’s rendering of Bella as a cross-dressing pig. (It has an egg. So, on topic.)

You don’t need to know my plans, unless I want to tell you. I don’t need to know yours, unless you want to tell me. Don’t assume that you know my plans because, as my mom always said, that just makes an ass out of you and me. (Sidebar: I never quite got that saying. How does it make an ass out of me? I’m the innocent assumee.) (Sidebar to the sidebar: I think I just made that word up.) (Sidebar to the sidebar to the sidebar: This commercial is hilarious, and I wanted to share it even though it’s not related to either of the other sidebars.) (If I added a fourth sidebar, would I just end up back where I started? Help me, Geometry!)

h/t Pamela for the commercial and for the article that inspired this post.

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26 thoughts on “The right way to ask people when they plan to have kids

  1. That commercial was too funny! I work in retail, and I’ve seen that kind of thing, just not quite to that extreme. It’s great birth control. LOL

    I totally agree with what you said and when I read your title my first thought was that there is no right way….it’s none of your business, unless people want to make it your business. I wasn’t surprised to see that was the conclusion you came to. Asking people that kind of rates right up there with asking a woman if she’s pregnant….when she’s not. I’ve been on the receiving end of that one, and I threw away the blouse I was wearing and immediately went on a diet. 🙂
    Jan K recently posted..Tuesday’s Tails – Mack

  2. Oh dear. There’s so much I love about this post.

    The “Egg Drop Scoop”. Missionary to Mars. The “yes, that post again” when you hover over the link. The link to the “Live and let live” post (left a comment over there…). The picture of Bella. The caption on the picture of Bella. The sidebars. That commercial. (Saw that a while ago. I love it. My nieces and nephews acted as a great form of birth control for me.) 🙂 And just the whole of it.

    So. Much. Love. Will you have my baby?

    (Seriously – what is with people wanting to know? And why do they try to push you into it? I swear it’s cuz misery loves company. 🙂 Luckily I am finally old enough that folks have clued in that it ain’t gonna happen and have stopped asking.)
    Jackie Bouchard recently posted..Mirth Watch Thursday: Lion Cubs, Meatball(s) and a Social-Networking Bear

  3. First. Can I just say. I’d beat that kid’s ass. And I don’t care who saw me.

    It is no-one’s business when/if women decide to have children or not. I have no idea why people ask or why they even feel it’s their business to ask. In my experience they only ask why you don’t have children or when you’re going to. For instance no-one has ever said to me, why did you only have three? Of course I would have said you take the youngest and tell me if you wouldn’t have stopped after that. Thankfully she turned out wonderfully but there was about thirteen hairy years there where I would have sworn she’d end up in prison. Oh sorry, I digress.

    This is an awesome post, cracked me up with your puns. Ranks right up there in one of your top posts in my opinion. 😀
    Jodi recently posted..Follow-Up Friday Has Fleas

    • Aw, thanks!

      I think you’re right – most of the questions are for those with no kids. Although I’ve had some friends get the third-degree about when they’ll be having their second one!

  4. You must be about my age, because I feel these feelings about the inappropriate asking. I get asked a lot. It makes me livid. Not “hey, how are your life ambitions going? What really matters to you right now?” But, “when are you having babies!?!?!? OMG life is incomplete without BABIES.” The worst thing about those people is that there is no answer that will shut them up.
    Jessica recently posted..Socialization

  5. STORY OF MY LIFE.

    I cannot reiterate how much I love this.

    I am married and in my late 20s and my reproductive plans seems to be fair game for a number of busy bodies. I’ve even had to outright tell a coworker that “my reproductive potential is not an appropriate topic of conversation”. Not kidding. God help me if I’m out for dinner with friends/colleagues and opt not to order wine or a cocktail because then pregnancy interrogation begins.

    And if I try to shut down the third degree with some polite reply like “we may have kids when we’re ready” then I get some crazy lecture on “Oh, well there’s no point in that, you’re never truly ready anyway. If you wait to be ready, it’ll never happen.” Blah blah. As if never having kids isn’t a conceivable option. Ugh. Or if I say “we’re happy with our life now” then you get “you’ll never truly know happiness/unconditional love until you give birth to your children” which seems to me to be a MAJOR slap in the face for anyone facing fertility struggles or who adopts, and forgets that many people can actually be happy without kids, and that different people have different ideas of happiness and life goals. Double ugh.

    Sorry about that. This subject riles me up.
    /rant
    Jen K recently posted..35 Kinds of Restaurant Patrons

    • Oh, I know what you mean! If you don’t have a drink, obviously it’s then fair game for everyone to interrogate you!

      I’m with you on the many ughs… your rant was spot on.

  6. This was fantastic!

    Before forty, I would be asked and would get that “it’s gonna happen” response. Between 35-40, people would gently tell me that the clock is sticking. LOL When I hit forty, people stopped asking. Now all I get is “when are you going to get married?” I even have readers who ask me this. I guess I’ll get married when it becomes really awkward to call Johan my boyfriend – LOL

  7. I am only reading this now because of your “best of 2013” list.

    I have 3 kids. One of my next-door neighbours has 10. The other has 9. The people who owned our (4 bedroom) house before us also had 9. Clearly we were the slackers on the street.

    I don’t know how many times I’ve said this, but I will continue to say it until people get the message. NO ONE WHO DOESN’T WANT KIDS SHOULD HAVE THEM. Children should not be born to people who will only resent them. And instead of judging them, or trying to change their minds, we should applaud the honesty and self-awareness that leads to this decision. The decision itself may or may not be easy, but living in constant judgement by others is most definitely not. And the only thing worse than hounding the childless-by-choice is adding to the misery of the infertile woman (or man) with none-of-your-business questions.

    Please people. Keep your noses out of other people’s wombs. Please..
    one person’s view recently posted..In With The New

  8. ROFL!!!
    I love this post!! I started telling people that we have 4 kids, two dogs and two cats! It really is none of their business sticking their nosy noses into my sex life with my hubby. We don’t want kids, when I tell them this nasty piece of truth they assume I don’t like kids – again not true… Ugh… Seriously I wish this would be taboo to ask!
    DZ Dogs recently posted..Wordless Wednesday – Flyball Video!

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