Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Please, Just Don't....

My wife was meeting our twin niece and nephew this past weekend (while I didn't get to go, myself, I can attest to the pictures and say that they are indeed adorable). Her sister was in Washington state for her 20-year high school reunion, and so my wife and her parents took advantage of the opportunity to provide some baby-sitting assistance while "mom and dad" got some time to enjoy meeting up with old friends.

While spending some time with some of these old friends together in a larger group setting, one of them observed the wedding ring on my wife's finger while playing with one of the babies. The inevitable question came: "So, when do you and your husband plan to have kids of your own?"

This is a question that, really, should never be asked for a number of reasons.
  1. It betrays some presuppositions that simply may not be shared. Many couples, for many reasons, do not wish to have kids. That's their business. They shouldn't have to be put on the defensive and explain their reasons for not having their own children, just because many people seem to assume that all married couples will have kids someday.
  2. For all the person asking this question knows, the person being asked this question may desperately want to have kids, but the couple is infertile. This is a source of deep pain for many such couples, and such a question invariably brings this pain back to the surface.
  3. Let's assume that the couple is physically capable of having kids. Is there really any good answer to this question? A definitive "yes," such as "Oh, we'll have them next year," or "We'll have them when I finish my degree" just reinforces the supposition that something's wrong with (or, at least, incomplete about) a couple until they start having kids. If someone dares to answer with "We don't plan to have kids," it's invariably met with a look of shock, as if you'd just suggested that monkeys were sprouting wings and learning to fly. And the theoretical middle ground, "We haven't decided yet," generally leads to the question "why not?" which, as I indicated earlier, really isn't anybody's business but the couples' own.
So, please, just don't ask this question anymore. Nothing good can come of it.

4 comments:

  1. THANKS! How I make every person from our family read this and stop asking EVERYtime I see them! They have had even the undecency to remember me that I am not getting any younger and had had me wondering if this is something I should do and get over with!

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  2. Makes perfect sense, so long as the "when are you going to stop having kids" questions are likewise dropped. ;)

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  3. A fair point. I know some of my extended family has asked this of some family members who do have large families. Just because they haven't asked that question to their face doesn''t make it appropriate.

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  4. This post really resonates with my experience. Heh. :)

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