Pregnant Yet?: Addressing Pesky Questions about Having Kids

contemplative woman“When are you going to have a baby?”

“Are you planning for your second yet?”

If you are a woman in your 20s or 30s, chances are pretty good that you’ve been asked a question of this nature. No matter what the answer is, it can be difficult to be put on the spot about such personal, private matters. Maybe you and your partner disagree on whether to have a child, or another child, and your relationship is suffering as a consequence. Maybe you’ve been trying for many months and are having difficulty getting pregnant. Maybe you recently learned you can’t have children at all. Maybe you aren’t sure you want to have a child. Maybe you are pregnant and aren’t sharing that with anyone just yet. Maybe you don’t want children at all, but you know that is not the “right” answer since the question phrases it as an eventuality. The possible scenarios go on and on, begging the question, why would anyone ask?

Often, but not always, the people who ask such questions are of an older generation. Recent generations are among the first to widely view marriage and children as choices rather than imperatives. It used to be that young couples typically got married and fairly soon afterward began having children, usually two or more per family. There was little to no consideration of these things as choices; rather, it was just part of the life cycle and what most everyone did on a pretty uniform timetable. So, chances are when grandma asks you at Thanksgiving when you are going to give her a great grandchild, she doesn’t mean any harm—she is simply working from her own experience. Considering her context and giving her the benefit of the doubt might make the question understandable, but it probably doesn’t make it less uncomfortable.

Hopefully, if the question is asked with truly innocent intentions, it will be easy enough to protect your privacy and change the subject, “Oh, you know, I’m not really sure about that just yet. By the way, this casserole is fantastic. What kind of cheese did you use?” But what if the questions persist and begin to feel intrusive and judgmental? This is trickier, and it might be necessary to be more direct. You might need to be more assertive about your desire to avoid the topic. It is OK to simply and firmly say, “I’m not willing to discuss this.” If you are really feeling unheard and disrespected, it might even be a good idea to remove yourself from the physical space with something like, “I’ve made it clear that I am not discussing this, but you are persisting, so I am going to excuse myself now.”

For some, this can seem like a shocking, maybe even impossible approach, especially with family. When spending time with family, even the most independent and accomplished adults might find themselves falling back into the roles of the children that they once played in their families. In these moments, it is important to remind yourself that you are, in fact, an adult and you get to decide what you are and are not willing to accept in your life and in your relationships. You can respectfully state what you are and are not willing to discuss and hope that will be respected. If it is not, as an adult, you get to decide what you do next.

The decision to have a child or children is deeply personal and private, and for the sake of potential parents and children, it is a decision that is best made with careful consideration. Because it is largely viewed as an option in today’s society and not an imperative, many people feel ambivalent about it and struggle to make a decision. If you find yourself in this lot, know that you are not alone and that many qualified therapists are available to offer you support as you work to sort this out.

© Copyright 2014 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Sarah Noel, MS, LMHC, therapist in Brooklyn, New York

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Dottie

    Dottie

    November 5th, 2014 at 10:24 AM

    We only have one child and panned it like that from the very beginning but I can’t tell you how many times someone has very rudely pronounced me selfish for only having the one child and that I will feel bad for not giving my child a sibling.
    We what if I didn’t want another one? Or couldn’t have had another one? I am perfectly good with my little family so why someone else feels like they have the right to judge me and my choice just kind of baffles me.
    I don’t judge the choices that I have made so I would appreciate you not judging mine.

  • Bonnie

    Bonnie

    November 5th, 2014 at 4:05 PM

    There is a certain generation of people for whom this feels like a perfectly natural and safe question that they have the right to ask.

    If you are fine with your decision then who cares if they ask? just give them a straight answer and move on.

    And if it really is none of their business, then there is a gentle way that you can tell them that as well.

  • emma

    emma

    November 6th, 2014 at 3:47 AM

    I don’t have kids and in defense of those of us who DO sometimes ask these questions, please know that I never do it as any kind of pressure tactic. I guess I am just being nosy, and mean well but I can see how it may not come across that way and to anyone who is offended I apologize.

  • Pearlie

    Pearlie

    November 6th, 2014 at 10:07 AM

    I am old school and all, but even I know that unless someone else brings up the topic, it should be none of my concern and I will just leave it alone.
    I want to have loads of grand kids, and my own children know this about me. But do I honestly think that bugging them to death about it is going to make the procreate more than what they may want?
    I don’t want to be selfish, I want to have exactly what God intends, even when I may not realize it, and the best thing to do when it comes to a conversation like this to not speak of it until spoken to about it.

  • jacqui

    jacqui

    November 7th, 2014 at 10:45 AM

    Funny that you mention it because this is the exact reason why I am dreading so badly going home for Thanksgiving this year, because I know that this is the only question that I am going to hear!

  • Dell

    Dell

    November 10th, 2014 at 8:28 AM

    I know that people ask and then they get all defensive if you get mad because they will say that they did not mean anything by it. But what about the couples who have been struggling for a long time to get pregnant and have been unsuccessful? Saying things like that to them without knowing the issues that they have faced can be, well, ugly, and not something that they should have to listen to. For them there is already enough hurt, and probably even pain and guilt. They don’t need me to rub even more salt into those wounds.

  • Lorraine

    Lorraine

    May 6th, 2017 at 2:50 AM

    I work in a large office and there are a large number of single women and couples who do not have children and a couple who have adopted. I learnt many years ago to be sensitive towards this subject after assuming a couple had chosen voluntarily to not have children. It only took the one time for me to be told. If you are ok to put someone right, it may be a life lesson they will retain and will benefit others.

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