Thursday, June 14, 2012

Quick Thought: Asking About Kids

Sometimes I feel like I got a different social rule book than other people. I just can't, for the life of me, understand why asking someone about their future plans to have kids is a seemingly acceptable --nay an expected--question to ask a married woman in her late 20's.

I mean, I understand if you are close friends with the person and you are discussing general life plans/whatever, but people I have just met quite often inquire about my interest in procreation. And older people will sometimes even remind me that I'm in my "best years" for that stuff right now.

How did such a deeply personal inquiry become publicly acceptable? I'm genuinely curious!

This subject is one which could invoke any number of really uncomfortable things for the askee. For example, what if that person is already trying to have kids and is struggling with fertility issues? What if they just miscarried? What if they have never and will never want kids in the first place? With that latter situation, if the woman asserts that she doesn't want kids, you can bet that someone will tell her that she'll change her mind or that she's too young to know now or that her "clock will go off"--blah, blah, blah. As if this stranger knows her better than she knows herself! And even if she does change her mind later, what business is it of yours, as a random person, to undermine the opinion she just shared with you?

It's all so odd to me. Even though I do plan to have kids (a kid?) someday and the actual answering of this question is relatively painless for me, I can't help but think of what a shitty situation it is that people just ask this willy-nilly.


  1. The idea that everyone has a right to information on a woman's reproductive plans, health and experince will never cease to amaze me; let me assure you that fielding enquiries about when/if/how you plan to have a family is only the beginning! Should you become pregnant, you can look forward to people (I've never had strangers but certainly acquaintances I don't have any physical relationship with) touching your stomach, and commenting on your size, even using the word fat. My baby is due in just over a week, and several times a day I am asked if it is my first. As our identical twins died at birth (very prematurely) last year, I consider it a very personal question, but as I work with the public, difficult to deflect without feeling rude. It has really highlighted the differences in the way society treats men and women, their bodies and their reproductive heath.

    1. So true. I fully expect to blog a LOT about my experience being pregnant, should I cross that bridge some day. I've even written about it before just as an observer of what my pregnant friends have been through.

  2. Whether you decide to have kids or not, I recommend watching the documentary "The Business of Being Born" by Ricki Lake. When I started planning my pregnancy, I discovered that there's whole culture war surrounding birth choices. OBs versus midwives, natural birth versus intervention, the industrialization of medicine versus trusting biology. It's a lot of craziness, but I'm glad I was informed about my rights and choices. I wish more women were.


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