When Kate turned one, my uterus and its future plans became a seemingly acceptable subject for discussion. Phrases like, ‘time to make another one’ and ‘the best gift you can give her is a sibling’ actually came out of people’s mouths as though they were perfectly fine things to say. My husband and I had previously skipped the post-wedding ‘when are the babies coming?’ talk, because, well…we didn’t really give people any time to strike up that conversation. This is probably why the first ‘sibling’ comments struck weird chords with me. It felt as though people actually thought any of it was their business. When it felt extremely private and personal to me.
Sure, most people don’t mean any harm when they casually bring up this type of conversation, but that’s what inspired me to write this specific post. If you don’t think there’s anything wrong with these questions, please read on.
I thought about how I should write this out. Whether I’d provide a listicle of the reasons you might be doing more harm than good when you throw out one of these, seemingly light-hearted but actually quite heavy, questions. Or if I’d do it in a more conversational way. In the end, I chose to do a bit of both.
It starts with one underlying issue that might seem obvious, but we’ll put it out there just for the sake of comprehensiveness: It. Is. Actually. None. Of. Your. Business. And the reason it is none of your business is because it is in fact a deeply personal subject and can range enormously in its complexity.
“But I know them well! They’re relatives!”
Ah, the age old “people don’t always share everything they’re going through” conundrum. Whether you’d be the grandmother/father, the aunt/uncle, the godmother/father etc…it still does not make it OK.
“I’d know if there was an issue! They don’t mind me asking!” Again, refer to the above conundrum.
So if any of this sounds like you, I invite you to ask yourself these questions the next time you’re in front of a couple and that question pops into your head, no matter how well you know them and what they’re going through.
- Do I know if they are struggling with infertility?
- Do I know if they are grieving a miscarriage?
- Do I know if they are have health issues that are stopping them from having children?
- Do I know if they have already been trying to conceive for a while?
- Do I know if they are having relationship problems?
- Do I know if they are under particular stress? Going through a crisis in their lives?
- Do I know if they actually want to have children/more children right now? At all?
If you can’t confidently answer ALL those questions with a resounding ‘yes’, then please, stop asking.
Sure, for some couples those types of questions might just be shrugged off with no harm done. But for many others, what you think might be an innocent, purely inquisitive question might trigger off tremendous grief, pain, anxiety and frustration. And if that isn’t motivation to hold your tongue, then I don’t know what is.
Sending BIG love to anyone who has been on the receiving end of these questions and has suffered silently. ❤