On having kids later in life (or not at all)

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About Katie Clemons

Katie Clemons is a storycatcher and journal crafter. She helps people celebrate their stories with her award-winning writing prompt journals at Gadanke. She also blogs at Making This Home about simple, handmade living from a vintage airplane hangar in Montana.

People like to remind me of the great irony that I am a contributor at this blog called Simple Mom. “But Katie,” they will say. “You don’t actually have any kids.”

I know that I don’t have a clue about parenting. I’ll never lie about that.

I usually try to just blend in with subtle notes. If I’m writing about the soulful benefits of taking walks, I throw in with a stroller. When I write about documenting your daily life in December, I mention doing it with your kids.

It’s just that sometimes, it’s easier to avoid the inevitable question:

“When are YOU going to have kids?”

I’m turning 30 this month, celebrating seven years of marriage, and living without kids. Do I want to have kids? My story and my reasons aren’t the topic of this post.

What I do want to talk to you about is the constant questioning childless women receive and how much it can hurt.


Photo courtesy of Katie Clemons

If you are married, you probably remember stepping straight from the alter to a bombardment of people asking, “When are you going to have babies?”

The baby question has become a topic as casual as, “Hey! How are you?”

That’s great when you’re in the exact place where you want to be (and it happens to be exactly where the person asking wants to hear that you are). But what about other women?

What about the women who want to have babies but have an obstacle in the way? What about the women who just don’t want kids? The baby question can quickly make them feel like they’re not good enough or that they’ve failed.

People ask when you’ll procreate because:

  1. They love you and think you’ll make an awesome parent.
  2. They think of the incredible ways parenthood has enriched their lives.
  3. They don’t know what else to chat about.

I’ve seen how parenthood transforms people in the most beautiful ways. My little brother has become this incredible, reliable father who provides for two girls and a stay-at-home wife. I keep thinking, “Is this the same guy who only five years ago would consistently leave every gas tank on empty and show up to work 20 minutes late?”

His growth humbles me.

That direction of growth might not be right for everyone.


Photo courtesy of Katie Clemons

Every girl has her own reasons and her own stories. It isn’t a topic we’re going to start chatting with anyone about in the grocery store line because they asked. These aren’t answers we’ll spew at the family reunion. No. They’re dear to the heart.

Just as women with children tend to gravitate to one another for common ground, so do women without children. For some of my friends, the baby question is the most painful question anyone could ask.

These are the reasons why six of my female friends who are over 30 do not have kids.

(Please note: these women are not online and blogging.)

1. That girl is trying to conceive and can’t.

They pray. They seek medical help. They try. And they wait.

2. She and her spouse can’t agree about having kids or not.

She almost cries each time she sees a young woman carrying an infant in the store or at the park. She questions herself. She fights with her husband. She prays for guidance and acceptance.

3. The lifestyle she lives (and wants to live) doesn’t cater to having kids.

She and her husband must move all the time. He works for an international company, so they’re not just moving within one country or state. Every time they move, the local language is a new one. And he works all the time.

They plan on devoting energy to their nieces and nephews and the local churches and communities where they live.

4. She doesn’t feel like the relationship she is in is right.

It’s easy to put our hands on our hips and say, “Well then get out of the relationship!” But some things take time. Her history and experiences are different than ours. We can love her and pray for her.

5. In her culture, women work on their careers first and have kids later.

If you walk through the streets of a German city on a Sunday afternoon, you will see parents and children playing together. The parents are much older than American parents. People just have children later in life there.

6. She doesn’t want kids… and that doesn’t make her a failure.

It could be because of her own childhood. It could be because of her feelings about the environment and population. Or maybe she has strong opinions about adoption and foster care. Then again, maybe she just wants to contribute to our world in some really awesome ways other than with children.

What are your thoughts on this seemingly simple question? Do you suppose we could lift these women up?

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Comments

  1. Aww, Katie, what a beautiful, gracious, and gentle post. Thank you for sharing it! It helps me to reflect on how I may come across to other women — since I have a tendency to ask lots of questions, innocently of course, but they may not be received that way. I want to nurture joy in other women’s lives and not pain!
    Archer´s latest post: Hiking Through Fear and Forgiveness

  2. To me it should go without saying that we lift and support those we love in their lives and circumstances. I find it so awkward and heartbreaking to see casual acquaintances ask the baby question of anyone and especially dear friends whose background I know. Why do we think it is our business at all? One thing I find particularly troubling is that when you meet someone new, it’s easy if he’s a man to ask him what he does for a living. We assume men work. But it’s so much harder if it’s a woman to ask her what she “does for a living” in a broad enough way that we’re not casting judgment or imposing a “correct” path by the wording of the question.
    Amber´s latest post: Enjoying Vacation Travels with Your Kids

  3. Katie,
    Thank you so much for this post. It is so touching, tender-hearted, and warm.
    Love to you.
    Stephanie
    Stephanie´s latest post: The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie.

  4. avatar
    Natalija says:

    Interesting from many aspects. My husband is German (we live in Texas) and we’re visiting his family in Berlin at the moment with our three small children – for a month. We started a family later in life but notice that people in Germany rarely have children. If they do, it’s maybe one or two. The many children we see in Berlin come from the immigrant families mostly.

  5. Thank you so much. The situation is very similar for those of us with ‘only’ one child. The questions, and the reasons why, and the potential hurt, are almost identical.
    Liz´s latest post: Validation

    • Liz i get that question “all” the time. It is very hurtful when they do not know the whole story.
      JIll Robson´s latest post: Organizing……an Olympic event?

    • avatar
      Maggie Kellum says:

      I was just about to post something similar! I have only one child and I get all the time “when are you having more”? And most people are shocked when I say “I am not”.

      • I was also going to post this! I do find it fairly easy to extend grace, but there have been a few individuals who know our backstory yet continue to “guess” if we’re pregnant or not. We’re not. It hurts. Please just wait for us to tell you if there is good news.
        Sarah G´s latest post: Visiting the M Family: June Edition

    • I agree with Liz. I get the “only child” question all the time…”When are you going to have another…”

      Even worse, because of a transplant, I take a lot of steroids which make my stomach puffy. i get asked several times a year “when am I due?”

      • Susan, that must be so painful. Since I started getting “those questions” before and since having my son, I make a point of never asking anyone else. I expect there are other questions which are equally intrusive for some people, and I need to watch out for them so as not to accidentally cause anyone pain or embarrassment.
        Liz´s latest post: Validation

    • Oh gosh, Liz. I didn’t even think about that with one child… but you’re so right. Thank you for drawing attention to this common question, too.
      Katie @ Making This Home´s latest post: My Manifesto: Kindness Changes Everything

    • Liz
      I totally agree here in North America if you only have 1 child it’s like you’re a failure or your not as good as other mothers with 2 or more kids, which can be very hurtful. Due to medical reasons we only have 1 child which I know I’m so blessed to have, but people can be so rude at times which has left me in tears at times because they can make you feel like you’re less of a woman for only having 1 child.

    • We only have one child…but it isn’t for lack of desire for more. My seemingly perfect pregnancy turned out to be a difficult and scary labor and six days later I was back in the hospital with an eclamptic seizure. Then I had three miscarriages in a row last year, the last one sending me back to the hospital hemorrhaging…where I crashed three times and had to have emergency surgery.

      It didn’t make it any easier that two of my losses I was pregnant at the same time as a SIL and then a sister…who went on to have healthy babies the same age mine would have been (their seventh and second children respectively). We are praying about fostering/adopting in the future, but it may very well be that our little guy ends up being an only child. It is hard for me to answer when people ask “Only the one child?” without tearing up. Really hard!!

    • I have two beautiful children, but people always say “only two children”.

      On one hand, in my culture large families were the norm (not so much nowadays, though) on the other hand, it’s very personal, and if you are not familiar with someone’s story, it’s probably better not to make such comments.

  6. Thanks for this heartfelt post, a tough topic spoken gently.

    Me and my partner have chosen not to have children as we both have some medical conditions (some genetic) and we feel it’s not right or fair to pass that on. Chances are high and I’ve had multiple surgeries in my own young life that I’m not sure I could witness a child go through. We’re fine with this decision not to have children. We have nieces and nephews :-)

    It does seem to be others that have problems with our decision. Particularly my parents and they don’t seem to care about the medical issues. “oh it’ll be fine” they say. What if it’s not? It might be, but that’s a big risk in my eyes.

    So, there’s another reason to ponder.

    • Rebecca, what great courage it is a mature and generous decision you have both made and should be applauded.
      JIll Robson´s latest post: Organizing……an Olympic event?

    • Rebecca may I ask you a question? My husband and I have two children and are in a pastoral ministry. Most of the people we minster to are young married couples a lot with no kids. So after we get to know them a little bit, let’s say we have had a meal with them three or four times, is it okay to ask if they are planning on having kids? The reason we would be asking this is to get to know them better. We know several couples, one of them are having a hard time trying, another doesn’t want too, and the last want to but need to have a surgery to fix it first. What would your opinion be on how to ask graciously? Not out of nosiness but out of a genuine desire to know and understand them better.

      • My husband and I have been trying for a couple of years to conceive but have not had any luck yet. I am very open and honest about my struggles but there are a lot of people who aren’t. Infertility is incredibly painful and personal. I would wait for a time when it would naturally come up in conversation. For instance, if you and the other female were watching your children I’m sure there would be a lot of conversational segues that would crop up. Plus, seeing how the couples interact with your children and other people’s children should give you a clue. It’s often the people who silently refuse to hold your children that are struggling with infertility. Those that simply aren’t ready or don’t want kids tend to be more open and vocal with their feelings towards handling children.

        • These are some of the reasons why couples don’t want to bear kids. As long as they are happy together, I think it is just fine if they can’t bear kids. However, kids really complete the family. A family will not be complete without a child.
          Leif Lynch´s latest post: Low Male Libido: What Happens when your husband has lost his passion for sex

          • While I do want to have children, I respectfully disagree with you. I don’t think you need to have children to make a family. That’s like saying every person needs a spouse, a career, a house, etc. I think that whatever makes you happy is what you should do. I consider my husband and myself a full and complete family regardless of having children, and I think you need to already feel that way before you are ready to start making offspring.

          • If I might add a bit of thought to this very poignant discussion. It’s a bit unfair to say a family is “incomplete” without a child. I’ve only wanted children since I was a teen. I am on the verge of 42. My fiance died when I was 27, finally married at 34, divorced at 38. Miscarried twice during the marriage. Oh well. I have always wanted to fall in love first then add a child; in that sequence. Now I am single and I capped off the potential for my own child this year because of risks. Then I get the unsolicited: “it’s never too late”. It’s all very personal, including cutoff goals I have set. I’m very sad and it hurts to hear by one’s perspective I am “incomplete” (and alone to top that off). I know and love people who are child-free and I didn’t want to be the only one in my family (nor was I supposed to be by my plan)… but I rejoice in hearing the stories now because they help me feel, well, “complete”.

          • avatar
            RoseThorn says:

            Jennifer, I wouldn’t even bother with being respectful. Leif Lynch’s comment was rude and insulting. Married couples without children are not “incomplete” or lacking in any way, neither are single people who are not married.

            I don’t know what everyone’s religious views are here, but if you’re a Christian, Christ took the emphasis off marriage and kids; He taught that whomever is a disciple of His is His mother or brother.

            God does not judge or include people into His family on the basis of physical relation, but upon accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior. For the American church to continue harping on the 1950s television sit com model of nuclear family as they do is borderline heresy, in my opinion.

            Your value as a Christian comes from who you are in Jesus and who Jesus says you are, not whether you are married or have kids or not. Shame on Leif for his remarks and his attitude.

      • weighing in here – sorry! Just let them tell you. When and if the time is right, they will. This is not ‘need to know’ information. It’s extremely personal and most definitely not casual conversation, even when there are no issues attached.
        Rose´s latest post: What To Expect When You Are Not Expecting

        • I think I would agree with Rose. My husband and I have been married for little more than 5 yrs and we are happy being child-free. Being from the country with second largest population in the world, its a serious concern for every neighbor and their cat. Why are we shying away from the responsibility? Don’t we know body has a clock ticking? so when is the good news coming? its quite silly that no ‘other’ news sound good to them. It doesn’t matter that we have politely answered them once. They want to check again. It doesn’t matter for them to know that we are happy the way we are. We are not ready, we don’t want, reason could be any.. So, I would say, most of the time, when you spend time with someone, you kind of get clues about what might be their reason for not having kids and if they are willing they will share their views on the subject on their own. Till then, one should try and stay away from this question. Its a personal choice and not everyone is willing to discuss it with one and all.
          Tara´s latest post: Some shayari and my love

      • Katie, my closest friends (who don’t have kids) and I have become close in part because I DO ask. It has brought us so much closer.
        But obviously as the writer of this post, I know what a fine line the topic is. Wait until you feel close to the couple, however long that may be. Don’t ask, “So when are you going to have kids.” Ask something like, “What are your thoughts on having kids?”
        Also… it may be a better thing to ask one-on-one with the woman rather than the couple because you are a woman. If Martin and I are asked at the same setting, we have a canned answer. If you ask me individually, I might open my heart a bit more.
        Hope that helps.
        Katie

      • avatar
        Charlotte says:

        No, please don’t ask. No, no, no… *they* will let you know when they are ready to talk about this. Wait for *their* cues. I have been married 40 years now. We never had children because of infertility and anyone asking me about our family plans never sat well with me. Let the people bring it up themselves. I wouldn’t care if you are their best friend. They have to bring it up first. You honestly risk alienating them.
        I rarely, comment on blog entrys, but bringing up this type of question to someone can be very hurtful.
        Charlotte [One hubby and one dog; our family]

      • Is the ministry like a marriage mentoring sort of thing? If so, I think it should absolutely be open for conversation – with the gentle question of “what are your thoughts” versus “are you having them”. We did marriage mentoring and it was so wonderful to have an older couple to give us guidance in our first year of marriage.

      • I would suggest asking something like, “What are some of your dreams for the future?” That is a great conversation starter, and it is very general and not at all nosy. If you phrase it like, “What are some of your dreams for the future? Is there an dream career you’d love to have? Or a ministry you’d love to develop? Do you want kids? Do you want to travel? ” This slips the kid thing in the middle of other pursuits, and doesn’t give it any more or less weight than some of the other things that people want. This honors whatever dreams the couple might have, and it might open the way to really connecting with their hearts – without undue pain/pressure about children.
        sillydoodah (dawn)´s latest post: thursdaybook – dog days edition

      • As someone who has chosen not to have children, I would MUCH rather someone I know fairly well ask what our plans are instead of the, “Oh, when are you going to have a baby?” assumption questions. It’s more in how you ask than what you’re asking.
        Tonya Overstreet´s latest post: Crickets

  7. avatar
    Rachel H. says:

    It is not just women who don’t have children who get asked about their reproductive urges. I had my only child when I was 17. Long story. Anyway. People would ask me when I would give her a sibling. Um. No. I didn’t want children in the first place. I adore my daughter and, if I could go back in time, I wouldn’t attempt to not get pregnant. That doesn’t mean I want more. Ever. But people still think they have a right to ask.

    I think women should be supported in their choices regarding having or not having children. I don’t have to understand or approve but they should still be supported. Life is hard enough without other people making judgements on you based on whether or not you have children.

  8. Thank you so much for this – for those of us who want children very much but are having to wait for some reason, being around our peers who are already parents can be difficult because of the sorrowful and envious feelings that arise (and then the guilt over feeling jealous of our friends’ happinesses!). Being questioned about when you are going to start a family makes it all worse. I do feel fortunate for this season of my life, though, and I know that if/when I’m able to have children in the future, I’ll keep this time in mind and try to be sensitive to the feelings of childless women around me.

  9. Thanks for posting this. It’s such a relief to hear someone say all this out loud.
    I’ve been Number 4, 2 and 1 (in that order) … finally I am a Mumma. Now the questions from everyone is “When are you going to have another?” and “How many?” Still. Can’t. Catch. A .Break.
    Asking these questions is not a bad thing. I do believe that it’s best if you know this person well before asking it. Or better still, let them bring it up.
    I think these questions are sympomatic of a cultural identity crisis. Being a Mother is something that you do and are. but it does not the whole person make. At least not these days. Do I love being a Mumma? Absolutely. It’s not the only facet to my identity and to deny the rest of that identity is a waste. Besides, it takes a whole village to raise a child and the independent chosen childless Woman has much to contribute without having to feel ‘guilty’ about her choices. Just some thoughts- hope it didn’t come off ranty… :D

    • Naiomi- I am experiencing #2 right now- my husband is against having children. Just curious how you coped when you were experiencing that as well…

  10. Yes, thank you for bringing up this sensitive topic. Asking people the “children question” (whether they have kids or not) is something that should be completely taken off the table. It’s no one’s business and can be extremely hurtful.
    Steph´s latest post: It’s okay if you don’t enjoy every minute

  11. Wow, what a powerful post! I feel like I’ve been on all sides of this issue. I married a little later than much of my social circle, so for a while, I had to adjust to the idea that I might NOT marry and not have any kids. Then I did marry — and gained three stepkids in the process who live with us full time. You would have thought having three new ones to care for would have stopped the “when are you going to have kids” question, but it didn’t. Honestly, for some time I didn’t think I wanted any more — three seemed overwhelming at times. So answering that question always led to a mini-existential crisis of “is this enough? Am I okay with life as-is? Will I be ok after I’m unable to have more kids? Will I have regrets?” (my hubby was fine with either path) In the end, we did end up having two more little guys. I love them, love our life together, but can COMPLETELY understand aaaaaall the various reasons someone might not choose to (or the turmoil the may endure if they can’t) have kids.

  12. I always wanted kids. I was blessed with the most amazing boy when I was 40 years old. I respect the fact that some women don’t feel called to become mothers, or find mothering in other aspects of their lives. It’s not for everyone and we as women need to support each other, no matter our decisions.
    The same hurt occurs when folks ask why you only have one child or if you’ll have more. We wanted to, but God had other plans. People need to think before they speak. I’m sure they mean no harm, but just pausing to think about the topic and their relationship to the person they are asking it of can make a world of difference.
    daisy´s latest post: Wordless Wednesday

  13. Hi Katie C
    Loved this article, i had my son when i was 39, it wasn’t a burning desire, but once i had him he has enriched my life in ways i never could have imagined. Although there are days!!!hahaha. Out of my close group of girlfriends 5of us have children, 5 of us don’t. Their’s were personal choices they have happily made and live with. They are great with the kids we have and we arrange get togethers with and without kids for a happy balance.

  14. I had my 2+ year old daughter when I was 33. I had been married to my husband for 7 years. It happened to be our choice to wait. I have friends who haven’t had kids or had them later and it WASN’T their choice.

    To me, asking about kids, timing, number, etc. is right up there with “Are you pregnant?” You JUST. DON’T. ASK!!!

    God willing we will add to our little family…when we’re ready.

    My favorite responses to the questions are always the smart-ass ones.
    To the young, unmarrieds…”When are YOU having kids?”
    To our parents…”Never!”
    To just about everyone else…”At LEAST nine months.”

    Thanks for a great post!

    • I love your list of responses – I think I will adopt the use of those!

    • My standards were always “We’re practicing” or “We’re procrastinating.”

      My very favorite was when my DAD was asked about when we were going to have kids. He responded, “I don’t know. I’ve never asked them because it’s none of my business.” :) Thanks, Dad!

  15. I love this post. I’ve lived through number 5,4 and 1. In most times, the seemingly innocent questions are like pouring salt on an open wound… especially when infertility is involved

  16. avatar
    Lynne Peterson says:

    We celebrated our 15 th anniversary a week before our only daughter was born. We were 36. If having babies would have been easy for us, we probably would have never adopted our sons from foster care and Heaven only knows what would’ve happened to them. we can make all the plans we want in this life. But, how many children a person has and where they come from–that’s up to God.

  17. Great topic to bring up. We have three young kids just after marriage, but my older brother and his wife went through over 10 years of infertility struggles. They received so many hurtful comments (this was before infertility was more commonly talked about). Their experience has definitely made me more aware and sensitive. And I agree, there are SO many factors…who are we to judge?
    Johanna @ My Home Tableau´s latest post: How to Get Better Sleep

  18. I agree that this is a good topic to bring up. I had three kids shortly after marriage, but my older brother and his wife struggled with more than 10 years of infertility. They had numerous hurtful comments made to them. Their experiences has definitely made me more sensitive to people. And, yes, there are SO many factors involved in these types of decisions. Who are we to judge?
    Johanna @ My Home Tableau´s latest post: How to Get Better Sleep

  19. avatar
    pat sloan says:

    54 yrs old, married 34 years and no children. Never intended to have them… seems I declared this at a very young age as my brother reminds me.. LOL! It was just not for me. not every person needs children to be complete and I’m very happy to be able to choose what made my husband and I complete.

    thanks so much for this post.. also it cracks me up you write at a ‘mom’ blog with no kids… but I tell you I SO GET IT!!!! I could do that too!

  20. I am 41, and had two more kids than I planned to have (last pregnancy was a surprise AND twins) of which I was unable to parent the way I dreamed of parenting. I have four beautiful children, and you can see by my name, I struggled to deal. NOT blaming them, but my own coping skills. Four kids in 4-1/2 years was more than I could handle.

    I seem to be running into childless by choice people all over the place lately. And women get harrassed for this choice. I LOVE my kids. But no one EVER told me that not having kids was a real option. I just thought that is what you are supposed to do. My husband and I were married 7 years before we had kids, having them at 28. I did it because I was supposed to. I wanted to be a mom, but I never thought I had options.

    I will make sure my kids know that choosing to not have kids gives your life the same value as having them. No one has to have them. I respect (and envy) that choice. Love my kids, but those folks travel more and can go to the store without a scene. Just saying.
    Mom Off Meth´s latest post: View from…

  21. Thank you so much for this post!

    The questions *do* start at marriage – we even got a card that said, “Now that you’re married, when are you having a baby?” Of course, it was a joke…but one that as the years wore on was not so funny.

  22. avatar
    Catherine says:

    I’ve been #5 in your list – but I think I’m lucky because I live in a major Urban city – so married at 35, babies at 38 and 42 years old which was typical with all of my friends (many who are first time Moms after 40). Older Moms are also typical in my family so I never felt the pressure.

  23. I absolutely love this post. Thank you, thank you, thank you. As a childless Simple Mom reader, this really spoke to my heart.

  24. Thank you so much for this post, Katie! As a woman (age 33 next month) who cannot bear children (and even now is only titled “Mom” by virtue of the gift of adoption), this question has been and continues to be a challenging one to hear (because “when are you having kids?” turns into “when are you having *another*?” once you have one). Add to that having a little sister (age 30) who is squarely a #6, and trips to the large family reunions can get pretty dicey! Maybe we should print your post and take it with us . . .
    Victoria @ Mommy Marginalia´s latest post: Yan Along: Junior Raveler

  25. i tho’t this was a lovely post. i’m often amazed at how many people ask what i consider to be the very personal question of “why haven’t you had children yet?” in public settings with no outs for the person being asked.

    thanks for pointing out how personal this question can be for the person being asked. i’ve considered this a question that is one i can wonder about all i want, but if i’m not close to the person, it’s none of my business unless they want to volunteer the information.

    thanks for stating it kindly and tactfully. you did a much better job than i would have.
    martha brady´s latest post: BLAST FROM THE PAST: THE GIFT OF LAUGHTER…

  26. I totally wrote a post but it didn’t post…well, I’ll try again.

    I had more kids than I could handle, as you can see by my name. I don’t want to say that my kids are the reason my life fell apart. But my ability to cope with them and parent them the way I wanted to parent them did. I had a surprise pregnancy after my first two were born, and it was twins. Four kids, 4 and under. I snapped, used amphetamines to cope, blah blah blah.

    My point is that, although I love being their mom. And I think they are the moon and sun and all things good, I never even considered not having kids, because no one told me that it was an option. I meet childless by choice people now, and I think to myself, wow, that takes guts. Because society tells you, as a woman, to pop out kids.

    My life is good, my kids are good, and I am glad I am a parent. But when I run across my friends who don’t have kids, and they just got back from Europe, and they live in a sweet condo downtown, I get a little envious.

    I will be sure to tell my kids that parenthood is a choice. And choosing to NOT become parents is just as valuable as having children. And I am sorry, but come on, it looks much easier.
    Mom off Meth´s latest post: View from…

  27. 30 isn’t that old to still not have kids, that’s about where my mom was when she started and I’m grateful that she waited for many reasons.
    Having children is a big, HUGE, change in your life that you can’t simply take back if you change your mind and a child puts a huge magnifying glass on your life, esp. on your relationship with your significant other, it make the good stuff really great and the bad stuff worse and sometimes overwhelming. You get to know yourself in a different and deeper way. Being a mom is wonderful to me but not being mom or waiting can be great too.

  28. I wish I could hand this post out to my in-laws, my neighbors, and people at church. People ask the “when are you going to have babies” question so casually when it is actually a very personal thing. It drives me nuts. I was #1 on your list for a while due to miscarriage. I got pregnant quickly after my first miscarriage and had a beautiful baby boy, but a few years later, when trying to baby #2, I miscarried and didn’t conceive for around 18 months. I got people asking all the time, “When are you going to have another?” or, even worse, “Isn’t your son lonely without a brother or sister?”. I even had someone say to me that she thought only having one child was mean. As you can imagine, these questions would compound the guilt I felt (which is sad but true that I felt guilty about the miscarriages and not conceiving) and it caused me so much anxiety and heartache. Even after I had my second boy, I STILL got (and get, to this day) people questioning why there was such a big gap between my boys (they’re 4 1/2 years apart). Anyway, thank you for this post and I hope people who might ask the seemingly innocent question of “when are you having kids?” will think twice before asking something so personal.
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    • avatar
      Heather says:

      Heather,
      I am with you….except my kids? Are NINE AND A HALF YEARS apart. Same dad, same marriage, no separation or divorce. We just waited. Waited until I could stay home because we were not putting a second child in daycare. Waited until we could afford buying both Legos and diapers at the same time. Waited until we were in a little better place financially.

      Our boy child looks just like me. Our girl child looks just like Dad. After she was born and we were out places, we would get the looks like, “Ah, blended family. That baby is theirs after she got a divorce.” People were very Judgy McJudgerpants, especially in church.

      Some of my favorite responses that I cultivated over the time span between kids one and two:

      “When are you going to have another?” When you write me a check to pay for it.

      “Isn’t your boy lonely by himself?” My boy is never by himself. His social life is more active than mine.

      “Don’t you want more kids?” Why, are you selling yours?

      “I could NEVER wait that long between my kids!” Then it’s a good thing that wasn’t God’s plan for you. :)

      “Why did you wait so long between kids?” Because we were getting too much sleep.

      • And I have no idea why it shows Heather posted a response to Heather. Because I posted that and I am not Heather. Not that there’s anything wrong with that….

  29. I absolutely love this post. Being almost 30 and having been with my fiance for almost 10 years, I completely relate to this. Thank you so much for posting this because even though we are not married yet (we will be soon), we still receive the baby questions, as well as the altar questions. I know family and friends are excited (We know everyone wants cousins.), but it is easy to run out of explanations as to why you aren’t “rushing” (or maybe at the same pace as everyone else). Thank you again. Loved the post.

  30. Thank you for reminding us to be more circumspect on how we pry into someone’s life. It’s better not to ask until they bring it up.
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  31. Wow! You jumped right in where many ladies would not dare! :) Especially in faith/church based settings – it’s a challenge to not feel pressure or at least disapproval when you are childless. Being over 50 now – the questions no longer come about when am I having kids, but I still remember going through that season as a young Christian married couple who had chosen not to reproduce. (My husband and I both came from families that loved us but didn’t value small children – so the ‘when do we get grandchildren’, etc. attitude wasn’t part of our heritage or value system.) I hated women’s group meetings where everything was about babies and nothing else was discussed. I usually opted out of anything that smacked of being ‘family oriented’ because I knew I would feel left out or looked down on.
    We do have a young lady in our lives who we helped raise for a year or so – who now calls us mom and dad. We’ve had over 50 people live in our home over the years – and I’ve taught private music lessons to dozens of children over the past 40 years. Our investment in the next generation has just looked different than the traditional – and I have no regrets.
    Thanks for being so brave and compassionate as you brought up this sensitive issue. I love your blog – recommend it to others all the time – even without having kids/grandkids! You’re a gem!
    Genie

    • Genie – I identify with your post. I found myself single at a family oriented church and all resoures went that direction so women’s groups were difficult. At 42, I’m still on that first question of ‘when are you going to get married?’

      Katie – thank you for this topic. It has obviously touched a lot of people. I greatly admire people who realize the limitations or realities of life and don’t want to procreate as well as the people who physically/medically cannot have children and move directly to adoption. Amazing how many children in this world already that are waiting to be mothered by those who want and are able to do so.

  32. Thank you for this post.

    I actually want to have children, but I also need a husband to make that happen to right way. I have made up my mind to try and adopt if I’m financial steady and I’m not married by 35, but that still more than 5 years away. In the meantime, I’m waiting.
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  33. I do not have kids yet because my husband and I wanted to have things ready. Important things like health insurance and making sure that I am physically fit enough to handle successfully carrying a baby. And yes, I DO get sick of people who did not give a second of thought about the welfare of their future child or the child they have now asking me when I am having kids and giving me this sad “knowing” look as if I am infertile.

    When people ask me, which is shockingly often, I usually say, “why do you ask?”. This is my standard reply to inappropriate questions.

    What I really hate is how often that I explain why I am not yet having children and people (not just women!) say, “but…don’t you LIKE kids?”

    Um. Yes. I like kids…but kids are PEOPLE not puppies and it is important to provide for them. My desire for a baby is not relevant compared to my obligation to be a good parent.

    This all reminds me of how before I got married it was “but…don’t you WANT to get married? Don’t you like men? Are you a lesbian?”. Seriously.

    Getting married at 29 does not mean I do not like men! Starting to try at 33 does not mean I am some child hating weirdo or barren!

    I once flat out told a man who asked me about this,”you know, you shouldn’t go around asking people things like that, because you may crush some person. You do not know why a person does not have kids at this moment. Maybe they ARE having infertility problems. Maybe they are broke. Maybe their marriage is in trouble. Maybe they were abused as a child and are desperately afraid they will abuse their child or are still traumatized by their childhood, maybe they are at a point where financially and in their careers they just can’t slow down enough to have kids….there are a million reasons and although you are only annoying me, you could crush someone else.”

    A lady who is a pastor’s wife asked in the comments here somewhere if it is okay to ask young couples of her acquaintance if they are planning on having kids. I vote no. I have had priests ask us this, and I understand their curiosity, etc. but I do not appreciate it. I would again say to this pastor’s wife, “why are you really asking?”. Pray for all the couples in your group, pray for infertile women in general, ask God t help you to be in good relationship with all the couples so that they will want to tell you whatever is on their hearts. I think asking people personal questions is just nosy and attempts a false sense of intimacy that should be built slowly. Just my opinion.

    People need to actually mind their own business. Thanks for a personally relevant post. I read SIMPLE MOM and I do not have kids. Glad we are all here.

    • I agree with your response to the pastor’s wife’s question. My husband and I were married 7 years before having a child, even though we both really wanted a child much earlier. Our issue was that my husband opened a business 2 years after we got married and didn’t bring in any income from it for almost 5 years. I worked full time, but with our student loan debt, there was simply no way we could afford to have a child, even if I continued to work full-time, and I really wanted to stay home at least part-time.

      All of my close friends knew our situation, because I wanted to share it with those that I was close to. But it was always awkward, and at times painful, when people asked us the kids question when we were just getting to know them. It was hard to give a short response, and because kids were something we really wanted and I struggled with contentment regarding being childless, at least 50% of the time I’d end up crying if I talked about it. And that’s just not something you want to do in front of people you’re just getting to know, even if it’s your pastor.

      A better getting-to-know-you question to ask might be a more general, “Where do you guys see yourself in 5 years?” Then they are in control of the information they share and if they are fine with telling you about their plans for children, they will, but if they are not, they don’t have to say anything about it.

  34. What a great post. My husband and I did start getting the baby questions almost as soon as we were married. We hadn’t decided yet and just tried to take the question in stride; I mean friends and family are interested in your life and just like to ask… Four years later they’d just about given up but now we’re expecting, which of course automatically opens the door to “so you planning on two, or three?”… We were so back and forth about just having the one that we’re very confident that we only want one, especially considering I’ll hit 34 a few months after delivery.

    Having kids is a lot of pressure, I’m still scared I’m gonna suck at it because I’m not at all excited about sleep deprivation and subjecting strangers (and myself) to high-pitched chronic screeching… and like another reviewer said, unlike marriage or taking up a new hobby you can’t change your mind once you take the plunge.

    I love coming across columns like this shedding light on different choices and situations people may have. I try to be careful about asking the question, and I would never think someone shallow or selfish for choosing not to have any.

    • One thing to remember is not all moms are alike. I didn’t want to be a stay-at-home mom and was nervous about having a baby because I hate cleaning, I used to be terrible at cooking (have since improved) and the thought of staying home day after day with kids running around brought on anxiety. I’ve never been “a baby person.” All my friends growing up loved serving in the church nursery and holding babies, but I was never that way. I’ve learned to find my own style. I’m “the outing” mom. My kids are always going places like hiking, farmer’s market, library, parks, picnics etc. I loved my kids when they were babies, but I have way more fun with them now…they are 6,4, and 2.
      Amy´s latest post: Five Things Pastor’s Wives Can Do For The Church

      • I so relate to your comment. I’ve never been a baby/kid person. I wasn’t sure I even wanted to have kids. We were married 5 years before we had our first (I was in my 30s). The baby months are referred to as the meatloaf stage in our house. I feel like I came into my groove as a mom when my oldest hit 3. After feeling guilt about not loving the baby stage, I’m enjoying rocking it out with preschoolers and elementary kiddos.

  35. Having children is a very personal decision and based on many different factors. My husband and I just had our first child 8 months ago. I am 31, he is 34. We waited until we were comfortable with our lives, we move constantly for various reasons and we wanted to feel that we were ready to introduce a child to our rather nomadic lifestyle. We also wanted to have money saved and be financially stable.

    My sister in law is turning 41 and she is due to have her first in a couple of weeks. My other sister in law started a law career and waiting until she was 33 to have her first. On the flip side, my sister and brother in law were 20 when they had their first.

    There are any number of reasons people either wait or do not have children. It is personal and not something that should be randomly discussed, unless you know their views or their personal situation. Then, just be supportive, loving, and do not push them. Just because you feel one way about something doesn’t mean they do.

    I am glad that your post discusses things that many oftentimes feel are taboo. Thank you for being willing to discuss this topic. :)
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  36. Love this….so well put and I can SO relate. It often feels like it’s not a legitimate choice if you don’t want to have kids, or if you want to have them later on. I really like what you shared about the reasons people ask because often, in my frustration of being asked constantly, I assume they’re asking out of selfishness

  37. avatar
    Faith delong says:

    Thank you so much for posting, i had a genetic medical condition that i felt unfair to pass on or to burden a partner with and so chose to enjoy a wonderful career as a dentist with my own practice and enjoyed a jumble of adorable, loving nieces and nephews. I had to endure many years of unsolicited advice, criticism from my church, and well meant proddings from friends for many years. When the time was right, God brought the right man into my life and we took a chance and got married both for the first time at 41. Two years later after two back to back miscarriages we were blessed with a healthy baby boy. No, you never know someone’s story, thank you for that thoughtful reminder.

  38. This is a great post for both those who ask and get asked. It’s great to know it’s not just me being oversensitive when I’m put off by those questions. In the back of my mind I’m thinking, “Do you know how babies are made?! You’re asking me about my sex life not my family.”
    Also, it’s great to remind myself that while the choice is personal between my husband and me, it’s not just people being nosy. They love us and kids and want to a apart of that. And to some people having kids an indicator of the health of a relationship. In our house, we’re so happy with each other and life as is, that we don’t want to rush to a next step.
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  39. Thank you for posting this! We tried for 7 years to conceive and at every family gathering, or when people found out we’d been married for 12 years they would always ask wow when are you having kids? I wanted so much to say when you stop being rude! We eventually adopted, and our boys have some mild special needs. One lady in Target actually said to me oh your baby is so small what’s wrong with him! I was flabbergasted and I wish I had said what’s wrong with you lady lol but I did say nothing’s wrong with him he is our perfect gift from God. That shut her up. But wow some people are just flat out rude. Most of them don’t even mean to be rude they’re just making conversation but wow. Moms of special needs kids need extra hugs and support not rude comments. So wonderful ladies, if you see a mom who has special needs kids in a checkout line, play with the kids while she checks out, help her get her bags, tell her how precious and beautiful her kids are. There are amazing people out there, one woman followed me into the bathroom as I was trying to maneuver the double stroller in the stall to watch the boys so I could tinkle. ( thank you again awesome lady) And if you are sitting near them in church, dirty looks and moving away from them….not helpful. I guarantee mom is stressed enough at Church without that! Whooo venting over :) thank you again for posting!

  40. most women have ‘stories’ when it comes to the number of kids they have- it is best to tread softly and talk about it only if you actually know them and want to talk
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  41. I cried as I read this. Your post says everything I wish I could tell the world. I am 35, been married 4.5 years and have no children. After multiple doctor visits and a surgery, we still haven’t conceived. I get questions all the time about when we are going to have kids. The worst offenders are my family members, who know exactly what is going on. Do I want kids? Yes! Will I ever have children (either naturally or through adoption)? Only God knows. And if I don’t ever have children, I should be made to feel like a failure. Thank you for this post!

  42. This is true about SO MANY things! You’re not married, “When are you gonna get married?”. You’re married no kids “When are you gonna have kids?”. Married with one kid “When are you gonna have more kids?” or worse “What you *need* to do (to raise your child) is xyz”.

    It’s a tough lesson that a lot of people have not learned but we don’t know what’s in another’s heart and we really don’t have a right to be privy to it unless that person decides to share. What’s funny to me, though, is that men do not seem to get these questions and they also don’t seem to get unsolicited parenting (or pregnancy/childbirth for the pregnant woman) stories/advice. Why is that?

  43. I have asked a few friends, “Are you getting a lot of questions and pressure about kids?” This has been incredibly well-received because it’s an opening to talk about the questions rather than the answers. I have been able to provide support if they are feeling burdened and laugh with them if it’s not a big deal. Sometimes people use this as an opening to talk about their decisions about kids but it’s totally up to them.

    Obviously, I am careful who I ask. Even this much could be hard for some people.

  44. I hate being asked that question!!! My husband and I met later in life and had our first child ASAP at the age of 30. I’ve since had two miscarriages that not many people know about, but every time I’m asked when we are gonna have more kids, its just another reminder of our losses. I have friends who are desperate to have kids, but haven’t been able to. I know it’s hurtful to them every time someone asks the seemingly innocent question of when they are gonna have kids. I am sure people are well meaning when they ask such a question, but I wish people would just stop asking!!!

  45. This is a very thoughtful post, and I appreciate it. I have asked God to help me to be more grace-filled, and today, I believe He used you. I do have to say, though, that at my age (52), I would hate to be childless, especially with many of my friends having grandkids now. Was/Is it easy to raise children, and have my children turned out perfectly? No, but God isn’t finished with them yet! My 3 sons, who are grown, are biological. My daughter, age 11, is adopted. Having adopted, I know that it is usually a pretty tough process, but oh, the blessing and the daily reminder of the grace that God offers to us through adoption into His family. So, though I haven’t actually done so, I admit that it is a temptation for me to tell childless couples (that I know well) to just consider adoption. I have told my own children that adoption is a good option:) Why would I want to do this? Because my heart goes out to the orphaned, and because I know of the potential blessing in store for those who are willing to open their home to just one child. And yes, I know of all the many good reasons not to adopt. Why do you think that there is a 10 year gap between my youngest son and my daughter? :) And yes, it was expensive, etc. We needed a car and could have bought a nice one for the same amount, but it would be about worn out by now. Instead, we invested into the life of a child, and she is becoming a beautiful young lady now, who is such a blessing to our whole family. I could go on, but do search your heart and think about the future, not just your comfort now, whether you have children or not. One final thought, what God calls you to, He will equip you for.

  46. I have kids so I may not have the best response, but I do realize how unfair it is when we ask people the baby question because it’s an assumption. We’re implying that right after marriage comes the family. I can see why we assume this; after all, a lot of people follow this path. But that doesn’t always make it right for us to assume that this path applies to everyone.

    I do my best not to ask people the baby question unless we’re actually talking about it already and they’re bringing it up. Usually I’ll just wait for them to share the news. Still, I admit I have asked the kids question, or even asking, “Do you have kids?” I guess in context nothing is black and white, but I know I have had my moments where I realized, “Shoot—I shouldn’t have asked that!”
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  47. I would like to chime in my THANK YOU as well. You were spot on. I married cross-culturally at 33 and am living in my husband’s culture. I had wanted kids. Got married later. Tried. No kids. Now I’m 40 and because of my situation here I don’t want kids. There is an element of cultural pressure. More than that tho is what I feel from the christian world- motherhood is the ‘highest and holiest calling’ and those of us without children have no clue about kids/raising kids/ how hard and busy it is…It seems yet another way for us to compare. It’s not everyone but it is something hidden in my heart that I just take the heat for, so to speak, even tho just recently i realized that no children is the death of a dream. I just appreciate that this was brought up here. I wish it was a more open topic and not seen as simply selfish or unbiblical or for my career.

  48. Thank you for sharing. We who are moms tend to be pretty outspoken about its joys and trials, and I’m sure we dominate conversations. This is a good reminder to be less self-centered, and more sensitive others’ situations.
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  49. avatar
    Betsy Morris says:

    I so hope that people read your post and heed your wisdom! It is such a personal choice, and yet, when I answer the question, “Do you have kids?” in the negative, I feel that some people look at me as if I have a rare disease that they may catch by standing too close to me. I babysat a lot when I was a teenager, and I taught school for 10 years. I have experienced the joy of being around children and love my nieces and nephews, but have never felt it was an obligation for me to have children of my own. It seems that many people are less judgmental of women who have more babies to expand their welfare checks, or because they need more help around the house, or so that they will have someone to care for them in their senior years, or so that they can create the in the little person the childhood they never had, than they are of childless women who have made a conscious choice to spend their free time in other ways. I grew up in a wonderful, loving family with 2 sisters, and had an absolutely idyllic childhood. Yet, I’ve never felt a desire to procreate. Don’t know why, really. I’m just happy to be me and spend time with my hubby. I love reading “Simple Mom” anyway. Cheers to ALL women and their choices!! P.S. to the posters who still want to ask the question: just resist the urge to ask. You can, you know!

    • Just wondering: Have you had women tell you they are having more children to expand their welfare checks or need more help around the house or so they will have someone to care for them in their senior years or so they can create for them the childhood they never had? Or are those assumptions you have of women who have many children?

      There is no way I can know your heart for sure, but I would like to point out that judgement can and often does go both ways on this issue. Just as women who don’t have children have their own reasons, women who do have more than the acceptable “two – one boy and one girl” have valid and acceptable reasons.

      I know this post is about childless women, but it seems an appropriate place to mention that comments related to how many children a woman has can be painful whether it’s 0 or 5. I’ve had many a comment from people (my own mother, included!) about their opinions on how many children I should or shouldn’t have, my least favorite being: “Don’t you know what’s causing that?!” As if I’m unaware of how babies are made…

      Bottom line: Be EXTREMELY sensitive in this area, regardless of how many children a woman has or doesn’t have.

  50. What a graceful, beautiful post. I loved it. Thank you.

    My coworker has struggled to conceive for over two years. My other coworker (who doesn’t know of these struggles) constantly tells her that she’s over 30 so she should start trying to have a baby. You never know what someone else is going through.
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  51. Thank you for this post! I cringe everytime I hear someone ask my friends without children when they are going to have them. I think it takes more courage now in our society to not have children.

  52. Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this. And thank you for writing this in a way that doesn’t treat childfree women as a curiosity, or someone to convince to join the ranks of motherhood. There are SO many reasons for women not to have children, and many of them are incredibly painful to discuss with total strangers.

    I am a teacher, and I love my job (most days, anyway). But I’ve never wanted children, even though I love my family very much. At the age of 31, I have grown weary of people asking me why I don’t have kids of my own, or when I’m going to have them. Frankly, I’m always surprised that people think it’s their business in the first place, and I resent being spoken to condescendingly by mothers, and being treated like a preschooler who hasn’t grown up enough yet to know what I’m missing by making a conscious decision not to have children. I get it that mothers think having children is amazing. That’s not the choice I’ve made, and it doesn’t make me a bad person – it just means I’m choosing differently than you did.

  53. Just want to add my gratitude for this sensitive and beautifully written post. I never realized how much having children defines us (to ourselves and to others) until I realized I was infertile. Though I eventually had twins (and am now past the age most women have children), I still identify as an infertile woman. I never ask anyone if/when she’s going to have children. This is such a loaded, personal, and complex thing.
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  54. I totally put my foot in my mouth a few years ago with my cousin and wish I could take it back. What seemed like a “harmless” question created such an awkward tension in the air and when I tried to say I’m sorry for asking she got really defensive and repeated, “I just don’t want to talk about it.” Mind you, because I don’t tend to have many taboos in life I have put my foot in my mouth more than this one time, but am trying to be way more cautious. Thank you for your perspective.

  55. Good post Katie! Now doesn’t this same issue apply to whether or not we marry or not? I’m 26, have never been married (or had a boyfriend) and it still hurts to have people, particularly of the opposite sex ask me when I will marry. I’m just not sure it’s what I want or if I do if it’s something that I want later in life. Thanks for sharing! I’m bad about asking, but I’ll try to be more sensitive.

    • Rachel, I’m sorry society hits you with a double whammy of kids and husband. One of my closest friends is turning 29, and she could have written your exact same comment here. I think she would say, “I’m just going to keep being this awesome version of myself and see where life takes me.”
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      • avatar
        RoseThorn says:

        Katie, it gets worse the older you get. I’m in my early forties and have never married. I thought I’d be married by now, but it did not happen. I find questions or assumptions about my marital status (or if I have kids) to be rude or painful.

        As a Christian, being single is even more difficult (particularly past the age of 30), because most churches, denominations, and Christians place a high premium on marriage and having kids, so if you are not married or don’t have kids, they will ostracize you or judge you, or treat you as though you are a freak.

        Many Christians who are married don’t realize just how many unmarried (and childless) older Christians there are and how badly they are treated by society at large or by churches. Most people these days (both Christian and Non Christian) are not marrying in their 20s and/or are not having children, but most churches have not caught on to this.

        I pretty much stopped attending churches, because most of them assume that everyone is married (or has been at some stage) and that everyone has kids (or will be having kids, or they wrongly assume that all Christian females love kids and babies).

        There is no real help, compassion, or ministries for Christians over 30 years old who are still not married and with no children.

        (Most adult “singles ministries” or adult singles Sunday School classes are total jokes – they are just a place to shuffle the singles off to the side because churches don’t know what to do with them, or aren’t interested in helping them.)

        Churches continue to cater to married couples and to parents and to ignore people in other life stages or situations, such as the never-married (over 30 years of age), or who are single again due to divorce/ being widowed, and/or who don’t have kids.

  56. I love this article. I’m 26, married for almost 4 years, and have no children right now by choice. I feel like I have a million reasons that go into mine and my husband’s decision to not have kids early in our marriage, and I totall agree – it is pretty awkward being asked and saying “Uhhh… ask me in a few years, maybe I’ll have an answer for you then!” when I’m really thinking “How long do you have to discuss?” :)
    I’m thankful my reasons aren’t painful to share, but I do have some dear friends that have dealt with infertility for some time – some successful, some still waiting. I think surrounding myself with not-so-baby-crazy friends has cut down on the awkward conversations.
    I appreciate you having the boldness to say what everyone is thinking! Thanks.

  57. Having kids (or not) involves incredibly personal issues. Somehow though, pregnancy (or lack thereof) seems to be acceptable discussions from strangers even. Maybe we need to return to the good old Victorian times when such matters weren’t discussed at all…

  58. This spoke to my heart. Just a few weekends ago, I was asked (rather bluntly) where my baby was and when I said, “What baby?” the lady responded that she’d heard I was expecting. She didn’t even seem to care how invasive that question was for me.

    The decision to have kids or not is extremely personal and for those of us who want kids but either can’t have them or have to wait, it’s just a reminder of pain.

    Thank you so much for sharing!
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  59. avatar
    TS in Canada says:

    Thank you so much for this post! I have been burdened with this very subject for a while now. We have friends (fairly close) who have been married 10 years and no children. They’re quiet, private, hard-working, loving, gentle people who would give you the shirt off their back if you needed it. We had been closer to them when we were first married (the year after them) but have drifted apart as our four children arrived over the past 8 years. Out of respect for their privacy, we’ve never asked them “the question”, nor have they ever offered any type of answer. I really want to reach out to her and we do have a few things in common; but I don’t know if having my kids around is hurtful to her. I’m a homeschooling, STAH mom and don’t have much time away from my kids. It sometimes feels like my life is absolutely consumed by them and their needs. Do you have any suggestions of ways to communicate acceptance, and to gently draw closer without causing hurt?

    • TS, for me without kids, the tricky thing about hanging out with people with kids is simple. Their kids are their lives, so naturally, that’s what they think about and talk about. I was recently having lunch with my cousin and sister-in-law. The three of us have a lot in common that we could have really dived into. But their hearts are with their babies. I get that. The meal wasn’t very enjoyable for me because that’s not where my heart is.
      I’d start with a child-free lunch if that’s possible. Make it just the two of you. Try to talk about the other things that make you feel alive and the things that make her feel alive. Me? I’d have that lunch with you in a heartbeat.
      Katie @ Making This Home´s latest post: My Manifesto: Kindness Changes Everything

      • but i don’t really have a choice so to speak. all of my closest friends have children and they’re all in america. those that i’m friends with here also have children. i don’t understand why people don’t understand that the same life and truth principles apply. period. christ wasn’t married. he had no children. yet we wouldn’t dream of excluding him. my sister has 3 kids and we talk about them every time we chat but it’s ok. i talk about teaching and she’s not a teacher and she doesn’t totally get my world either being married to and living in another culture and yet again the same life and truth principles exist. that’s what we go back to. i guess i’m just grieving that by having friends with children that ends up meaning my relationship with them ‘has’ to be limited and i see no reason for it. i do appreciate the door you opened on this topic katie. thanks for speaking up.

  60. Thank you so much for writing this. I got married what I feel was later in life, had infertility problems, and now two children (and thats it) later have a tummy that causes people to ask or even congratulate me on my pregnancy. And yet I am guilty of asking those questions too. Sorry. You have freed me up to realise just because it was done to me I do not have to carry it on, I think i felt you were ment to ask. doh Mind you when people ask me now they normally get a very truthful and blunt response which soon shuts them up.

  61. First and only at 43. Infertility treatment with 2 husbands and not unlike the new car you get, everywhere I looked, there were pregnant people. I am surprised at the *shock* of so many here about the questions. Yes it can be painful but I do think that is a path we all walk. Do you really think the intent of the question is infliction of pain? Or could it simply be that someone – as the pastoral ministers above – just wants to know if that’s your path? Not every one can be gracious but not everyone is so inclined as to be insensitive or mean-spirited. I suggest that we graciously accept our own path and our own difficulties and not make our feelings the responsibilities of others.

    • Kate –

      It’s not so much that the childfree are “shocked” by people asking us about having children, but that it can be borderline offensive – if it was something we cared to discuss, we’d be the ones to bring it up. Would you feel that it’s okay to say to a friend who’s a SAHM, “So, when are you going to get a real job?” Or would you be annoyed if a stranger came up to you and asked you when you were going to get your nose fixed? Unfortunately, most people asking this question can easily be perceived as passing judgment on the person being asked, whether they mean to or not.

      I’ll agree that most people are not asking to be intrusive; they are just curious. But that was the point of this post – the fact that “innocent” questions are actually intrusive, and people should perhaps be a little more aware. Children are something that most women tend to feel strongly about, and whatever their position, asking them why they’re not different than they are will smack of criticism.

      • Dana –

        I appreciate your point of view. I respectfully disagree. If you compare someone asking about your wish to have children with the questions you pose above – its apples to oranges. One, an honest question about a life choice, the others insulting. For me it’s about intent. I was childless for 20 years and got asked the question morecthan once and not once did I think they shouldn’t have asked. Its pretty natural – and in my experience no one was asking to be ugly or mean. It’s also all in how you look at it- I dont think of the question as pointing to differences so much as a possible shared choice. Besides, if its your path I’d want to know all the good things that choice had provided you, not why you hadn’t chosen to do it differently.

        • avatar
          RoseThorn says:

          @ Kate. You asking me (or any woman) about if I have kids/ when/ will I, etc., is insulting to me, even if it’s asked with an innocent intent, or from the premise you think you can help me in some fashion.

          When I tell you I was never fully opposed to having kids but didn’t really want any, what do you have to say in response?

          Often, when it’s revealed you don’t want to have kids to someone who begins prying about the kid question, women who are mothers will start saying garbage to you like, “But oh, you don’t know how rewarding it is, it’s so worth it!,” or, “Given time, you will change your mind.” The goal of many mothers is to try to shame the child free woman into having kids. There is no respect for the choice to remain without children.

          Most people do not show understanding or respect for women who have chosen to not have children, and people most who ask the prying kid questions are not genuinely interested in understanding why you chose as you did.

          For women who want to have kids but who cannot (due to medical issues, for example), asking them kid questions can be painful reminders to them that they don’t have a kid and may never have a kid.

          That you refuse to see any of this (that women have perfectly understandable reasons for why they may be offended or hurt at being asked reproduction questions) tells me you don’t really care about other people’s feeling, or to learn why they chose as they did, but only wish to satisfy your curiosity about their personal lives and choices, or to show disrespect and try to argue them out of their choices, or to pass judgement on them.

          People are different. Just because you were fine and accepting with being asked about why you don’t have kids, or if you have any, or do you plan on any, does not mean other women are fine with being quizzed about it – I am one who finds the ‘kids and marriage’ questions insulting and rude and would rather not be asked.

    • avatar
      RoseThorn says:

      Kate you said, “Or could it simply be that someone – as the pastoral ministers above – just wants to know if that’s your path?”

      Why do you need to know so badly? Why can’t you find other avenues to get to know someone else? There is far too much emphasis placed upon marriage and motherhood.

      For whatever reason, some people never marry, some never have kids, and that does not make them less of a person, or mean you can’t find something else to talk to them about.

      You can bond with a woman over topics that have nothing to do with marital or parental status. It’s insulting to act as though the only way you can bond with another female (or to support her in her life) is to talk babies (or marriage).

      Asking someone “why aren’t you married” or “why don’t you have kids” are questions that are either loaded with judgmental presuppositions, or sounds like they are, no matter how innocent the motives of the one asking, so it’s better to not risk offending or hurting the person.

      Keep your curiosity to yourself and resist the urge to ask, “How many kids do you have?,” or “Do you want kids?,” “why aren’t you married?,” or “When will you get married?” and similar questions. Generally people who want to talk about those things will bring them up with you eventually, if they feel they can trust you. If they do not volunteer the information, don’t pry.

      • Rose ~
        You sound pretty ticked off for a girl who claims to have so much sensitivity around the feelings of others. I was sharing my point of view, didn’t suggest most of the things you’re attributing to me, [and in fact have never asked the kids questions but have only been asked myself during 20 years of infertility treatments; therefore speaking about my own experience of the questions], and at no point was as ugly as you’ve chosen to be in this post. You’ve been presumptive and unkind. I’m sorry that your experiences have been so painful but I will not defend myself to what you have ‘crafted’ about what I actually said. Please go pick a fight elsewhere.

  62. A brilliant and thought-provoking post. Thanks for sharing.

  63. I completely sympathize with your post, I was one of those women. I had my first child at the age of 35 and I was fine with it! Hey what the heck is wrong with enjoying your life just as a couple??? We had so much fun!
    The only one I would disagree with is number three, I had my first child in the Middle East and we are traveling constantly and I was/ am alone a lot of the times, but than again everybody has their own imagination for when children will be right and fit into ones lifestyle.
    I love having a family now as well, ….and we waited for number two to come along as well for a few years and I got constantly asked when does number two arrive…., it was just purely annoying!!! All I got to hear from mothers with more than one child is, oh you have it so easy with just one, just wait until you have two, etc. etc.
    Now we have two, and we are still thinking about number three…..

    You go girls!

  64. What a great post! Hubby & I married very young (ages 19 & 18) just because we loved each other, not because we were pregnant or in trouble. (That’s what everyone assumes when they find out we got married right out of high school, lol!) We started trying to conceive about 2 years later – realized we wanted to have kids young so our nest would slowly empty while we were still young (40′ish). That way we could travel & live our dreams once his career was established & we were financially secure. (When you marry young, you don’t have the money to travel & pursue dreams for at least a decade, lol!) But it took us another two years to get pregnant, & I had our kids when I was 24 & 27… still very young by our metro areas perception (most of my peer-moms are 8-15 years older than me). So our nest will empty when I’m 45 (or at least, that’s when our youngest will be 18 & we can travel solo if we so desire)…

    Those two years that we were TTC were brutal… our families knew we were wanting to start a family, and every single month that passed without a baby in the picture was devastating to us. They meant well – they were excited for us, too – & my in-laws were ecstatic that they were going to have their first grandbaby soon! But 24 months of saying, “No, sorry, no grandbaby yet…” wow, that became very painful. They were very gracious, & everyone quit asking after the first 12 months or so… I still remember the pain, thinking I’d never be a mom.

    However, I must admit that I still ask the question myself when I meet new people. “Do you have kids?”, “Do you want kids?”, “Do you want more kids?”, never thinking for minute that it would hurt someone’s feelings, only because once I know the answer, the subject is over, and the convo moves on to other questions – “Do you work?”, “Where are you from?”, etc. etc… I’m a naturally friendly person, naturally curious, and I hope that my questions are perceived as an extension of my outgoing personality, and not that I’m judging anyone. In fact, asking a co-worker ages ago why he didn’t want kids opened up my mind to the whole notion of people “adopting” special needs adults as their family, which I find an absolutely beautiful thing.

    Thanks for the thought provoking post!

    • avatar
      RoseThorn says:

      Laura, why must the first question you ask another woman be “do you have kids?”

      Why not start with “what are your hobbies?” or “where were you born?” or something else that does not involve kids or marriage?

      I’m in my early forties and have never married or had a kid, and it’s insulting to be faced with such questions right off. I’m also bored by women who have no identities of their own, who can’t get past being a wife and mother to talk about politics or other issues

  65. I do not nor have I ever asked questions about a married couple’s intimate relationship, but over our 15 years of marriage my husband and I have had many, many exchanges where people we know and strangers (often more from the strangers!) ask us boldly, unashamedly, publicly, and often out of nowhere about OUR relationship. We have to date been blessed with ten children, they are ages 14 down to 8 months, and even the children are put off when folks “count” them, stare with shock, and ask such things as “Are they all yours? Wow, you must really like kids.” “Are you going to have more?” “How do you do it?” or my personal favorite, “Don’t you know what causes that and how to stop it?” I’ve had folks question whether my husband is “doing this to me”, if the children are getting all the material things someone thinks they “should” have (or else we are neglectful parents), how much money my husband must make to pay the grocery bill (he’s a pastor, so… yeah, he doesn’t make that much), or to exlaim dismissively, “Better you than me!”

    From reading the post itself and what others have written in comments, I hope I can safely assume that none of you are the dear souls who prompt me to put out the pasted smile when in public to avoid saying the response I’m REALLy thinking.

    • Pamela, my dad is one of 10 kids. We just had a big family reunion. I snuggled with my brother’s babies a lot during the event, since my brother and I live so far apart. It was my big beautiful family (and some of their questions!) that prompted this post.
      I feel grateful for my huge family, and I admire you deeply. I’m sorry people give you such comments.
      Katie @ Making This Home´s latest post: My Manifesto: Kindness Changes Everything

  66. My friend who is single gets the same thing–”When are you getting married?” Or people wanting to set her up with guys they know. I think some people expect everyone to get married and have three kids. I believe God calls some to be single, others to not have children, some to have one etc. As long as you are content in God’s plan, nothing else should matter. The comments may still hurt, but they don’t hurt as much.
    Amy´s latest post: Five Things Pastor’s Wives Can Do For The Church

  67. I don’t know why, but it never occurred to me that I might have trouble getting pregnant. Once we’d been married a few years and decided the time was right, we were in for a rough ride. We were married for nearly ten years before I became pregnant with our twin daughters. All that time, we were constantly asked, “so when are you having children?” or worse yet, “How long have you been married?! What are you waiting for?”

    Once people knew we were having twins, the questions about their conception started, often from total strangers — “are they natural or were you on fertility drugs?”

    What is “natural”???

    Once they were born, people wanted to know which child was the oldest and then how far apart they were. When I said 15 minutes (I did not have a C-section as people assumed), they’d say, “15 minutes?! What took so long???” I wanted to ask how long it took them to push their children out, but refrained.

    I love this post and have no idea why probably well-meaning people, can’t see that their questions are not only rude, but quite possibly very painful. The questions I endured made me very careful about what I ask others.

    • avatar
      RoseThorn says:

      @ Beth said, “The questions I endured made me very careful about what I ask others.”

      Thank you for learning from the experience and not repeating it and putting others through it.

      Some lady up thread (“Kate”), despite having gone through it, unfortunately, apparently still thinks it’s fine and dandy to still subject other women to prying questions, even if some women find it rude, annoying, inappropriate, or painful.

      I don’t get how someone can go through this herself, but then turn around and do it to more people, knowing dang well some women (and men) don’t appreciate questions about if they plan on kids or getting married.

  68. What a great topic! I have so much to say on this. My experience reaches across many of the points raised. I was never in the right relationship during what I thought was my fertile years, then when I reached 40 and had given up my long treasured hope of having and raising a family and had focussed on my career instead, I found out, through surgery (not because of) that I was never able to have children. That really changed my view, even though it was already past the point of no return. Interestingly, in my large and loving family, children and family are so valued that, because I didn’t have either, I didn’t rate. For many years it was impossible to even have an adult conversation because it was all about the kids. I love those nieces and nephews of mine, but I was desperate to feel like my life was meaningful to them (it most definitely was to me!) despite my inability to produce a family.
    As I moved towards my 50′s, I decided to make some changes in my life. I’ve always been a very ‘community’ minded person and felt like I wanted to do more to reflect the values I uphold in my day to day life. So I signed up, did the training and became a foster carer. It’s been a wonderful journey that I have been on. Challenging, full of love, heartbreak and un-calculable rewards. And yet, I still can’t avoid the invasive, insensitive and rude questions from strangers. Is he yours? Answer: yes. How did you do that (multiple children of a similar age but different cultural backgrounds)? Answer: magic. So…what’s her story? Answer: I don’t talk about personal, confidential information unless it’s necessary.
    So all you lovely, well meaning people, just be patient. If the time is right you will find out the answers to those questions in your heads. You don’t need to know everything.
    Rose´s latest post: What To Expect When You Are Not Expecting

  69. Your post was so gentle, I appreciate that. My hubby and I just celebrated 19 years of marriage – and we have boys, 5 yrs old and 3 yrs old. We waited for many reasons, one of them a medical issue that showed up right when we were ready to attempt having our first right around our 10 yr mark. It was so painful, but even more painful when that was also a time when people suddenly felt it was a casual conversation topic to start with us.
    Now the conversation is when we will try for a girl. First, I’m 41 and running out of energy, second having had a miscarriage when my youngest was 2, I don’t want to hear the question again, it’s just too painful.
    Having children is such a delicate topic, in my mind it seems like one that should only be brought up by the couple themselves. By all means we should support ALL women, whether moms or not. We have such an impact on the little lives around us, even when we don’t intend to…

  70. I have family in Germany and many of them do not have children. I’ve never really thought about it being odd. That’s their choice. The DO get to travel and do a lot of cool things that I never got to do as a young married then mother x2 the first 2 years of marriage. : ) Everyone’s path is unique. We don’t all have to fit into the same mold.
    On a different note, I have known a few women who felt they had to fit into the get-married-then-have-kids mold only to find they really don’t do well in the mommy role at all and wish they had chose a different path. What a tragedy for all involved at that point!

  71. Nosy questions come to us all. Once you have a lot of kids people feel free to ask you “if they are all yours?”, “are you finished yet?”, and a whole host of other things. People are just thoughtless, and are not usually trying to be rude (although sometimes they are.)

  72. avatar
    NikkiNada says:

    Thank you so much for this. I’m at the stage of my life where I want children so badly that it hurts sometimes, but I simply can’t yet. With two more years of school left for myself, and a husband due to start med school in one year, having a baby right now would be more than difficult – I would consider it unfair to that child.

    I’m surrounded by family and close friends who it seems are either all pregnant or just having children, and it breaks my heart every time someone well meaning turns to me to ask “When are YOU having kids?”. I want to be a mother, I *yearn* to be a mother, but I know that the best thing for my family is to wait right now. Which makes it so painful to have that question asked at each family function or every time a friend announces her pregnancy. It is so good to know someone out there understands!

    • You expresses SO fully where I am at the moment. Sometimes I ache with longing for our turn, yet we are still waiting, surrounded by babies and pregnant women.(hug) I feel for you!

  73. Many brilliant comments on very touchy post. To add also my feelings and attitude reading it, to me, it is very hard to hear these questions just because they remind me that me myslef don’ t know the answer. Sometimes you are in period of time of your life, when everything seems unclear and need some strong decisions and actions. Nevertheless, what if one feels that he/she needs time to discover all alternatives and circumstances and so on. And that requires time. That time when everybody asks, but you don’t have anything to answer. Even to yourself.

  74. Excellent post – so glad you wrote this. As others have mentioned, the follow up (nosy) question once we have kids is, “Are you done yet? When are you going to have more?” The six reasons you mentioned (and many more) could apply to that question, and it can be just as painful. This is a great reminder for all of us to be more thoughtful about the personal questions we ask one another. Bravo!
    Courtney´s latest post: Making Way for Beautiful: Getting Over Myself

  75. Thanks for this nice post, and in reading through the comments I’m impressed how many readers without children are attracted to Simple Mom! I just wanted to throw in my own thought, which is that the “cultural” issue is also in the US, not just foreign countries such as Germany.

    I am an “old” mom and live in the area with the most “old” moms in the country (just north of Boston). My daughter and I are in a playgroup with five families of two-year-olds (all first born) and we are all around 40. We are not unusual here, and in fact, moms in their 20s are unusual here. (A younger 20-25-year-old woman walking around with children in my town is usually a nanny!) My friends and I were all focused on our careers for our 20s and early 30s. The great part of having children later is being able to work part-time or freelance because of our established career, or being more financially secure so being a stay-at-home is easier.

    Also, in my experience, women in the “old” mom demographic are more sensitive to this issue of choosing not to have children or recognizing peers may be going through many rounds of IVF or other infertility treatments. I would never ask anyone about children unless we were very close, and have received the same courtesy from my friends before having children.

  76. When I saw the title of your blog, I got all excited! Finally, I thought, a post for women who waited to have kids because of… (fill in the blank). However, when I started reading it wasn’t quite what I expected. YES, your points are valid and sensitivity to families without children is so important especially with the many questions oblivious folks will ask. I guess I was hoping it would go one step further and explore the difficulties of us “older” moms. Through the grace of God and science I didn’t have my first until I was 41 and then my second right after turning 44. It took me that long to find my soul mate – at least I thought he was – but that’s a story for another time.
    Although my “friends” tell me I don’t look 51 I know it’s still there in the background. Especially when it comes to forming friendships with the main stream at school and church. When acquaintances begin to move into the friend category, age is always one of the first questions. When I tell them how old I am, you can see the wheels turning doing the math. That’s the true test and I usually don’t hear from them as much after that. The generations are so different and I’ve found that friendships don’t mean the same to these younger moms then it does to me. When I was growing up (ah geez, did I really say that?!), friends were those people you could count on and would call just to see how your day’s going. Granted there were no kids involved, at least for some, but even after that there was an unspoken understanding of priorities.
    Being a REALLY older mom has its problems but it also has its glories. The problems are finding other moms with something in common and someone just to hang out with. Have a cup of coffee with in the morning. Be there when your husband walks out. The glories, well of course that would be the kids. They bring me such glory every day it’s always a joy and definitely keeps you young feeling. More glories are the experiences I’ve already had the pleasure of doing and get to share with them. Travel – lots of travel, music, career, life’s lessons, wisdom, and patience.
    So that’s kind of what I was hoping for. I guess you could say validation in my older mom status and that I’m not alone out there.
    Thanks for your post and for letting me join in.

    • Charli, I’m sorry the post did not go in the direction you were hoping. The truth is that I can’t write about being an older mom. I’m 29 and without kids, so I just don’t know those things on an intimate level. However, I think you expressed wisdom and comfort for older moms just perfectly in this comment!
      Katie @ Making This Home´s latest post: My Manifesto: Kindness Changes Everything

    • Charli, that’s why I read it too. I am an “older mom” and was hoping to see if what I experience is wierd or normal or both. LOL! We are hoping to adopt our fifth and we are both in our forties (which seems impossible!).

      I did appreciate this post though, because I was someone who was waiting to be a mom for a very long time. I must be a tad different though, because I was VERY open with everyone (maybe too open?) throughout our miscarriages and adoptions. I was ok with people asking me questions. I was ok with all my mom friends talking about their babies/kids. I was ok hanging out with them and talking about their lives.

      The hardship made me stronger. When I realized that I was not going to have an “easy” time of it (after my first 3 m/c) I decided that I would allow God to make me better, not bitter. Everyone had a million (it seemed) babies in the 7 yrs we waited. My friends and relatives had to “break” the news to me that they were having a baby or two. It was hard for THEM. I tried to reassure that while I did feel pain at not having a child, I definitely was very happy for them. And then I practiced it. I celebrated with them, went to the parties.

      I think there is another side that should be told. I get being private and not as open as I am. I do get it and I have friends/family that are going through it. On the other hand, children are not things that should get in the way of relationships on either side. It definitely complicates things, but there is such a thing as resiliency.

      Sensitivity is a must. I do not ask the questions any more but segue into converstions where I think there may be pain by telling my story, so that others may be comfortable enough to share their story. We all have different stories.
      Marcy´s latest post: The apocalypse and menu planning

  77. I just wrote on this topic recently. I have kids. Four in fact. We miscarried our fifth almost a year ago to the day. I was horrified when someone recently asked me about our plans for more children, with a Duggar jab thrown in to boot. I don’t know if she’s aware of our family’s loss, but it cut me to the core.
    Kerry @ Made For Real´s latest post: Back To School

  78. Before we had kids, this was a very hurtful question because we were trying and lost 2. After my son was born, the question of having another was hurtful because my husband and I couldn’t agree on another one. After having my daughter, the opionions of everyone really bothered me, because I was ready for another…most people assumed we were done because we had a boy and a girl, and that was perfect. We are now expecting our 3rd in a few days, and nearly everyone I know hopes I’m done. After the losses we have experienced, I feel blessed that we have 2, soon to be 3, and hate that people feel that is too many. And none is not enough. You just can’t please everyone! Every person’s situation is different, and to the moms who get these questions, just remember, don’t take someone else’s opinions to heart on this subject!

  79. My husband and I have been married over six years and have no plans to have kids. People have finally stopped asking as much as they did a couple of years ago. However my reason for wanting to be child-free always shocks people. I simply don’t care for children. I recognize that they are a gift from God and I care deeply that little ones are protected from the evils of this world. I have a niece and I adore her almost more than life itself. However I have zero maternal instinct and I know that I wouldn’t enjoy being a mother. I have prayed and given it to the Lord. If He wants us to have kids or adopt, I know He’ll change my heart. We certainly don’t want to tell God that we won’t do something He wants us to do, so we have left it entirely in His hands.

  80. This is a really beautiful post Katie. Well done!
    Danijela´s latest post: Coffee Makers on Sale! Oh, Really…

  81. Really, if/when why/why not on the kid question….It isn’t anyone’s business but you and your partner’s, or maybe just yours. I loved this post, as it reminds all of us that loving and not judging is the best path to choose. I made the decision a long time ago I did not want to be a mom, it was a part of the many reasons my first marriage ended – he didn’t believe me. I love children and am close to many children but did not want to be a parent. Contributing in other ways to our society is just as important. That’s what my GF tells me when I watch her son – my Godson! ;-) If I can contribute in an amazing manner without kids I think this is better than being a parent when I did not want to be one. Thanks for your post.

  82. Thanks for this post! I became a mom at 40 – through adoption . I was content with where my marriage was and truly OK with the idea that God chose another path for us. I do think that the question, while deeply personal, has become a default conversation point that others probably never ponder. Because of our late start we got the well have you tried…, and after we adopted we got the when will you be adopting more.

    I have learned that as long as I am where God wants me to be, even these crazy personal questions don’t really bug me. (Maybe just surprise me a little.)
    Lisa D´s latest post: Musings for a New Year

  83. I think not having a child because of population or environmental reasons is very sad. Having children is very tough. You have to be pretty selfless. It is exhausting. But it is rewarding beyond belief and to miss out on that because you think the world is overpopulated is not a good reason. Then again you could adopt because if the child is already here why not give them a good home?
    Although,
    I try not to ask people though because I do understand everyone has different situations.

    • Gretchen, for some women who think of the environment, it isn’t specifically overpopulation. It’s the impact each individual has on the earth in negative ways, no matter how green one may be. It’s also why some women wait longer in life to have kids. Fewer generations over a span of time = fewer negative impacts on the earth. Perhaps these women are selfless in their own beautiful way.
      Katie @ Making This Home´s latest post: My Manifesto: Kindness Changes Everything

  84. Been married two years and been with the same man for ten, I’ve had hundreds of versions of the age-old question ‘When are you gonna have kids?”. I’ve tried another hundred types of responses, getting more and more creative each time. Eventually, I realized that the best response is to ignore the questions. Because literally and figuratively, it’s none of anyone’s business, right?
    Cham Cuartero´s latest post: Start Thinking. It All Begins There.

  85. We have an only child..now 17. Not by our choice…4 miscarriages after our daughter was born, genetic testing to discover our genes don’t like each other and only a 1 in million chance of having a healthy child. Well okay, we have that 1 healthy child..thank you God..and will look at her as a blessing…please stop asking about another child. Worked hard on raising her to not act like the stereotypical only child. She has never asked for a sibling but did tell us as a 5 year old about her little brother that had gone to heave…..freaked me out but you never know. It’s all in God’s hands!!! Enjoy the life you have!!!!

  86. Thank you for this great post. I, too, turned 30 this year; my husband and I have been married for six years. We get the baby question ALL the time. I’m a teacher, and literally every other teacher I work with has kids or has been pregnant in the four years I’ve been at the school. Our friends are having babies, too. One friend, who says she doesn’t like kids, is having kids because “she doesn’t want to be alone when she gets old.”
    My husband and I have been working at least two jobs each during our marriage, trying to pay off student loans and other debt from cross-country moves and graduate school. We would love to have kids, but it isn’t feasible right now. People say, “you’ll never have enough money.” That may be true, but we do need the money to hire a baby-sitter or for one of us to stay home. Right now that’s not an option. And you’re exactly right, it’s hurtful to hear the question. Especially when we both love kids, work with kids, and have always wanted to be parents. We know the time isn’t right for us, but when people tell us we’re not getting any younger or they think we’d make great parents, or when they complain about how little time they have because they have kids, or how hard it is to be a parent, or spend thousands a month on daycare while bemoaning the fact that their $100/person dinner wasn’t as good as they wanted it to be, it gets old.
    Thank you, thank you for the post. I hope people can understand a different perspective after reading it.

  87. Katie, thank you for writing on this topic! While I do have children now, my husband and I waited quite a while (and then had some trouble conceiving/miscarriage) before we finally had children. One thing I haven’t really heard many people say plainly is that to question someone about their plans to have children or not would be considered down right rude decades ago. Our generation, with our more casual relaxed ways, has lost our sense of proper etiquette. This might sound harsh, but to ask a person this question is NEVER appropriate, no matter if they are a good friend or even a family member. Even to ask a person if they want more children is an inappropriate question as others have indicated above. God has a different plan for all of us. Thank you for reminding us how to better interact with each other!

  88. Thank you so much for writing this post! It’s such a personal question and people ask it without thinking. I have one child and get asked constantly when I’m having another one. Guess what? I’m not having any more. Guess what? Many of my friends have been through multiple rounds of IVF. Guess what? He wants kids, but she doesn’t and vice versa. I have many friends married without children who are very happy with their choices. Keep sharing your voice with us!

  89. I am SO grateful for this post! Our church really pushes having kids and being a SAHM. There’s nothing wrong at all with that life choice, but theres nothing wrong with choosing to be childless either. I have zero desire to have children, and when someone asks me “when are you having kids?” (married 4 yrs – am 26. Young, i think!) it feels like they’re assuming that’s my only choice and there’s something wrong with
    me if I want something different. I would never ask a mother the reverse question “so, why is it you had kids?” . It does suck when good friends have kids and it seems impossible to find common ground anymore (and I love their kids!) Moms, you’re doing awesome work. Kidless ladies, so are we. Life is just hard no matter what. Let’s support each other.

  90. Thank you for posting about this. I just turned 31. All around me, girlfriends dear to me are having babies. This year alone there are 6 new babies in my life. None of them are mine. Right now, I’m okay with that. My partner of 12 years, he’s okay with that too. Sometimes we look at kids and wonder. Someday.
    Vera´s latest post: Before the Flood

  91. Thank you for posting this. My husband and I have been married almost three years and for some reason everyone my parent’s age thinks it’s perfectly acceptable to ask when we’re planning on having kids. I feel that that’s an extremely personal issue and I should be the one that brings it up (and probably only with those I’m closest to) and not the other way around.

  92. maybe having kids is a calling and others are called to serve and enrich our world in other ways?

  93. After reading the post and all the comments, I must say it is a blessing to hear so many people cheering for those dealing with awkward/painful questions. I didn’t even have a boyfriend until I was 30, and spent far too many years being asked the horrifying “why” question. And naturally, getting married at 32 has meant endless pressure on the kids question. It is nice to know I’m not alone in the frustration, especially because my dream has always been to have kids, but it’s still not an option for numerous reasons. I believe it is still important to try to answer frustrating questions with grace, right or wrong very few -if any- of the askers mean offense, but it is always good to raise awareness.
    There is one thing I want to make note of, whether anyone will read this far or not is doubtful, while adoption is a beautiful option, I shudder when I get the impression that people might be turning to this blessing as a “last resort” or out of some sense of duty. I worked in an orphanage for a number of years, and have loved as a mother to many. I have seen adoptive parents of many varieties, some I felt blessed to pass my little loves along into their forever families, and others who I prayed would change their minds. When you adopt a child, the most important realization, beyond awareness of all the potential challenges or expenses, you MUST know that this child is your own, not a substitute. If there is any hesitance, or doubt that an adopted child will be your REAL child, please do not jump into adoption. Perhaps consider fostering instead, or at least as preparation. No child should have to live life feeling unwanted, or not as good as a biological child. Adopted kids will have issues to work through, regardless of their family situation, so it is important that the adoptive parents are secure in their own feelings on this topic.
    I still pray that I will have children some day, and I would love to adopt, but both of these things also require the full agreement of my husband as well. I once had to deal with the contemptible comment of my own sister saying, “you’re not going to be one of those single people who adopts, are you?” As individuals, or as couples, people need to be honored as people, and respected for whatever decisions they feel are best for themselves and their families.
    Great discussion, and a lot of important thoughts to consider for all of us.

    • Wow. What incredible wisdom! I’m so glad you shared this here, and I hope it can guide and strengthen women in how we view the power of adoption.

    • It all boils down to this, doesn’t it? “As individuals, or as couples, people need to be honored as people, and respected for whatever decisions they feel are best for themselves and their families.” Well said, Transient Drifter.

      People don’t realize how rude this question is because so many people ask it and so many people answer it. I too, know the pain of these questions and some of these situations. As I’ve grown, I’ve realized that, “That’s too personal for me to share.” is a reasonable answer.

      I don’t and will never ask. I appreciate all those who did not ask me.

      Thanks for a wonderful post.

    • avatar
      RoseThorn says:

      Transient Drifert said, “I believe it is still important to try to answer frustrating questions with grace, right or wrong”

      I’ve stopped being nice, the older I got. Someone asks me a rude question, I feel absolutely no need to respond with grace but let them know in no uncertain terms their question was rude or inappropriate, or I stare at them and don’t open my mouth.

      I’m not going to put them at ease for asking a question that is not their business, even if they felt they were asking from an innocent motive.

      Really, there’s no need to tip toe around people’s feelings about stuff like this. Some people are so obtuse, the only way you can break through to them is by being rude to them.

  94. It simple, “if they aren’t going through or know someone close to them that is, they dont understand nor have the etiquette to think before they speak”. For my situation, we got pregnant within 6 months of marriage, then nothing ever again. My biological clock said, I wanted one more when I was 32yr old and I prayed and asked my husband to let us adopt a son. He didnt want it and God changed his heart. I wanted to be a mom again by 35 and in 2008 we brought our 8 month old son home. It was hard during age 23-32 to see friends and family get pregnant repeatedly and easily and I couldnt. People would ask when but it wasnt until my 30′s I got diagnosed with PCOS and realized I couldnt. So i appreciate this post for all those younger than me (i’m 40 now) that might help others to think outside of themselves so as to not hurt people. I really think nowadays people are starting families later and that might be good because they learn to grow up and mature and enjoy their 20′s for themselves and establish their career and marriages. I have some single mom friends and they are awesome at it too. I wouldn’t change my experience of adoption for anything. I forget all the time my son is adopted. Our whole family embraced the adoption and he’s OURS in every way!! I encourage people to seek adoption even if you can have kids. I can’t imagine my life without my son. Our bio daughter is 18yr old and our son is 5yr old just starting kindergarten. (Yup, a HS graduate and kindergartner), its awesome!!!! Do what i right for your family and the next time someone say something, just respond, we are taking time to establish our family and see where God leads us. Thanks for this post!
    Hugs!
    Jen @www.beachmonkeys.net
    Jen W.*´s latest post: Famous Footwear Coupon – BOGO + 15% off Deal

  95. Sometimes it seems like you just can’t win. My husband and I waited 7 years to have our first child. No infertility issues, just career minded and just not ready before that, but we got asked constantly if and when we were going to have any. Going to baby showers was a nightmare. I got to where I’d just send a gift and not attend. People would even ask us which one of us had “the problem” as if it was any of their business, which it’s not, EVER, so don’t ask. Then as soon as we announced we were expecting, people rudely asked if it was planned. (It was, but it was still none of their business). Then as soon as she was born, we got the “Well, when are you going to have another one?” Then we had a “surprise” a year later, so people would then ask if this one was planned or not. Or they’d ask, “Why did you have them so close together?” or “How many are you going to have?” or “Are you going to have another one next year?” My favorite was “Do you know how that happens?” Years later, I witnessed someone give a wonderful answer to that question. When asked if they knew how that happens, she answered, “Yes, and we like it.” She was great, put them right in their place, but with some humor.

  96. avatar
    jen in pa says:

    wonderful article, really appreciated it. my husband and i had twins after 11 years of marriage and had actually thought we might not have any children (due to choice). i experienced years and years of hurtful comments while also trying to work through the issues associated with not really wanting to be a mother. now, everyone asks me about the details of our fertility treatments (we didn’t have any). i think that the bottom line is that some people are overly interested in the details of other people’s lives that many feel are too private to share–especially with casual acquaintances. you have to develop a thick skin to deal with the inquiries, and yet keep a soft heart open to what god has planned for you.

  97. I’m turning 30 this month, celebrating seven years of marriage, and living without kids. Do I want to have kids? My story and my reasons aren’t the topic of this post.

    http://www.medizinalpilze.de
    Beverlee´s latest post: Altersvorsorgepflicht – Wer nicht selber vorsorgt muss in die Pflichtversicherung

  98. avatar
    PrecursorAnon says:

    I’m 34 and single. Even as the only-child parents get the subsequent queries about future children, I get the precursor: “Do you have a boyfriend?” or “When are you getting married?” when I am not even dating anyone seriously. Then, after I answer in the negative, it’s: “Ooooh, you’re running out of time quickly!! But don’t you want to have kids?” like a) I am not aware of my own age or the statistics and b) I need to hurry up and get married to just any guy in order to have children. It is really no one’s business what I’ve decided, or what has happened, or not happened, in my life (regardless if it was painful or not) that has prevented me from marrying or finding a long-term boyfriend and having kids. Keep your mouths shut, people! Surprisingly, it is always other women that ask, and the ladies in my church in particular are the worst culprits of this busy-bodying, despite this behavior being the antithesis of kind. It’s like they can’t fathom me being happy without a husband or kids, or that me not doing these things means that I’m not contributing to the world. Asking those questions essentially negates my current life, contributions, and worth. Guess what? My life is completely full and valid as it is, even “just” with my loving family, huge circle of very close friends, fulfilling hobbies and acts of volunteerism, my better-than-dream job, and awesome around-the-world travel. If I want to tell you about all these while talking to you about my life plans, that will have to happily suffice, just as it does for me.

    • avatar
      RoseThorn says:

      PrecursorAnon, I do relate to your post.

      I’m several years older than you. No kids, no spouse, and yes, churches are among some of the most uncomfortable places to be if you’ve never married or had kids. You are either ignored (because all churches care about is marriage or parenting), or you’re subjected to insults or prying, personal questions.

      And churches in America wonder why they’re had a drop in attendance (they shouldn’t it’s obvious).

  99. i’m 37, happily married for seven years and childfree. it was a joint decision made a long time ago. sure, i had moments when the hormones kicked in, but they passed quickly. i LOVE my nieces and nephews, but I also LOVE the LIFE we’ve chosen to be a happy couple without children of our own. =)

  100. I’m almost 28. We celebrated our three year anniversary this year and that seemed to be the magic number, like BOOM, “you’ve had enough fun, now get down to the business of procreating.” :) I think we do want kids someday, but we have a lot we’d like to do in the meantime. I don’t feel pressure unless I think about what others think…which is dumb. But, I’ve also been guilty of asking the kids question. I think mostly to my close friends, but I should be more sensitive. As far as being on the end of the question, I just want to be graceful and free. I think my anger comes when I feel like I have to explain myself or answer to that person. Which I don’t. I only have to follow and obey ONE. And He knows our stories, each individually! I want to have so much grace for everyone whose story looks a bit different than mine.

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