Earlier this year I published a wonderful guest post on my blog from Claire Mac about why you should stop asking women when they’re going to have children. It’s an excellent read, I’d highly recommend popping over to that page and checking it out before or after you read this. I wanted to expand on that topic today – one that’s still very persistent in most women’s lives.
There are many reasons why you shouldn’t ask women when they’re having children. Unless you’re my absolute best friends, then I find it so incredibly awkward when people ask me that, especially family members.
I have a partner who I’ve been with for over 7 years, so it’s not unfeasible to think that we might be having children or thinking about having children soon. But the fact is, it’s not anyone else’s business.
And it’s also incredibly awkward when it’s a topic of discussion that my partner and I aren’t 1000% set on ourselves. If I decide to give out information myself, like in the instance of this post I wrote about whether I can be bothered having children, then fine. I’m happy to discuss.
But being put on the spot by a random person and being asked to answer one of the most important decisions you’ll make there and then? No thank you.
And that’s not even taking into consideration the amount of women who get asked this ridiculous question who are going to be incredibly triggered by it, due to loss or fertility problems. You just don’t know.
So don’t ask.
It’s not a decision that you should take lightly, from child health insurance to finance issues to schools and more – it’s not just about having a cute little baby and that’s it.
When it comes down to it, children aren’t the ONLY interesting thing about a woman. We’re not here to just procreate and talk about children all day every day. There’s more to women than her decision to have children or not.
Which is why today I wanted to share some alternative things you could ask a woman instead of the the dread, “when are you having children?” fiasco.
You can re-word most of these ideas and questions to fit in appropriately to whoever you’re asking and remember that it’s always worth being sensitive and thinking about what you’re asking (to anyone!) before you do.
Nobody wants to feel awkward during a conversation, especially if it’s with someone you don’t know PARTICULARLY well. So consider these suggestions next time you’re having a conversation with a woman (or pass this post on to someone you know who needs a nudge!)
What projects are you working on right now?
This is a good one because it opens the answer to up to be about any aspect of life that the recipient feels like sharing. It could be a work project, a home renovation, a craft project or something else entirely!
Do you have any exciting plans for the coming month?
A nice easy one to ask instead of “when are you having children?” This shows that you’re interested and not only concerned about when they’ll be procreating.
Ask about a recent life event that they’ve shared
If you’re Facebook friends or follow each other on social media and see that they’ve shared something recently about a life event, then ask them about that! They obviously want people to know, otherwise they wouldn’t have shared it.
Ask their opinion on a topic you’re both interested in
Another good question, particularly if you’re social media pals and might be familiar with the sort of thing each other likes to post and write about. A likeminded topic could also help you start a blossoming friendship!
Ask their professional opinion on something
If they’re in a particular profession that you know something about, you could always talk to them about that. Perhaps a case study or industry news that has been broadcast recently.
Do you have any travel plans coming up?
Travel is always a great topic of conversation and much more interesting to talk about than whether someone is having children or not. I always find talking about travel can last for a while and open the conversation up into so many different avenues, from culture to food.
Do you have any goals for this year / month?
A wonderful question if it’s the start of a new month or the beginning of the year. New years resolutions aren’t a new concept to anyone, whether you believe in them or not.
Have you read any great books lately?
I absolutely love it when people ask me this. I’d struck up some incredibly long and interesting conversations with other women which have centered around books. If you know they love books, this is one to ask!
Are you prepared for *insert upcoming event here*?
Christmas, an upcoming birthday, Halloween – whichever the event is, you could ask about their plans and preparations. If you’re family, it’s likely you’ll be attending a lot of the same events too.
Ask what they think about current affairs
Current affairs like politics or climate change are always bound to strike up some interesting conversation. Just be careful with this one – you don’t want to get into an argument!
What hobbies do you love doing in your free time?
Hobbies are a great conversation starter because everyone has at least one hobby that they enjoy and those hobbies can often lead a conversation down a new path.
How is your career coming along?
If the person you’re talking to is particularly career driver or perhaps you know they’ve recently started a new career, ask them about it! I think it’s great to be interested in someone else’s work.
Of course it’s not only single people or those without children currently you should avoid asking. Couples with children already might be struggling to have a second. Their first baby may have been conceived through IVF of which isn’t working a second time. Or perhaps they’re adopting. But whatever the reason…
It’s none of your business.
And there’s many more exciting things you can be talking about instead, rather than making someone feel uncomfortable and awkward if they’re not ready to give an answer.
I’m so glad someone said it! I get asked this a lot and a lot of people just assume I want children at some point, but (me being me and quite open) whenever I say “I don’t want any” I get looks of disappointment or judgement. As if my body isn’t my own to make choices over. I just wish people would stop asking, your suggestions are so much better! Great post, much applause from me!
Thank you! It’s so ridiculous isn’t it like it matters to anyone else?
I completely agree with you! I mostly ask the questions you listed here when I hang out with my best friend. And I also want to be asked these questions haha I get frustrated when my neighbors ask about my partner or when I will get married (things of Asian culture). It’s not even their business 🙁
Absolutely! Yes even the marriage questions can be just as bad!
I couldn’t agree with you more! At the end of the day, it’s no one’s business accept yours and your partners as to wether your going to have children and if so, when. People seem to forget that both women and men have their struggles and for whatever reason, may not be able to have children and it can be blooming heartbreaking trying to explain that to people. It frustrates me massively! I think everyone who reads this will relate in some way and appreciate the suggestions you’ve shared. Thank you so much for sharing this with us lovely Xo
Elle – ellegracedeveson.com
Absolutely Elle, definitely agree!
I’d rather be asked these questions than the “When are you having children?” I am pretty sure I won’t have children so these are the things I would like to be asked instead! x
Lucy | http://www.lucymary.co.uk
These are much more interesting answers too 🙂
I think that asking:” Do you have children?” in certain contexts isn’t bad or at least Im not bothered by it but the: “When are you having kids” its definitely something I don’t think is ever ok to ask.
Yes I agree. Asking if you have them is fine but then prying and asking “why not” is definitely a no go!
Such a personal question, I’ll never understand why people think its appropriate to ask. Also, I’d love more people to ask me about books
Oh same! I’m always happy to delve into a 3 hour chat about books!
I need more friends who read 😂
[…] 12 Things To Ask Instead of “When Are You Having Children?” […]
Thank you so much for raising this.
We should never ask such a personal question and I really don’t know why people think they can. It baffles me.
I love that these questions show an interest in someone’s life. I would love someone to ask me this.
Totally agree, especially when it’s a stranger or distant family member asking. What gives them the right?
I love how these questions have nothing to do with motherhood or kids and instead have everything to do with life! All great conversation starters, or simply something to show a friend you are interested in their thoughts. 🙂
Absolutely! Life is so multi-layered, so why we’re ground down as women to either “mothers” or not baffles me.
Yes to this! There are so many amazing alternatives to asking about having children, which shouldn’t be anyone else’s business if they don’t bring it up. My go to is definitely asking about plans for the month, although I love the travel and book questions too! Thank you so much for sharing this x
You’re welcome! It’s definitely nobody else’s business, it’s ridiculous that other people think it is x
Jenny, I love this post so much! I feel like it’s all anyone is asking me and my fiance these days and it’s so frustrating and easy for me to just get so annoyed (as you mentioned it’s not their decisions….). I love these questions, and might start talking about these with folks when they ask to help see if I can steer the conversation! Thanks 🙂
Thank you! Ugh that’s so annoying. Maybe print out a list and give them to people who keep asking you so they have a prompt hahaha xD
As someone who isn’t sure if she wants kids I’m given the circumstances of the world these are all excellent questions! I’m so sick of answering to everyone when I am having kids, especially since I don’t have a partner yet!
It’s such a boring question anyway, like once you know the answer, then what?
Luckily I’m too busy finishing up my PhD to be asked this question. Instead I get the dreaded when will you be done question. Which I don’t know! I’ve been so close to being done now for months but it keeps getting dragged out. I honestly thought I was going to be done in May.
But on the rare occasion I do get asked my recent go to is that *if* I plan on having a child, it will be when I’m 40 (currently 32) with my one last good egg if it hasn’t dried up by then and then laugh. Usually it’s met with a good for you or it is awkward enough that the conversation shifts to something else. Also a friend I know says she responds with why are you offering free childcare?
I love your friend’s response, that’s excellent! And your answer is great too, I can imagine you’ve had a few awkward responses from that
I love the ‘What projects are you working on right now’ one. There are so many ways that could be taken – like work, home, creative etc. Covers so many bases!
Yes absolutely, projects could mean anything!
I doubt I have fertility problems, but honestly, I’ve never wanted kids. I don’t think it should be forced upon me, either. I suppose some people have this idea that everyone is supposed to want the same things in life, and they make assumptions accordingly. I deal with questions about it all the time, and answer them honestly, but I also make sure the people asking the questions know it can be very inappropriate.
Yes good for you, I’m glad they’re aware.
I too believe that this is a very personal question. I’ve actually heard women ask other women if they have any children and if they say no they are asked why not? I think that the question can be culturally driven as well, but this does not make it a right one. Wonderful post.
Why not. For goodness sake. It definitely doesn’t make it right, regardless of the reasons behind it.
This is a great post! I hate when people ask me about children l, especially after I’ve established that we don’t want kids. Love these alternatives.
Those are the people that always try and convince you otherwise!
I love this cos I’m sooooo sick of being asked haha! x
Hahaha oh dear. Why aren’t people asking you about your amazing travels!!
What a great post! My brother and girlfriend had a baby earlier this year and I have been asked non stop since when I am having one🙄 I always reply I haven’t even bought a house yet. But I have had friends that have been trying for a year and a half and haven’t got pregnant so I am always careful about these topics around women because you just don’t know what people are going through. I was so careful I didn’t actually tell my friend group that I was going to be an Auntie until my nephew arrived 😂 I just didn’t want to rub it in my friends face who is trying. I love your list of alternative questions too, we as women can have some great conversations that don’t involve babies! X
That’s amazing how sensitive you were to your friends who you know are struggling with having a child. I bet as your brother has just had one that the attention of those questions are definitely on you now!
I’d love to be asked these questions! Haha. I get asked all the time if I’m having another (as if it’s an easy thing to do) it’s so frustrating. There’s so much more to women than making babies. X
Absolutely, even for a women WITH children, there’s so much more to her!