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20 October 2010

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Tabitha

I already sent the link to Jen's post to all of my (6) siblings and their children that are already grown. One of my sisters asked me this question (or some semblance thereof) just a few days ago, and I know she doesn't completely "get" my answer that only God knows if we'll have more children.

I've already had positive feedback from nieces about it. I think that Jen really hits some of the big issues, though. Mainly, it's not about ME and it's not about my WANTS. God is much, much bigger than both of those!!!

We're hearing lots of variations on this theme right now since my youngest is now 2 and potty-trained. I've never been without a diaper bag in the last 12 years and I've always either been pregnant or had a newborn by this time. So the assumptions are now running towards "of course you're done, RIGHT?". Thankfully our amazing Catholic Homeschool Group gets it and I have a respite from the prying questions.

I still like the combox answer to "Don't you have a TV?" as the snarky answer winner!

rachel

Arghh, let me try and phrase this, with apologies in advance for any offense I may cause - this is delicate, and I'll trust you to understand that I'm not intending to offend, and that I'm trying not to offend. I've never asked anyone this question, mostly because I'm shy; but I have been asked it, and can't quite see why it's offensive. I could say "I would hope for more children", or "I don't know", without implying that it's all up to me (or us), no? I mean, I see the problem with the way the question is phrased, but not why it is unbelievable. there are times, surely, when the answer is straightforward and not private, even if the answer does not mean that you will end up with what you want.

bearing

Rachel, no, of course I'm not offended by your post.

I wouldn't say it is an "offensive" question. I would say it is a personal question. I find it unbelievable that strangers ask something so personal. What if you asked someone -- and she burst into tears? What if you asked someone -- and she said "I can't talk about that right now." What if you asked someone -- and she looked extremely uncomfortable and changed the subject? Depending on what's going on that you don't know, such a question could provoke any of these reactions. You just don't know.

And then there's the fact that people will ask this question in front of the children. How will they feel if their mom answers negatively? "Oh, God, no, these brats are enough for me." Asking a stranger this question may invite such a response, if she's having a bad day. I've heard variants on that in the checkout line.

I don't find it unbelievable that friends, family, or my doctor asks such a question. I do find it unbelievable that strangers or passing acquaintances do.

Bethany

I love this line: "It's not appropriate for me to say I "want" another human being like I "want" a new iPad." I always struggle with that as well when asked those types of questions. Good post.

Barbara C.

I don't mind people asking if we're going to have more children. I do get bugged when people try to imply that I'm crazy if I do. And then there's the whole, "You know what causes that, don't you?" I've just started saying, "Of course, don't you?"

Sara

What's mostly offensive is the tone of voice in which they ask. Usually you can tell how they think you should answer!

When we first moved to this neighborhood, I was getting to know some of the ladies nearby and one asked me. Number 4 was about 18 mos., and I said "If it's God's will. I don't know." I hadn't hit it off with the one woman who told us THE DAY WE MET that her husband got a vasectomy when she accidentally got pg with number 3. How would you like to be the child that caused your parents to get sterilized???

Kristen

I agree that it's not an offensive question, but certainly inappropriate - along the lines of "Were you trying to get pregnant?" If anyone thought about either question for more than a few seconds, they'd realize that yikes, that's none of their business (and the answer doesn't really matter anyway...).

It's strange to me that so many people are so freaked out by people who have more than two or three children. Don't they know that the first two are the hardest (so I've heard, having only one child myself so far)? Haven't they seen that design show with the hip parents of 7 kids? Big families are the new black!

But then again, I guess we're a couple of those weirdos, too.

Lisa

My husband and I have been married for just over a year, and have no children yet. Most of our friends and family have been very respectful and have not questioned us on the topic, however we recently went to a bbq and all the couples there had children, and as soon as we arrived, a stranger with two toddlera asked us of we were planning to have children. I replied vaguely, "We're thinking about it," hoping the conversation would end there because I felt it was none of her business. But she wasn't satisfied with that and pursued the topic, explaining why we should have children and soon. I thought it was terribly rude and insensitive to pursue such a personal subject, especially since, like you said, these things aren't really up to us.

Lisa

Btw I should have answered truthfully, "We'd love to." But then it would have gotten into specifics and gosh, how awkward is that? Can we as a society just decide to reserve those questions for close family and friends only?

Barbara C.

Of course, since I have four girls a lot of people have this expectation that must keep trying until we have a boy....

Tabitha

Barbara C., I hear you! I have 6 girls and I've had grocery checkers and just about anyone else ask me if we're going to "try for a boy". I usually reply, "no, but we'd be thrilled with another baby!"

They say things that are so rude in front of my girls, too--we've sat them down on multiple occasions and explained that we are so content and blessed with all girls and if God ever blesses us with a boy, great. If not, GREAT. We're so happy with each of them. I don't think people realize how they come across to little people that are overhearing the conversation. I can have a pretty thick skin, but when it involves my kids, it's hard not to be ultrasensitive...

bearing

Lisa, your point is well taken -- the line of questioning that assumes there is a perfect number of children that we should "want" and that we should try to achieve, and that pries into private lives, is just as annoying when directed at people with few or no children. It might be even more mind-blowing in its stupidity, because don't these people realize they might be talking to someone who is sorrowfully infertile? And that she might not want to discuss it? Sheesh.

Barbara C.

Tabitha,

I just tell people that honestly I wouldn't know what to do with a boy if I got one. For practical reasons, I was relieved when my fourth was identified as a girl on the ultrasound.

I just tell my girls that we don't need no stink boy. ;-) But DD#2 keeps pushing for a little brother. LOL

Tabitha

Barbara C., I often joke that if I have a boy he'll have 7 mothers. People often laugh at that. I live in a city where large families are not frowned upon as they are in many places (a huge blessing). It's still a bit frustrating when it seems like the only acceptable reason to have another child is to "try for a boy". That's one of the reasons I don't find out what the sex of a baby is before the birth--people are much less likely to make an insensitive comment when I'm holding a precious newborn than they are to say something about "Sorry it's a girl" to an emotional pregnant woman with 6 daughters with her.

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