How to Cope When People Ask: "When Are You Going to Have Kids?"

How to Respond -- or Not -- to This Common But Frustrating Question

friends in a cafe, someone just asked when are you going to have a baby
Remember: you don't owe anyone an explanation. Dave and Les Jacobs / Getty Images

"When are you going to have a baby?" Or, if you're dealing with secondary infertility, "When are you going to have more kids?"

It's a dreaded question that comes to every couple without children. If you're unsure yourselves whether you're ready to have a baby, it's an uncomfortable question. It's even harder to respond when you're trying to have children unsuccessfully.

If you have not been asked yet, consider yourself lucky.

Unfortunately, just about every couple going through infertility deals with touchy questions and comments.

So, how do you answer? Do you even have to answer?

Trust Your Instincts

If you're feeling defensive or uncomfortable when people ask, consider yourself 100% normal.

There are people who ask in a completely innocent way, and many others who are just being nosy.

Regardless, the question implies that when and whether you have children is someone else's business... and it's not.

For a couple who chooses not to have children, it's a personal question, but probably not a painful one.

When you're coping with infertility, though, being asked a question like this reminds you of your pain and loss.

With infertility, wanting to have kids, and trying as hard as you can to have them, comes with no guarantee of success. This kind of question can remind you of your lack of control.

You may be asking yourself, "When are we going to have kids?"

When someone asks you a question that implies you're choosing not to have kids, it stings.

Remember: You Don't Owe Anyone an Explanation

You might feel like you need to explain yourself. You may feel tempted to blurt out that you're trying very hard, thank you very much, but there are problems.

This might be an OK way to approach the question, but not in all cases.

Unfortunately, not everyone is as compassionate as they should be.

Some may give unwanted advice, make blaming comments, or otherwise respond negatively.

Of course, some do ask innocently, unaware of the hurt their question may bring to you. Others simply aren't sensitive to boundaries.

Deciding whether to tell someone about your infertility issues is tricky. It isn't a good decision to make when under pressure or without thinking things through first.

What to Do

If posed with this question, answer simply and then switch the topic.

You may be burning mad or feel like you want to give the person who posed the question a piece of your mind. But, with practice, you can learn to stop yourself from going that route. Your emotional energy is best directed elsewhere.

Try taking a deep breath, let it out, and answer in one of the following ways:

  • "Not sure. So, how's your new job?"
  • "Ask the powers that be, because I don't know."
  • "I'd rather not talk about it, thanks."

Or, if you want to go for something gutsy, you might answer:

  • "That's a rather personal question, don't you think? Anyway, how's your new job?"

If you're feeling brave, and you have already decided to start telling people about your struggles, you may use this as an opportunity to talk about infertility:

  • "Actually, it's interesting you ask... we've been trying for awhile now."

Here's more advice on coming out about infertility to friends and family:

Another completely legitimate response?

You can choose to not answer at all.

You can pretend you didn't hear them ask, just smile, and switch the topic. You don't have to say anything.

Most people will take the hint. If you find yourself dealing with someone who doesn't, just play the broken-record trick. "I really don't want to talk about it. Actually, no, I'd rather not discuss this now."

And if this still doesn't help, walk away.

Coping with infertility is hard enough. Dealing with upsetting questions or individuals (even if they might be family) is not something that will help you cope.

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