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When Are You Going to Have Kids?

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Updated November 23, 2010

Hearing insensitive comments regarding infertility hurts.

Hearing insensitive comments or questions regarding infertility hurts.

Photo: Stockbyte / Getty Images
Question: When Are You Going to Have Kids?

When you're trying to get pregnant, it can be so frustrating to be asked, "When are you going to have kids?"

What is the best way to answer this dreaded question that almost every couple coping with infertility faces?

Answer:

This is one of many questions that couples coping with infertility dread. (Or, if you're dealing with secondary infertility, "When are you going to have more kids?") If you have not been asked yet, consider yourself lucky. Unfortunately, just about every couple going through infertility deals with touchy questions and comments. (As if the anxiety of testing and treatments aren't enough!)

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

Trust Your Instincts

If you're feeling defensive or uncomfortable when people ask when you plan to have kids, 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 or not 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.

Another reason this question hurts is that it may remind you that having kids is not under your control. With infertility, wanting to have kids, and trying as hard as you can to have them, comes with no guarantee of success. You may be asking yourself, "When are we going to have kids?" When people ask 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, as stated, simply aren't sensitive to boundaries.

Deciding whether to tell someone about your infertility issues is tricky, and 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; I have certainly felt that way. But, with practice, I've learned to stop myself from doing this. Over the years, I've discovered that my emotional energy is best directed elsewhere.

You might want to take 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 more gutsy, you might answer:

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

Or, don't answer at all. That's also an option.

You can pretend you didn't hear them ask, and switch the topic. You can also 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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