How Do I Get People To Stop Nagging Me About Being Pregnant?

1.1259286944.pregnant-barbieDear Uncommon Courtesy,
I got married almost a year ago. After being married for nearly six months, I began to get inquiries about starting a family. Now at nearly 10 months since the wedding, these inquiries have been getting frightfully frequent. They usually come from seemingly well-minded co-workers, friends and family members and have ran the gamut of “Are you pregnant?” to “Are you starting to think about having a family anytime soon?” to “Is there something you need to tell us?” to “Clock’s a tickin’!” I love kids, but my husband and I want to spend some comfortable years together  before we try to have a family. These questions have upset me to the point of tears, and I my answers of “We don’t have the money for kids” to “We’d just like to have some years to ourselves” are just not working. The point of tears usually happens after people tell me about BC failures…like it’s impossible to have a planned, wanted child.

What could I say that is not overtly assertive and argumentative to people who ask?

Sincerely,

A wanted child, who wants a wanted child.

OFFICIAL ETIQUETTE:

Miss Manners suggests treating all inquiries about family planning to a frozen smile and silence.

OUR TAKE:
Victoria: Want to ask people about being pregnant? Don’t.

Jaya: This is straight-up horrifying to me. The letter writer has every right to be assertive and argumentative, so she’s a saint for still trying to be nice.

Victoria: Asking if someone is pregnant is suuuuuuuuper rude. You should not assume someone is pregnant unless you see a baby coming out of them. (Except on the subway? I don’t know how that works). But for the first instance from someone asking are you starting a family soon….is kind of a normal chit chat sort of thing, so I don’t think it’s THAT rude. It’s only annoying because everyone asks. I got tired of being asked my major in college too.

Jaya: I’m going to have to disagree. Being asked about your major can be annoying, but it’s nowhere near as personal. Unless someone brings up their own family planning ideas, or you are really really close friends, I don’t think multiple inquiries about pregnancy is normal conversation.

Victoria: If someone asks repeatedly, you can shut it down by saying, “as I’ve said before, we aren’t there yet and probably won’t be for a while.” And keep getting more curt the more someone asks.

Jaya: Yeah. Or even if you don’t want to explain your plans/non-plans for kids (which you don’t have to), say something like “I know you’re just curious, but I feel that’s something very personal and I’d rather not discuss it.” And you can ramp up to “It’s none of your business so please stop asking” if they continue. Because saying things like “we can’t afford it” or “we want to travel” just leaves it open ended.

Victoria: And I mean, I hope everyone else would have something more interesting to talk about…but…people don’t realize that everyone is asking you the same question.

Jaya: Even if people have decided this is normal chitchat, how do you have the right to know?

Victoria: You don’t. But you don’t have the right to know what I’m making for dinner tonight or what I did over the weekend either.

Jaya: True, but asking that has nothing to do with your reproductive health.

Victoria: But I don’t think people really see it as your reproductive health, you know? Having kids is so normal.

Jaya: That’s a big problem! We treat it that way, but I think that’s so unfortunate. It’s really personal! Some people don’t want to have kids. Some people CAN’T get pregnant! How are they going to feel if you’re asking them day in and day out? Do they have to divulge that they have these issues to get you to shut up?

Victoria: That’s so true! I just don’t think a lot of people see it that way unless they are in the middle of it.

Jaya: This is why we exist. They should see it that way.

Victoria: You can definitely deflect, though, and maybe with time people will start to realize it. The ones we mentioned above are good for friends and coworkers, though if it’s your family, you can say something more like “We aren’t having kids for X years/don’t want kids/aren’t sure, but trust me, you will be the first to know.” And then you can say “please stop asking” if they continue.

Jaya: I also totally support just pretending you have a non-functioning uterus and going into really intense detail about your medical history and making everyone who asks feel like shit.

Victoria: Hahaha oh my god. Yeah, I almost think that people have to have a serious talking to by someone who is having difficulties with kids, or who is a raging-kid-free person before they realize they are being too nosy. You probably only need to get screamed at once before you stop asking people.

Jaya: I hope so.

Victoria: It probably doesn’t help that so many people WANT to talk about their kid plans and engagement and wedding hopes/plans/fantasies.

Jaya: Ugh yeah. As much as I don’t want to be asked about it, I also don’t want to hear it!

And now, we present some cut-and-paste “overly assertive and aggressive” wording that you can use to deflect these questions, should you need! Some of these may have been used by one or more authors in real-life situations.

  • “If I am pregnant, you’ll have to drive me to the nearest abortion clinic.”
  • “If you want a baby so bad, use your own uterus.”
  • *glares*
  • “Why, do I look pregnant?”
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How To Avoid Rude Small Talk

Get it?

Get it?

Small talk! It’s weird and often uncomfortable, but we all have to do it otherwise we’d never make friends/would always be that person standing just outside of a conversation. You have to wade through the small talk to get to anything interesting! Or you can be like me this weekend and drunkenly start talking to strangers about their love lives before you get their names, but maybe you shouldn’t do that.

Here’s my theory: I don’t think you should open a conversation with a stranger/acquaintance with the most obvious thing about them. For example, if you meet a pregnant woman, don’t ask her about her pregnancy. Maybe she’ll bring up her pregnancy on her own, and then you can talk about it, but maybe she’ll want to talk about her job and her other interests because she’s sick of being asked about morning sickness. The same thing goes for someone getting married, on a job search, or applying to college. They may want to keep talking about it, but there’s also a good chance they’re completely talked out.

This doesn’t count for everyone. If you’re asking your own teenage son about how high school is going? Duh. Are you a Maid of Honor asking the bride how planning is going? Makes sense. But you have to make sure you’re close, which generally means friends-who-talk-constantly or close family (meaning you have a relationship outside seeing each other three times a year at whole-family gatherings). Below are a couple of suggestions as to questions/comments to avoid, and as always leave yours in the comments!

For an Engaged/Married Person

  • I’m so excited for the wedding!—Did you get an invitation yet/have the couple verbally confirmed you’re invited? If not, don’t assume anything, even if you’re close to them.

  • Are you dieting?—Usually followed by a weird stare if you say “no,” or a push for details if “yes.” Weird either way. Plus it comes off as you thinking the person in question should be dieting.

  • When are you having kids?—This is SUCH a personal question, and can often be painful to the person/couple in question. Maybe they have a medical condition that prevents them from having kids and don’t want to talk about it, or maybe they flat out don’t want kids. It should never be a question of “when.”

  • Unless you know for sure that one person in the couple is really into planning and the other is really not, ask both people the same questions and use plural pronouns. This is especially an issue with heterosexual couples, where everyone has a tendency to ask the bride-to-be about wedding planning and issues, and continues to ask the groom-to-be about his job, his hobbies, or anything else going on in his life.

For a Single Person

  • Any variation on “why are you still single?”—First off, single is not a “still.” Plenty of people are just fine with being single. And even if they’re not, this pretty much just blames them for their relationship status. Often this comes in the “But you’re so pretty/smart/interesting!” iteration, which both suggests that a) these are objective requirements to finding a partner and b) it’s somehow the person in question’s fault for not finding someone attracted to these things. Relationships aren’t science, and they take a heavy dose of luck.

For a Pregnant Person

  • Do you want a boy or a girl?—What is your expected answer here? “Oh man, I just want a boy so bad. If it’s a girl I’ll be so heartbroken. Nine months for nothing.”

  • When are you due?—True story: When I was in New Zealand I went shopping with another woman for sausage. This woman had a two-year-old daughter and still had some “baby weight” or whatever bullshit you want to call it. Anyway, the butcher gave me a slice of one sausage to try but hesitated giving it to her, joking that it was made with wine. She looked at him quizzically, and he gestured to her stomach in a “you know, because you’re pregnant” sort of way. She wasn’t pregnant. Do not assume anyone is pregnant.

For Kids

  • Where are you going to college?/Are you going to college?—This is specific to a certain class that assumes college is in the cards, but for the entirety of high school any adult talking to me only wanted to talk about SATs and college applications.

For Anyone

  • You look great! Have you lost weight?—Unless this person maybe lost 400 pounds and is super proud of it, no. Skinny does not necessarily equal healthy or beautiful.

  • You look tired today—I get this so much when I don’t wear makeup. It’s my normal face. My normal face looks bad to you? Ok.