With this month having been Mother’s Day, I thought it was an appropriate time to bring this subject up again. I understand the inherent curiosity regarding children and when or if someone plans to have them, but unless someone brings up the subject, it’s never okay to ask when they’re having kids.
In fact, let me just say it loud and clear for everyone right now: stop asking couples – and women in particular – when or if they’re having kids. Just completely stop.
I was having a conversation with a coworker a few months ago about families, and I mentioned that Shane and I don’t want kids of our own. Her response? “Oh, you’ll change your mind.” I was obviously annoyed, but insisted that, no, we don’t want them and have had many years together to make that decision. Then she says, “You never know; accidents happen.” And that was the point I ended the conversation.
Shane and I are in our mid-late twenties. We’ve been married almost six years, and have been together almost ten. We’ve gone back and forth over the years trying to decide whether we want kids and if so, when, before we finally came to the definitive conclusion last September that we don’t want kids of our own.
We are fortunate enough for that to have been a choice we could make, because for a lot of women and couples, that choice is made for them. Whether it’s genetics, illness, abusive relationships, or other factors, having children isn’t something everyone gets the privilege of doing.
Telling someone who says they don’t want kids “accidents happen” is so insensitive and harmful. What if I didn’t have the choice not to have kids? What if I desperately wanted them but couldn’t have my own? What if accidents COULDN’T happen to me? What if saying that we don’t want kids is our way of finally coming to terms with the fact that we couldn’t have them?
And what about telling people they’ll change their minds? How fucking infantilizing to tell a 27-year-old woman that she’ll change her mind about having kids? As if I haven’t already thought about all my options. As if I don’t know myself or can’t be trusted enough to make that kind of decision for myself.