“So… when are you going to have kids?”

It’s a common question for childless people, especially around the holidays when we get together with families and friends.

Innocent enough, right? After all, it’s a natural thing to wonder about newly married or long-term couples. Sometimes people ask it just to make small talk. Other times they really want to pry and find out your family building plan. Parents want to be grandparents, siblings want to be aunts and uncles, etc.

But this “innocent” question can be incredibly painful for people struggling to conceive. So if you ask this question to people, just stop it. Now.

Why you shouldn’t ask people when they’re going to have kids

It’s time we stop treating pregnancy like a simple choice. Having kids isn’t like buying a car or taking a vacation. For most people, trying to get pregnant is a very private and intimate experience and many couples go months and years without conceiving.  

Infertility can be incredibly stressful and painful on its own, but especially around the holidays when we’re constantly surrounded by friends and family revelling in the joys of parenthood. Seeing all the holiday cards and pregnancy announcements can take its emotional toll in a hurry.

On the flip side, a lot of people simply don’t want kids and probably don’t appreciate people assuming that they do.  

So stop asking the question. You may think it’s just polite small talk, but it’s not.

How to respond when people DO ask when you’re going to have kids

Let’s assume that not every person on the planet will read this blog post, and therefore people will continue asking the question. How you respond, or don’t respond, is 100% up to you.  It’s totally fine to be offended and snarky. If you’re up for it, it’s also an opportunity to educate them as to why their question is inappropriate.

If you’re dreading the question, here’s some ideas for how to respond:

  1. “I missed middle school biology class so I’m not exactly sure how that works. Can you teach me?” Answering a question with a question is always a strong tactic. And everyone gets uncomfortable if you ask them for sex advice. Win-win.
  2. “We just had sex in your laundry room an hour ago. So… maybe in about 9 months?” Especially funny if you’re actually at their house. Otherwise it’s a little weird.
  3. “We only do anal.” Good for a high-five.
  4. “We’re still practicing. Practice makes perfect, and we want to make sure our kids are perfect.” Again, alluding to your sex life can be a good way to deflect the question.
  5. “Turns out making kids is expensive and we didn’t win the lottery this week. Fingers crossed next week!” If you’re pursuing fertility treatment you may find it helpful to let your close family and friends know about it. For more tips, see our Man’s Guide to Fertility Treatment.
  6. “15% of couples are infertile. Hopefully we’re not in the 15th percentile, but then again we’ve always been overachievers.” Educating them about the realities of infertility can help, and they’re likely to be more understanding going forward.
  7. “It’s not that easy for some of us”. If you simply say this they likely won’t press or bring it up again.
  8. “Turns out my boys need some swim classes first.” Talking about low sperm counts can be tough, but some men find it helpful to let others know about it. It’s also an opportunity to encourage other guys in your life to get tested if fertility pursuits could be in their future.  
  9. “Did you know most men have a sub-optimal sperm count? What’s your count?” As long as they opened the door to invasive questions, might as well turn it back on them.
  10. Ignore them. You don’t even have to say anything at all. Hearing lapses happen, and maybe the fact that you don’t say anything send them the message that their question was inappropriate.