The Kid Question

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I’m 30 years old, married and don’t have kids. Shocked? You’re not alone.

Pete and I have been married 6 years now, and for the past 5 years I’ve been asked a quarter of a million times about having kids.

“Do you have kids? … Do you want kids? … Do you plan to have kids anytime soon? … When do you think you’ll have kids? … So, any plans to start a family?”

(Technically, Pete is family so I’ve already started that process. Next question.)

I expect close friends to ask about these things, and that’s perfectly fine, but often the curious party is made up of complete strangers, or at least people I don’t know well enough to discuss reproduction.

Case in point: Pete and I were at a party one time, sitting across from another couple about to welcome their first child into the world. I wasn’t even done with my tiny plate of chips before they asked The Kid Question: “Have you discussed having children?” the husband asked.

I just met you 5 minutes ago, I thought.

Plus, what if we haven’t discussed it; you’ve just put us on the spot. Or maybe we have talked about it and it’s become a point of contention. Either way, it’s an awkward position from where we’re sitting.

Once people find out we don’t have children, I can almost guarantee the next question: “How long have you been married?” Because apparently there’s an acceptable number of married years before you’re expected to procreate.

Or, if they don’t ask that, another option is the halfway sympathetic, “Oh not yet?” As if it’s a sure thing.

Occasionally, I’ll run into gutsy people who pry even further when they realize there are no children in the mix.

“Why not?” some have dared to ask bluntly.

“How long are you going to wait?” a few have wondered out loud.

Oh, you know, 10-12 years should be good. … I mean, really, what am I supposed to say here?

On the flip side, I once had someone completely drop the conversation and start talking to someone else after finding out I don’t have kids at home, even though there’s a plethora of other things we could have talked about. Sorry I couldn’t discuss breastfeeding and daycare and whether they’re sleeping through the night, I thought. Maybe I should have a kid so I’ll be fit for public chit chat.

With each passing year of marriage, the comments have gotten less lenient. At first, people were reassuring: “Well, you’ve got time. Don’t rush.”

Now people aren’t afraid to let us know that time’s a wastin’.

Just last fall, I had a friend point out that my 20s were almost over with 30 fast approaching. There’s that clock thing you know.

Really? I thought for sure I was getting younger …

A couple years ago, I actually had someone tell me I “better get on it,” and from a man no less, which pretty well ticked me off.

Are you going to birth this child and raise him and pay for him and spend time with him and rearrange your work schedule for him? I thought. No? Then kindly take your comments elsewhere.

What’s really fun is when someone skips the questions altogether and makes a straight up declaration about my future child.

“You’re next!” I’ve had women tell me at a baby shower.

Am I? That’s news to me. 

Then there are the ones who imagine me with child and tell me about it.

“Your kids will be so cute!” Or, “When you’re pregnant …”

I get that women traditionally love babies—especially when all they have to do is coo over them—but unless you have some word from God, please withhold all prophecies.

Now don’t get me wrong here; I like children. I grew up with two younger siblings and know how much fun they can be. I spent years babysitting, and I’ve volunteered to spend time with them during vacation Bible school and neighborhood events. I look forward to visits with our nephews five states away. I have lots of friends with kids and I love seeing pictures of them, hearing stories about them, holding them and playing with them. I’ve offered to watch their kids if they ever need someone.

I know they’re a blessing, I know they change you for the better, I know it’s hard but worth it. I’m not anti-kid here.

What I don’t like is the constant quizzing about our childlessness. I know people mean no harm, but frankly, it’s none of their business.

Not only that, but you never know what a couple is going through. Maybe they’ve had a hard time getting pregnant or experienced a miscarriage. Or maybe, just maybe, they don’t want kids for one reason or another. We’ve known plenty of couples in each of those situations.

I’m immensely grateful that neither set of parents has pressed the issue with us, and I’m thankful for our friends who ask us about travel, hobbies, work, church, house projects, our families, TV shows and so on.

And yes, if you really want to know, we have discussed the kid thing many times and do have an idea about the future. But that’s between me and Pete.

So, if you find yourself bursting to ask The Kid Question anytime soon, here’s another question to consider: Is it really necessary?

I’ve wondered myself about couples’ plans for kids, but I’ve also come to find that if they want you to know, they’ll tell you. And that’s a much safer place to be than drumming up any potential frustration, tears or blog posts.

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