How to answer the question “When will you have children”12.4.2023 · 4 min reading
If you haven't heard this question before, you're one of the lucky ones. The phrase "When will you have children" or "When will there be more" is something that everyone of reproductive age encounters. It's hard to get it if you don't feel like having a baby yet, even harder if you've been trying for a long time. So how do you respond to these types of questions?
Why do others even ask?
Let’s start with the question why the other cares at all… You may be surprised, but many people don’t mean anything by this question. There is no hidden agenda and it has the same informational value to them as if you started talking about the weather. If it’s your family, especially your parents, then the reasons may be more self-serving – they just want grandchildren already and are asking when that will happen. But whatever the motive, one thing is clear: People don’t realize at this point how personal and painful this question can be.
When the questions hurt
Even if someone asks purely out of curiosity, you have an absolute right to feel uncomfortable. For a couple who have chosen not to have children or are deliberately delaying them, this question may be annoying, but probably not painful. If, however, it is given to a couple struggling with infertility, then an innocent question becomes a reminder of pain, loss, uncertainty, or simply not being in control of this life issue at all.
Lighten the situation with a joke or humorous comment
A family celebration… and Auntie starts inhaling in between eating sandwiches – and you know what’s coming. But today is a day to celebrate, not to mourn, so instead of going into the details of your reproductive problems, you lighten the situation with a joke – and because humour is contagious, it’s quite likely that family members or friends will support you and add something of their own, ideally taking the conversation elsewhere. If not, take the initiative yourself, but before you do, here are some funny ideas for answering the “when will you have kids” question:
“I’m not sure. How do you see it?”
“Are you really asking me about my sex life with your son?” (Nephew, best friend…)
“That’s a good question, I have one for you too!” (And change the subject)
“When everyone stops asking us that.”
It is clear that you will choose your answers depending on who you are talking to. But the usual response usually leads the person to change the subject very quickly.
Answer honestly and use this situation for a little training
You may be hiding the fact that you are dealing with infertility from your family and friends. But there are plenty of couples like you around the world – and you can spread the awareness by being honest. If you feel up to it, explain to the person that you’re unable to conceive a baby and that you’re considering alternative methods to expand your family. And if you want a heartfelt answer, describe your emotions – try something like this, for example:
“Having a child with us is not a matter of snapping a finger and puts a lot of pressure on us. We honestly can’t tell you when – all we and you have to do is be patient.”
Make it clear that you’re uncomfortable
This is related to another piece of advice: don’t be afraid to show your discomfort. Remember, you don’t owe anyone an explanation unless you want one yourself – messages about how and when you build your family are always personal and, most importantly, belong to you. So if you don’t feel like answering “How’s it going to be with the baby,” you can use something simple instead of long answers:
“This is a really personal question and I’m not comfortable answering it.“
“You know, this is a body question that’s hard for us to answer – getting pregnant isn’t easy for us and getting these types of questions hurts.”
Although it may be uncomfortable to start using this answer at first, it is a really effective way to end the conversation about your family plans and to set safe boundaries for the future.
Deal with this question gracefully, the intention of the questioners is not bad
“That’s a really interesting question. I wish we knew the answer” or “We’re trying, don’t worry, hopefully one day we’ll get it right.” These are diplomatic answers in which you outline the problem but at the same time make it clear that you will say no more. Take into account that the intention of the askers was not evil, and that they do not intend to harm you in any way.
We know how challenging it is not to be in control of your reproductive health, and that sometimes you just don’t have the energy or desire to come up with the right answers. So don’t forget to add silence to the list of possible responses. Yes, you don’t have to say anything at all. Pretend you didn’t hear or skip the question. Most people will understand that asking the question a second time is not desirable.
Some people understand only repetition or absolute prohibition
There are some people who need to have things repeated four times, and then there are those for whom you have to sharpen your tongue a bit more. If you get into this conversation with someone who is adamant, you’ll have to repeat it back to them or toughen them up.
“I want you to finally hear that I don’t want to discuss this topic.”
“Do you hear? I asked you to change the subject.”
Let them know in advance
The previous way of answering may cause a momentary tension, but this is all about your emotional well-being. And if you want to take care of it as a preventive measure, it is worth considering whether, for example, to send a mass message to your loved ones about your current state. This will give them space to process the topic as well, and for next time, they will ask you questions in a different way than they would “off the cuff.”