Slash Boxes
NOTE: use Perl; is on undef hiatus. You can read content, but you can't post it. More info will be forthcoming forthcomingly.

All the Perl that's Practical to Extract and Report

use Perl Log In

Log In

[ Create a new account ]

petdance (2468)

AOL IM: petdance (Add Buddy, Send Message)
Yahoo! ID: petdance (Add User, Send Message)

I'm Andy Lester, and I like to test stuff. I also write for the Perl Journal, and do tech edits on books. Sometimes I write code, too.

Journal of petdance (2468)

Tuesday March 25, 2003
09:25 AM

Politeness rule #1: Never ask about a future pregnancy

[ #11225 ]
I don't normally like to rant (ok, sometimes I do), but this one really bugs me.

Never ask someone about a potential future pregnancy.

Don't ask the bride "so when are you going to have kids?" Don't ask them if they've been married for a while, either. Maybe they can't have kids. Maybe they don't want them. Maybe it's not time yet. Maybe they're not financially set up to do it yet. In any case, it's none of your business. None. Zero. Not even amiably conversationally. Don't ask.

By extension, I've got a 17-month-old daughter who is just cute as the dickens and everyone at the office loves her, and that's fine, but when I get asked "So when are you having another one?", it's all I can do to smile slightly and say "Not today."

The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
More | Login | Reply
Loading... please wait.
  • if I had a nickel (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hfb (74) on 2003.03.25 11:54 (#18320) Homepage Journal

    for every asshole who asked me this very question since Jarkko and I got married I'd be able to retire to St. Croix. Beyond being rude it has become creepy as you watch all your friends and colleagues succumb to the seeming cult of parenthood who then prod you about joining up. They offer you comments telling you what a super kid you'd have to encourage you to suspend your disbelief and disdain long enough to reconsider without thinking about any of the many, many reasons why you might not want them. Some of them press you so hard you wish you could donate your ovaries to an organ bank so that someone far more enthusiastic on the idea could use them and get the 'parentistas' off your back. You envision them going door-to-door offering parenting magazines and proselytizing like JWs with a diaper bag. It's the dinner scene in Bridget Jones' Diary where she's the only singleton in a room of smug marrieds asking her about her love life and 'tick-tock tick-tock' having kids. You might mention, too, that exercising restraint in yammering on about your own children and inflicting family photos in the wallet upon unsuspecting colleagues is also appreciated.

    • It's not a matter of being the right or wrong decision. The key is that it's no one else's business.

      I would suggest that explaining why you don't want kids only adds to the problem, since you're playing by their rules and drawing them into your decision-making process. Talking with someone about it makes it their business, since you're engaging them in the discussion. "That's not something I/we care to discuss" is a perfectly reasonable answer, repeated as often as necessary. A good response to the suggestions of how great kids are is "I'm glad to hear you're happy with your children." And then change the subject.

      Miss Manners' Basic Training: The Right Thing To Say [] is a marvelous book of polite, yet effective, rejoinders to these verbal barrages.



      • but in this freaky spawning-crazed time we seem to be in, polite responses merely egg them on as, you know, 'why else would someone get married except to pump out kids, she's just being coy!' I've found that glowering works well and, in gnat's case, 'fuck off' sometimes works too. :) I simply moved to Finland where they seem to have far less verbal inclination and where 48% of the households are singletons.

        Did a similarly frustrated and bitter singleton/married unload a rant on you today? Shouldn't you be

        • Sigh. The more I hear the Finland song, the more I start to think about getting a new passport... :\

          You are what you think.
        • polite responses merely egg them on as, you know, 'why else would someone get married except to pump out kids, she's just being coy!'

          I think you'll find that repeating a simple, polite declination to participate will work, and will not "egg them on", and obviates the need to tell someone off.

          Them: "So when are you and Jarkko gonna have kids?"
          You: "I'm sorry, that's not something we care to discuss."
          Them: "Oh, you must have talked about it, haven't you?"
          You: "That's not something we care to discuss.



          • see, but that's having a conversation and the 'not something we care to discuss' just makes people come back for more and I appreciate the simplicity of the glowering dirty look or obscenity to drive that point home faster and without dancing about the maypole.

            People seem totally obsessed about babies these days so I'm sure you'll get that question again as people harmlessly assume that if you're in the cult for one then it's ok to ask if you're going to renew your subscription with an affirmation :)

            • People seem totally obsessed about babies these days

              "These days"? I don't think there's anything new about this "fad." :)
              • you're too young to remember the 70s and 80s when having kids was passe and there weren't babies on practically every advert. It's just weird how cult-like the fad has become is's all part of the new world order in the us i suppose. Pretty soon singletons and DINKs will have to go to carousel to make room for more productive units.

                • I guess I am thinking that regardless of the media attention to babies, the people who have babies have always obssessed about them, and there have always been a ton of people having babies. I can see how the extra attention from the media can add to the unwanted pressure, but I really can't see how the people who are having kids have changed all that much in this respect.
                  • Not always as I was born in the long gap between the boomers and the x-ers where there was a rather long lull in procreation...right around the time of the pill and women's lib. My classes in school were very small and there wasn't the same 'for the kids' cult-ure that seems to now pervade the very fabric of the US in particular. I've been watching the trend with some fascination in books, the media and adverts and I'd love to see someone go over the 70s, 80s, 90s and the past few years to study the dramati

  • I seem to remember hearing the suggestion that you reply with, "I don't know -- when are you planning to die?"

    Not a serious suggestion, but it would feel good.


    You are what you think.
    • I prefer to save that for weddings.

      You know, when all of those well-meaning old ladies in your family come up and poke you in the ribs and cackle "You're next!" and hobble away.

      Just do that once -- ONCE -- at a funeral, to one of them, and I guarantee they'll leave you alone at weddings.

  • <rant>
    The difference in our case is that medical problems have prevented it so far. I've had more than a few people in the past from church say "You know you shouldn't put off having children." Little do they know how much we'd love to have them! But who can afford private adoption ($10k+) or infertility treatments if you have to pay for it (~$5k per cycle)? Sometimes people are just stupid.

    Of course, what's worse is when people say "It will happen when it's time." Yeah, I used to think that, but a

    "Perl users are the Greatful Dead fans of computer science." --slashdot comment