So, when are you having kids?
There are very few questions that make me more uncomfortable than this one and I know I’m not alone in feeling that way. It’s not a matter of being insecure in the decision my wife and I have made to remain childfree that makes me feel awkward. Rather, it’s the nonchalant responses to my answer(s), which usually consist of brushing off our decision as immaturity or trying to delay the inevitable.
“That’s what you say NOW”
“You’ll find out”
“Yeah, wait until your wife decides she wants one”
And the list goes on and on and on. I’m sure you’ve heard this all before.
These replies are usually coming from co-workers and general acquaintances – people who don’t even know me very well. Frankly, there are times when I just don’t feel like getting into it with these people. So, I’ve come up with a new game- a game in which I volley the awkwardness back to the boundary-invader before the conversation has a chance to devolve into dismissive clichés.
We can’t have children.
Now, I have to preface this: I do not think infertility is a laughing matter. I actually think these four words carry a certain amount of power because the vast majority of pesky probers tend to neglect the ever-growing infertile population. Nothing will turn an overly comfortable inquisitor on his or her head faster than saying “We can’t have kids.” You’ll be able to watch the waves of regret crash over them for asking such a personal question. Although you do not have to explain your childlessness to anyone, couples who cannot have children could benefit from speaking up in this situation. So many parents make the assumption that couples who don’t have children are making a choice to delay eventual procreation while seeming totally ignorant of the fact that many couples simply cannot conceive. Now’s your chance to make them squirm.
As far as my wife and I know, we are physically capable of having children. Mentally, though? Emotionally? That may be a different story. Is anyone fully capable of having children?
In the same hyperbolic tone as someone who says “I can’t deal with this right now,” my wife and I can’t have children. We can’t have children if we want to pursue the goals we’ve set for ourselves. And we certainly can’t have children without my wife taking a trip to the doctor to have her IUD removed. Come to think of it, that could be a good response, too…
Our dogs are allergic.
This one is a simple reversal of the all too common scenario of the couple adopting a puppy, keeping it for a couple of years, and kicking it to the curb when they bring a kicking, screaming, pooping, puking little massive carbon-footprint-of-joy into the world.
This answer doesn’t pack the same conversation-killing punch that the preceding reply does, but deflecting the question with some humor might just give them the hint that you’re not interested in delving deeper into this topic.
I’m really trying to focus on my art right now.
I am not an artist. If you are an artist, it is perfectly acceptable to focus on your art. To give this line the bite, it requires a condescending tone. If possible, incorporate some arm-crossing and eye-rolling. If you season your response with just the right amount of pretentiousness, chances are you’ll bring this conversation to a screeching halt. The obvious danger here, especially if you’re like me and not an artist, is delivering this line to an actual artist and starting an unintended conversation, so it helps to know your audience. Regardless, nobody is thinking about babies anymore.
I refuse to bring a child into a world that…
Wage equality, water contamination, police brutality, human trafficking – they are all heavy hitters. If you don’t have a cause you’re passionate about, fake it. Better yet, find one. If you’ve done enough research to back up your reason, you can accomplish a favorable outcome.
If someone asks you when you and your significant other are planning on making some babies and you shoot back with a loud and proud, “I refuse to bring a child into a world where Jimmy Fallon blah blah blah 11 million dollars a year blah blah blah dead-eyed hack!”, you’ve instantly taken the focus off yourself and given the prying procreationist something else to ponder besides the fruit of your loins. You may want to pick something a little more provactive than Jimmy Fallon, though.
There are plenty more tactics you can use to deflect the barrage of of bingos we hear on an almost daily basis. I know you can come up with some that are even more effective than mine. So go ahead, let’s hear some of yours!