"When are you going to have kids?"~ 5 Tips on How to Respond

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"When are you going to have kids?"

"When will I get grandchildren?"

"Are you EVER going to have kids?"

As the holidays approach, you might be dreading questions about your current childfree state. Even the most supportive, helpful loved ones can dig in with questions that cause unnecessary pain.

What if you didn’t have to dread these questions? The best way to minimize this stress is to have a plan in place for how to respond. While it's tempting to tell these family members that it’s none of their business, I believe grace over sarcasm and hostility is the way to go.

Here are a few tips to get you ready for the onslaught of questions, looks, or sideways comments.


1. Think it through ahead of time.

Your position can be vague or specific, but make sure it can roll off your tongue easily. Keep it simple. Practice so you can hear what it sounds like. If you're certain there’s going to be pressure or unwanted questions, you can head it all off at the pass with, “I have an announcement to make! I’m exploring my own private process about kids or no kids. I’ll let you know when I have clarity. I’d prefer if you didn't ask about it.”

It’s also fine if you do want to discuss it with family members, but you’re not obligated. Parenthood is not a decision by jury.


2. Be respectful.

Yes, you can take the sarcastic route. I know how fun that can be! But you’ll survive better if you take the road of understanding and compassion. Understand that people are anxious in general, and if they’re unaware of their own anxiety, they’ll project it on to you. Anxiety thrives on uncertainty. Trust that your loved ones don't want to be mean or inconsiderate. People will often backpedal if they know they’ve offended you. If you receive an unwanted question, here are some responses that might help:

  • “I know you want a grandchild. I feel private about my process of making this very personal decision. I’ll share my decision with you after I make it.”
  • “I know you want me to have kids. I’m sorry it’s hard for you that I haven’t decided yet if it’s what I want.”
  • “I know you think I’d be a good parent and I know it’s hard for you that I haven’t decided.”


3. And keep being respectful. It looks good on you.

Even with a compassionate and kind response, you still may get a reply back of:

  • “Well, you’re not getting any younger and neither am I.”
  • “What are you waiting for—tick tock?”
  • “You and your partner are so good together. You’d make great parents.”

Then, take a breath and repeat what you originally said. Repetition is the key, not escalation. Sometimes the same thing has to be said several times the exact same way, with calm and patience. At some point, you may have to walk away or go check the oven — not to put your head into it, but to see if what’s cooking is done.

Certainly, sarcasm is an easy thing to fall into but it’s not sustainable — and the subtext of sarcasm will hurt you more than them in the long run. Curiosity, compassion, and honesty will always be a better approach. It might feel unsatisfying initially but, in the end, you’ll be happy you took that approach.


4. Try changing the topic to be about them.

Ask them questions about their own parenthood choices:

  • “Why did you want kids or to be a parent?”
  • “Why didn’t you have more kids?”
  • “Why do you think your parents wanted children?”

Or you can redirect the discussion: “Can you imagine what it would’ve been like if the topic of having children was talked about and not assumed?” “Can you imagine being told as a child that not everyone is expected to have children? It’s something that you get to decide.”

If none of that works, then try, “What’s for dessert?”


5. Check in regularly with your partner.

If you’re navigating the holidays with a partner, be sure to ask each other how it’s going. “Have you been pinned into any corners or given any looks? Did you get any hurtful statements thrown at you?” Be a team. Check in with each other daily. When you’re around your family of origin it’s common to regress to feel like a child again and lose your sense of self. Remind each other that you’re there for one another.

One day children will grow up with the notion that being a parent or childfree is a personal choice. They’ll be taught that both are good choices and the message will be along the lines of:

“Motherhood, living a childfree life, or raising children is a choice. It’s a very personal decision and only you can know what’s true for you. One is not better than the other but one will be better for you.”

Happy Holidays!