Thoughts on Action
"Contemplation often makes life miserable. We should act more, think less, and stop watching ourselves live." ~ Nicolas de Chamfort

Guest Rant of the Week: Why WHEN instead of IF?

Rant of the Week IconBy ML

Why does everyone ask WHEN, not IF you’re going to have kids? When I’m not around kids I think about maybe having them. But, when I’m at a function where kids are present I want to run from the room screaming and pulling at my hair to hide in a dark, quiet corner grabbing my knees, rocking back and forth and repeating “it’s ok, I don’t have any, it’s ok, I don’t have any”. Though my husband and I consider ourselves to be on the fence about the subject, this mutual feeling of wanting to run far, far away from them is probably a pretty good sign of which way we’re leaning.

Why does everyone, e-v-e-r-y-o-n-e ask WHEN instead of IF. Is the possibility of choosing not to so utterly alien and incomprehensible to people? We’ve tried wording it nicely so they don’t take personal offense: “We’re not sure that having kids is for us.” I thought it sounded great, but it’s only been met with hurt stares, glares of death, jaw drops, even the silent treatment. Followed by the inevitable arguments that it’s “so worth it” and “different when it’s yours” (which I’m convinced is what they have to tell themselves over and over again in order to cope). After all, it’s not personal, if people want to have kids that’s fine, nothing against them. But isn’t it better that people that don’t want to, well, don’t have them instead of conforming and then resenting them?

What I really want to say is that we thought we would have kids until we were around theirs.  Famous for putting my foot in my mouth I still pat myself on the back for holding my tongue when a friend said her baby made her friend want to get married and have a baby, and I managed to just look at her  blankly instead of retorting “made them want TO have a baby?!?!”

6 Responses to Guest Rant of the Week: Why WHEN instead of IF?

  • Joules says:

    Before my hubs and I met we were both very anti-child and very vocal about it. I’d go on an on about how much I’d rather have X, Y, and Z instead of sitting at home raising a kid. When we got married, his friends asked *when*, my friends did more of a confused blustering that involved phrases like, “So… are you…?” and, “You still hate kids, right?” or, “Vodka or baby? You have ten seconds to chose!”

  • Monica says:

    You made some good points there. My question, though, is not “why when instead of if” but simply “Why?????”. Why do some people think they have the right to ask other people about something so personal?

  • Scott says:

    You’re right, it’s totally presumptuous and obnoxious to ask when instead of if. There is a pretty concise, easy answer, though:


    Or, if you’re not quite sure:

    “Probably never.”

    This may not be decisive, however, because the obnoxious interrogator would probably then counter with “you still have time to change your mind.”

  • Kate says:

    OMG – thiis is exactly how I feel!! I totally kick the idea of having a kid around in my head – and then I hang out with kids, and I’m like “nope, sticking with my quiet and clean house”.

    Most kids drive me nuts, but I don’t mind some of my friends’ kids. So I think a large part of it is what type of kid (and parent) you’re interacting with. And to that end, there is some truth in the “it’s different when they’re yours” thing, because you are able to discipline YOUR child, whereas most people feel like they can’t step in and discipline someone else’s kid (unless the kid hits them or something).

    I’m so used to trying to placate the “WHEN” people, when I recently gave a vague “we might change our mind” answer, one of my neighbors exlaimed “don’t do it! don’t cave!”. She has kids, but she says that if she had to do it over again, knowing how much time/money/effort was involved, she wouldn’t have them. I thought that was a refreshingly honest response.

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