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Male Couples Face Pressure to Fill Cradles
August 10, 2012 2:44 PM   Subscribe

"When the jubilant couple were wed in June, they exchanged personalized vows and titanium rings, cheered the heartfelt toasts and danced themselves breathless. Then, as the evening was winding down, unexpected questions started popping up. One after another, their guests began asking: Are you going to have kids? When are you going to have kids?"

Michelangelo Signorile (Editor-at-large, HuffPost Gay Voices; SiriusXM radio host) responds to today's NYT's article: Child-free and Happy.
posted by ericb (77 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Popular culture is helping rewrite that script. Gay men who have children, or are considering having children, are becoming increasingly visible on network television. In “Modern Family,” the nation’s most popular television show, the couple Mitchell and Cameron considered adopting a second child this past season. In “Scandal,” a new ABC series, a middle-aged White House staff member groused about his partner’s desire to adopt a baby from Ethiopia. And this fall, a new NBC sitcom called “The New Normal” will feature a gay couple and their surrogate." *
posted by ericb at 2:46 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not until they're in season, it's cruel the catch the younger ones who haven't had time to develop thick shells.
posted by The Whelk at 2:48 PM on August 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


...Gay couples or sitcoms?
posted by maryr at 2:49 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


At the wedding reception???? What is wrong with people?
posted by "But who are the Chefs?" at 2:49 PM on August 10, 2012 [8 favorites]


We're getting some pressure to have kids. Interestingly, that pressure is coming from other parents who we're friends with. Our friends who don't have children never seem to bring it up.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:50 PM on August 10, 2012 [9 favorites]


You see, the problem is, people are awful.
posted by Rat Spatula at 2:50 PM on August 10, 2012 [39 favorites]


Ways to end this conversation quickly:

"Yeah, do you know where we can buy one?"

"Why, are you offering me your womb?"

"We just can't find one that matches the drapes."

"Yeah, he keeps fucking me and fucking me and fucking me and NOTHING yet!"
posted by jph at 2:51 PM on August 10, 2012 [74 favorites]


Gah, that must be frustrating, but that sort of thing I feel comes up at nearly every wedding. The fact that gay couples are expected to have children is an annoying step in the right direction.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:52 PM on August 10, 2012 [36 favorites]


you take the good, you take the bad, you take them all and there you have the facts of life.

welcome to marriage gay folks.
posted by readyfreddy at 2:53 PM on August 10, 2012 [18 favorites]


Welcome to the club, gay men! My wife and I are into our second decade of marriage, and the question still happens. At least you won't have to deal with family members secretly suggesting to your wife that she stop taking birth control.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 2:54 PM on August 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


At the wedding reception???? What is wrong with people?

That's pretty normal, at least for straight couples*. The only difference here is that it is now expected that gay couples will have children, too. As Navelgazer says, I guess that's progress of a kind.

*Thankfully, the "When are you going to give us grandchildren?" question didn't come up at my wedding and hasn't yet. Friends of mine haven't been so lucky.
posted by asnider at 2:57 PM on August 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


My wife and I had a big ol' hetero wedding, and we weren't asked that question once. Two thoughts:

1. Our friends are better than these people's friends. Ha ha!

2. Maybe people feel bizarrely obligated to ask the question, feeling like they might ask it of a hetero couple and so it'll seem missing if they don't ask it. Meaning that those people are extremely stupid. See Point 1.
posted by gurple at 2:58 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


It can't be *that* normal for straight couples. I didn't hear that question directed at us once during our reception. Maybe they all realized already that the closest we plan to get is a dog or two. ;)
posted by lyra4 at 2:59 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


That reminds me of my favorite sign from the pro-gay-marriage protests (anti-Prop 8), which said something to the effect of "We want to be miserable just like everybody else!"
posted by Celsius1414 at 2:59 PM on August 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


I can imagine my older gay friends snarking: 21st century problems.
posted by koeselitz at 3:00 PM on August 10, 2012 [13 favorites]


Well?! When are you?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:00 PM on August 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


Those titanium rings are gonna be impossible to cut off when they get fat and their fingers grow.
posted by scose at 3:02 PM on August 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Sshhh! I heard they had to get married. One of them accidentally knocked the surrogate up already!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:02 PM on August 10, 2012 [19 favorites]


It can't be *that* normal for straight couples. I didn't hear that question directed at us once during our reception. Maybe they all realized already that the closest we plan to get is a dog or two. ;)

I've seen it come up at pretty much every wedding I've been to. Most recently, the father of the bride made it a part of his toast (albeit in a slightly jokey tone).

I assumed that my wife and I avoided the question because we had a small wedding that consisted almost entirely of close friends who wouldn't ask (partly because very few of them intend to have children, and so why should they care if we do).
posted by asnider at 3:04 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am fascinated by stories of people getting badgered to have kids. I have literally never, ever in my life had people ask me when I was going to have kids. I have had conversations with people where we all discussed whether we wanted them, but never has a nosy relative or poorly raised friend voiced it as an expectation. And I grew up in backwater Northern Ontario.

(I've only once been asked about my marriage plans, by my mother, very very hesitantly, and it took me about a year to realize she was actually probably trying to find out if I'm a lesbian.)
posted by looli at 3:04 PM on August 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


A friend of mine keeps insisting that I'll eventually adopt a kid even after I tell him that I'll most likely never be interested. I naively thought that telling him I'm gay would take care of the 'But you'll change your mind' problem. If anything, he's now even more adamant that I just haven't developed my (apparently inevitable) parental instinct.
posted by anaximander at 3:05 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Welcome? Gay folk have been marrying and having kids for as long as gays have been gay. God damn Oscar Wilde even had kids.

The difference now we are less likely to get beat up for.
posted by munchingzombie at 3:10 PM on August 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Thankfully, my sister and her two boys have taken off a lot of that pressure from the parents. My husband and I sometimes talk about adopting. We both worry about being good fathers and what kind of choices we'd make, but at this point we're just not ready. Partly because we're really enjoying being DINKs (Dual Income, No Kids), and partly because we'd really rather have one of us be a full-time at-home parent, and we're just not in a position to comfortably drop an income and do that right now, let alone with all the additional expenses children would bring.

For now, we are content to spoil the nephews and our friends' kids, and give them back when we've had our fill. Maybe some day we'll be ready, but not just yet. And, when we're ready, we would be adopting; the last thing this crowded blue marble needs is yet more people on it.
posted by xedrik at 3:10 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


As a side note to the main thread, which I hope isn't too derail-y, this quote from the NYT article struck me:
Roman Catholic bishops in Washington, D.C., Illinois and Massachusetts have shuttered adoption services rather than comply with requirements that they consider same-sex couples as adoptive parents.
That seems unbelievably shitty. What happens to the orphans when that happens?
posted by asnider at 3:12 PM on August 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Pfff, who cares? What, are we running a charity here?
posted by maryr at 3:14 PM on August 10, 2012 [14 favorites]


At my cousin's wedding, his little brother, in his best-man speech, said something along the lines of "Now, go and make me an uncle!" I suppose I might have been the only one who cringed at that, but I sure did.
posted by restless_nomad at 3:14 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I know people do get pestered about this, but it still amazes me because it is. so. very. rude. and. intrusive. The details of when, if, and how people choose to have kids falls squarely into the category of Things I Don't Need to Know and, In Fact, Would Prefer Not to Contemplate.

I mean, I'm happy to hear that you're going to have a kid or do have one or whatever, and I'd be glad to dandle the little pooper on my (scotch-guarded) knee, but as soon as phrases like "we're trying" come up, that's it, I'm done, good luck, seeya later. And people's parents digging for these private details? This is my mind, boggling. These are mainly the selfsame people who, a few years ago, COULD NOT STAND to think about the mere possibility of their little precious darlings even having sexual organs, let alone using them, to the point that they'd freak out at the prospect of a sex education course and had to steel themselves with copious cocktails before having "the talk."

And suddenly now they're like "RAH RAH RAH! Impregnate that spouse/surrogate! How's your sperm count there, Sparky? Your Aunt Millie read in Cosmo that the best fertilization position is . . . . ." well this is just too horrific.
posted by FelliniBlank at 3:16 PM on August 10, 2012 [7 favorites]


Damn, growing up I thought the two distinct upsides to the anti gay sentiment was draft avoidance and no one bugging me to have kids.

Well I've aged out the draft so now I just need to keep providing how reckless, dangerous, and irresponsible I am.
posted by The Whelk at 3:18 PM on August 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


Putting aside for the moment the awfulness of this happening at the wedding reception, there is a real change happening for gay couples. In private practice I see a patient who has been with her partner for thirty years. One of the things we talk about, not quite weekly, is what they will do if marriage between two women is legalized in our state. We spend a lot of time talking about homophobia and equal rights in general, particularly as they have played out in her life, but despite her fervent support for "gay marriage," she's not at all happy that she has to make a decision about this thing that had previously not been an issue at all in her relationship. She loves her partner, fully expects to spend the rest of her life with her partner, and may even want to marry her partner, but it's totally new for her to be asking herself the last of those questions. For most people there really is a psychological difference between "Do I want to spend the rest of my life with this person?," and "Do I want to marry this person?"

May you live in interesting times.
posted by OmieWise at 3:23 PM on August 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


an annoying step in the right direction

This made me smile. Some of the pushiest "come on, you guys totes need to have kids!" people in my life have been gay, so this sounds to me like fair play at work.
posted by Forktine at 3:29 PM on August 10, 2012


We just want to corrupt your kids as the Cool Uncles.
posted by The Whelk at 3:30 PM on August 10, 2012 [8 favorites]


As a bonus prize, the sans-children gay-marrieds who do have a dog, cat, or other companion animal can now experience the transports of joy I feel when people beam at me and say in that smug, self-LOLing tone, "Ah, you have pets instead of children!"
posted by FelliniBlank at 3:36 PM on August 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


The trick is to have the kids before the wedding.
posted by Brocktoon at 3:40 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Roman Catholic bishops in Washington, D.C., Illinois and Massachusetts have shuttered adoption services rather than comply with requirements that they consider same-sex couples as adoptive parents.

That seems unbelievably shitty. What happens to the orphans when that happens?


I'm actually not at all sorry to hear that the R.C.s are getting out of the adoption business. I don't want religious organizations having the authority to do that.
posted by orange swan at 3:43 PM on August 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Kinky Friedman - "I support gay marriage because I believe they have right to be just as miserable as the rest of us!"
posted by 445supermag at 3:51 PM on August 10, 2012


Welcome? Gay folk have been marrying and having kids for as long as gays have been gay. God damn Oscar Wilde even had kids. The difference now we are less likely to get beat up for.
posted by munchingzombie at 3:10 PM on August 10


By "welcome", I meant, welcome to the modern incarnation of hetero marriage. I've heard newlyweds badgered at their wedding reception about having children several times. Heck, if you're Catholic, the badgering can even begin during the wedding ceremony itself.

Sure, maybe gays have been marrying since forever, but there's a reason that this article was written, no?
posted by readyfreddy at 3:51 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Roman Catholic bishops in Washington, D.C., Illinois and Massachusetts have shuttered adoption services

Oh, great. Now I can't get the phrase "adopt a bishop" out of my head.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:53 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


When a couple I'm friends with got married I drew in their registry a stick figure rendition of the two of them surrounded by about a billion stick-figure children. But that's because I'm a dick. It is not something one should do if one is attempting to be polite.
posted by schroedinger at 4:00 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I get badgered about this by my mom pretty much every time I see her, regardless of whether I'm in a relationship or not.
posted by kaibutsu at 4:00 PM on August 10, 2012


I'm not sure if people neccessarily think that they're being rude. I think a lot of the time, people are just trying to ask a nice, socially appropriate question at a wedding- after all, a really large percentage of people who get married do so specifically to have children. If they keep asking, I can see it getting offensive. But one time, at a wedding? As much as that would irritate me, I would take it as being only well-intentioned and try to just let it slide. It probably doesn't even occur to a lot of folks that people have specifically chosen not to procreate; this is still not something that happens that often, relatively speaking.
posted by windykites at 4:07 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


after all, a really large percentage of people who get married do so specifically to have children.

I wonder if there are any figures on that. I know a few people who got married because there was already a kid on the way, and I know some who, like myself, got married with no desire whatever to have kids, but I've never met anyone who got married primarily because it was procreation time and whatnot.
posted by Mooski at 4:19 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


If some of you have no children and sorely miss having your own, I can spare two.
posted by Postroad at 4:21 PM on August 10, 2012


I was just having this "wow, what an amazing world -or some if it anyway- this is with my mom. We was telling me that my cousin (het-married, 3 kids has been badgering her -gay, ltr cousin (other side of the family) to have babies. Let's ignore the part about maybe he doesn't want kids. It does kind of make me smile that gay couples are now badgered about it just like straight couples. Ignoring he fact that the badgering is totally irritating and intrusive of course.
posted by atomicstone at 4:31 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


munchingzombie: “Welcome? Gay folk have been marrying and having kids for as long as gays have been gay. God damn Oscar Wilde even had kids. The difference now we are less likely to get beat up for.”

There are a few other little differences. Like, er, the ability to marry each other. And also being able to have children without having to have sex with someone you're not attracted to. But yes, other than those few little differences, gays have been marrying and having children for as long as men have been wearing beards.
posted by koeselitz at 4:34 PM on August 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


My wife and I were agreed on the no-kids thing before we knew much else about each other and we lived together unmarried for nearly 20 years before finally getting married so she could join my company health policy. Anyway for years and years I was asked at least once a month, "When are you gonna get married?" to which I'd always inquire about the weather report in Hell.

The family that owns the company, and a great many of the coworkers, are Catholic.

So we had this nice older lady G who decided to pop the question one day at the lunch table in front of everybody and I made my usual dismissive response. But she didn't want to let it go.

"Well, what if you have kids?"

"We aren't having kids. That was the first thing that attracted us to each other."

"Well, but you don't always get a choice about that. What if you end up with kids anyway?"

"She's been on the Pill since before we met, nearly all failures are due to missing doses and she is fanatically faithfull about taking her pills. It's seriously unlikely."

"Oh, but those pills do still fail sometime. What would you do then?"

I put down my utensils and looked her in the eye, and I said: "Well, nobody knows another person's heart perfectly but I'm pretty sure what would happen if she got pregnant is that she would make an appointment at her earliest convenience at the nearest abortion clinic and get rid of it. This is a woman whose favorite movie about motherhood is Alien."

In a very, very small voice G said: "But what would you think about that?"

"I don't get to think anything about that because I don't have to carry the baby for nine months and risk my health to do it. I suppose if it turns out that everything I think I know about the person I love most in the world is wrong, I'd suck it up and do whatever I have to to hold up my end, but honestly I would more readily expect to retire on my Craps winnings than to expect Y to carry a child to term."

And that was the last time anybody asked when I was going to get married.
posted by localroger at 4:38 PM on August 10, 2012 [27 favorites]


When my sister got married a lot of the badgering came towards me. When will it be my turn to get married and have kids? I told everyone else to wait 11 years (the age difference) before they are allowed to even contemplate the question.
posted by divabat at 4:40 PM on August 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Whelk: We just want to corrupt your kids as the Cool Uncles.

Oh my god they were right all along. There IS a Gay Agenda!
posted by Talanvor at 4:47 PM on August 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oh my god they were right all along. There IS a Gay Agenda!

That is also my agenda as a totally hetero woman with no kids.
posted by immlass at 4:50 PM on August 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


immlass: That is also my agenda as a totally hetero woman with no kids.

That doesn't sound nearly as ominous though.
posted by Talanvor at 4:52 PM on August 10, 2012


We're gonna Auntie Mame the fuck out of your kids!
posted by The Whelk at 4:52 PM on August 10, 2012 [10 favorites]


I just opened my mouth to say "Hey honey, I just read that there's a new trend in gays being pressured to have kids once they're married..." but I realized that his biological clock is ticking SO HARD right now that might just push him over the edge and cause him to spontaneously combust in the most fabulous technicolor conflagration.

Nobody's gonna have to pressure us. I'm surprised he doesnt occasionally come home with an infant and that "it followed me home, can we keep it" look on his face.
posted by jph at 5:03 PM on August 10, 2012 [15 favorites]


We're gonna Auntie Mame the fuck out of your kids!

My my my my, what an eager little mind! You won't need some of these words for months and months!
posted by sonascope at 5:04 PM on August 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


Interestingly, that pressure is coming from other parents who we're friends with.

As I recent parent myself I can understand the drive for this. If there are few friends in your circle with kids, you can sometimes desperately want your "favourites" to procreate so you can spend hurried daytime minutes together and sympathise with each other. Sometimes in your circle, the only other people with kids (ie available and willing to hang out at "baby acceptable" times), are not the people you really want to see that much!

Luckily for us, one of our "favourites" had kids first. It's been so good there's serious discussion of syncing up for the next one.
posted by smoke at 5:06 PM on August 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sometimes I need to watch Auntie Mame to remind myself to get my shit together.
posted by The Whelk at 5:11 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


We're gonna Auntie Mame the fuck out of your kids!

The first time through I read that as, "We're gonna fuck the Auntie Mame out of your kids."
posted by adamdschneider at 5:49 PM on August 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


One of the ways my mother used to guilt-trip me for being gay was by saying things like "well, we'd always expected to have grandkids by now" or something like that. She'd say it pretty regularly (my mother is a Grand Master Of Guilt) until I finally lost my temper with her and chewed up one side and down the other with a tantrum of scolding which ended in her crying and me not answering her calls for several months.

This was all, oh jeez... at least 15 years ago.

Thank the gods that isn't happening anymore.

If my partner and I were to ever get married and she were to bring that up during the reception at all, I would be sorely tempted to adopt as soon as possible and forbid her from ever knowing her long-awaited grandchildren. Just out of spite.

Can't people just let others live their lives?
posted by hippybear at 6:30 PM on August 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


See, it's a beautiful thing, same-sex couples can now be equal with opposite-sex couples in being inappropriately hectored about their reproductive choices. O BRAVE NEW WORLD!

No, I am actually serious. Even though as someone who chose not to have children of my own*, I think that it's a positive that rudeness about that choice is becoming more equal-opportunity in some circles.

*(As some of you might remember, two lovely men have children who are my descendants. Miracles of science!)
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:56 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Do you have to have spite sex to make spite babies?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:57 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


We're gonna Auntie Mame the fuck out of your kids!

The first time through I read that as, "We're gonna fuck the Auntie Mame out of your kids."


I think that was actually De-Gaying Option #124 from the Exodus International Handbook.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 6:58 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


We just want to corrupt your kids as the Cool Uncles.

Are you available to babysit? Like, this weekend? And for the next 18 years? Please say yes.
posted by Ritchie at 7:03 PM on August 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Hmm, the point that hasn't gotten much attention in the comments thus far is how much greater the costs are for same-sex couples to have kids, so that this is not really a situation of "equality" with heterosexual married folks. True, plenty of man/woman couples require an assist in the fertility department, but the majority can just make a baby, for free, and keep it. Same-sex couples must bear not just the financial costs of insemination or surrogacy or what have you, but what I am sure is a very frightening risk that given bias against them in courts and social service agencies and the like, they could lose custody of a child. So same-sex couples are being pressured not just to raise children, but to take on big financial and social and emotional risks. If people really want their lesbian/gay friends or relatives to raise kids, what they ought to do is offer to share the financial risks and fight the social costs with them, methinks.
posted by DrMew at 7:33 PM on August 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


LOL, this is awesome.

Personally, I've already horrified my brother by volunteering to donate some of my eggs to be inseminated by his Mr. Right's sperm and then gestated in a surrogate, so that my brother and his husband could end up with a child that was a close approximation to being biologically both of theirs.

He perked up a bit when I pointed out that this scenario could probably land us all an appearance on the reboot of Ricky Lake's daytime talk show.
posted by Jacqueline at 7:39 PM on August 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


but the majority can just make a baby, for free, and keep it.

Heh.

Well, makin' them is free. Carrying them and having them? Not so much.

I definitely agree with your points, but the reason it's rude to hector anyone about having children is that it is a significant change in a person's life, one that carries a number of health and financial risks.

I mean, making another person is a pretty big deal, something not to be entered into lightly.
posted by louche mustachio at 8:31 PM on August 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's a stupid question to ask. Especially when the only way to know the answer to it is when a baby is actually born alive.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:06 PM on August 10, 2012


Apparently "misery loves company" applies to everyone.
posted by humboldt32 at 9:22 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've never met anyone who got married primarily because it was procreation time and whatnot.

I have. the couple in question had been together for over 10 years with no real intention of marrying. when they decided they were ready for kids they figured that kid-related paperwork is easier with a wedding certificate.
posted by Karmakaze at 6:39 AM on August 11, 2012


I've never met anyone who got married primarily because it was procreation time and whatnot.

I did. Basically, a marriage license is way cheaper than a lawyer. We had a baby less than a year later.

That did not stop my mother-in-law from sending me a link to a blood test that purported to measure my fertility and tell me how fast my biological clock was ticking while I was still breastfeeding, however.
posted by snickerdoodle at 4:14 PM on August 11, 2012


I think the question is less a question, and more a way to be excited with a new couple. Like, yay, kids! for those who plan to have kids. And the times I've asked if people were planning to have kids (one time, no hectoring) a lot of people were pleased to have the chance to talk about their hopes and dreams (and sometimes ask questions, as I have a small child myself -- a lot of women would like to ask pregnancy questions, but don't want to be intrusive). And I think it's great more gay couples hear from their families that not only is their relationship supported, but if they want a family, that is too.
posted by Margalo Epps at 5:03 PM on August 11, 2012


The thing is, gay or not, even when you have a baby, the questions STILL don't stop. My son was literally only an hour old (I was still woozy from the drugs, and he was yet to even breast feed) when my father in law asked when we were going to have another one. If I could have moved after the c section, I'd have tried to slap him, I swear to god. When he saw my face, he then tried to guilt me by telling me it's cruel to have an only child.
posted by Jubey at 5:22 PM on August 11, 2012


So when I ask people whether they're planning to have kids I'm invading their personal space? That seems rather overly sensitive. Am I also pressuring people when I wish them a nice day? Because, gee, perhaps they don't want to have a nice day and it's really insensitive of me to imply that they might. I know it's annoyed me a couple of times... Perhaps we should all just keep 10 feet distance between each other at all times and never speak to one another unless there has been a formal exchange of documents authorizing intent-to-speak and intent-to-listen as well as the acceptable range of topics and positions on those topics. Probably should build an app for that, because everyone is busy with their smartphones all the time anyway. Perhaps we should build a kind of impregnable personal space fortress. But hey wait! SUVs already kind of provide that. Clearly we need more of that, in all areas of life, at all times, even between family and friends.
posted by deo rei at 7:12 PM on August 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you're quite done with your overdramatic posturing, you might take a breath and recognize that questions about one's intentions/ability to procreate are significantly more intimate and personal than a wish that somebody have a nice day.

If you don't recognize that, I suggest you avoid trying to exchange social pleasantries with strangers. Just an idea.
posted by Lexica at 8:42 PM on August 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


So when I ask people whether they're planning to have kids I'm invading their personal space?

Yeah, you are. It's entirely different from wishing someone a nice day. Having a nice day is something which is entirely personally evaluated (one person's nice day may be someone else's living vision of hell), but you're wishing them to have whatever they perceive as nice. Asking a couple, especially newlyweds, if they're planning on having children is a particularly giant intrusion into their big celebration of having actually gotten married. And the ramifications of deciding to have a child extends well beyond the question of the pregnancy and birth.

Seriously, that you even conflate these two concepts says something about you which I'm unable to clearly articulate. But I find myself agreeing with Lexica, that maybe you need to just not interact with people about their futures at all, strangers or not, nice day or children-having or whatnot.
posted by hippybear at 9:07 PM on August 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I submit that the suggestion that somebody should stop interacting with people is a lot more offensive than any well-intended inquiry into future plans. Maybe you should think about what this says about your tolerance for other people.
posted by deo rei at 3:25 AM on August 12, 2012


Anyhow, the day is far too lovely to carry offense. I get that some people are offended by inquiries about having kids. OK, fine. I would have never thought that to be an offensive question, especially coming from family and friends, even if it is a topic I would not broach myself unless it came up in conversation. Other people apparently find differently, which is also fine. I'm sure you're all good people regardless and I wish you a wonderful day.
posted by deo rei at 3:37 AM on August 12, 2012


Well, I did say that you should not interact with them about their future, not altogether.
posted by hippybear at 5:40 AM on August 12, 2012


I guess, deo rei, think of it this way: what horrible anguish could you be visiting on someone who is physically incapable of having children (for whatever reason). You just can't know these things - even about someone you're close or related to. It is an intensely private issue for many people. And it may be a cause for shame, embarrassment, and sorrow. So your intrusion into this issue that could cause serious pain - especially at a time for celebration - is just inappropriate.
posted by jph at 5:59 AM on August 12, 2012


My experience is that whereever I go people will ask me about my kids, and I will tell them that I have none, and then the other party apologizes and commiserates, and I tell them there is no need to apologize or commiserate. Or sometimes the other person will laugh in disbelief or even berate me for not having kids, and I will also laugh and berate them for their silly clothing/rituals/foodstuffs, and then we both laugh and drink some more and generally get to be closer to one another. YMMV etc.
posted by deo rei at 8:36 AM on August 12, 2012


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