How to Cope When People Ask When You're Going to Have Kids

friends in a cafe, someone just asked when are you going to have a baby

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"When are you going to have a baby?" Or, if you're dealing with secondary infertility, "When are you going to have more kids?"

It's a dreaded question that comes to every couple without children. If you're unsure yourselves whether you're ready to have a baby, it's an uncomfortable question. It's even harder to respond when you're trying to have children unsuccessfully.

If you have not been asked yet, consider yourself lucky. Unfortunately, just about every couple going through infertility deals with touchy questions and comments.

So, how do you answer? Do you even have to answer?

Trust Your Instincts

If you're feeling defensive or uncomfortable when people ask, consider yourself 100% normal. There are people who ask in a completely innocent way, and many others who are just being nosy. Regardless, the question implies that when and whether you have children is someone else's business... and it's not.

For a couple who chooses not to have children, it's a personal question, but probably not a painful one.

When you're coping with infertility, though, being asked a question like this reminds you of your pain and loss.

With infertility, wanting to have kids, and trying as hard as you can to have them, comes with no guarantee of success. This kind of question can remind you of your lack of control.

You may be asking yourself, "When are we going to have kids?"

When someone asks you a question that implies you're choosing not to have kids, it stings.

Remember: You Don't Owe Anyone an Explanation

You might feel like you need to explain yourself. You may feel tempted to blurt out that you're trying very hard, thank you very much, but there are problems.

This might be an OK way to approach the question, but not in all cases.

Unfortunately, not everyone is as compassionate as they should be.

Some may give unwanted advice, make blaming comments, or otherwise respond negatively.

Of course, some do ask innocently, unaware of the hurt their question may bring to you. Others simply aren't sensitive to boundaries.

Deciding whether to tell someone about your infertility issues is tricky. It isn't a good decision to make when under pressure or without thinking things through first.

What to Do

If posed with this question, answer simply and then switch the topic.

You may be burning mad or feel like you want to give the person who posed the question a piece of your mind. But, with practice, you can learn to stop yourself from going that route. Your emotional energy is best directed elsewhere.

Try taking a deep breath, let it out, and answer in one of the following ways:

  • "Not sure. So, how's your new job?"
  • "Ask the powers that be, because I don't know."
  • "I'd rather not talk about it, thanks."

Or, if you want to go for something gutsy, you might answer:

  • "That's a rather personal question, don't you think? Anyway, how's your new job?"

If you're feeling brave, and you have already decided to start telling people about your struggles, you may use this as an opportunity to talk about infertility:

  • "Actually, it's interesting you ask... we've been trying for a while now."

Here's more advice on coming out about infertility to friends and family.

The Non-Answer Answer

Another completely legitimate response?

You can choose to not answer at all.

You can pretend you didn't hear them ask, just smile, and switch the topic. You don't have to say anything.

Most people will take the hint. If you find yourself dealing with someone who doesn't, just play the broken-record trick. "I really don't want to talk about it. Actually, no, I'd rather not discuss this now."

And if this still doesn't help, walk away.

A Word From Verywell

Many people who ask about when you're going to have kids are just trying to make conversation. They see it as the small-talk equivalent of "How do you like this weather?" Or, they want to ask you about your (possibly new) relationship or marriage, and this is a sideways method of inquiring.

When it's family that asks, they may be asking for purely self-centered reasons. Your parents, for example, may want to be grandparents. Your sister may be waiting to become an aunt. It's not your responsibility to "give" them these life milestones, of course.

Bottom line: you don't owe anyone any explanations. If it feels right, you can try explaining why questions like that are inappropriate. But most of the time, it's better to smile, give a polite and short non-answer ("I really don't know."), and walk away. Or change the subject.

Coping with infertility is hard enough. Engaging in a long drawn out conversation, triggered by upsetting questions or individuals (even if they might be family), is not something that will help you cope.

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  1. The National Infertility Association. What to Say (and Not to Say) to Someone Living With Infertility.

  2. Nagy E, Nagy BE. Coping With Infertility: Comparison of Coping Mechanisms and Psychological Immune Competence in Fertile and Infertile Couples. J Health Psychol. 2016;21(8):1799-1808. doi:10.1177/1359105314567206