Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Which is worse?

After an innocent question from an old friend earlier this week, I have been pondering (not-for-the-first-time) the following question:

Which is worse: people knowing we want to have a child and cannot, or people thinking that we have chosen to be childless?

I find that the more time passes in which we are unable to have a child, I grow more and more likely to tell people that we "can't" have children.  Almost inevitably, though, that either makes the other person uncomfortable or spurs him/her to spout platitudes or share some anecdote of someone they know who had an "against all odds" pregnancy.  I get a little tired of hearing the assvice and words about "G-d's will," so I sometimes think I should've just stuck with being vague and evasive when confronted with these questions.

If people know about our infertility, we are likely to be pitied.  If people do not know about our infertility and assume we've chosen not to have children, that is an inaccurate assumption, and we are likely to be viewed as selfish, too.  Neither is a great alternative.

What say you?


  1. I've gone back and forth on this for so long. We've been married for 7 years, and I've always wondered which option is better. When we first started TTC and we were innocent (way back when...) I was more apt to tell people that we wanted children and that we were trying. As time has gone on, I've talked about it less and less and will now on occasion act the "we're never having kids" part. It's just easier.

    And as for people assuming we're selfish for not wanting kids, no one's ever said anything about it directly to me. But if they just walk around thinking I'm selfish for not having had kids, well, there are 2 things I can say about that. The first is that the things I've said to myself are way worse than someone thinking I'm selfish. And the second thing is that who really cares what they think anyway? They're going to judge me when we adopt, no matter what. Whether it's domestic/international, open/closed, special needs or not, whatever, people judge all of that. I'm tired of it.

    Which is why I roll my eyes and say, "No way man... I'm never having kids!" Oh, won't they be so surprised when I show up with a baby someday!!!

    But maybe that's just me, I don't know. The good thing is that you can change how you answer every single time. Then they'll all be really confused!

  2. People thinking you have chosen to become childless is much worse. They then say stupid things. Actually, both can say stupid things but there is no sympathy for the childless by choice. Why lie anyway? Personally, one should not ask why others do not have kids.


  3. T, I don't disagree that people shouldn't ask why others don't have kids. . . . but the reality is, people often ask if you have/want kids, and if you don't, it's a logical next question.

  4. For me, it depends on the mood I'm in when the question is asked. "Do you have kids?" "No." "Oh, why not?"

    "It just hasn't happened."
    "Bug off."
    "No reason, really. I mean, not medically speaking. My ute has scored high marks and Hubby's sperm are fantastic, though the spunk itself is a little thick so I kinda believe that's the cause, and it's easier to blame him, really."

    Pretty much all three of my go-to's shut the questioner up. ;)

  5. Yes, it is logical, but people with any tact at all wouldn't inquire more. People that don't want kids will usually volunteer that next.

    Where I live, it is customary to ask how much you paid for your house. I still get annoyed with that question too. I just give them the "Are you serious?" look. I then proceed to ask how much they think I paid and then say, "that's interesting" and leave it at that.

    Sometimes I do say that it would be nice to have kids. Then the realize how bad the question was (as I am close in age to you) and hopefully won't ask someone else that question again.


  6. People SHOULDN'T ask that type of question. It's a very private an intimate issue. In an ideal world, your very close friends and/or family would know anyway (as they would be accompanying you in the process), and the rest of the world shouldn't even ask (none of their business). That way we wouldn't find ourselves in such and awkward (and painful) position.

    This said, this isn't an ideal world, and people WILL ask.

    I'm 34. I'm European. Women in my country have been postponing maternity for a while now, which means that being 34 and not having children 'yet' is very usual. But I get the question every now an then anyway, and slightly more frequently as I approach the 35 mark.

    I still answer vaguely. 'Oh, well, maybe in the future.' I guess I must prepare myself for the moment when the person will answer: 'In the future? But you are 3X years-old now! I read this very interesting article on how fertility decreases after 35 blah blah blah blah'. I dread that.

    But I won't be comfortable telling a lie. I won't say we don't WANT children. In a way it feels like a betrayal to our non-existent but loved children. I realize the questioners will counter-attack with the stupid vacation/relaxation/adoption/the sister-in-law's cousin's niece's against-all-odds pregnancy etc. I know I will hate it and feel like howling at the top of my lungs. However, I'll bear it. In a way it will be one of those sacrifices that mothers make for their children (such as losing sleep and so on).

    I know it sounds crazy, but I feel that way.

  7. My only thought on this matter is to tell the truth -- because then you're at least having a conversatino / discussion / argument / whatever that you know your actual answers to, rather than trying to BS your away through an already-uncomfortable conversation that now is based on a lie.

  8. I think telling people the truth is hard because then THEY feel uncomfortable. Not telling is hard because then YOU feel uncomfortable (and perhaps dishonest). It depends on where you want to lay the social burden.


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