Anyone who has been in a long-term, monogamous relationship has been on the receiving end of questions about when they’re planning to have kids. At best, the inquiries might seem innocent enough and might be simply based out of curiosity. At worst, the people on the receiving end of the questioning can feel interrogated, intruded upon, and ultimately alienated from the seemingly droves of people who have become parents surrounding them. Chances are, if you are someone asking these questions, you’re probably more likely trying to make light conversation and bring up a relatable topic (after all, doesn’t everybody want to have/able to have/going to have children?) that anyone can participate in. If you’re conscientious, and would rather show that you care than demonstrate insensitivity, here are a few things NOT to say to couples who are of childbearing age.

  1. When are you going to start “popping some kids out?” This is an extremely vulnerable topic and some couples might not be comfortable discussing their plans with you or anyone else. For any couple that has experienced infertility or pregnancy loss, this seemingly innocuous question can be piercingly painful. Although the initial intent of the question may be to bridge conversation and connection, if the couple is experiencing any difficulties they’d prefer to keep private, these probing questions can do the opposite and instead alienate them.
  2. Don’t remind a couple that they “don’t have forever,” that they’re “getting older,” or that you recently read an article about how the likelihood of a rare childhood disorder increases with age of the parents. If one of the parents is near or (gasp!) past the dreaded age of 35, do not joke about how they’ll be geriatric age by the time their children will be graduating from high school. These comments are rude.
  3. If the couple is childless and presumably “trying” to get pregnant, do not ask if they are sure they’re “doing it right?” This question is absurd and ignorant at best. Whatever you do, do NOT offer the couple a demonstration of how to “do it right.” This takes the situation from uncomfortable to completely inappropriate. And gross.
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  1. Have you tried x, y, or z? (Insert awkward suggestion such as a position or old wives tale about how to monitor ovulation.)  This information is less helpful than you might think. Also, it is none of your business.
  2. Lastly, if the couple DOES have a child, especially a baby, do NOT ask them when they’re going to have more.  Depending on how old the child is and whether the kid has had any health issues or special needs, the parents might not think they’ll ever be ready to have another child.

Many couples of childbearing age hope to have children. But for those who have had some difficulties or might choose a different path than having kids, navigating the above conversations can be excruciating. No one wants to have to defend their choices or publicize their journey to well-meaning busybodies.

Some Couples Are Content Just the Way They Are