Choosing whether or not to be a parent is a hugely complicated issue. Some people want to have children but struggle with infertility. Some people simply don’t want children. Some people are undecided.
As an etiquette expert, I’m often asked about how to handle the subject of fertility. If you are in a couple or are a woman of child-bearing age, you’re more likely than not going to be quizzed by friends and family members about your plans to reproduce. Even though it’s common knowledge that many couples struggle to conceive, and that parenting the requisite 2.5 children isn’t the path that everyone wants to take, many folks think nothing of prying. It can be uncomfortable, invasive, and, if the person in question has experienced infertility or miscarriages, incredibly painful.
That’s why I wanted to share this article from the New York Times, in which writer Anne Goldfarb explains how she and her husband address the topic of having children, which they do not intend to do. Goldfarb notes that fertility rates have declined, suggesting that more and more people are opting to be child-free. When people inquire, her advice is to explain her position without getting defensive, though experts warn against delving into the topic. If someone wants to share their plans to procreate, they will,
I tend to agree. I no longer feel like it’s appropriate to crack jokes about “having a bun in the oven.” For one, it’s none of our business. Secondly, you don’t know what someone might be going through; they may be actively trying to conceive, without success. And if someone opts to not have children, for whatever reason, that is their choice. It must be respected.