What Indians need to know before they ask that silly question

Couples irritated with the question

My husband and I have known each other for seven years; we celebrated our second wedding anniversary last October. The inevitable question already came when we celebrated our first. Considering most of our friends now have children, I am occasionally nudged and asked by extremely concerned relatives, acquaintances, friends and sometimes parents of my friends, too. My immediate thought is to tell them that we are doing it every single day in positions they have never imagined or is none of their business but all I do is grin followed by a polite reply of, “We need more time,” but it doesn’t stop there. The expression on their face requests a further explanation and for reasons unknown to me I am compelled to provide that explanation. In the end, one of us is either offended, angry, amused or hasn’t spoken to each other after that little chat.

Personally, I haven’t ever understood why Indians don’t stop asking ridiculously private questions in public and I wonder if it’s alright for them to do so. Because I, for one, would never dare to ask someone When are you having kids?”

I know most people mean no harm when they ask me that and they probably don’t realise that it’s not so nice to ask anyone that.  So, as a non-parent, I’d just like to tell a whole bunch of Indians why you MUST NOT ask any couple this question.

  1. Heard of Privacy?: It may seem like you are only trying to make conversation but as a non-parent I want to tell you that this is by far the worst question to initiate any conversation. Asking someone when they plan on having kids is equivalent to asking to read their personal diary. They are not obligated to give you details of their plan on starting their family. Keyword over here is “their”.
  2. It’s a choice: While you chose to have babies, or remain single or re-marry, some couples choose not to have children. I know your baby means the world to you but I also know some couples who have different aspirations in life and a baby doesn’t fit into their scheme of things. Since I know this couple well they explained to me that they wanted to retire at 40 and travel the world. They have been putting aside a sizeable amount every month for their grand plan. For them, having a child right now means that it will bog them down and interrupt their life’s goal. Let me tell you, they are very content with their life at the moment probably as much as you are with your baby.
  3. Career: If you both were working before you had your baby, you know very well that after having a baby, parenting becomes your full-time job. Therefore, one of you had to step up and become the primary care giver for your child which meant taking a break from your career. Let’s face it, in most cases it is the mother. Motherhood does make you revaluate your choices and to each his own. But there are other women too who are ambitious, driven towards their profession and absolutely enjoy their careers. Don’t be quick to brand them as selfish. They get the same joy you get when you look at your toddler smile when they get a designation change!
  4. Work-in-Progress: Have you considered that maybe a couple is indeed planning to get pregnant and you’re not helping when you repeatedly ask them the question? It only amounts to the pressure and stress that only they know they are going through. So do them a favour, get a new hobby and leave them alone.
  5. Health issues: A few years back, someone I knew well had just found out that they couldn’t have children despite undergoing various treatments. It was challenging, emotionally draining and a touchy topic for both of them to ward off the annoying question that was being thrown at them every single time by relatives and friends. What people didn’t realise was that they were being insensitive by asking this couple the question.Thankfully, they have overcome the sorrow and now have pets. So, now, when they are asked about their kids, they point out to their two healthy, mischievous and loving dogs. They have no regrets.

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