TIS THE SEASON TO BE NOSY
Why are you still single? Do you think he will propose? Have you set a date? Are you trying for kids? When is baby number 2 coming? Is your kid walking yet? How many words can your child say?
Disclaimer: This post is intended to bring awareness of how these questions can and have been interpreted by the receiving end. We understand not all questions are meant to be malicious. Everyone interprets and processes their feelings differently. Our hope is that this post will improve future conversations, make you THINK before you ask and offer a kinder approach.
Most of the time a question can show genuine interest. That well-intentioned question can also be hurtful and damaging on the receiving end. Prior to getting married and having my daughter I will admit, I was guilty of asking these questions. I quickly learned from reflecting on my own feelings and conversations with my closest friends that finding the right answers can be emotionally draining. The holidays are a time to gather and make memories with friends and family although nothing can ruin a get-together like an inappropriate question. You may be asking yourself WHAT IS SO WRONG with asking a few questions.
First topic: We have numerous friends that are single and LOVE it. They have nobody to answer to and can prioritize their own agenda's. Being single is not a sentence or punishment. It can allow for personal growth, present time for career development and offer flexibility in travel plans. Asking someone why they are still single can truly be upsetting for the receiving end. Being single may be a current life choice and perhaps they are not ready to share their life with another now OR ever. They may have recently ended a relationship that you weren't privileged to know about due to its short lifespan. Whatever the reason, it is personal and not for you to comment on.
From my own experience, (pre-engagement) I was often asked when’s the wedding? After constantly being reminded that, my biological clock was ticking (cue the visions of Marisa Tomei in My Cousin Vinny) and that we had been dating for 8+ years, I began to mentally prepare myself with answers on how to address these questions. The truth is, two people can be completely happy and content in their relationship or situation but society along with these questions can make you reevaluate and hang a dark cloud over what you once categorized as comfortable.
My husband planned and executed the perfect surprise engagement. I can confidently say that I had ZERO and I mean ZERO idea. An engagement was not something that we had discussed often or at great length. For this reason, the questions weighed heavily. During this time in our relationship, all I knew was that I loved him and was grateful for the bond we shared. Of course, I hoped that one day our relationship would evolve into an engagement but I did not need society and the questions as constant reminders that I was without a ring. The week before the proposal, I had dinner with some girlfriends and of course, the topic came up. I kept my composure and laughed it off but inside my stomach felt like a volcano was erupting feelings of confusion, anxiety and frustration. I am grateful for my outcome but others may not have experienced this yet, so please proceed with caution!
Next agenda item: When are you having kids? Getting pregnant is an easy and uncomplicated process, right? WRONG! My husband and I were extremely fortunate and became pregnant right away. This is not the case for everyone! There was a time after our wedding and before our pregnancy announcement when I heard the dreaded question…when are you having a baby? Even though we were not trying at this point and we had been enjoying our first year as newlyweds, this question weighed on me. Call me a sensitive soul but there were a few times I had to fight back tears at family events or birthday parties when I was asked. Any response other than we were trying was followed with looks of uncertainty and confusion. Here is some food for thought, please mind your own business. I have had MANY friends and family members who have been put through the wringer and fought their own personal battles when it comes to conceiving.
Diagnosed with a health condition
Not the right time
Do not want children
The reality of the situation is you truly do not know what people silently struggle with. I have had friends delete their social media accounts because the thought of seeing one more pregnancy announcement when they are on their second round of IVF seems unfathomable. You can be genuinely happy for someone’s blessings while you mourn your own losses. That does not mean you want to see the blessings continuously broadcasted though. I also have friends that simply do not want kids. Children do not fit their lifestyle. Nothing wrong with that, do what makes you happy and live your life!
Final agenda item: The milestones of your children should be something cherished and reflected on privately, not to be compared. Children develop and reach milestones at different times. I may be new to the mom scene but does anyone else find "does your baby/kid do this yet" extremely unwarrented? Milestones are measured by ranges and they guide our assessment of growth and development. Genuine interest and curiosity are great and welcomed but if you are asking as a way to (mom shame) or to offer unwanted advice, please keep your thoughts to yourself. There are various parenting styles; no one being better than the next.
My recommendation to avoid any hurt or unwanted feelings at functions and events would be to focus on topics that are positive. Inquire about what new things have happened or future plans NOT what is lacking. Everyone has their own agenda and timeline. It is always good to revisit and reflect on a positive memory and share a laugh. Keep the door open to be supportive and an active listener. If the topics come up, please be kind. Taking this approach has allowed me to be a more approachable and empathetic friend. When all else fails grab a drink and make a plate of food!
XO - Katie