The Question NOT to Ask
By Erica Zelfand

You know your friend who doesn’t have kids yet?

…Or your cousin who’s been married for 5 years to a guy that makes good money, but there’s no bump?

…Or your neighbor whose child is already 4 years old and doesn’t have a little brother or sister?

What’s up with that?

20 reasons to NOT ask a woman about her reproductive plans:

{1} Maybe she’s been trying for two years and is struggling with infertility.

{2} Maybe she just had a miscarriage, or has had several miscarriages and is now and afraid of getting pregnant ever again.

{3} Maybe she wants to have kids but just found out her partner is having an affair, is seriously ill, isn’t the right partner for her, or is otherwise not a candidate for co-parenting at the moment.

{4} Maybe she has financial problems and can’t afford a baby right now.

{5} Maybe she lives in America where there’s no paid maternity leave, and she can’t figure out how to juggle motherhood with her career.

{6} Maybe she’s perfectly happy without children, and doesn’t want any. Ever. (And yes, her life has meaning and joy and fulfillment!)

{7} Maybe she’s not sure if she wants kids and doesn’t feel like hearing your lecture on why she should.

{8} Maybe somebody in her family or she herself is a pedophile. Because she doesn’t want to ever place a child at harm, she’s decided it’s smarter to not have children.

{9} Maybe she wants kids but doesn’t think she could physically handle pregnancy or labor. Maybe she’s scared.

{10} Maybe she really wants to adopt but her family doesn’t approve, so she’s weighing her options.

{11} Maybe she’s actually pregnant right now, but it’s too early to tell people.

{12} Maybe she wants to have a baby but doesn’t want to be a single mom and hasn’t yet found her life partner.

{13} Maybe one of her parents, siblings, or friends just received a terminal diagnosis and now’s not a good time to add strain (even happy strain) to things.

{14} Maybe she herself has a health condition or genetic disorder that would put her or a potential baby at risk if she were to become pregnant. Maybe she’s on medication that’s contraindicated in pregnancy.

{15} Maybe her fear of having a child with autism, Down Syndrome, or other lifelong neurological deficit is greater than her interest in motherhood.

{16} Maybe she’s traumatized from a having had an abortion. (Don’t assume anything about anybody: 1 in 3 American women has had an abortion. You know somebody who’s had one.)

{17} Maybe she has PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) after a sexual assault and focusing on that part of her body is too painful right now.

{18} Maybe she wants children but wants to travel, establish her career, or have some more life experiences first.

{19} Maybe she wants to have kids but thinks she’s too old.

{20} Maybe when she hears this question, she suspects you’re judging her for not already having a child.

Maybe she feels both anger toward the person asking and shame toward herself every time somebody brings it up.