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Responding to the Dreaded "Why Don't You Have Kids?" Question


a blog by the editors, May 10, 2010

Throwing fuel on the infertile fire, we know you're always being asked -- point blank -- why you don't have children. Argh!

FertilityAuthority has offered up several suggested responses to this question, but this week in the New York Times' column, "City Room - Answers About Etiquette in New York," the question was posed to Lyudmila Bloch, an international etiquette expert, protocol consultant and author of “The Golden Rules of Etiquette at the Plaza.”

The question was from a couple who'd chosen to live child-free. We thought we'd share Ms. Bloch's response:


    As a married woman in my mid-30s who has decided not to have children, it always surprises me how often I am asked: “Are you going to have children? Why not?” 
It could be at dinner parties in front of other guests, by acquaintances over lunch, at family gatherings…
Invariably my response is uncomfortable and awkward for either my husband or myself, but I can’t seem to deflect the question without seeming rude.

What would be a proper response, keeping in mind that others are involuntary witnesses to this exchange? Thank you!

— Posted by DW


    Unfortunately, you are not alone. Countless men and women have been confronted in social and business settings with rude and awkward questions about family, children, medical conditions, gender and more. It’s a sad fact that tactless adults in modern society are not aware that certain personal questions can never be asked… “Are you married? Do you have children?” The American etiquette expert Emily Post wrote, “Manners are sensitive awareness of the feelings of others; when you have this awareness, you have good manners!”

    Next time you are confronted with an inappropriate question, simply reply: “Thank you for asking. I’m happily married and I don’t have children by choice!”

Simple. Straightforward. Usable? How do you respond to the dreaded question?

Share your one-liners below. Maybe you'll help your sisters. . . .

Laurie Gordon
Executive Editor

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Comments (1)

If people ask a married couple why they don't have kids,it could be very hurtful for a couple that is trying to conceive.For a couple who just simply chose not to have kids,the question could just be a bit intrusive.

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