Friends and Acquaintances

Everyone wrongly assumes I don’t want kids because of my demanding career. How do I respond without getting into really personal stuff?”

People can make some pretty inaccurate assumptions about whether or not you want kids, especially if you are a woman or man with a demanding career. And they can say some really insensitive, hurtful things – based on these assumptions.

So how should you respond?

How you respond and what you disclose, depends on how significant or insignificant the person making the comment is in your life. If it is a passing acquaintance or work colleague who you don’t know very well, a vague comment like, “I’d actually love to have kids someday” is likely enough.

For those people with whom you have a closer relationship – the people who you care about and whose opinions matter to you – sharing some of your struggles might be appropriate. You might say: “I’d really love to have kids someday but so far the timing hasn’t been right.” The level of detail you go into will vary, depending on their sensitivity to your situation and feelings.

Be prepared for people to respond with their own comments or questions. Some might be surprised. Others might share their own experiences. Ultimately, it’s up to you how much you disclose. But people will continue to assume what they want unless you tell them otherwise.

My friends have started telling me that if I’m going to have kids I better do it now before my time runs out. How do I tell them that I know my clock is ticking and their comments are only increasing my anxiety?

Your friends may not realize how their casual comments are affecting you. In fact, they might be making these comments because they’re aware of their own ticking clock. Whatever their motivations, you don’t have to suffer in silence.

It’s important for you to let your friends know that their comments are sending you over the edge. You might say something like: “I feel really anxious when you remind me that my biological clock is ticking and time is running out.” Or you might use humour and say something like, “No kidding! I can hear the clock ticking even louder than you can, and it’s making me crazy!”

Ultimately, the important thing is to let your friends know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of their comments. Be prepared for some friends to respond with empathy and others to get defensive. But you’ll likely feel better having said something.