When we meet new people, we’re looking for something in common to talk about. People with kids know that when they talk to someone else with kids, they automatically have a topic of conversation – their kids. And asking this question is presumed to be okay because the answer is usually anticipated to be either “Yes” or “Not yet.” People just aren’t prepared to hear “No.”
So, imagine you’re at a function, wandering around with a glass of wine in one hand and a shrimp on a skewer in the other and you strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know. You talk about the weather, she asks where you’re from or what you do for a living, and then she asks, “Do you have kids?” Assuming this is someone you don’t want to offend, you resist a snarky answer and instead say a simple “No.”
I don’t know about you, but I’ve found that this response is usually met with a horrified silence (although occasionally I’ll get, “You’re lucky,” or “You can have mine.”) People just don’t know what to say when I tell them I don’t have kids, and in order to fill the silence I find myself explaining why I don’t kids, and imparting some very personal information about myself.
So, let’s help these poor people out. No, seriously. Instead of the stunned silence, what do you wish people would say? Do you want them to ask if you’re childfree by choice? Do you want them to ask if you’re ok with not having kids? Or would you prefer them to change the subject to someone or something else so you don’t have to talk about you anymore? Assuming someone opens this conversation, what would you want her to say next?