Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

The Art (and Benefits) of Lying November 28, 2011

Dorothy sent me this article recently (thanks Dorothy) from a woman asking “Dear Coquette” for advice on what to say when people ask if she has children. Dear Coquette’s answer? Lie.


I had to laugh out loud when I read this, because it has never occurred to me before to lie about not having children. It’s brilliant!


Now, granted, if you’re talking to someone you’re likely to see again or who might otherwise find out the truth, then it gets tricky, but if you’re at a cocktail party or some social situation where you’re basically making small talk with strangers, then why not make something up? I mean really, you could actually have some fun with this,


I envision clipping photos of kids from magazines and putting them in one of those fold-out wallets, then when someone asks if I have kids, I’ll whip out the pictures and say, “Why, yes! I have five. This is Mai, Uri, Owen, Bea, Senise.” (Say it fast; extra points if you get it.) Then I can start in on what a horrible time I’m having because the baby has a very delicate digestive system. I really think this could work.


What do you think? Could you lie to a stranger? More to the point, would you?


Oh, and I must just say that while I think this suggestion is inspired, I happen not to agree with her suggestion that saying, “I can’t have children” will shut the person up. In my experience, it’s more likely to open a whole conversation about adoption. I think it’s much more fun just to lie.


12 Responses to “The Art (and Benefits) of Lying”

  1. RuralRabbit Says:

    I think lying will lead to a whole conversation about children, diapers, breast feeding, preschools, etc, and I wouldn’t be up for that. I’ll stick with my “just the furry kind,” response and hope they also have pets that we can chat about.

  2. Kelly Says:

    I’ve been hit with a wallop of sh*t the last 2 years; I can’t have babies, I’m on permanent disability from work b/c I developed rheumatoid arthritis after the second miscarriage (it’s genetic, it might have come out at some point or another in my lifetime), I’ve gained weight and lost hair (thank you arthritis drugs) and my marriage has ended. So you can imagine that I often find myself at a loss for words when I run into friends I haven’t seen in awhile: “So how’s Mike (former dh)?”, “Have you two had children yet?”, “So what do you do now?”. I don’t know what the hell to say. Being straightforward and honest shuts conversation down pretty damn fast; talk about awkward moments in history: “Well I can’t have children, Mike and I are going our separate ways, and I can’t work anymore b/c I got rheumatoid arthritis”. Hello, Debbie Downer. I try to make it sound light, like hey, some sh*t has happened, but I’m okay, I’ve handled it and I’m moving along just fine…but it’s not working. Any suggestions? I’m totally open here. There’s got to be a smoother way of having this conversation.

    • IrisD Says:

      Kelly, I say you tell them you are working on a novel… make up a plot and give them the synopsis. Hugs to you. I’m sorry you’ve been through so much. I have two friends who have rheumatoid arthritis and know how debilitating it can be. Be as good to yourself as possible.

      • Kelly, I feel for you. It is bad enough to be feeling like crap most of the time, but then it is adding salt to the wound when having to answer questions about it all. I wish I could suggest something helpful. HUGS. PS I like the novel idea IrisD.

  3. lifeandothermisadventures Says:

    I think it’s a terrible question for people to ask. I also would think that people aren’t asking to be hurtful, they’re just making conversation. But seriously, you should feel free to answer any way you like, including saying, “No. That’s personal and it’s not something I’m comfortable talking about.” I’d avoid lying, only because it doesn’t seem that it would make you feel better in the end.

  4. stinkb0mb Says:

    i think it’s sad that anyone has to lie to justify their personal choices in life and it’s not something i would encourage.

    i’d be honest, “no i don’t want children” if that’s the case, if people try to convince you that you will change your mind, i’d reply with “no i don’t think so” and point out to them that as individuals we are all entitled to make our own choices about our life and just as you’d never try and convince them to give their children back, you’d prefer it if people didn’t dismiss your choice in life.

    like a previous commentator, i think lying about having children would see you land smack bang in the middle of a conversation from hell about all things children.

    no thanks, i’ll take the truth and the strange looks [if you’re childfree by choice] or pity looks [if you’re childless not by choice] every single day!!


  5. Mali Says:

    If I’m having a random conversation with a stranger – for example, at the gym – and we’re discussing kids in some way, I don’t go out of my way to tell them I don’t have children. But I wouldn’t go out of my way to make up imaginary children. Perhaps because I’m a terrible liar. It could be quite funny though.

    And I’m hoping you’ll explain “Mai, Uri, Owen, Bea, Senise.” It might be an accent thing, or I’m just thick, but I don’t get it!

  6. Nadine Says:

    When people ask me if i have children, I tell the truth, often a straight “no”, I dont feel that I need to give an explanation as to my fertility to anyone, especially in conversation with virtual strangers. I consider the whole subject a private matter, one that I dont wish to discuss with strangers. I can be rude, but I wont lie.

    Also, I dont quite get the whole ” Mai, Uri, Owen, Bea, Senise”

    • Katy Lou Says:

      it means ‘mind your own business’… i’m a brit too .. perhaps its the accent !!! It’s a conversation I hate having. I’m still trying for kids and would love a family but after 3 years and two failed rounds of IVF it’s looking increasingly unlikely. That’s very very sad but also something thats not going to define me or stop me from enjoying the rest of my life. Its tricky for us as we haven’t told many people we were even trying so every time i meet up with friends and family I can feel the scrutiny as soon as I walk in the door. The hardest thing for me has been when you can’t drink on the infertility drugs and you can see the expectation in everyone’s eyes as you make up a lame excuse and then never announce a pregnancy. Its a nightmare,

  7. This post tickled my funny bone. I am not sure I could pull it off, but I am sure I could have lots of fun inventing responses to amuse myself. Maybe they should mind their own business instead of asking? (as a former teacher, I am all about the extra points 😉

  8. ktgirl30 Says:

    Anyone who thinks telling someone that you can’t have children will “instantly shut them up,” never had to say those words. It doesn’t shut anyone up, merely causes them to ask questions about what treatments you’ve got and if you’re planning on adopting, all ending with an inspirational tale of a friend who “thought she couldn’t have children and now has three!”

    I still struggle with not getting defensive when asked this question. Can you tell?

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