Ok, imagine I saw a young married couple without any kids and I went up, slapped the husband on the back and said, “No kids? Have you tried fertility treatments?”
Imagine I came across a childless older couple and I walked by with a somewhat disgusted look on my face and said, “You don’t have any kids at all?! What’s the matter? Are you selfish or just sterile?”
In both scenarios I would be horribly rude, inappropriate, judgmental and crass, right? Right. Exactly.
So what the hell gives people the impression that it’s appropriate to make similar comments to people who have kids? I can’t tell you how many times we’ve told someone we’re having twins and they’ve come back with something along the lines of ” So you’re done now, right?” Really? I have no idea who you are and you feel comfortable insinuating to me that you believe I’ve reached my parenting limit? “Am I done yet”? What am I — a baked lasagna?
Yesterday my wife, when asked, told a woman she was carrying twins and here was the response from, keep in mind, a complete stranger: “Twins? Wow, that’s great. So I guess you’re getting your tubes tied now, right?” No, lady, but why don’t you get your vocal chords tied. This doesn’t just indicate that so many people are socially inept ignoramuses, it also betrays a certain cultural attitude that I find pretty disturbing. Are we really at the point where TWO kids have become the maximum? Not that it’s anyone’s business, but we are planning on having more down the line. Am I crazy for wanting more than 1.3 children, or is everyone else insane for thinking it radical to at least reproduce slightly above the replacement rate?
Maybe you can tell — this is a sore subject. I come from a big family (by modern standards). And unless you have several kids, or grew up with several siblings some time in the not too distant past, you have no idea what kinds of things people will feel welcome and obliged to say to large families. Everything from asking if all the kids are from the same father, to questioning about birth control methods, to asking how the parents can afford it, to making hilarious jokes about how much they must enjoy sex, to asking if any of the kids were an accident, to demanding to know if the parents are “done now”. You know what, maybe you CAN imagine people saying these things because you have, in fact, said them yourself. If that’s the case: Stop. I don’t know how big your family is but it’s obvious your parents never took the time to teach you manners.
My favorites are always the people who sit off in another booth at the restaurant, gawking at you with your big family at a big table, while giving you dirty looks and whispering to each other. What the hell is that? You see a big, happy, loving family with well behaved children and you’re pissed off about it? Is it because you only have one child and he’s clearly got more brat in him than all six of those kids from that family combined? Or do you just hate happiness?
Everyone will make their own decisions and have families that suit them. I think that’s fine and I make no judgments. But there are many people who are openly hostile and derogatory towards large families, and that’s something you just don’t see in the reverse.