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The One Question You Shouldn't Ask a Couple

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If you're married, you've probably experienced lots of prodding about various aspects of your life and marriage. But let's face it, the one topic that is front and center, almost as soon as the nuptials are exchanged, is children. "When are you going to have children?" "When are you going to have a family?" "When will you give me grandchildren?" Friends and family, eager to know when you are going to procreate, may mean well, but this line of questioning is often inappropriate and can be stressful, even to the happiest of couples.

As a married woman of over seven years, I have experienced this interrogation first-hand and have also witnessed my friends experience the same pressure. Although I've dealt with it and seen my friends handle it as gracefully as possible, I still find it bothersome that this kind of pressure is a widely accepted practice. Putting pressure on an individual or couple to have children not only crosses boundaries, but is extremely inappropriate.

If you've ever been on the receiving end of this type of pressure, you can relate. If, however, you have been the one to apply the pressure, it might be time to reconsider your line of questioning. Your pressure could be creating unnecessary stress and anxiety for a couple or mom and dad-to-be:

Timing: When I've been pressured to have a baby and have responded that the timing isn't right, I've had countless people tell me that "there is never a good time." This may be so, but having a child undeniably changes a person's life. And, although there may not always be a perfect time, there are DEFINITELY better times and worse times. The only people who know if they are truly ready to have a baby are the parents-to-be. The "right" timing involves countless factors and it is extremely presumptuous for anyone to assume when another couple's timeline is right. Financial situations, job status, emotional readiness and a couple's readiness all play a part. The couple who has the child will inevitably be its caretakers, and so only they know whether or not they are ready to take on the responsibility.

Age: Any married woman over 35 who has not had children is well aware of the risks of waiting to conceive. I know countless women who have been privy to the opinions of others that they "need" to get on the baby wagon due to their age. Although having a child when you are younger is ideal physically, it isn't always ideal mentally, financially or personally. If a woman waits it is her prerogative, and only she can decide whether it is worth the risk.

Biology: A friend of mine, at the age of 26, confided that her in-laws pressured her relentlessly to pop out a grandchild. Unbeknownst to them, she had three miscarriages during this time. She was devastated. Their constant pressure only made the situation more stressful. Complications aren't always tied to age. There are 22-year-olds, 28-year-olds, 33-year-olds and 40-year-olds who have either had trouble conceiving or who have had miscarriages. But more than likely, they aren't sharing that news with the world. Even with the best of intentions, putting pressure on couples who are having difficulty conceiving or difficulty coming to term only makes them feel worse.

Choice: Although I have no doubt that there are individuals who would be appalled to read this, having a child is not for everyone. If a couple decides that they don't want children, then it is their choice. I applaud couples who make the conscious decision to abstain from having a child instead of bringing an unwanted child into the world. The world is overpopulated as it is, we don't need to make it worse by expecting people to have children when they don't want them.

Have you been pressured to have a child? How did you feel? How did you respond?