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To ask if they have any other children?

(23 Posts)
telephonetree Wed 13-Jul-11 20:45:57

I am happy to take the consensus on this one - it didn't occur to me I might be but their reaction has made me think...

I was in a hospital waiting room with my baby and an older than me couple walked in with their baby of approximately the same age.

She asked me if my baby had something wrong with her eyes, which i was a bit surprised with as we were in an eye clinic (plus it was a blunt first question I thought - didn't mind it just surprised me) but I said that I wasn't sure but that I hoped not.

I asked how old her baby was and she told me and then she said the Dr thought he had a squint which is why they were there but that she thought it had rectified itself. I said that I'd heard that can happen and then I asked if she had other children.

She then turned on me and without answering and in quite an agressive tone asked me if I had other children and why was i asking her that.

I explained it was just conversation and that yes i did have other children and just then we were called to see the consultant and off I (gratefully) went.

So - it made me think that perhaps i shouldn't ask people ever if they have other children incase there's a sad story as to why they don't and it makes it hard for them. Or - is it ok to ask?

I really didn't think when I asked.

MotherofallDragons Wed 13-Jul-11 20:51:08

You obviously hit a nerve. I am very blunt at times when people ask if we have any more dc's. And tbh have been v rude at times.

mumsiepie Wed 13-Jul-11 20:51:19

I'm a foster carer and know a few women who have had their big families taken off them and gone on to have more children. Maybe it was someone I know! YANBU

spiderslegs Wed 13-Jul-11 20:52:33

I frequently ask people how many children they have or if they have other children. Did not realise I was making a faux pas.

Sounds a bit strange to me. Wouldn't worry about it.

Or maybe she'd just won £166,000,000 on the Euromillions & thought you were a potential kidnapper......

Tchootnika Wed 13-Jul-11 20:54:36

Why on earth would this be a rude question? hmm
Yes, if it was out of the blue, and she hadn't started conversation, maybe, but in this context...
I really don't see why OP could be seen to have been rude, here.

foreverondiet Wed 13-Jul-11 20:56:24

I usually ask if the child in question is the "oldest", that way same question but perhaps more sensitive. People often ask me if I just have one child with me if they are the "oldest", perhaps they are being sensitive.

So no YANBU it was just conversation but maybe rephrase next time.

HalfTermHero Wed 13-Jul-11 20:56:27

Yanbu at all. A totally reasonable question, not rude or insensitive at all. The woman sounds rude and a bit unbalanced to react like that to polite conversation.

DuelingFanjo Wed 13-Jul-11 20:57:31

is it important that they were an older than you couple? You mention it and I wondered if they were really old and so only able to have one child and perhaps feeling sensitive about it. or maybe they thought you were saying 'oh never mind if this one is a bit broken, at least you have others' grin

NotADudeExactly Wed 13-Jul-11 20:57:55

Seeing as she was the one to start making conversation about children with you, YANBU.

Some people are not very good at the whole small talk thing / just a bit socially awkward. It happens.

wannaBe Wed 13-Jul-11 20:59:11

yanbu at all.

This notion that we should side-step every eventuality on the off-chance someone has had a bad experience is ridiculous.

MotherofallDragons Wed 13-Jul-11 21:00:35

Its not a rude question, but it can be a very sensitive subject and if they have been ttc for a while (you mention they are older) its possible that its taking its toll. I once told a woman who asked if we were planning on more that it was none of her business whether I had sex with dh without contraception. And have also gone into too much detail about our ftc journey.

MrsKravitz Wed 13-Jul-11 21:02:07

I think it was an odd thing to ask. I dont think anyone has ever asked me that.

superjobeespecs Wed 13-Jul-11 21:13:54

maybe because they were older it touched a nerve? she might be embarrassed about being older/unable to have more DCs or be ttc and having trouble but IMO not a horrible question to ask she sounds a bit raw sad poor woman. i get asked all the time when im out with DD if its 'just the one' i.e DD and bump on the way, or when not with DD ''ah is it your first?'' to which i reply no i have a 6 yr old DD at home etc. its never once occured to me to be offended!!

MrsKravitz Wed 13-Jul-11 21:16:27

I wouldnt be offended and wouldnt snap like she did but I would wonder why it was relevant to the conversation.

Nagini Wed 13-Jul-11 21:19:32

YANBU it's a normal question, I get asked it a lot and never think about it.

I think if they were 'older' then they might think you were making a point about their age as 1st time parents? But they'll have to get over that before school, or they'll spend a lot of time being offended grin

telephonetree Wed 13-Jul-11 21:22:43

Thanks everyone.

I mentioned the being older than me because in hindsight with their reaction, I wondered if it was a particlualry sensitive issue for all sorts of reasons.

I was just making conversation as we were talking about our DC - it seemed a natural next question as she seemed to want to chat having started the whole thing up and to me, it was the first thing that came in to my head as something to say next.

In some ways I wish i'd had the time to say I was sorry, that I hadn't meant to offend that that it was just converation from my point of view.

amIbeingdaft Wed 13-Jul-11 21:22:43

Could she have taken it as a suggestion that they were being a bit PFB? As in 'if you were a more experienced parent you'd know more about the medical condition' sort of thing?

hels71 Wed 13-Jul-11 21:23:20

Due to major fertility issues it seems that our DD will be the only one (she is an an IVF baby).I do often feel upset when people ask if she is the only one as it does touch a bit of a raw nerve (we tried IVF again and I lost both babies and there is no way we can afford more treatment).

However, I try to answer such questions with a simple "Yes she is our only one" but I have lost count of the number of times people have then gone on to ask further questions/give unwanted advice about having more etc......and this really gets to me. (I know the OP did not do this)

Maybe she has/had similar problems and you got her on a bad day. Fertility issues can lead to lots of bad days I have to say.

telephonetree Wed 13-Jul-11 21:24:17

I'm 40 and my guess is that they were mid/late 40s.

telephonetree Wed 13-Jul-11 21:25:17

and I certainly made no reference to their age or ask pointedly or anything. It was neither here nor there to me until i thought about why she was so twitchy.

Mare11bp Wed 13-Jul-11 22:13:23

She sounds unhinged. For the first and final comment she made.

YANBU.

Hufflepuzzpig Wed 13-Jul-11 22:19:48

YANBU, you can't avoid saying things like this - bog standard, boring small-talk questions (no offence grin) - just because somebody might take it badly.

iggagog Wed 13-Jul-11 22:26:02

I would never be offended by the "just the one then?" remarks, but they certainly do remind me of something I'd rather not be thinking about, rather than focusing on the child that's in front of me!
I'm much more cautious now of asking other people if they have any children, as part of general small talk - much better if they volunteer the info.

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