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The Question Every No-Kidder Dreads

If you want to ruin a voluntarily childless person’s mood, ask him or her, “So when are you going to have a baby?” Talk about a powder keg! My child-free friends are not the type to sink into the floorboards, artfully dodge, or tell a white lie when this happens — and most of the responses I’ve heard hover in the vicinity of bitterness or resentment (although I have seen a few that veer closer to hostility and anger.) Rightfully so — but I’ve got a better solution.

Possibly The Most Offensive Question On The Planet

People with children tend to assume that everyone else plans on having children, too. It’s human nature to want to make others seem more like you so they’re easier to relate to — but that doesn’t keep the question from rubbing us child-free folks the wrong way. Asking about a person’s reproductive habits is intrusive (because the question pries into a private part of your life that you may not want to share), not to mention rude (because you’re being asked to explain something that’s really no one else’s business) — and often either combative (immediately putting you on the defensive, having to justify an “abnormal” decision) or manipulative (especially when you’re being guilt-tripped by family members) or condescending (assuming that you’re in need of pity if you’re biologically incapable of conceiving, there-there-poor-thing.) I feel that it’s inappropriate to ask this of anyone, even if they do want to be parents someday. It’s not just no kidders who might be offended or hurt by such an intimate query. You think you’re asking an innocent question and stick your nose in where it doesn’t belong — only to discover that the other person is having serious reproductive health problems or getting a divorce or too deeply in debt to think about bringing a child into this world. Now you’ve just reminded them of the fact that life is too crappy right now for their dreams to come true. Way to go! Wink

Don’t misunderstand me — I’m not suggesting that as a society, we never discuss reproduction again. I don’t believe in taboo subjects. Everything’s open for discussion around here! But if you have to get nosy, at least ask IF the person plans to have children — without weighting the question in either direction, for or against. Then he or she can then give you an honest answer, without having to explain WHY. And if you’re on the receiving end of such an inquiry, rather than trying to skirt the issue or earnestly validate your reasons for avoiding parenthood — I say give it right back at ’em. And that goes for the infertile and consciously-delaying-potential-moms-and-dads — as well as those of use who are steadfastly committed to life sans rugrats. If you can’t say something nice, be as damned snarky as you can manage! Fair warning, these are mean — but they’re entirely inspired by comments I’ve heard others make (the only one I’ve ever used myself is the “cannibal” response.) So place your tongue firmly in your cheek, and no complaining if these retorts seem a bit harsh! I’m going to organize my favorite snappy comebacks by category — first, for the “foodies” in the house:

  • “Only if I become a cannibal.”
  • “I had one for breakfast this morning — it was delicious!”
  • “No thanks, I’m trying to give up meat.”
  • “Too high in cholesterol — I’m sticking to fish.”
  • “Find me a good recipe and I’ll give ’em a try.”
  • “I had one last week and it just didn’t agree with me.”
  • “I can’t — I’m still full from dinner.”
  • “Oooh — are they serving that on the menu tonight?”

If you want to let them know what you think of their line of inquiry:

  • “As soon as you learn to mind your own beeswax.”
  • “When I decide that I actually want one.”
  • “Only when I’m sure I can teach them better manners than your parents taught you.”
  • “How much do you weigh and what’s your annual salary? Or is that too personal a question?”
  • “When I can raise my daughter in a world where what she does with her body is her business.”
  • “Once you figure out how to keep your nosy questions to yourself.”
  • “When people stop bugging me about it.”
  • “Tomorrow. You’ve talked me into it. Thank you for showing me the light.”
  • “When I do decide, you’ll be the last to know.”

For those who wish to slam irresponsible and thoughtless parenting, at the same time:

  • “When people like you stop reproducing.”
  • “Once the birth rate in this country drops to negative numbers.”
  • “I’d have to get sober first — oh wait, no I wouldn’t.”
  • “Well looking at your family sure makes me want to see if I could do better.”
  • “Are you offering (your stud services/to be my brood mare)?”
  • “As soon as I decide to stop living my own life and conform to someone else’s expectations.”
  • “I’d have to get married first — oh wait, no I wouldn’t.”
  • “Only if you can promise I’ll have a dozen just like yours.”
  • “Once if I run out of better things to do with my time and money.”
  • “I’d have to learn some parenting skills first — oh wait, no I wouldn’t.”
  • “Have kids? I’m having a life instead!”
  • “As soon as genetic engineering guarantees I won’t have a kid who’s ugly or stupid — like yours.”
  • “When I’m ready to give up accomplishing something more important in life.”
  • “I’d have to take responsibility for my own life first — oh wait, no I wouldn’t.”

A few all-purpose retorts for any occasion:

  • “Only if God decides to reverse my (tubal ligation/vasectomy).”
  • “When I grow up myself.”
  • “I’m going to wait until they perfect cloning.”
  • “Thanks, but I’ve hired a houseboy to take care of me in my old age.”
  • “I decided to set fire to half my paycheck and set my alarm for 1 AM, 3 AM, and 5 AM instead.”
  • “Why? Are you looking to buy?”
  • “We’re having to much fun practicing.”
  • “Only if I can have one that comes out the chute with a driver’s license and a steady job.”
  • “I already have one, and I’m married to him.”
  • “I’m not that bored yet.”
  • “They probed me the last time I was abducted, so I’m not sure if I can.”
  • “After I go through menopause.”
  • “Only if you’ll promise to raise them for the next 21 years.”
  • “As soon as (insert name of your favorite hottie movie star) agrees to sleep with me.”
  • “When they come with a guarantee.”
  • “Why? Is there a shortage?”
  • “Only if all housepets become extinct.”
  • “When the hospital is willing to offer me a 90-day return-policy.”
  • “Probably in about — never!”

If your goal is to shame and shock:

  • “As soon as I get over having watched my first three babies die in a house fire.” (burst into tears)
  • “I’d love to, if I could just stop miscarrying.” (burst into tears)
  • “When I get on my feet after declaring bankruptcy and can afford groceries again.” (burst into tears)
  • “As soon as I recover from my husband’s death after battling testicular cancer.” (burst into tears)
  • “I can’t, not since the accident. But thanks for reminding me.” (burst into tears)
  • “As soon as I finish rape counseling and can let a man touch me again.” (burst into tears)

If you thought those were bad, here are the real zingers (they just get worse as the list goest on):

  • “At least a couple of years before I need that organ transplant.”
  • “Once I’m out of therapy and they take me off the anti-psychotics.”
  • “As soon as DFACS clears me of the charges.”
  • “I’m still saving up — maybe when they go on sale.”
  • “As soon as I kick the habit from that great post-abortion Demerol they give you.”
  • “Once I get (out of rehab/off probation/released from the asylum).”
  • “Only if birth control and oral sex are outlawed.”
  • “When the restraining order expires.”
  • “My girlfriend and I are waiting for just the right sperm donor.”
  • “As soon as they remove my husband from the sex offenders database.”
  • “Once the price goes up on the black market.”
  • “I’ve got 10 more days left on the penicillin — I should be good to go once the discharge clears up.”
  • “As soon as I can teach one to eat from an automated feeder and poop in a box.”
  • “Actually, we’re going to go try right now — and you can watch for $20.”
  • “I don’t really like sperm with my eggs — can I just have salt and pepper instead?”

And the absolute coup de grace (I don’t want to hear one single shocked remark from the peanut gallery):

  • “Just as soon as yours die.” Big smile
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Ramona Creel is an award-winning 15-year veteran organizer and member of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. As well as having birthed “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized,” Ramona is also the author of “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career”—and the creator of more than 200 “quick-start” business tools and templates for use by productivity professionals. She writes seven different blogs, has worked with hundreds of clients, and has delivered scores of presentations on getting organized. Ramona resides on the roads of America as a full-time RVer—living and working in a 29-foot Airstream. Learn more at and

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13 Responses

  1. Debbie says:

    My favorite: “How much do you weigh and what’s your annual salary? Or is that too personal a question?”

  2. Katy says:

    Great post! I agree- my favorite is the weight and salary one. I may actually use that :)

  3. Rene says:

    Awesome comebacks! We have a dog, so our response was always “What are you talking about? We have a dog!”

    These days hardly anyone ever asks that specific question. Once you hit 40 I think people finally get a clue. But then they start to ask “Do you have kids?”

    Some childfree friends who are in their 50s respond to this question by saying: “Kids? Oh my god we forgot to have them!!!”

  4. candy says:

    I love “Only when I’m sure I can teach them better manners than your parents taught you.”

    I also love Rene’s “Kids? Oh my god we forgot to have them!!!” – I’m approaching the age when that will be a great response :)

  5. Noelle says:

    Love it!

  6. John says:

    The cannibal line is brilliant! We’ve made our decision clear with everyone we know, but it’s always nice to have a proper retort for those who really have no business asking the question to begin with!

  7. Lori says:

    My ex mother-in-law once asked: “so when are you going to have a baby?” My reply was “when the sperm fertilizes the egg.” She never asked again.

    Now I’m 45 & divorced & I get the – a)how come you never had kids, to b) you’re not too old just yet why don’t you have one? b.s.
    My answer to a)”I used birth control”; b)”I’m divorced now” & if they keep harping-“I don’t feel like it”. Short & to the point answers usually work because it infers that you don’t want a discussion about it.

  8. Elsie says:

    Great post! This question is so inappropriate and I don’t get it as to why people need to know, like why should we care if someone is gay or not. I’ve been caught off-guard too many times with the question and it was upsetting at one point. Now my response is, why have kids when I can retire early instead.

  9. Blog Rehab says:

    This is hilarious! I’m so impressed with all of your blogs. I found you for the first time today. I sent the link to some friends and I’ll be stopping by regularly.

  10. Claire says:

    Aahaha some of those are good ones. Definitely going to be using “why? Are you looking to buy?” in the future.

  11. Jessica says:

    I think the post-rape in need of counseling one is especially nasty and I might very well try it. Sure, it’s been twenty years since that happened and I’m long since over it, but it would serve someone right to have that blasted in their face as though it were something new! Then I’ll be treated to hearing “OMG I’m so sorry!” To which I can say “I’m not,” or “Why? You didn’t do it,” or some other vile thing.

  12. Drew says:

    Your responses for the foodies are the exact ones I had to give out when I was confronted about my vegetarianism for the first year or so. I’m dreading the excuses that I’ll have to give out once they find out I’ll be sterile in the fall. Combining that with my vegetarianism, they’ll think I’m some sort of crackpot.

  13. Rain says:

    So funny and entertaining! I would most likely say something in the line of “I am not that responsible/Too much responsibility/I can only be responsible for a few hours not 24/7/365days a year”

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