Parents

'When are you due?': 9 ways to answer rude questions from family or strangers

Inexplicable truths about parenting:

  1. You will run towards bodily fluids instead of away.
  2. You will have trouble finishing a sentence, for a variety of reasons.
  3. You will get invasive, often rude questions and advice from family and strangers alike.

If you find a solution to either of the first two, contact me immediately!

For the last one, it's probably best to be prepared. If only to keep yourself from throat-punching someone.

Not by any means the exclusive domain of parents, the shocking questions can pop up anywhere and anytime. So what are you supposed to do? Shut them down? Embarrass the person? Answer honestly? There are so many variables — including if you might ever see this person again, whether or not you're willing to try for a "teachable moment" and... (and this is the big one) is a child watching?

The best moments would allow us to find both grace and humor in the situation. This lofty goal is sometimes possible, but not always. Having been the person with my foot planted firmly in my mouth on occasion, I'm going to aim for some compassion when I can, even if snark comes racing to mind.

When they say: "Oh, sweetie! When are you due?"

Such a lovely question. Except when you're not. Here are a few options:

  • Straight-forward: "I'm not."
  • Gracious: "We're hoping to have a baby in the next couple of years."
  • Funny: "Um, no. That's what you call a food baby." (Hat tip to Brandy Yearous of the TODAY Parenting Team!)

When they say: "What is wrong with that child?"

Whether it's a bad behavior moment or a child with a physical challenge, parents of all kinds of kids get completely unsolicited opinions at the worst possible moments. We're rarely at our own finest hour when this happens, so here are a couple to keep in your pocket if (when?) this happens next.

  • Kill 'em with kindness: "Tough day. Thanks for asking."
  • Take one for the team: "Right now? Me."
  • Catch 'em off guard: "His concert tour was cancelled."

When they say: "Four?! You MUST have really wanted that girl!"

OK, this one is personal. I've answered it so many times (and in so many ways) I'm thinking of putting it on my CV.

  • Culinary: "We didn't get the recipe for girls. You need more flour or something."
  • Honest: "I'm an only child. I'm overcompensating."
  • Gracious: "Just grateful they're healthy."

But it doesn't matter how many you have (or don't), what genders they are, there are rude questions for every possible scenario.

"Are they yours?" "Oh no, girls!" "Oh no, boys!" "Haven't you heard of birth control?" "How many dads?" "Why ISN'T there a dad?" "Are you the nanny?" "Formula?!" "Still breastfeeding?!" "Hey Dad, are you babysitting today?" "Gay? How'd you get a baby?" "Only one?!" "Are those twins natural?" "Oh, a boy and a girl. Identical?"

Our answers are as unlimited as the questions. But while the person asking may not be thinking about the feelings of and lessons learned by the children listening, the parent definitely is. Considering that little complication, we should probably dig deep for compassion, or at least turn the encounter into something we are willing to relive when we get asked about it at bedtime.

The safest bet, though often least gratifying, is often the kindest, and avoids the question pretty much entirely: "Thanks for asking. We're very blessed {sweet smile, exit stage right}."

I asked on social media, and parents were willing to share questions they've heard, from the hilarious to the heart-breaking. Some of the best questions, of course, come from our own kids. And then we need an answer that keeps the lines of communication open.

"Which one of us is your favorite?" "Every single one of you, sweet child."

"Why doesn't that man have legs?" "I don't know. If you'd like, we can say hello, and get to know him a little."

And the question we all know is coming but somehow seems to trip us up anyway...

"Where do babies come from?"

For this one, I'm sending you to my office:

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