Prayer, Creativity & Faith

What question should we ban from small talk?

ThePhilpottFamily-131Today’s guest post is from Sarah Philpott. I’ll share with you her bio from her website,, to give you an idea what her blog is like:

Hey y’all! I’m Sarah—a farmer’s wife and mom to two mischievous little kids. I’m a lover of big earrings, the written word, traveling, hosting parties for my friends, and sitting on my front-porch soaking up life. This blog is devoted to helping families through the turmoil of pregnancy loss. If you’ve found yourself here because you’ve experienced loss…please let me tell you that I am so sorry. On occasion, I like to give a glimpse into my day-to-day life as a millennial farm mom. Thanks for dropping by! ~~Comforting Others with the Comfort We Have Received~~ 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

What I’ve discovered, as someone who is fortunate to have not had to face infertility or the loss of a child, is that even though I personally haven’t faced these things, I have friends who have. And the recurring theme in all that I’ve read is that when people face these struggles, they often feel alienated and alone and unable to share the truth. I think we all, whatever stage of life we are in, need to be aware of what so many people face and learn to have the awkward conversations but to do it with love and compassion and grace. This is such a good post that Sarah was willing to share. Enjoy!

So, when are you going to have a kid?
Do you want more kids?
Are you finished having kids?
Why don’t you have any kids?

When we reach a certain age, these questions come directed at us with sniper-like speed. They are asked by the sweetest, most well-meaning people ever: the little old lady who sits at the end of our church row, the older-widowed gentleman who is behind us in line at the grocery store, and the man at the party who doesn’t know a follow-up question to “what do you think of the weather.”

But, these questions are also asked in a taunting and teasing manner. You know the ones: “So, when you are you and Vanessa going to get that baby making started? Do you need me to tell you how it works?” ( wink, wink) says your husband’s business colleague in the middle of the company party.

Tisk, tsk, tsk. Neither Emily Post nor Amy Vanderbilt would approve of such banter as appropriate. I’m sure it is mentioned in their etiquette books between the chapters of “how to address a wedding invitation” and “how to fold a napkin.” To put it simply, “baby makin’ ain’t a topic for small-talk.”


The reason questions related to procreation can be uncomfortable is because a large percentage of couples face the reality of infertility or pregnancy loss. For these couples, their heart’s desire and the timing of God fail to intersect at the same point. It can bring with it angst, sadness, and confusion. These couples have learned that creating a child isn’t as easy as making a dinner reservation, and they don’t necessarily want to share their personal details with the man standing behind them at the grocery line. It’s not that they want to keep this a secret; it’s just that they don’t really want to unleash real, raw emotions in the middle of Publix. A deluge of tears might spill down aisle 5.


Let’s examine the thoughts of ten women when they are asked the innocuous question: “Are you going to have kids?” You can read how emotionally laden such a simple question might be:


chart for Sarah Philpott post

I say, “Enough already!”As you can read, this simple question can trigger a variance of emotional responses for many women and couples.  Fertility issues are invisible burdens that many couples bear; we should acknowledge that possibility before asking such a personal inquiry.

Questioning in the middle of the grocery store- not okay. Questioning over a cup of coffee during an intimate conversation- okay. Questioning in the middle of church “hand-shaking” time- not okay. Questioning in the middle of a private conversation at church-maybe okay.

We should definitely give grace and forgiveness to acquaintances whom inquire about such personal matters. Many have a motive of pure kindness and are not privy to inner struggles. Also, opening up to other people about struggles and fears can be extremely helpful; it is through conversation and vulnerability that we find out that others might have faced similar circumstances and might be able to offer us hope, wisdom, and kinship.

Those of us with fertility issues might also consider responding with the truth—even if the question-asker is put in an awkward position. Responding by saying, “Actually we do WANT children, but we have complications with fertility. Do you mind praying for us?” Answering this way can be powerful, freeing, and makes a social statement that infertility and pregnancy loss are not topics of shame.

But as a society we should all stop using the question of children as small-talk. Only ask if you are prepared for a real answer and ready to provide a listening ear (or a slap in the face). Likewise, let’s all (men, I’m mainly talking to you) make a concerted effort to stop teasing people (mainly your fellow guy friends) about having or not having kids.

Readers, repeat after me, “I will stop teasing people about whether or not they have children. I will stop asking acquaintances if they want more or any children. Instead, I will ask about the weather or their summer vacation plans.”

And we all say, “Amen.”

So, what’s your favorite small-talk question to ask someone? And, what’s your favorite way to answer the “Do you want to have kids?” question?

One Response to “What question should we ban from small talk?”

  1. Nia says:

    I would like to express my aicffteon for your kind-heartedness in support of folks that should have guidance on this important issue. Your very own dedication to passing the message along was really beneficial and has regularly encouraged those just like me to realize their pursuits. This invaluable help and advice means a great deal to me and even further to my colleagues. Thank you; from everyone of us.

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