“Hallelujah!” “Amen,” and declarations of straight-up “I love you” are just a few of the passionate responses a woman has been getting to her “friendly PSA” on Facebook, urging strangers, friends, and family alike to quit asking others about their family plans already.
“People’s reproductive and procreative plans and decisions are none of your business. NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS,” Emily Bingham blasted last week in a post addressed to “everyone” that has been shared more than 58,000 times since she wrote it on Sept. 20. “Before you ask the young married couple who have been together for seemingly forever when they are finally gonna start a family … before you ask the parents of an only-child toddler when a little brother or little sister will be in the works … before you ask a single 30-something if/when s/he plans on having children because, you know, the clock’s ticking … just stop. Please stop.”
The 33-year-old Ann Arbor, Mich., writer noted in a comment that her “rant was inspired in part by hearing from a friend who had to go through a stressful and heart-wrenching year of fertility treatments before conceiving her son, only to begin fielding ‘When’s baby No. 2 coming?!’ questions within a MONTH of his birth.”
As she spells out in crystal-clear terms for even the most well-intentioned inquirers in her PSA, “You don’t know how your seemingly innocent question might cause someone grief, pain, stress or frustration.” Noting the myriad sensitivities nosy questioners might stir up, she explains, “You don’t know who is struggling with infertility or grieving a miscarriage or dealing with health issues. You don’t know who is having relationship problems or is under a lot of stress or the timing just isn’t right. You don’t know who is on the fence about having kids or having more kids. You don’t know who has decided it’s not for them right now, or not for them ever.”
Bingham admits she has been subjected to the awkward interrogation herself, many times. “I’ve never been married,” she told the Detroit Free Press (Bingham did not respond to Yahoo Parenting’s request for comment). “I’ve had people say things like, ‘You’re getting older; do you want to have kids? Your clock is ticking.’” After being confronted with the Question during a recent dinner with her boyfriend’s family, she added, “I think I finally felt mad enough about it to say something.”
And judging from the thousands of women — and men — who have shared her now-viral post on social media, the message is one many have already been thinking about. “People asking me about my child-bearing plans drives me up a tree,” wrote one commenter on her post. “Be they my parents or PERFECT STRANGERS, because that happens all too often.” Another added: “All reproductive choices are highly individual (even when they occur within a relationship), and nosiness is so offensively rude.”
While the questioners almost always have positive intentions, psychoanalyst Amy Morin tells Yahoo Parenting, “They tend not to think about the negative ramifications such comments and questions may have on someone. Often they’re just looking to strike up a conversation about the future or they want to gain insight into what a person’s plans are in life.” And that’s exactly what makes Bingham’s plea all the more important.
“Technology tends to make our lives more public than ever, and this message serves as a much-needed reminder that we should still respect other people’s privacy,” says the author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do. “The fact that this went viral says this message is desperately needed.”