Small talk’s a killer, ain’t it?
Those throw away topics of conversation that you say when you’re not really saying much at all. You bump into someone, exchange a few pleasantries and you’re on your way again.
What are those topics of conversations? The weather, Game of Thrones, goings-on of mutual friends. Normal, light stuff.
But what about the clanger? “So, when are you having more kids?”
Well-meaning? Probably. But the potential for awkwardness and upset can be huge.
What’s the problem? It’s just a question!
Exactly. To the person who is asking the question about family planning, it’s just that. A question. Enquiring if someone you know is planning on having more kids (or starting to have kids) seems like a happy conversational topic. They’re looking for a knowing smile, a shared laugh or maybe even a piece of happy news.
But consider it from the opposite side.
If you’re speaking with a casual acquaintance, a Facebook friend or a relative you’re not very close with – chances are that you don’t know much about what happens in their day to day lives. You don’t know the REAL truth about their relationship, their work lives, their finances, their emotions or their health.
Asking someone in a public place about, effectively, the state of their reproductive capability is a pretty damn personal thing to do. Consider the what-ifs…
What if… the person you’re talking to has recently had a miscarriage or a loss?
What if… the person you’re talking to is in the process of a relationship breakdown?
What if… the person you’re talking to has been trying to conceive but it’s not been happening?
Suddenly it’s not just a question, is it? It’s asking someone to publicly either lie and say everything’s fine or to confess a deep, personal truth that may be causing them a lot of pain.
So what am I supposed to talk about then?!
Remember that old saying, there’s a time and a place for everything?
Bumping into someone you know casually, or having a quick chat at work, is not the place for asking something so personal. We don’t ask people to open up their internet banking and reveal their transaction history – isn’t the status of their reproductive lives just as personal?
If you’ve asked this question, and seen a forced smile during the response, stop and think. And maybe stick to the weather instead.
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