A couple of months back the ever-fabulous Sassy posted a list of the '10 things not to say to your infertile friend', which I think should be required reading for everyone. Infertility, however, is not the only reason that people don't have children. Some of us can't have children, some of us want very much to have children but haven't yet found a partner with whom to share the honours, some of us don't think that the world needs more people right now, some of us know that having children isn't what life has in store for us.
I know that when I read Sassy's list I discovered that some comments I might have made in the past could have been hurtful. I was grateful to her for educating me. So, in that spirit, and with a dose of humour thrown in to sweeten the medicine, I thought it was time to put together a slightly more generic list of '10 things you probably shouldn't say to a friend who doesn't have children'.
When I put the word out to friends asking for suggestions for this list I was overwhelmed by the response. It seems I am not alone on this one. So, with thanks to the many contributors, here is my list.
10. "Don't worry, you still have plenty of time." (or this fabulist variation "Don't worry, I heard of someone who had a child at 65." Right. Enough said.)
9. "Your biological clock must be ticking." or "That biological clock will kick in sometime." (Don't make me talk about the biological clocks that must be ticking in your poor junk-food afflicted body, because that would just be mean and I generally don't do mean well.)
8. "How many do you want?" (Because the answer may be 'many but I can't have any')
7. "Oh, were they screaming? When you become a parent you become oblivious to the noise." (Great, so you won't mind if we play Metallica, loud, til 3am then?)
6. "You just haven't met the right man yet." (Go wash your mouth out with soap)
5. "You won't understand until you become a parent." (Particularly galling in relation to the debate about smacking children. It seems odd, in comparison, that when I talk about ending violence against women people never say 'You won't understand until you have a wife.')
4. "I'm a parent, I have responsibilities." (Oh yeah, I was so busy organising an emergency food delivery into remote Afghanistan that I forgot that not everyone is as footloose and fancy free as me.)
3. "If you ever do have children you won't have time to think about yourself so much." (Right, so explain to me again the massive phenomenon that is Mommy Blogging?)
2. "You never really know what true love is until you have your own child." (Thanks for consigning the rest of us to a life without true love.)
...and my all time favorite, with thanks to a pediatrician friend, if someone says that they don't have children then you probably shouldn't say:
1. "Are you sure?" (Please see Dilbert for more on this one)
What would you add to this list?
(PS: Some of the best contributions came from people who have children, but remember what it was like way back when they didn't. God bless them every one.)