“People Keep Bugging Us To Have Kids”

It’s time again for “Shortcuts.” For every question, I’ll give my advice in three sentences or less, because sometimes the answer to a person’s question is so obvious and the need to hear it so great, being as clear and frank as possible is simply the best way to go. Today we discuss dealing with nosy family members, the right time to make a relationship official, and a relationship that screams MOA!

My husband and I have been together since we were 15, and married since 20. Now, as 23 year-olds, we are finding ourselves under immense pressure from our parents, friends and co-workers (?!) to have children. Everyone seems to think that once you are married the next step is children. While we definitely want to have them, we still feel that we are very young and have many things we wish to experience together before we make such a life-changing decision. When I explain that to nosy people, including my mother-in-law,  I am treated as though I am an selfish child who ought not to have married if she wasn’t ready for babies. How can I respond to people, particularly family members, who seem so intent on pigeonholing us? — Childless By Choice

The next time your mother-in-law or some other nosy family member bugs you about having kids, say to them, “Oh, but we spend so much of our time having hot, passionate sex I don’t know how we could possibly squeeze a baby into our schedule right now!” That ought to shut them up.

I am 17, and my boyfriend and I have been together almost two years. This past summer he moved to another nearby state for college, where I’m planning to move after I graduate this year. I have had some tempting thoughts about another guy, though, who works with me. My boyfriend and I discussed it and he’s so worried that I’ll cheat that he said he’s okay with it because I haven’t been through “that crazy, wild stage.” He has been with a dozen other girls before me but he is my first. Is it necessary that I go through that stage in order for us to grow? Or can we live happily ever after without me feeling like I missed out? I’m curious to know what sex is like with another person and this is driving me insane. — First-Timer

It’s not necessary to go through a “crazy, wild stage” to be happy and satisfied in a committed relationship, but it is necessary to feel ready for a commitment. If you feel like you’re missing out on something by not dating (or sleeping with) other guys, then that’s probably a pretty good sign that you shouldn’t be ruling out those opportunities just yet.

I’m a guy who is wondering at what point I should try to make a relationship official. I’ve really only initialized that conversation a few times. In my experience, the woman asks me the question within the first two months. The times I did ask, it was because it was plainly obvious I should. I’m going out with this woman now and she’s great. We have quite a bit in common, shared interests, passions, and goals. She’s very self aware and confident about who she is. What would be a good time to ask? Bonus question: before or after Valentine’s Day? — Label Maker

The best time to broach the topic of exclusivity/making the relationship official is when you’re ready to be exclusive. Obviously, any time before that is too soon, and any time after, you risk losing the lady to someone else. Saying something now — if you’re ready — could make for a special Valentine’s Day later, so I say go for it.

I haven’t heard from my boyfriend of ten months in two weeks now and I’m getting worried. Two weeks ago, he took me on a very romantic date and promised he’d get in touch with me on Facebook and come over to my house the next Wednesday. He doesn’t have a phone, so it’s not unusual for me to not hear from him for some time, but this is the longest I’ve ever had to wait. The last time I had to, it was a week and a half and it was because he went on an unexpected family vacation, and like I said, he has no phone, so he didn’t tell me until after, and made sure to make it up to me once he got back since he knew I was pretty upset with him. But not only am I sick of this waiting around for him to find time for me, I’m also completely unsure of what to do.

There are a couple of options that I can think of: go by his house; or call his dad or best friend and see if they’ve seen or heard from him. But there are a few issues there. Due to financial reasons, he had to move back in with his family, and it’s pretty chaotic there, and his guard dogs make it to where I can’t even go up to his house, so neither of us like my going there by myself. And, I don’t like the idea at all of going through someone else to get to him, especially when I don’t know either of them well enough to use them as middlemen. I’m just worried that either something happened to him (I’ve even been watching the news to make sure his name doesn’t come up), or that he could get in touch with me if he wanted, but he’s choosing not to, and this is just his way of breaking up with me, even though I never thought he’d be that type of guy. So what do you think? Should I wait it out again and see what he has to say, find a way to get to him, or just MOA since two weeks is long enough to wait? And if I do wait it out, how long is long enough do you think? — Unsure Girlfriend

MOA, MOA! Everything about this situation sounds so sketchy (like, when you say he moved back in with his family, do you mean his wife and kids, because that would certainly explain things.). Move on and find a guy who has a phone and a home you aren’t afraid to approach.

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.


  1. @Unsure – there is NO WAY this guy doesn’t have access to phone at all. This is not the 1800s. Doesn’t his family at least have a HOUSE phone?? Plus, you don’t know his father or his best friend at all and you’re 10 months into a relationship? If you’re 10 months in and have no way of getting a hold of him in an emergency other than Facebook AND you haven’t really met his family or friends, it is definitely a MOA situation.

    1. Anne (I Go To 11) says:

      My thoughts exactly! “Unexpected vacation”, my ass. Who the hell DOES that? Oh, a sketchy sleazeball, that’s who. You know, I’ve quoted Chris Rock on situations like this before, and I’ll say it again: “If you’ve been dating a man for four months, and you haven’t met any of his friends, YOU ARE NOT HIS GIRLFRIEND.” In this case, it’s been 10 MONTHS, and I can’t believe you’re buying into this load of crap. Stop wasting your time, because I’ll bet you dollars to donuts this guy’s married or in a serious relationship–with someone who’s NOT you. While you’re at it, call the fire department, because this guy’s pants are ablaze.

      1. Sounds like she is his booty “call”

      2. You’re making me crack up in public.

      3. Me too! Loved Wendy’s “wife and kids” comment!

    2. princesspetticoat says:

      Exactly! This is really a sketchy situation. He can’t possibly just not have any phone at all… how would he apply for a job? How would you get a job if the employer can’t call you?

  2. LW1 sounds like she wants some real help and advice, not a punchline. I hope you won’t descend to that too often; too many advice columnists do, using genuine questions from readers to show off their humor. Now that you’ve gotten in your line, how about running this again with advice? It’s a pretty common problem.

    1. I’m actually being serious. Nosy, busybody questions that are no business of the person asking do not deserve thoughtful responses. If you ask a TMI question, you should get a TMI reply. Not to mention, I think that humor can be a great way of diffusing a situation or avoiding answering a question that should not have been asked in the first place.

      1. yes! while i would never feel comfortable saying a one liner like that, something a long that line would shut them up quickly.

      2. I actually like the advice.

      3. I think it would make the situation worse. These aren’t random strangers asking personal questions; it’s her in-laws, whom she has to put up with every day.

      4. All the more reason she should let them know she will not dignify their continued harassment about having kids with a thoughtful response — ESPECIALLY when such thoughtful responses have been pooh-poohed in the past.

      5. Wolvie_girl says:

        Yes, she has to put up with them every day, so she should send a CLEAR message that her personal relationship with their son is private, and the decisions they make as a couple are private. If she doesn’t send the clear message now, then nosy in-laws are going to think they are welcome to butt this couple’s lives anytime they want, and the will do exaclty that for ever!

      6. I agree completely. Humor is a great way to get someone off your back. Questions like that are incredibly annoying, especially when you have plenty of time (like this woman does, as a 23-year-old). She could also make a joke about “not drying up anytime soon,” give a TMI answer about wanting to keep her boobs perky for a few more years, or say something graphic about her reproductive system. Making borderline-inappropriate/gross remarks/jokes is a surefire way to make sure someone won’t be asking you again anytime soon.

      7. I loved Wendy’s answer because, quite frankly, I think all these other people are jealous. An answer like that lets them know that you know.

      8. ArtsyGirly says:

        I am in the same situation of LW1. Here is what I have learned to tell me “Thank you for your concern, but I feel that that is a personal question. In the future you might want to be careful to ask something like that because you can never know if a couple is having fertility problems.” Most people are asking it out of general interest but it is still highly inappropriate.

  3. bitter gay mark says:

    Unsure Girlfriend — is your letter even real? It strikes me as so preposterous on so many levels… The lack of any access to a phone…yet access to the internet. The “unexpected” family vacations… (usually these are planned out in advance so that everybody in the family can go…) The killer guard dogs that make it impossible for you to drop by or even go over there… Have you ever seen these guard dogs? This guy is clearly lying to you about everything… and you are one of the most gullible people on the planet. Although, this letter is so over the top in its cluelessness I wonder if it’s even real? I have trouble believing that anyone could truly be this out to lunch about somebody they are dating… No wonder some guys find it so easy to be cads… Some women appear to be far to willing to not ever become suspicious… The only way you can stand by somebody like this and to believe all his utterly bogus excuses is that you must be very desperate. Look into why that is. Why are you so desperate for a relationship that you put up with this? Trust me, you can and WILL do much better. You just really need to set your standards higher… Why do you feel that you deserve to be treated so? Even if he DID rush off on some unexpected vacation once before — where did he go? Someplace conveniently with no phones naturally… Remember, the only way somebody can repeatedly treat you like crap is if you again and again put up with it.

    1. I wish we had the ability to like the comments! Because I like yours!

    2. Hey Wendy, can you add a plugin for us to like/dislike comments on here?

      1. I actually did install it the other day, but I must not have done it right, because it obviously didn’t work. Then I wondered if it was something people even wanted. Anyone else care to weigh in? If there’s genuine interest, I’ll look into what I did wrong and fix it so readers can like/dislike comments. Let me know…

      2. TheOtherMe2011 says:

        Wendy, I don’t think a Like/Dislike function is necessary here, but it’s just my opinion…

      3. i like it, otherwise you have to post a comment saying you like it… and that’s cumbersome. a quick like is easier if that’s all you want to say.

      4. BurritoLady says:

        Yes, that’d be great Wendy!

        And I agree, I like BGM’s comment 🙂

      5. I don’t think it’s necessary, but I kind of like it. On the other hand, not being able to “like/dislike” actually encourages me to comment more.

      6. sobriquet says:

        I know it’s too late now, but I don’t really like the thumbs up/down option. It’s my main reason for not commenting on The Frisky. It’s incredibly annoying when someone “thumbs down” a comment without an explanation for doing so.

      7. accidentally thumb downed sobriquet’s comment. Sorry!

    3. callmehobo says:

      Oh, BGM

      I love reading your comments on the Frisky and I’m so glad you’ve moved over to Dear Wendy!

      1. bitter gay mark says:

        Thanks… I tend to only comment on the letters that strike me as the most ridiculous… Usually, people have genuine problems…and Wendy offers solid advice… But I find those “boring” to comment on as I would have nothing to offer but thesaurus-ized agreement. 😉

  4. Anne (I Go To 11) says:

    LW1: You’re 23. You have plenty of time to have a baby. Ignore the noise, and try not to let it get you down or let anyone make you feel bad for your choices. It’s you and your husband’s business, not theirs.

    I will forewarn you, though: when you do have a child, it won’t be long afterward until you get the “when will you have another baby?” spiel. My husband and I are getting that now. I have a 6-year-old from my first marriage, and have zero desire to have another baby (I’m 27); I want to finish college (which will be several years, as I plan on working toward a PhD). I’d prefer giving birth to a career. 🙂 The funny thing is, I’m not hearing the “when’s the next one?” jazz from family or close friends…it’s from acquaintances and people that don’t know me very well. Go figure.

    1. As someone who is 27, married “long enough to have a baby” (according to everyone who has an opinion on it), and is working on a PhD, all the “it’s not a good time” responses about having babies just lead to “well, it’s never a good time to have a baby.” Duh. It’s also always a good time to mind one’s business.

      Close family and friends need to respect privacy just as much as strangers, so I’ve got to agree with Wendy’s advice… or at least saying something along those lines. You can always pull the “Is it really time for babies already? I feel like we’re just newlyweds still!”

  5. @unsure, please MOA! yeah as soon as you said last minute family vacation i was worried. please just let him off the hook, stop worrying and find a guy who isn’t living in the stone age (how can he not have a phone?!)

    @LW1 my family was the same way when i wasn’t dating… if i’m single they’re always asking if i’m seeing someone, when i’m dating they’re asking when the wedding is… etc. they do it out of love i’m sure, but that much love is suffocating. i think wendy’s advice is spot on! just tell them to mtob!

  6. Wolvie_girl says:

    Dear Unsure:

    He has a phone, he just doesn’t want you to have the number because his wife would probably answer it if you called.

    By “moved back in with his family” he means with his wife and kids.

    He isn’t worried about your safety from viscious attack dogs, he’s worried about his safety if his wife ever spotted you snooping around the place.

    He didn’t jet off to a last minute family vacation, he started feeling intense regret over this affair and tried to quit cold turkey but got a jonesin for you 10 days later and fell off the wagon.

    He is trying again to quit you. You can keep waiting for him now, because if experience is any teacher, he will fall off the wagon again and come running back, but he will most likely never leave his wife and you will remain the other woman until he finds a more exciting other woman.



    1. Seriously! This is just ridiculous.

    2. delilahgem says:

      Ha. LOVE this comment.

  7. TheOtherMe2011 says:

    @Childless By Choice: I used to get that all the time and my answer was always, “I’d like to enjoy being a wife a little while longer before I become a mother” .
    – People always respected that

    @First-Timer: You say he’s worried about you cheating but says it would be ok because you haven’t gone through “that crazy, wild stage.” ? That doesn’t sound very loving. Just because he had been with a dozen other girls before you started dating at age 15, doesn’t mean you want the same.

    @Label Maker: I think that if she agrees to spend Valentine’s Day with you that should be an indication that she might also want to be exclusive.

    @Unsure Girlfriend: Run ! There is no way that someone is unable to get to a phone, any phone, for 2 weeks.

  8. Avatar photo Public Pearl says:

    LW1: I’ve been there. I also married fairly young (22), and I’ve tried the jokey replies, the MYOB replies, and the “maybe in a few years” answer. After 14 years my husband and I still do not have children, and the older I’ve gotten, the more convinced I’ve become that I don’t actually want any. I have no maternal stirrings at all. The questions still come, although not as much as before. There’s no answer that will really satisfy anyone’s nosy curiosity, so just try to be polite and gracious (and then quickly change the subject). Most importantly, do what’s right for you in your own time.

  9. BeccaAnne says:

    1. I love the response. And then when the person gives you an shocked “did not want to know that” look shrug and say, “you wanted to know”
    2. At 21 I’ve only ever been with my bf, and I’ve wondered if I’ve missed out a couple times, but I think if I left him to go hook up with randoms I’d [i] really [/i] be missing out, on [i] him [/i].
    3. Just ask.
    4. Get.Out.Now. Do not pass go, do not collect $200.

    1. BeccaAnne says:

      I thought I could make it itallicky 🙁
      Oh well, you all know what I mean.

      1. testing italics

      2. ok it works. You just have to use instead of ]

      3. use the arrow keys above the period and the comma on the keyboard. instead of the brackets.

      4. BeccaAnne says:


  10. Skyblossom says:

    LW1 It’s great that you can spend this time together as a couple. Once you have kids nothing is ever as easy. Kids are wonderful but they are also a stress on marriage so you definitely shouldn’t have them until you are ready.

    As for the suggestions I really don’t know how to shut people up. After the first child is born everyone starts asking when you’re having another. After we had our second they did quit asking. I guess they assume you’re done.

    Maybe if you told her you’ve decided to have a child in ten years that would shut her up.

  11. Skyblossom says:

    LW4 I can’t think of any place he could have gone on vacation that didn’t have a phone. Common courtesy would be to let you know that he was leaving and how long he would be gone. If he doesn’t have a phone he could at least have driven over to let you know he was leaving and if he had to leave so suddenly that he couldn’t even do that he could have sent a postcard. There is no excuse for his behavior. Can you imagine spending your life this way with this Guy disappearing for a week or two at a time? Run while you can.

  12. sobriquet says:

    LW4- I’m not going to speculate whether or not he’s married or truly has guard dogs (because for all I know, you could have been to his house and seen the dogs several times). All I DO know is that he has NO excuse for not getting in touch with you. I mean, you can make phone calls from the internet nowadays. Since he’s done this before, don’t waste your time worrying about his well being. MOA and don’t look back.

  13. Childless by choice – here’s my advice: I think you should take your mother-in-law / coworker / friend – whomever is pressuring you about children – and tell them the truth. Tell then in all seriousness that the questions and comments make you uncomfortable and to please stop. I think most people make comments like that out of a combination of love and ignorance. Love b/c they love you and they love kids and they think you’ll be a great mom and so naturally they’re excited for you to have children. And ignorance of course b/c maybe they don’t know what it’s like to want to wait or to not want kids (ever or right away) or to not be able to have kids. Confession: I used to ask a friend all the time when she was going to have kids…. Found out later that she had been trying for years but couldn’t and had even had a miscarriage. So every time I asked it was a contant reminder that she should have kids but couldn’t….. All this to say, sometimes people just ask because they’re dumb (like I was). One candid conversation helped me grow up – I bet it will help those around you too. Now, if they keep it up, then they’re just heartless.

    1. Great advice! I like this much better than Wendy’s, and I think it is truly the best way to deal with this. If she wants to keep the details private, all she has to say is that it makes her uncomfortable.

      1. But the CBC says in her letter that she has already explained her/their reasons for waiting. Absolutely, it’s great to have a candid conversation, but if those conversations yield the same results over and over, then obviously a different tactic — like saying something that makes the OTHER person uncomfortable for a change — is necessary.

      2. I think there’s a joke that goes something along the lines of, “I hated how, when I first got married, everyone would come up to me, poke my belly, and say, ‘You’re next! You’re next! When are you guys going to have a baby!” They stopped doing that once I started doing it to them at funerals.”

      3. I obviously overlooked the part where Childless by Choice says she has tried talking to them… In my defense, it was late, and I was tipsy. That’s also my excuse for the typos. Ok, Childless, maybe try a candid convesation one more time, then go Wendy’s route.

  14. Lw1: I get the when are you getting married question from everyone and I talked with a friend who recently got married at 22. She says her response is “6 months ago I wasn’t old enough to get married but now I am old enough to be a parent.” Personally I like it because it shows the double standard that is placed on young couples. Everyone should back off and live their own lives. I also tell people I will have kids in approximately 37 years. It gets them off your back.

  15. LW#1, don’t even bother with addressing why you don’t want to have kids yet. It seems to make people think that they are allowed to judge your reasons, and they will counter them with arguments or insults. Just try to brush it off and change the conversation, but seem as un-irritated and not-annoyed as humanly possible. “Oh, maybe soon, but don’t worry you’ll be the first to know when it happens!”. “oh, as soon as things settle down a bit, we’ll start figuring things out!” It doesn’t matter if it’s not the truth, because it isn’t anybody’s business.

  16. Re LW1, I’ve gotten the “when are you getting married?” question a LOT, and I’ve found that if I do like JJ suggested, and just say that I’ll definitely let them know when I do get engaged, they stop asking. That, or I reply “after I get engaged”, and then change the subject.

  17. Chaotonic says:

    I have actually gotten into full blown arguments with family members over the fact that I refuse to have children. Now when anyone asks when me and DH are going to try for kids I politely say “My uterus is not a storage unit, and will remain that way.”

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