In the last week at work, I have been told no less than three times that I should hurry to have kids. Two of those comments came from male coworkers, and one came from my female boss who has several children. What is wrong with people that they feel this is an appropriate work topic, much less any of their business?
I understand that sometimes people make these comments from a “good” place or with “good” intent. For example, they waited too long and had fertility problems, or they waited too long and now worry about being older parents, or not being able to keep up with their kids. They don’t want that for me. However, again, that is none of their business.
Women don’t have children for lots of different reasons. Assuming that your coworker can get pregnant is misstep number one. It could add to the emotional trauma of those who want kids but can’t have them. Assuming that your coworker wishes to have kids is misstep number two. A NY Times article recently stated that 1/6 of the reproductive aged population is now choosing not to have children for various reasons. These include environmental concerns, lack of financial stability, failure to find a good partner, or, (dare I say it?), not liking kids. All of these are valid reasons. A person does not have to have a child to live a happy, fulfilling, beautiful life. Even if you feel differently, work is not the appropriate place to discuss your opinions.
Finally, commenting about my baby-making plans, capabilities, or decisions makes me feel like a coworker sees me first and foremost as an incubator instead of as a respected colleague. It is off putting and just one more micro-aggression to absorb, process, and disregard during my workday. Honestly, I’m so over it.
So, I have three suggestions for anyone before they talk to a coworker about procreating:
- Don’t do it.
- If your coworker brings it up, let them set the tone of the conversation and don’t offer any advice unless they ask you for it directly.
A happily childfree 31-year old woman.