How to Deal With Nosy Family Members Asking when You're Starting a Family

Often newlyweds or young monogamous couples have to deal with prying family member questions about when they plan to have a baby. And if you choose to delay having children (or not have them at all), as the years pass, some family members start to see it as their crusade to ensure you "haven't forgotten" this part of your life! Since it should be no one’s business but yours, you will need to handle the situation with finesse and perhaps even a little humor.

Note that this article is directed towards couples who have not decided against having children just yet; in that case, see How to defend your choice to be childless.


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    Expect at least someone in the family to be nosy and impatient enough to start asking you as a newlywed or as a long-term partnered couple, when you plan on having children. Expecting it in advance means that you can be ready for the possibility and have some appropriate replies prepared. Keep in mind that while much of this badgering is good-willed, for some people it's brought on as a result of familial narcissism or family "empire-building". Whatever the motivation, you do not need to do as they say.
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    Present a united front. Your spouse or partner and you should know how you both plan to answer this question, even if you have yet to be approached with it as a couple. Have a private discussion with your mate about how you would like to answer. In some cases, you may want to tell your family just to mind their own business. However, many couples may say that they're planning to start a family after certain events occur (such as being promoted at work, after having bought a house, etc.). Either way, have a heart-to-heart with your honey and make some plans so you know when you want to start a family.
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    Practice exactly what you will say. So that you don’t say one thing and your spouse or partner says something else, prepare how you will address the question. Determine how much information you’ll provide and how you will answer. For example, you might agree that you'll only keep it very general, such as saying after you achieved a few goals, instead of listing each goal (new job, promotion, move, etc.).
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    Answer with a lighthearted and perhaps even silly response. Telling people that you plan to start a family when you hit the lottery or "when my husband can carry the baby" may diffuse the tension in the room and let family members know you are not seriously considering children just yet.
    • Be elusive. Have fun with your prying family and be secretive by saying, “Who knows... maybe I’m pregnant, maybe my husband is pregnant. Are you pregnant?”
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    *"Someday" or "Soon enough"* - provides an answer without disclosing if you're trying or already are pregnant.
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    *Launch into a discussion about celebrity baby bumps. Ask your Aunt Jenny if she really thinks that Jennifer Aniston is pregnant or just gaining weight. Turn the tables with something funny and light to take the focus off of you.
    • Start laughing. Act like they’ve just asked you a ridiculous question and that there’s no way you could even entertain it because you're too busy busting a gut.
    • Use a teasing response, such as: "Wow, what a great idea. We'd love a wee one but just how to you get one? Could you draw us a picture of what we need to do?"
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    Be sweet but final. Another approach is to make it clear that it's your business but by doing so with absolute charm. For example, you could respond with something like: "It's really very kind of you to bother yourself with our well-being and future plans. Right now we're not planning on having kids but you can reassured that you'll be one of the very first to know when we do." There isn't much else the badgering person can say to that, as you've just told them that your decision is to not have kids right now but you've also flattered the person by stating that they will be told when it happens some day.
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    Use a tactic to suggest that they're invading your privacy. In some cases, it might be appropriate to let the person know that they're stepping where angels fear to tread and making it harder, not easier, for you to reach this decision. For example, you might say something like: "We're aware you'd like a grandchild soon. For us though, this is a really big decision and we need space to be able to make it unhindered by other people's ideas or preferences. We'd really appreciate your understanding of the import of making this decision ourselves."
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    Use the uninvolved response. Rather than going into any explanation, when asked, simply smile and change the subject. No more said on the topic!
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    Turn the pestering into an opportunity to enlist your family’s assistance well in advance for when you actually do have a family. You may as well see how much your family is willing to help once you actually do start a family––if they ask when you're starting, ask how they’ll be helping. Once your family thinks they will be thrown into the trenches with you, they may reconsider their questions.
    • Request a list of babysitters and inquire about their skills. Ask about CPR, experience babysitting and whether they're willing to do night nurse duty.
    • One quick way to get the discussion to die down is to tell Uncle John that you will be counting on him for poopy diaper duty.
    • Negotiate in advance. Remind family members that you like to vacation on Martha’s Vineyard every summer, so you’ll be taking names of folks ready to keep the child for at least a week and possibly for a month or two.
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    Try not to get too annoyed. Although curious, pestering family members may be getting underneath your skin, keep in mind that family members are just excited to see you as a parent someday. Remember that they love you and that the main reason relatives may be prodding and asking is because they want to see more joy come into your life. Becoming parents can be one of life’s most wonderful gifts, and many are keen to enlighten you to its wonders. Parents and grandparents especially know the magic involved in having a family. Remind yourself that they only want the beauty they had to be yours too.
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    Decide what to do if you are expecting or have started the adoption process but don't want to reveal a thing just yet. Many couples don’t want to reveal the pregnancy until 12 weeks has past (the time in which the pregnancy is more viable), so you may want to keep mum until week 13. In the event of an adoption, you may not want to reveal that you’ve signed paperwork or are on the verge of adoption because some adoptions don't work out if the biological mother changes her mind, etc. In any event, decide together how you plan to announce your impending family and don’t let family members push your news out of you. Any resentment felt for not being told earlier will quickly blow away in the excitement of the forthcoming baby.


  • Leave the room and regain your composure if the badgering is really bothering you. If you feel overwhelmed and start to lose your cool, excuse yourself from the family gathering and pull yourself together.
  • If your own parents or parents-in-law are still in their early 40s, be cheeky and ask them if they're thinking of joining the trend and having a late-life baby. Suggest it'd do wonders for restoring insomnia, feeding regimes and diaper mess in their lives.
  • In some cases you could turn the tables on family members. When they “when are you two going to start a family” you could say, “Why do you want to know?” or you could say, “When people stop asking.” Avoid delivering your comment in a rude manner but this response may shut people down quickly.


  • If you truly are not planning to have children, consider telling family about the finality of your decision. However, be ready for push back, especially from close members, like disappointed parents.

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