Why I don’t ask couples if they have any children.
Almost the first thing someone asks me if I am with my husband is, “Do you have any children?” This has happened throughout our 22 years of being together. It has made me acutely aware of how a simple question can affect a person. How much one question can rock your world and change your day and make you question everything.
In my grand old age of wisdom I have learned that when meeting someone there should not be this standard line of questioning….what do you do? Where do you work? Do you have children? Are you close with your family? Questions that most everyone asks. And it seems pretty normal on the outside, when trying to get to know someone, asking questions to learn more.
If you ask someone whether they have children, you don’t know if they have been doing IVF for 10 years unsuccessfully. You have no idea if they do have a child with a severe disability and this may be their only moment to be out and get a moment to focus on them and not their child. You don’t know if they have lost their child, child is on drugs, child is suffering. You have no idea what a simple question can evoke in a person. What if she has just had a miscarriage . What if she just got off maternity leave but had a still born baby? You just don’t know. Seems like an innocent question I know! But I’m just sharing awareness I’ve learned that it may seem simple and innocent but it could evoke pain in another.
It’s kind of like my disease. People come up to me and ask me what I have. Most of the time I don’t mind sharing awareness of my disease, my limitations, my abilities, my scooter, its details, etc. a better question would be : would it be ok if I asked you some questions about your disease? That would give me the option of politely turning it down or saying sure! But to just directly ask what is wrong with me doesn’t leave me a yes or a no reply. Pins me in a corner. I was out yesterday with my husband taking photographs and someone asked my husband what I had. The LAST thing I wanted at that moment was to 1. Hear myself being discussed right in front of me 2. Think about my disease. I was out trying to NOT be diseased! But this woman was kind and she was asking to help others and be an advocate for others. So I am not discussing intention here because most if not all people have good intentions it is just they do not have awareness. I am trying to spread awareness in HOW a person asks a question and HOW that question could make another person potentially feel.
Should we walk around daily tip toeing around every word that we say and questions we ask? Well if you practice long enough and are aware of how others may feel, it will eventually come naturally. Your focus will be more on respect and honor and less on getting information that may be good for you but not for the other person.
I have a better series of questions that I’d like to just toss out there: What kind of things make you happy? What is your greatest joy? What do you love most in life? What are your greatest challenges? Do you even want to talk about any of these things or would you rather talk about the weather!!!!!!!
Just a little food for thought.