Dear Sensible Midwesterner,
What to do when someone asks how many kids you have, you answer one, and then they berate you about not having more? Please advise. Fifteen years on and I still need a comeback that politely shuts down that line of questioning.
One and Done
There are scads of reasons someone might have one child, from having had another child die to having always wanted a small family, with many, many possibilities in between. The thing is, hardly any of them are ones most people want to explain. And none of them deserve questioning, much less scolding.
The problem is once you’re dealing with someone who thinks it’s okay to question such personal decisions, it’s pretty tricky to get them to back off in a graceful way. Doing this when faced with someone who may have a cultural bias against small families adds to the frustration.
Midwesterners know that the best way to re-establish social boundaries is to refuse to cross them yourself. So when the questioning or berating begins, simply say “I can’t imagine discussing such a personal matter/private decision.” If someone tries to force you to discuss how being a single child is sad/damaging/detrimental/horrific for your child, simply say “Well, obviously, I don’t agree” or “Clearly, I don’t think so.”
Then change the topic. The weather is usually a good bet.