How the number of children affects society

It doesn’t.

There you go, it’s nobody else’s business how many children you have.

That’s the short answer, if you’ve just popped in quickly to see what I have to say on the matter. Here you will find no arguments over global warming, over-crowding, snow-flake children, pensioners needing more tax payers to prop up the welfare system in their old age…

Your reproductive choices are not open to public discussion, comment or approval. That’s the bottom line.

I guarantee you that no matter how many, or how few, children a woman has, there is a comment considered appropriate to her family situation. How many of the following have you heard?

“Ah you can’t just have the one, it would be cruel to deprive little Barry of a sibling.”

“A boy and a girl! Perfect, the gentleman’s family; you’re done now so.”

“They’ve no children, just the pair of them in that house. Wouldn’t you think they’d get a move on?”

“So, do you think you’ll have another?”

“Pregnant again? Don’t you have two at home already?”

“Only children are selfish adults and can’t share.”

“Are you going to go again for the girl?”

“Are they all from the same father? Jaysus.”

“A fourth? Don’t you know what’s causing it?”

“That poor father, living in that house of girls. Wouldn’t you think the wife would try again for a son?”

Nobody knows what goes on behind closed doors, in people’s hearts and a couple’s relationship. I know that for the most part people are just making conversation, idle chit-chat to pass the time while waiting for the bus to arrive.

But for those of us in the trenches, with young kids and not so young kids, chances are we know someone who is trying desperately to get pregnant; someone who would love another baby; someone who suffered a miscarriage or endured the tragedy of losing a child.

Personally, as a result of being more aware of the experiences I have seen people wade through, I am more sensitive of how comments I may have flippantly made in the past might now cut a little close to the heart for some people.

I think before I speak.

I’m not some kill joy who wants everyone reading from a set list of conversational topics, keen to stamp every interaction with a large “PC approved” label. These throwaway comments are made without any hidden agenda, but sometimes watching to see how they are received can make all the difference.

There are so many comments that can be made that are a safe zone; simply saying that someone’s children are lovely and must bring so much happiness is fail safe. No probing comments there. And if the little darlings before you aren’t acting quite so darling, then a simple “How old are they?” is enough to break the ice and open up a conversation.