“The truth is: a family is a family as long as there are people in a clump who love each other and try really hard to be good and say sorry when they aren’t as good as they could be. It doesn’t matter how that family came to be. It really doesn’t.”
Please for the love of god, stop.
Alright. I’m only about 6 months into dating the man of my dreams who also has a child and I’m exhausted. Not because men smell bad sometimes or children can be assholes, but because I’m tired of being asked the same lame questions by people who are not dating a man who also has a four-year-old son.
I understand that people are curious. I’m a former child actor who is now booze sober and freelances while making her life up as she goes, so I’m super familiar with fielding questions from people who wonder what it’s like to live my best life. I L O V E to talk about myself, so I’m usually pretty cool with answering most inquiries.
I also understand that the dismantling of what we once considered a “traditional family” is a recent development in our species’ evolution. Everyone is curious. But there are some questions that just need to stop.
The truth is: a family is a family as long as there are people in a clump who love each other and try really hard to be good and say sorry when they aren’t as good as they could be. It doesn’t matter how that family came to be. It really doesn’t.
Before I rant, I’d like to note that I’m writing this as a white, heterosexual woman who is dating a straight white guy. I’ve got it the easiest as far as these situations go for more reasons than just that. I can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like for anyone else because I’m not anyone else. If you’re in a similar but different situation, I want to hear about it.
From my experience, these are five common yet useless questions people should really stop asking people who are dating parents:
1. Is it weird that he has a kid?
Is it weird that YOU have a kid? I think what you mean is, “Is it weird that you’re playing house with a baby that isn’t yours?” My personal answer is: this is literally all I’ve ever done. I’ve played with dolls, I’ve babysat other people’s children and I’ve imagined parenting that cute wealthy little wasp of a child on the subway. This is the only thing I know how to do, so it’s not that weird at all. Also, what if I said, “Yeah. It’s super weird, man. It’s like there’s this kid there sometimes and it creeps me out.” THAT would be weird.
2. Are you in the child’s life?
Hahahah. No. For half the week, I live in the bathroom and subsist on used Q-tips and body wash.
3. Do you guys want your own kids?
Before I get into this: just stop asking people in general if they’re going to have children. It’s really annoying and weird and none of your business. Giving birth is not a rite of passage. It’s an optional thing. Get used to it. Beyond that? Ew, none of your business. Also, there’s something gross about saying “your own” kids. It comes across like you’re trying to find a way to ask, “Hey so you wanna have any non-bastard kids or what?” It’s weird and, one more time for those in the back: none of your business.
4. How did the kid happen?
In many cases, kids happen when a man and a woman do sex with each other and the woman’s eggs are ripe. In many other cases, it happens differently. In all cases: it’s none of your business.
5. What’s with his/her/their baby mama/daddy?
This one is my favorite. It’s the nosiest of all the questions. I wish people would just lick their chops and rub their palms together when they ask it so they could look as predatory as they sound. I usually say, “That’s not my story to share. And if you ever say ‘baby mama’ to me again, I’m gonna fart into your mouth.” Look, don’t be a gossip. Maybe deep down, you want to hear some juicy story of passion and betrayal because you haven’t had a sick day in awhile and you miss watching Jerry Springer. But: it ain’t nunya.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t ask questions, folks. But there’s a right way to ask questions and there are many careless, insensitive ways to ask. Do me a favor and skip all those other questions and just ask this one:
I’d love to hear about your partner’s kid, if you want to talk about it!
That’s it. Super easy. You’ll get the information you actually need, which is whatever the other person decides to share.