I have two sons. Two happy, healthy, bright, beautiful sons. And nearly every day someone asks me if I’m going to try for a girl. It is such a rude, wrong, offensive, presumptuous and mean question. So, stop it.

Seriously, when did this become a thing? When did people decide they could just ask strangers if they were satisfied with their children? When my second son was three weeks old, we took him and my older son to a restaurant. Looking at my blue-clad newborn, the first thing the server said to us was, “So, you’re going to try for the girl next?” Three weeks old. I still looked pregnant and the server asked when I was going to try for another baby. Not just any other baby, though: a girl.

The truth is that yeah, I did want a girl. I mean, I really wanted a girl. I even wrote an article about it . And every time someone asks me if I’m “going for the girl,” it’s another gut punch reminding me that I don’t have a girl. That I won’t be able to braid my daughter’s hair, teach her about feminist icons or help pick out her wedding dress (if and when she chose to get married). Every day or two I get to smile cheerfully, shake my head and mourn the daughter I always thought I would have. So, thanks for that, strangers.

You know what else is awesome? When my son hears this crap. Nearly 5, what must he think when someone asks me if I’m going to try for a girl? That he’s not good enough because he’s not a girl? I always respond by saying how wonderful my boys are, but at what point will he start to internalize the message that babies are only worth having if they’re girls?

I’m luckier than most to have two children. During my older son’s emergency c-section, I discovered that I have a uterine anomaly — I only have half of a functional uterus; in fact, the entire left side of my reproductive system is nonfunctional. I was lucky to get pregnant twice, even more so to carry to term twice. Even when I’m having a really hard time with them, I try to remain cognizant that my children truly are something of a miracle; often, my anomaly can render women infertile. So do I want to try for a girl? I don’t even know if I could get pregnant again even if I wanted a third child.

But what if I did want a third child and couldn’t get pregnant? I didn’t have to explore fertility options prior to my pregnancies, but what about the women who did? What about women who have had miscarriages or abortions? Do they want to be reminded about the babies they never had? And worse, what about women who have lost a child? I can’t even imagine how devastating it would be fielding these comments day and day out, had I lost a little girl.

Lastly, my reproductive choices are no one’s business. I’m a pretty open person. After all, I write personal essays about my life and share them on the internet. You can’t get much more open than that. But even I don’t want to talk about my reproductive choices with a stranger. I don’t want to have to laugh off something that is a real, serious, and sensitive issue. I don’t want to justify my sons’ gender or my choice to not have a third child.

So, the next time you see a parent at the playground, find something innocuous to ask about. Do not ask parents of boys if they want a girl. Do not ask parents of girls if they want a boy. Do not ask parents of one child when they’re going to have another. Do not ask parents of multiple children why they have so many. There’s no reason for it. It’s none of your business. And you have no idea what the family has gone through, child-wise. So stop it.

Jen Simon is a Huffington Post blogger and a freelance writer. Her writing has appeared on Mommyish, Scary Mommy, Women’s Health Online, The Frisky, Kveller and more. She tweets about her toddler and sleep-challenged 4 year old at NoSleepInBklyn.
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  1. Alison Tedford

    I totally understand where you are coming from. I am horribly offended when people ask that because they are essentially asking if I’m planning to have unprotected sex. So rude!

  2. Love it! I admit that I’m guilty of asking people this question! I won’t anymore from this point on. I feel a similar irritation whenever someone asks me if I’m going to have a third child(I have a boy and a girl). Why do people think you should just keep having kids?? We all know our limitations and issues that we deal with. I agree that it is very rude, assuming and inconsiderate to ask people certain questions about their reproductive plans.

  3. People don’t think before they speak! They could just say “What a nice family” and leave it at that.

  4. How about we just stop talking altogether. That’s sounds good. Everyone seems to be so offended these days about how a stranger strikes up a conversation. No… Asking if you’re going to try for a girl isn’t a dig at your unfortunate uterine problem or your precious boys it just a question to strike up conversation! And it most definitely is not asking you when you plan to have unprotected sex again. The sime act of discussing your children and reproduction plans is just a way for women to bond. Shake off your anger and go garden or something. Frankly I’m taking a brief reprieve before I go play with my child but I dare not ask you anything about yours.

  5. Anonymous

    I have two boys as well. And when I am asked if we will try for a girl, I have to admit….I would want another boy!!!!

  6. I don’t think people ask because they think your boys are not good enough but because couples usually want one of each. I myself have 2 girls and people ask all the time if I am trying for a boy. I don’t take any offense by it. They simply want to know if I will attempt to have both.

  7. I gave birth to my third daughter in June. When people ask me if I wanted a boy I say “Yes I did but I got lucky and had another beautiful girl.” People always smile! Some people are just looking to have a positive interaction in this rude and rushed society we have and I always try to assume the best of others.

  8. Mama2 4 little men

    I have 4 boys, and every pregnancy that has been the #1 question. I’m not sure if it was my imagination or not, but it seemed to intensify with every boy… I had a few different responses. If I was feeling playful I would respond “NO way! Girls are trouble, I would know.” other times, “God will give us what we need.” or, often, if my boys are around ” I’ve gotten exactly what I wanted every time so far.”
    It didn’t bother me as much when I only had 2 boys, but now I am almost afraid that if this little one is a girl, that Ethan James and Jonathan will feel like Brayden filled the boy spot and they were the mistakes that showed up while we were waiting for our girl. This is totally not the case, we are stopping at 5 regardless of gender, and all I have really wanted was my children to be healthy.
    So while I’ve never been offended by people asking, sometimes it does worry me, that my middle boys will hear it so often that they will start to think that they weren’t really wanted. And nothing could be further from the truth.

  9. I am the mother of four awesome girls. We didn’t set out to have four kids but that’s what we have. I get asked every time I am out with my girls if we kept trying to have a boy and my annoyance is the same as yours. Some people cannot understand why anyone would want four kids, on purpose. The only explanation some have, is that we must have kept trying to have a boy & then finally gave up after 4. By the third & fourth, I was happy they were girls, as boys, they would have worn pink sleepers for a long time! Any number, of any gender of kids, bring their own joys (& troubles).
    Every Mom I know is happy & fortunate to have the children they have, regardless of gender. A boy along the way for me would have been awesome, but so would another girl <3

  10. I’m one of those mamas who lost a baby. Our first born was a perfect and too tiny baby girl, who arrived at 23wks as I was being diagnosed with an incompetent cervix. Just short months later, I spent an entire pregnancy on bed rest (9wks hospitalized even), an actual stitch sewn around my cervix and was able to have a beautiful healthy, happy little boy. A few years later we decided to try again. After another stressful pregnancy (bedrest with a 3yr old running around!!) we were able to bring another amazing little boy into the world. I fought hard for these boys. I cannot imagine life without them. I get asked almost daily whether we will try for a girl. I am left with the choice of just saying- we’re good, thanks- or explaining our painful road to the little sweethearts we have and the one we lost. Every time I am asked, it does feel like a sucker punch to the gut, reminding me that the daughter we so very much wanted, came and left too quickly. So yeah, it sucks.

  11. Anonymous

    Thank you! I’m starting to get embarrassed by my generation! These “How dare you offend me!” articles are out of control. I hope we teach our children tolerance and to find good in all people instead of nitpicking others good intentions! Treasure the eye contact, smiles and interaction. There are bad people saying and doing bad things in the world. Perspective, please.

  12. As the mother of two beautiful girls, my youngest was just 2 days old when a staff member approached me in a pharmacy and asked what I had just had. On finding out it was another little girl, her response was “at least she’s healthy”. WTF??? As if having a girl was somehow less than a boy, but at least she’s healthy?! Some people need to learn to keep their thoughts and opinions to themselves as comments like these can be incredibly distressing.

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