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"Is there a father?" - Page 5

post #81 of 97

Yes that really is rude and not her business. I got pregnant with my son when I was 22 and in college and I have been asked the same thing before as well as other rude comments. 

post #82 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by mambera View Post


 

 

So would it also be rude to ask about whether you have other children then?  If not, how is that different from asking about the partner?

 

For the record, this is the kind of question that I would avoid asking myself on a first meeting because I do recognize that some people are going to find it intrusive.  But I have to say that such a reaction does not make sense to me - and I have found myself avoiding entire topics of baby-care conversation in order not to come close to the partner question.  It puts a big roadblock in the conversation.

 

It's mainly because this is the kind of thing that immediately comes up when you are talking about babies (bc what else are you going to talk about when that's what you have in common) - the partner issue is just such a huge part of the picture of baby care.

 

eg, Mom 1: "I can't figure out when to take a shower!"

Mom 2: "Why don't you have your husband hold the baby while you do that?"

Mom 1: "I don't have a husband..."

 

Bad move Mom 2, should have asked first!  Wouldn't "Do you have a partner" have been a better response?

 

 

Yes, I think it also rude to ask about other children. Basically any questions about your family structure are out of line on a first meeting. Somehow I found plenty of baby-related stuff to talk about without asking about partners or siblings.

 

and the shower example? I think it is terribly rude EITHER way! I, for one, am incredibly offended by questions that start with "Why don't you..." They always seem to assume that I was too dumb to think of the thing they are going to say. Like, really, who hasn't already thought of trying to have someone else (whether it is a partner or not - and the question can easily be made less intrusive by simply saying, "Why don't you have someone else hold the baby while you do that?" - but it is still rude to me because of that "why don't you....") hold the baby so they can shower?? That was about the first thing I thought of! And let me tell you, it NEVER worked! I would just assume they have already thought of that and that for whatever reason it didn't work, otherwise why would they be saying it is difficult to figure out when to take a shower? And the second version -"Do you have a partner?" is, again, rude because it's just a rude question to ask on first meeting. I would have answered "Mom 1" by commiserating and sharing some of my own stories. "Oh, I know! It's just amazing how the simplest little thing like a shower can become such a big deal once you have a baby! I tried everything - handing baby off to my husband or my mom if she was visiting, putting her right in the bathroom so she could see me while she was in the vibrating bouncy seat with toys above it, the exersaucer when she was old enough.... nothing worked. She just screamed bloody murder if I tried to shower. Even if she was napping and I tried to hop in, she seemed to have a sixth sense kick in and she'd wake up screaming! Only thing that ever worked for me was to shower in the dead of night when she was asleep next to my husband, or to hop into the tub with her and try to wash as best I could while holding a baby in one arm."

 

So how DO you get to know someone without asking intrusive, prying personal questions? Well, I start with small-talk questions about things that don't involve assumptions. If we are at story time at the library, I'll ask how they like this library or how they liked the story. If I see she has a stroller or sling, I'll say something about how pretty or cool it looks and ask how she likes it. I'll compliment her baby for having a sweet smile. I'll tell her how interesting her necklace looks. All of these innocuous things could lead to the other person opening up if she wants to. (as in, "thank you, my partner brought this sling back from her trip to Guatemala," or, "this stroller is great! This is my third baby and I only now found a stroller I like!," or, "yes, he has my smile but his daddy's eyes" or, "my ex bought me this necklace and I still love it and wear it even though we got divorced before the baby was born.") (Or- she can just smile and say, "thank you.")

THEN, and this is the important part, I volunteer information about myself. ("we used to go to story time at the other library when my older daughter was little, but my husband got a new job so we moved to this neighborhood." or the whole example above about showering.) So, she just learned a lot about me without having to outright ask, and I opened the door for her to share about herself if she wants to.
 

 

post #83 of 97

I think the question could definitely be rude, depending on the intent of the asker.  Often there is implied criticism there.  Asking do you have a partner or husband makes more sense, because you are asking about the relationship status of the person to whom you are relating.  Asking about the relationship status of the child seems a little more intrusive, not like you are trying to establish a rapport with another adult.  On the other hand, I could definitely see someone just thinking about saying something about the baby's father and then thinking, "oh wait is there a father involved, I should establish that."  

 

I've read posts here where people were offended if someone thought she was pregnant, offended if someone thought she wasn't pregnant, offended if someone used the term husband in place of boyfriend, offended if someone assumed they are heterosexual or didn't assume that.  So it can be kind of tricky.  I ask the questions I think need to be asked, I try to be neutral, if someone is offended I apologize and accept that they don't feel comfortable answering that question.  I think that's all you can do.

 

FWIW, I am over 40 and have had people ask if I was a single mother, and I would laugh and say, "I know it seems that way, but my husband is just really antisocial."  Then they are apologizing to me, and that makes me feel bad because honestly, it's not like I've given much in the way of clues that my husband is still alive or involved or whatever.   

post #84 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by Viola View Post

I've read posts here where people were offended if someone thought she was pregnant, offended if someone thought she wasn't pregnant, offended if someone used the term husband in place of boyfriend, offended if someone assumed they are heterosexual or didn't assume that.  So it can be kind of tricky.  I ask the questions I think need to be asked, I try to be neutral, if someone is offended I apologize and accept that they don't feel comfortable answering that question.  I think that's all you can do.


ITA.

Far be it from me to tell anyone they should or shouldn't feel a certain way.  Everyone is entitled to their feelings.

 

On the other hand, we've all got two choices.  We can choose to get our knickers in a twist over others' minor infractions, or we can choose to be forgiving to our fellow human beings and try to take things in the spirit in which they are meant.

I submit that when we choose the former route we do more harm to ourselves than to anyone else.  If anyone wants to steam and fume over the perceived rudeness of others that is certainly their prerogative, but personally I find my own happiness and serenity are much higher when I don't choose that path.  (By the way, FTR I have indeed had it assumed that I was a single mother - lord knows why since I am in my 30s and wear a wedding ring - and I chose to find it more amusing than anything else.)

 

I see threads on here all the time along the lines of 'Wasn't this so rude?' with lots and lots of people submitting that they are SO OFFENDED.  And sure, it's their right to be offended; but again, I wonder: whom are they helping, and whom harming, with all of this offense-taking?

 

post #85 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by princesstutu View Post

3. You don't even ask if people have other kids.  That's rude, too, when you've just met someone!

 

I can't even imagine that being considered rude. It's just small talk, most of the time, and really just requires a yes or no response if you don't want to give more.

 

 

 

post #86 of 97
Yeah, the idea that asking anything at all about someone's life is rude is. . .completely baffling to me. I don't even think asking if someone is married/otherwise partnered is rude. I think it can be asked in a rude way, but as long as the asker isn't attaching any sort of positive/negative judgement to it, it's just a request for information that helps people get to know each other better. I'm generally a pretty shy person and don't ask a lot of questions about people I meet, and even I might ask about a partner or children. The best conversationalists I know are the ones who ask lots of questions about the person they're talking to.
post #87 of 97



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jenP View Post

Yes, I think it also rude to ask about other children. Basically any questions about your family structure are out of line on a first meeting...

 

I would have answered "Mom 1" by commiserating and sharing some of my own stories. "Oh, I know! It's just amazing how the simplest little thing like a shower can become such a big deal once you have a baby! I tried everything - handing baby off to my husband or my mom if she was visiting, putting her right in the bathroom so she could see me while she was in the vibrating bouncy seat with toys above it, the exersaucer when she was old enough.... nothing worked. She just screamed bloody murder if I tried to shower. Even if she was napping and I tried to hop in, she seemed to have a sixth sense kick in and she'd wake up screaming! Only thing that ever worked for me was to shower in the dead of night when she was asleep next to my husband, or to hop into the tub with her and try to wash as best I could while holding a baby in one arm." ...

So, she just learned a lot about me without having to outright ask, and I opened the door for her to share about herself if she wants to.
 


So, very good.  This what you have been taught about politeness and that is fine.

 

Now consider also how this may come across to someone who has been taught the opposite - that it is polite to show interest in the other person, and rude to talk excessively about oneself without directly expressing interest in the other person's experiences.  One could imagine that they might feel overwhelmed, or that they hadn't been given a chance to talk about themselves (if they are waiting for a direct invitation to do so in the form of a polite inquiry, rather than realizing that your talking about your own experiences is meant as an indirect invitation for them to do so also).

 

I have to say that I do not myself usually intuit that people who talk a lot about themselves are actually trying to give me an opportunity to talk.  I usually think it is the opposite - that they simply like to talk about themselves - and (assuming that I don't mind listening at the time) I will either stay quiet or ask supportive/interested questions.

 

I'm not saying either of these approaches is 'right' or 'wrong' - actually I would say there is no right or wrong about this, just people's differing and sometimes conflicting expectations.  I think the only approach that really is destructive is assuming that one Knows The Way It Should Be and getting offended when others don't comply.
 

 


Edited by mambera - 5/19/11 at 11:39am
post #88 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by mambera View Post

 

Now consider also how this may come across to someone who has been taught the opposite - that it is polite to show interest in the other person, and rude to talk excessively about oneself without directly expressing interest in the other person's experiences.  ....they might feel overwhelmed... they hadn't been given a chance to talk about themselves

. people who talk a lot about themselves ....that they simply like to talk about themselves -.

 

.

 

Oh my goodness, I'm so sorry I didn't make myself very clear! That is not at all what I meant, nor is it remotely what I do in real life! Absolutely it is most important to show interest in the other person, talk about them, and ask questions about them. That was the first thing my mama taught me!

I know my post was a little bit long - I do tend to run on once I get typing! - but I believe I did point out that the first thing I do is show an interest in the other person, give them compliments, and ask lots of (innocuous) questions:

"Well, I start with small-talk questions about things that don't involve assumptions. If we are at story time at the library, I'll ask how they like this library or how they liked the story. If I see she has a stroller or sling, I'll say something about how pretty or cool it looks and ask how she likes it. I'll compliment her baby for having a sweet smile. I'll tell her how interesting her necklace looks. All of these innocuous things could lead to the other person opening up if she wants to."

 

Of course, I can see how it would look as though I do blather on about myself from the little example I gave about responding to someone's statement about the difficulty of showering. That WAS a big run-on paragraph, LOL! But that is only because it was a forum post, which is one-sided, and can't show the natural give-and-take of a real-life conversation. In real life I would just start with agreeing - "Oh, I know! It's just amazing how the simplest little thing like a shower can become such a big deal once you have a baby!" - and then let it proceed naturally from there. I only wrote all the rest to demonstrate how I could drop little tidbits of my personal life into conversation so she can find out what she may be wondering (i.e., do I have a partner - now she knows without having to ask, because I just casually mentioned my husband!) without having to outright ask, as well as how to share what solution worked for me without smugly saying, "Oh, you should just do this!!" (I DO realize that being offended by the "Why don't you just..." thing is really just a "me" thing, and that people usually are saying that type of thing from a place of wanting to offer helpful advice. But sometimes people are a little smug which is why I am a bit sensitive about how the advice is framed - is it more, "I know all the answers and now I'm going to share my great wisdom and superior parenting skills with you," or is it, "here's something that worked for me, or for a friend...maybe it will be useful to you?".....and I try to make sure I am not coming across as the former.)

 

As for, "what good is it to go around getting all offended?" - actually I am NOT offended by personal questions. I don't mind answering them at all. But I do realize that it is rude to ask very personal questions on a first meeting. The potential for making the other person very uncomfortable is just too high, and manners are all about making the other person feel comfortable. That's why I don't ask if she has a partner. She may be going through a divorce and feeling raw about it, or not sure if others may judge her for it, or she may be single or with a same-sex partner and not sure if she may be judged for it. She may just need a little more time to scope me out and see if she wants to share that part of her life with me, and asking her point-blank is going to put her on the spot and make her feel uncomfortable. For instance, there was a woman I had been seeing pretty regularly in a business capacity. She knew I was married with one child and another on the way. She never said a word about her personal life, though we made lots of small talk. Then one day I mentioned how fun square dancing is, and that I was greatly enjoying dancing with our local gay square dance club. Almost immediately she started talking about her same-sex partner! It was just a matter of her feeling that the time was right and she had the comfort level around me to share that information about herself. And I'm all about giving people the space they need for that. Until they want to open up with personal details, I'll just keep on noticing and asking questions about other things about them, like, "those shoes sure are cute! Are they comfortable?" and "Oh, I see you're returning books about landscaping and gardening, are you planning a project? ..You are, how exciting! What plants are you putting in?" and so on and so on....

 

post #89 of 97

I think you're being overly sensitive. Small talk isn't rude. It's ok to ask some of that stuff, even during a first meeting.

post #90 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by Polliwog View Post

I think you're being overly sensitive. Small talk isn't rude. It's ok to ask some of that stuff, even during a first meeting.



How about, "They look nothing like you! Are they adopted?" or even "Where did you get him?"

post #91 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by MittensKittens View Post





How about, "They look nothing like you! Are they adopted?" or even "Where did you get him?"



Why don't you let us know how these lines work out for you before we try them, LOL?

 

post #92 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by mammal_mama View Post





Why don't you let us know how these lines work out for you before we try them, LOL?

 


The first happens to me quite often, as my kids look different to me. I also get asked if they are twins, even though one is much larger than the other, LOL. The second, I experienced once when I was babysitting my friend's son, who is Indian. The neighbors knew I hadn't just given birth to a two year old and asked "Where did you get him?" as if I had adopted him. It didn't occur to them that I was just babysitting.

 

 I obviously (to me, anyway!) was not suggesting someone actually ask these questions. I was asking whether being offended by them would make one oversensitive or not.

post #93 of 97

Just came across this thread.

 

While the original question may be a bit rude, I would certainly not waste time & energy being offended by it.

 

And I've been a single (not by choice) pregnant woman!

post #94 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by MittensKittens View Post




The first happens to me quite often, as my kids look different to me. I also get asked if they are twins, even though one is much larger than the other, LOL. The second, I experienced once when I was babysitting my friend's son, who is Indian. The neighbors knew I hadn't just given birth to a two year old and asked "Where did you get him?" as if I had adopted him. It didn't occur to them that I was just babysitting.

 

 I obviously (to me, anyway!) was not suggesting someone actually ask these questions. I was asking whether being offended by them would make one oversensitive or not.



It was obvious to me, too. You seemed to be lumping all these comments in with the "is there a father?" comment. I definitely agree that all those comments are rude in the sense of being things that were better left unsaid. There are certainly better ways of starting a conversation and making small talk.

 

However, as I mentioned further upthread, I have, on occasion, caught myself blurting out some crazy thing that I wished I could take back a moment later.

 

So, yes, comments like this are rude -- but, having erred myself, I try not to choose to take offense too quickly when someone says something to me that gets my back up. "Rude" doesn't necessarily mean mean-spirited. Maybe this person could still be a friend someday. Maybe I'll be glad I that I didn't choose to stay offended. I'd rather give people a chance than just x them off my list over one unfortunate comment.

 

post #95 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by mammal_mama View Post





It was obvious to me, too. You seemed to be lumping all these comments in with the "is there a father?" comment. I definitely agree that all those comments are rude in the sense of being things that were better left unsaid. There are certainly better ways of starting a conversation and making small talk.

 

However, as I mentioned further upthread, I have, on occasion, caught myself blurting out some crazy thing that I wished I could take back a moment later.

 

So, yes, comments like this are rude -- but, having erred myself, I try not to choose to take offense too quickly when someone says something to me that gets my back up. "Rude" doesn't necessarily mean mean-spirited. Maybe this person could still be a friend someday. Maybe I'll be glad I that I didn't choose to stay offended. I'd rather give people a chance than just x them off my list over one unfortunate comment.

 



Oh yes, I have said some crazy stuff before myself! Full disclosure - I am a single mother living in a country where that is apparently not socially acceptable. I don't think I am being overly sensitive if I get annoyed by the latest comment after several in one day about "where the father is". Neighbors really harassed me over it, and asked my very young kids why they don't have a daddy. I have been tempted to say that he died in a tragic accident and starting to cry loudly. I am not a hooker, like some of my neighbors seem to suggest. I CAN pay my bills, thanks - and given the general economic situation in my country of residence, probably more easier than the neighbor asking. I don't want pity, hate, or any of that stuff smile.gif.

 

Sure, a person who makes an unfortunate but not malignant comment is fine. That happens all the time.

post #96 of 97

MittensKittens, I'm so sorry that you are having to deal with all that! Where I live, people are not at all suprised about single mothers.

 

I can see how questions like that would be tiresome and even hurtful. I don't blame you for being sick of it!

post #97 of 97

i understand how you feel, i am a little younger than  you, 22, and i have 2 children and people look at me all the time like im 16 and have two, and most of the time i go places with my kids alone because my husband works overnights and hes sleeping all day, and they look at me like i dont know who the father is or like hes gone when he is very much involved as well. it annoys me too. and it is very rude and offensive when those questions are asked and dont need to be.

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