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AIBU to be annoyed when strangers ask such personal questions

(48 Posts)
Barrow Sat 02-Jun-12 16:56:16

Last night I went to a dinner party where there were several people I didn't know - after the usual questions - what do you do (retired) , are you married (widow), do you have children (no) - came the question Why is that? Do these people really think I am going to go into the reasons I am childless over dinner?

I have been asked this question all my married life and people seem to be surprised when I am not willing to discuss it with them. If I asked them how often they had sex with their partner or what their bank balance was they would, rightly, be very indignant but they seem to think it is OK to ask such a personal question. Over the years I have perfected the raised eyebrows and an indignant "I beg your pardon". This usually results in their being embarrassed instead of me and quickly changing the subject. It got me thinking what is the most inappropriate question others have been asked

greenmossgiel Sat 02-Jun-12 17:00:47

I've probably been asked a few inappropriate questions in the past, and have answered them without thinking, but now that I'm more 'mature', I've found that if I reply, "Why do you want to know?" this can be quite entertaining for me! It completely 'wrong-foots' the person asking the question! wink

glammanana Sat 02-Jun-12 17:45:52

barrow some people are so so nosey aren't they? I would ask them why they had children and wait for the reply.I had mine as it was my choice but I could have easily not have had any and that would have been my choice also,green I will remember your reply for the next time I am asked a question that I think is too

Greatnan Sat 02-Jun-12 17:55:27

You are certainly right to be annoyed - they are very rude and rather stupid.
I get asked why I was divorced and why I have not remarried. I use your tactics - a surprised look and 'I'm sorry?'

nanaej Sat 02-Jun-12 17:55:35

Barrow how incredibly insensitive /thoughtless is that question!

The funniest story about answering personal questions was just after my DD2 had her first baby. Two friends of, & who also work for, my SiL (building /decorating firm) dropped by the hospital on their way to work in their work gear. My SiL had gone home early hours so new nursing shift had not met him. The 2 lads got to the ward and asked if they could see my DD. 'Which of you is the father ?' asked the nurse. Quick as a flash one replied ,'that's what we're here to find out'! My DD was v. embarrassed blush when she heard what they had said!

harrigran Sat 02-Jun-12 18:01:37

Love it grin give the staff something to think about.

Jacey Sat 02-Jun-12 18:11:58

nanaej priceless!! flag

Yes Greatnan ...I too go for the surprised look, gasp and wait!! Some people can be so thoughtless/rude

jeni Sat 02-Jun-12 18:13:45


Pennysue Sat 02-Jun-12 18:15:09

I am always being asked when my DD will be having a baby (she is nearly 43) apart from the fact that she has never wanted children, would rather have horses and dogs, she has had problems since she was about 15 and was eventually diagnosed with Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) aged 20.

She is married and her OH also never particularly wanted children.

I get fed up with people telling me that "she will regret it". Why!

I would not have dreamt of telling my DD that she should undergo the treatment that in all likelihood would not have been successful. Not that she would have listened to me anyway!

Anagram Sat 02-Jun-12 18:22:18

My stepdaughter, who has never wanted children, and is married to a man who feels the same way, is often asked whether she has children. When she says 'No', the usual response is 'Oh, what a shame!' - as though the desire to produce children is a given, and she must be devastated....

Ariadne Sat 02-Jun-12 18:31:07

And my DS and his lovely wife (just approved for adoption!) have face the same sort of question. How can people be so stupid / cruel / thoughtless?

Elegran Sat 02-Jun-12 19:20:59

On informing someone proudly that out first baby was a girl, DH was told "Never mind, the next will be a boy"


whenim64 Sat 02-Jun-12 20:14:16

It's also annoying when (usually) women take a look at my beautiful twin grandchildren when they're resting peacefully in their stroller, and remark 'ooh! Double Trouble!' Idiots! grin

goldengirl Sat 02-Jun-12 21:54:10

I found it difficult to answer the question 'do you have any children?' after my babies had died. Saying yes but they're dead was obviously a conversation stopper. I don't think one should embarrass the questioner - some people just ask automatically without thinking - but perhaps answer along the lines of 'well, that's a little bit personal', smile gently and change the subject, perhaps by complimenting them on something. That way you keep in control though it's not easy at first.

Bags Sun 03-Jun-12 06:19:12

When I was pregnant and people askednif I wanted a boy or a girl I always answered yes.

Greatnan Sun 03-Jun-12 06:46:38

When I had a second girl, which was what I had always wanted, I got the usual 'commiserations'.
(Why are you up so early on a Sunday, Bags?)

Bags Sun 03-Jun-12 06:50:17

Because I woke up early, as usual. Don't do sleeping in. smile

JessM Sun 03-Jun-12 06:53:38

A muslim woman explained to me recently that in her culture sons were expected to look after their mothers - but you weren't supposed to accept anything from your daughter. Not even lunch. So in that culture it is not surprising that people prefer boys.

Bags Sun 03-Jun-12 06:58:27

I wonder which came first: making boys responsible for looking after mum or wanting boys; making up a rule that you can't accept anything from daughters or not wanting girls? confused

Bags Sun 03-Jun-12 06:59:12

Sounds to me like a jusitification for a silly idea.

Bags Sun 03-Jun-12 07:00:57

Not that I'm blaming individuals — they are the product of their society. But I do blame the irrationality of those particular cultural ideas for causing bias and problems.

Greatnan Sun 03-Jun-12 07:03:09

Quite so, Jess, and of course when a daughter marries she becomes part of her husband's family and there may be a dowry to pay as well. I think girls were known at some time in India as 'a father's curse'!
Isn't it odd how you want to get up early when you are retired - when I had to leave for work at 7 a.m. to get from Rainham to Kensington I would have killed for a lie-in. Now, I wake at 6 a.m. every day (5 a.m. your time) but I usually take a cup of tea back to my settee and just enjoy some surfing time before I have my bath. I do tend to doze off in the afternoons, though, so I have taken to recording 'Countdown'.

nelliedeane Sun 03-Jun-12 09:59:54

greatnan may I ask was that Rainham in Kent or Essex memberof my own deceased family came from Essex.
People are thoughtless and insensitive,Eisha is mixed race,people are nots sure if I am mum or nan and then the inevitable questions start ,if the subject is changed their curiosity is piqued even more for strangers I do like to have a bit of a game with them till they realise I am pulling their leg,by that time they have forgotten what they asked moved on got bored ...the story can change every time grin

Greatnan Sun 03-Jun-12 10:04:35

I lived in Rainham, Kent, for a couple of years in the 1990s but I found the travelling too much and moved into a rented studio in Chelsea.
(Not as posh as it sounds - even though it was on Lower Sloane St. and had the coveted SW1W post code, it was pretty run down.)

harrigran Sun 03-Jun-12 11:52:39

People ask me all the time why my DD never had children ( she is in her 40s) She and her DH never wanted children but she also has POD but if you tell them that it starts a whole new set of questions like why did she not have treatment and am I not sad. I have GC by my DS why would I badger my DD to do something she doesn't want to ? People can be extremely rude and insensitive and just because you are at a social function does not give them the right to be intrusive.