Dear Prudence, My Friend Won’t Stop Demanding I Get Pregnant
How frigging obnoxious. I would not have a problem telling this “Jane” person, if I knew her, to STFU and get out of my business.
I’m sure not opposed to people having children and so on, but even as a conservative, I find that most conservatives – especially the religious types – do this same thing that “Jane” is doing to her female friends on a bigger scale: they are forever publishing thought pieces, usually alarmist or shaming in nature, screaming at all women to run out and get pregnant, and they too can STFU about this.
By DANIEL MALLORY ORTBERG
My friend “Betty” is single, and I’m about to get married, but we’ve both noticed a recent trend with our friend “Jane” that we can’t abide. Every time we see her, Jane expresses how excited she is for us to have children.
We hear some version of “You have to have kids!” or “I can’t wait till you have babies!”
Usually she is drunk when this happens, but she’s mentioned it sober too. It makes us both extremely uncomfortable.
Betty and I have explained why we’re not OK with this, but we can’t seem to get through to her. At a recent outing with friends, Jane got drunk and announced that “everyone should get pregnant and have a baby—it’s the greatest thing ever!” She kept pushing the idea.
The next day, one of my other friends confessed to us all that she has a medical issue that pushed her into early menopause. I was absolutely mortified that she had to sit through Jane’s drunken exclamations.
Betty and I are on edge about the next time we see Jane at my wedding.
We’re really hoping that she learned her lesson from hearing about our other friend’s medical issues, but I just don’t know that it’s enough—especially if alcohol is involved.
Betty and I are willing to discuss this with Jane again, but we’re starting to feel like we’re “ganging up” on her and making her defensive.
We assume that she is lonely as a mother, with few peers to share her experiences with, and it’s not as though we don’t care or appreciate the hardships she’s going through.
We just want her to stop demanding babies from us! What else can we do to gently steer her away from this for good?
Signed, Friend Demands I Get Pregnant
Dear [Friend Lady],
Your goal should not be to gently steer Jane away from anything. You’ve tried that, and it hasn’t worked.
She is not going to learn her lesson from anything short of immediate and obvious consequences for her boorish behavior, and risking her defensiveness is worth making sure she doesn’t make a scene demanding you get impregnated on your wedding day.
People should be ganging up on her about this!
What she’s doing is rude and making everyone around her uncomfortable and upset.
Plenty of women whose other friends don’t have children are still capable of having civil, respectful conversations without demanding everyone else get pregnant.
Tell her this: “Jane, I’m concerned about your habit of getting drunk and demanding everyone else get pregnant, especially when a few of us have struggled with infertility. I know I’m not the only person who’s asked you to stop in the past, but something’s clearly not connecting because you’re still doing it.”
If she’s at all receptive to having this conversation once her initial defensiveness has died down, you might ask her what she’s getting out of this.
You say you assume it’s because she feels lonely as a mother, which makes me think you’ve never asked.
It may be useful to her to reflect what’s driving this behavior.
If she’s able to acknowledge whatever fear or anxiety lies underneath it, she may find it easier to stop.
But if she tries to bluster her way through it or laugh it off, then you’ll have to get more blunt: “I need you to be honest about whether you think you’re capable of getting through my wedding without telling anyone else they need to have a baby.
If you don’t think you can, I’d rather know now so we can update the guest list.”
I understand you’re afraid of making Jane angry, so the idea of being this direct with her might seem daunting, even inflammatory, but it’s time she learned that she can either drunkenly insist all her friends get pregnant or she can spend time with you—but not both.