“Just The One?” And Other Awkward Questions People Ask About Families


When I tell people I have a three-year-old, the question that people almost always ask is, “Just the one?” In one way or another, people want to know the answer to this question. What people want to know is whether or not my husband and I are going to have another. I don’t have an issue with people asking this question. I am pretty open in saying that we plan to grow our family. What bothers me is that the questions don’t stop coming. 

I am told the questions don’t stop when you have a second child. Then, if you have two girls, for example, people ask if you’re going to try to have a boy. It’s made me ask-why does society think there is an ‘ideal’ family? It seems people idolize the idea of having one boy and one girl. The more my social circles have grown and the more people I meet, the more I see that few people fit that mold. There are blended families where there are significant gaps in age. There are families with foster children and adopted children. There are families with one child. There are large families. Families don’t fit one mold. I, for one, am from a very large family. People made insensitive comments about large families in front of my siblings and me. “Do you know how that happens?” someone once asked my mom when she said she was expecting another baby. After people made those comments, my mom had to talk with us children and assure us that each of us was loved and wanted. 

My parents had to talk to my siblings and me about children and tell us that each life is beautiful and precious. That belief has carried over into my adult life. Whether someone is expecting their first child, or second, third, fourth, etc…my answer is always an excited, ‘Congratulations!’ Whenever making small talk, whether the person I am talking with has a large family, one child family, blended family, etc, I leave unnecessary comments aside and only say positive things. I know what it feels like to be hurt by a comment, even if someone didn’t mean it to be hurtful.

Every time someone asks, “Just the one?” it leaves me feeling like our little family isn’t whole; it feels like our little family of three is not complete. I am not bitter at the people who ask these questions. I get this question every day at my workplace, at church, at the grocery store. What I hope is that the conversation can change. Instead of instantly asking about a second child, I would love it if people asked more thoughtful questions. When people ask, “What is Violet into these days?” I light up because I love to answer that question. At three years old, she has so many interests. I also love when people ask, “What are your favorite things to do as a family?” None of us know the circumstances or choices behind what makes a family. Conversations could be richer and more positive if people took the time to think of thoughtful questions.