By TheNotMom team writer Laura LaVoie:
Sometimes the question “Do you have kids?” is followed by additional conversation. This can come from people I’ve just met, or even individuals I have known for a long time. I have long been surprised by the boldness of some people, and equally surprised that my choice not to have kids would even be a topic of conversation.
Here some memorable things people have thought it was OK to say to me.
- “You would make a great mom!”
- “You’ll understand when you have kids.”
- “Don’t you like kids?”
- “Try being stressed out AND have kids.”
- “I think it is selfish not to have kids.”
Recently, TheNotMom posted on Facebook an article with insightful explanations of why certain comments by parents will always fail. The twist on this particular post is that it was written by a Dad. I love his confession at the beginning when he realizes that these are things he has said to friends without children.
I was going to shelve my idea for this post after reading John Kinnear’s take on the subject. He made his points so clear and so well that I didn’t feel I had anything else to contribute. That was when a friend invoked Wheaton’s Law. It’s named for former Star Trek: The Next Generation teen actor and current professional geek, Wil Wheaton, but the term was originally used to describe poor online gaming etiquette. It has since been applied to every aspect of our lives. Simply put, Wheaton’s Law says “Don’t be a jerk.”
Here is the thing. Jerks can come in all shapes and sizes. A NotMom can be just as a big of a jerk to a Mom. We all say things we shouldn’t.
I propose that we all stop to think before automatically responding to someone else’s reality. Knee-jerk reactions are also referred to as “Yum Yucking.” Much like Wheaton’s Law, Yum Yucking is a jerky thing to do. Example: When someone says they absolutely love vanilla ice cream, the appropriate response is not “Oh, how can you like that? I hate vanilla ice cream!” This does not foster further communication; it shuts it down very quickly instead. There is no moral victory here.
A response to a friend or acquaintance that doesn’t have kids should not automatically be, “I can’t believe you don’t have kids. They are the greatest thing you’ll ever do with your life.” Alternately, someone should never say to a Mom, “I never want kids. I really enjoy all the things I get to do without them.”
We all have the potential to be jerks. And, we are the only ones responsible to do something about it.
Don’t be a jerk. Don’t yuck anyone’s yum.
*Image Credit: NBC/30 Rock