A couple of weeks ago, I was talking to a woman in our ward at Church (someone I know fairly well, although not a close friend). I was holding our 20 month old son and she said, “He sure needs a sibling. When are you going to have another one?” This set me back a bit and I said we would love to have a second at some point in the near future. She then followed up with “Are you trying?” I was then really taken aback, although not surprised given I have had this type of grilling many times in Church (as I am sure many others have). What really startled me is that she has no idea if we have had a hard time conceiving or not, and to ask such a question can be very insensitive, hurtful and rude. I was nice in my response as I know she meant no harm in her questioning.

It started me thinking of the obsession Mormons have with each other’s reproductive status. It started within a year of getting married. People I barely knew would ask when we were having children. After a few years it became much more pointed – “Are you guys having fertility problems?” “Is there a problem?” “Why don’t you have any kids?” “You will be judged for waiting to have kids” Sometimes I wanted to explode and say, “it is none of your @#$%## business”. Of course I never did this but I probably should have. These questions are particularly rude as I know of many couples who have fertility problems and this line of questioning is very hurtful and causes significant pain. On the other end of the spectrum, I have a sister with 8 kids who has been asked/told in not so many words by members that she should stop having kids, which is equally rude and insensitive. I have wondered why Mormons are so concerned about each other’s reproductive status and I have a couple of hypotheses:

1. No one wants anyone to be any different – we want everyone to look and act like us and follow the “model” that has been laid out in the Mormon culture (3-5 kids starting early in marriage).
2. We are so sexually repressed that we must know what others reproductive lives are like.
3. We are inherently nosy.

I am sure there are lots of other possible reasons. I really wish that Mormons would keep their reproductive questions to themselves and realize that it is no one’s business when or if one has children nor how many children one has.