As far as breeders go, I like to think I’m pretty tolerable. I don’t preach to my child-free friends about the unparalleled rapture that is (but kind of isn’t) parenthood. I don’t scoff when they call their pets their “babies.” I don’t sneer resentfully as they jet off to tropical, adult-only vacations in fricking February, when it’s not even a school holiday and they have no natural right to be warm and free and happy. (Okay, I do that, but they don’t know it.)
What I definitely don’t do is ask people why they don’t have children. My nonparent friends say they get asked this question all the time — sometimes by relative strangers. No one with a modicum of manners would ask, “Why aren’t you married?” or “Why don’t you earn more money?” Yet childless adults who appear within an egg’s toss of breeding age are often asked to explain why they’re not helping to populate this poor, desolate planet.
The real answer is often complicated, but my put-upon pals like to have a short, simple response at the ready — something that’ll call off the procreative inquisition and let everyone get back to vapid small talk, for the love of god.