Skip Nav
Parenting Tips and Advice
7 Tips That Make Going Back to Work After Maternity Leave Easier
How to Tame Your Kid’s Sweet Tooth in Time For Halloween
What Every Parent Needs to Know About Those Teal Pumpkins

Smart Comebacks to the Five Rudest Questions

Smart Comebacks to the Five Rudest Questions

Almost from the moment you announce you are pregnant you begin to receive unsolicited parenting advice. Just ask Circle of Moms member Brandi L., who says she has been bombarded with all sorts of highly personal (and inappropriate) questions about her life as a mom.

As a mom of four, she says she's lost all patience for strangers who approach her in the supermarket, at school meetings, and in the mall with: "Are they all your children?," and, “I hope you aren’t going to have anymore!" As Brandi shares, ” I am so sick of the stares and smart comments.” She wants to respond, "Yep these are mine and I’m not done yet," or, “Why do you care, you are not taking care of them?” But, she wishes she could come up with more clever responses to these insensitive queries.

To help Brandi and others, I sought the advice of Circle of Moms members. Here's a roundup of snappy (and occasionally snarky) comebacks for deflecting the kind of inappropriate questions, comments and advice that are often directed at moms.


1. Why So Many Kids?

Circle of Moms member Janice R., a mom of five herself, says moms with large families are frequent targets. "Once you have more than three, [people think they have] the right to lecture you on contraception, sterilization, and anything else they deem fit.”


Her favorite reply has been, ‘If you had kids as cute and well behaved as these, wouldn’t you want more?” But she also feels there's a time and a place for a snarkier reponse. A friend of hers with six boys was asked at the mall if all the children were hers. "She replied, ‘No I’m just going around the shops collecting random kids.”

2. Are You Really Her Mom?

Instead of sidestepping the fact that someone has asked you a rude question, Circle of Moms members like Amy C. prefer a direct response like Why are you asking me this question? Amy, who is married to a man with much darker skin and whose three kids are all a shade in between, explains her stance: "I have been asked, 'Is she yours?;' 'Where did you get him from?;’ and 'Are you babysitting?” Yes, [these questions] hurt me, and you would think [that] over time I would develop thicker skin to these nasty rude comments, but I don't. Finally, I have decided to tell anyone from now on (since it’s none of their business if they are my biological children or adopted children), 'Why are you asking me this question?'"

3. When Are You Having Another?

When she is asked why she only has "just" one child, Susan L. asks back, are you "going to pay for the next one?” She also asked for "pointers on positions to help me get pregnant," and reports, "That shut them up because they were embarrassed."

4. Are You Really Old Enough to Be a Mom?

Like many young Circle of Moms members, Mary R. says she is constantly barraged by questions about her age. Other moms will ask, "'Is that YOUR daughter? What?! You don't look old enough to have a baby. How old are you?'" Mary expains that these questions feel like attacks, with a thinly-veiled sub-text along the lines of "How dare I look young and be thin and have a baby." Mary suggests responding bluntly, with "How old are you?" Tah D., who does exactly this, then follows up with, "You’re kidding, You look way more....well..experienced."


5. Why Are You Nursing Here?

Another situation where strangers commonly feel compelled to offer unsolicited commentary is when moms breastfeed in public. Sharon B. is fed up with the number of people who harass her and tell her it is inappropriate. “If someone is rude you can politely tell them to mind their own business, your child is entitled to a meal as well. You can tell them if they don't like to see public breastfeeding then they shouldn't be looking.”

Last Word 

Sometimes, as Bobbie B. shares, the best response to rude comments is to show the question asker the mirror. When other parents give her advice about her child, Jan T. responds with: "I didn't realize I was holding your child, thought it was mine." She has found that that this ends an unwelcome discussion fast! And when Lindsey D.’s mother-in-law offers unsolicited advice, she nips the conversation in the bud with: “You made your mistakes, now it is my turn.”

Or, as some Circle of Moms members suggest, “Just let it go.” Jessica J. prefers this approach, and explains, “You can't change the fact that people are going to give you advice. Smile and nod until they stop talking, then find a way to get away.”

How do you deal with unsolicited advice?

Image Source: Michael Angel Johnson via Flickr/Creative Commons

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

bevpettiford bevpettiford 5 years
I wish someone would TRY to photograph my many pieces can you pick off the ground before I step on them is the real question!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
JessicaHall68679 JessicaHall68679 5 years
Sometimes genuine interest is obvious. I reply honestly & openly to that. Sometimes judgmentalism is obvious. I tend to point that out to them. Sometimes it's a sensitive issue for me in general, or just at that moment & I often hide behind sarcarsm. And sometimes it's the idle curiousity of the Fool. Those get the long, detailed answers. Don't ask if you don't want to know.
JessicaHall68679 JessicaHall68679 5 years
My all-purpose snide reply is "Is it any of your business?" That's for when I can't immediately think of anything else. I have 1 child, in a community where women seem to define their importance by the size of their family. I can't have more, medically, so it doesn't matter whether I want more, so I don't think about it. But I always hear "So, just the one?" "Are you planning on having any more?" "When do you plan on another one?" "Why don't you have any more (yet)?" I really can't see why people ask. A couple people have pushed the issue, so I went for the guilt trip & make them feel like jerks. I'm the oldest of 7 & there's a 20-year spread. I've gotten the dirty looks when I used to hold my baby siblings at church (as if people didn't know my mom!). I've gotten people asking my why my mom had so many kids (as if I know!), or why so far apart (as if it matters!). My husband & I have olive skin, darker hair, I have green eyes & my husband's are jet black, but our daughter is very fair w/blue eyes. "Is she really yours?" My favorite reply is "No, she was genetically engineered." Sometimes they see the sarcasm & shut up. Sometimes they look confused, stay silent & I leave them hanging. Sometimes they inquire further; then I smile, tell them my dad's Scandinavian & they always smile & nod, whether they get it or not. But I'm running out of original ideas & have been using "Why do you need to know?" more & more frequently. It works pretty well.
Mallory88361 Mallory88361 5 years
I have a stepdaughter who just turned 4yesterday and I just turned 21 in Feb. I am also pregnant with my first child. Good genes run in my family, so instead of looking 21 I pretty much look like I am 15ish. I get rude comments all the time on how I am too young to have such a child who is so old (my hubby and her bm are both very tall so she looks more like she's 6 than 4) and that I shouldn't be having ANOTHER baby since I am so young. It really pisses me off that people feel the need to make remarks like that. I am 21, married, and settled down. Why shouldn't I be allowed to have children and who cares if i was 17 when my stepdaughter was born. Just because I am young does not mean I am not a great mother. I had a lady ask me last week, "is that child yours?!?!" I looked down and loudly remarked " oh no! I grabbed the wrong kid again!" That shut her up pretty quick. Another person asked me "is she yours? You look too young" in which I replied (pointing at her kid)"is he yours? You just look...well...too old" I just get very annoyed with the way people look down on young moms. Its hard enough already, why do you have to add to the stress?
HeatherByrd68949 HeatherByrd68949 5 years
Why can't people just say, "Your child(ren) are beautiful", then leave it up to the mom or dad to offer any further comments. Why do people assume they have the right to ask people anything that pops into their heads? As a 6'0 woman with a tall 3 year old daughter, I hear rude questions often. I grew up the oldest of 4 with VERY tall parents and siblings, and people would treat us like a freak show when we were out together. It makes you feel bad as a child to have questions asked about your height and have rude comments made. I feel sorry for all who have endured this over their ethnicity, age, deformities, etc. Think before you speak please!
StephanieWall58419 StephanieWall58419 5 years
I have three children and am single. Their father and I divorced 7 years ago. I've been asked numerous times "Do they all have the same father?" I wish I had a better come back but all I've been able to come up with is "are you suggesting I'm some sort of easy mother who just sleeps around." This questions is especially frustrating given the fact that my two oldest are a day short of a year apart. So their questions would imply that I got pregnant to one man and with in 3 months of her birth got pregnant to another man.
JodiSchwartz30773 JodiSchwartz30773 5 years
In the community where I live there are number of older moms. I have heard people ask "are you her grandmother" to the mother of the child. The best reply to this one was "I don't think so since I had sex with her father and gave birth to her". It is completely inappropriate to make assumptions about anyone's age or fertility status; technically most women are "old enough" to have kids by the time they are 11-13.
BethBento BethBento 5 years
I am disappointed by all the woman who seem to enjoy and encourage nosey parkers. It really is none of your business if I am pregnant, if my child is my own, if he is 'mixed', if I plan on having more, if I am currently pregnant b/c I got heavier, or if ALLL THOSE CHILDREN ARE yours when I babysit my friends children. None of your freaking business. I was taught to be polite and that included not asking personal questions of people you don't know. Maybe the rude questioners need a reminding on how to be polite and how crass and classless they sound to those around them. Gah.
JamieThomas26956 JamieThomas26956 5 years
I think most comments are not meant to be rude. I am a very talkitive person. And if in line I will just speak with random people. Granted, I do have boarders that I won't ask. I think the Rude people are the ones that stare and don't ask and then run their mouths off later to other people.
jodi-shaw jodi-shaw 5 years
I had a lady yell at me for giving my son a time out. She said I was being degrading to him and if I just talk to him... I looked up flustered and upset, my son was acting up horribly and saying even worse things. I told her "Okay well have at her, how would you discipline him?" she bent down to talk to my son and he screamed at her she was ugly and to go away! top of his lungs. Yep she walked away really fast, embarrassed while I went back to doing what I am supposed to do. Parenting MY CHILD.
CandiceFillingim CandiceFillingim 5 years
I get the "you don't look old enough to have a 12-year-old" on an almost daily basis. It's true, I had her when I was young and am a fairly young looking 30. Once an older mom actually said to me "I thought you were her sister, but then I saw your stretch marks, and figured she must be your daughter" (I guess my shirt had raised while I was picking her up). We were at a very pretentious school at the time, and it was very clear that she was trying to cut me down by the smirk on her face.I said "Wow, I thought that was your granddaughter, but then I heard her call you mommy." NOT my finest moment, but I was really aggravated. I usually handle the situation with a little more grace, but that lady was just plain rude.
KariSheffield KariSheffield 5 years
I read the article and a few responses and was shocked to see that some people reaponding actually thought the othera were being petty and self absorbed. I am sorry, but a stranger has no damn business asking questions or giving their 2 cents about anything. I have gotten the rude comment: you have twins, I think you are done. I quietly told them to go fuck themselves and that if I wanted more, I would so please. There was absolutely no curiosity or comfort in that statement. So for you mothers on here that say we are overreacting, kindly do what I told that woman.
ValerieSwenson11973 ValerieSwenson11973 5 years
Most people who ask rude or invasive questions usually mean no ill toward you. I think a little grace in these situations will go a long way. most often they are trying to make conversatio, convey interest in you, or relate to you in some way. Being rude back is hardly helpful, and will only teach your children that rudeness is acceptable as long as they were rude first. But I le saying these comments in my head to help preserve my sanity.
LoriCooley LoriCooley 5 years
I am a mom to four wonderful boys ages 21 - 6. some years ago when I had just 3 sons, while at the grocery store the elderly lady in front of me kept turning around and looking at the boys and finally asked the question " Are they all yours?" My reply was a simple, yes. Next question she asked was " Are they all boys?" again I answered a simple yes, but i thought the crew cut haricuts were a good indication of their gender.... Lastly, she makes the comment " Well maybe next time, if you're lucky, the next one will be a girl." I think by that point I had had enough and I came back with, hmm... I thought I was already pretty lucky that God gave me 3 handsome, healthy sons and would be extremely happy to have another son! Well she didn't like that, I guess my tone of voice was a bit sarcastic and snarky at that point. To make matters worse,my oldest son then asked me why she didn't like boys? I very loudly answered him that some people are just rude and think they need to express their opinion and obviously don't realize what awesome boys they are!!! It just simple iritates me when people act like the number of kids you have or the gender of your children is their business or make nasty comments. I really just want to ask people sometimes if thier lives are so dull and boring that they need to sit and judge others for their choices? Ughh!!
CoMMember13631178541354 CoMMember13631178541354 5 years
All I would say to someone who asks a rude question or marks an off color remark is, "Are you writing a book? Why don't you leave that chapter out?" They kind of shut up after that.
SophieKendall SophieKendall 5 years
I am a young Mother (I'm coming up on 22 in just over 2 weeks) and my daughter is turning 5 soon. I get a lot of rude looks and odd glares from people, especially if I occasionally look unkempt. No one has ever asked me how old I am, and to be honest I'd rather they did, but I can see how some people might take it as rude. I think I get a lot of looks because I look about 2 or 3 years younger and I suppose a lot of them are going "Wow, I wonder how young she was when she had her!" but I like to think a few of them are like my uncle. He thinks that my decision to have children so young (we all know it's a very hard task!) was brave, and admires how strong I was in the face of adversity. Always try to stay positive; if you think the worst, it just might happen.
CoMMember13614883468179 CoMMember13614883468179 5 years
I was shopping the other day at whole foods, i needed flour to make bread because my daughter has celiac, and there was this lady going on very loudly how ridiculous it was to think you couldn't tolerate gluten. In an effort to be nice I pointed her to what she was looking for she thanked me but then wanted my opinion on all the gluten nonsense. I politely told her that my daughter had celiac so it really wasn't an option for us. She then said "oh isn't she a little young for that" I told her I wasn't aware that there was and age restriction on genetic diseases.
When Kids Start Masturbating
Best MAC Cosmetics Collaborations
Princess Diana Family Traditions
What to Do When You Feel Like a Failure As a Mom
From Our Partners
Latest Moms
All the Latest From Ryan Reynolds