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Why we need to stop asking them about kids

3 min read

IN A scene that will be familiar to anyone over the age of 25, newlyweds Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were bailed up this week and prodded about when they plan to have kids.

“My husband also has red hair and he gave me five children — when are you and Meghan going to get going?” onlooker Elaine Adam-Stewart asked Harry, 33, as he and Meghan, 36, (his wife of less than two months) greeted crowds on a trip to Dublin.

Harry, doubtless trained from birth to maintain a stock of appropriate answers to any question fired at him, responded cheerfully, “Five children? Too many!’”

The rest of us, by way of not being royalty and therefore not used to making small talk with crowds on a daily basis, tend to be less well-prepared when nosy relatives, colleagues and complete strangers ask us about our fertility status.

And ask they do. They ask when you meet a new guy. They ask when you reach “a certain age”. The inquiries ramp up to a fever pitch when you get married. They even keep asking after you’ve had a baby, eager to be kept informed about when the next one is coming along.

The problem is, for many women and almost as many men, the ‘kids’ question is fraught with at best embarrassment and at worst, real pain. In Australia, it’s estimated that a quarter of Australian women will never have children, and for around a third of them, it will not be a decision they chose.

A Deakin University study that interviewed nearly 800 childless women aged 25 to 44, found that 9 per cent were unable to have kids for fertility reasons and a full 24 per cent had no children because of circumstance, e.g. they hadn’t met an appropriate partner.

That means every time you ask a woman “When are you having kids?” odds are that it’s a deeply difficult question for around one in three of them.

What you may see as airy small talk can be loaded with shameful, painful overtones: No kids? That’s because no one wants you. Your body is broken. You’re not a real woman. And you will never find the sort of happiness of a blissfully fulfilled parent who is doing nature’s intended work.

MORE: Harry, Meghan charmed by cute three-year-old

MORE: Meghan reveals she misses her old life on Suits

Perhaps that’s not what you’re thinking. But chances are she is.

Doesn’t seem quite so airy now, does it?

Professional excellent person Chrissy Teigen struggled with fertility issues early in her marriage with John Legend, and in her trademark excellent way explained the pain of being nagged about babies.

I will say honestly, John and I are having trouble,” she said with commendable frankness on the Tyra Banks show in 2015. She explained that for many people there is immense shame — and quite often fear — around seeking fertility treatment and that being asked about it just adds to the stress.

“So anytime somebody asks me if I’m going to have kids, I’m like, ‘One day, you’re going to ask that to the wrong girl who’s really struggling, and it’s going to be really hurtful to them’,” she added. “So I hate it (when people ask). Stop asking me!”

I admit that I’ve made the mistake myself. Part of my job when interviewing celebrities is to ask them about their baby-making plans. I don’t apologise for that entirely — because one of the trade-offs of earning gazillions of dollars for being famous is to give the public who made you famous information about your life.

But there have been times that, with bumbling insensitivity, I have handled the question badly.

I remember pushing and pushing a woman who, in hindsight, was almost certainly struggling to conceive.

And I did it with the blunt naivety of someone who had never imagined that babies weren’t something that you could just pop out when you wanted to. I remember being surprised by the flash of pain crossing her face and irritated by the sharpness to her reply.

It was only later when I became more aware of the reality of infertility that I realised what a twit I’d been. If you’re reading this, I’m really sorry.

The naysayers will groan that we’re all turning into melting, delicate snowflakes who can’t have a normal conversation without fainting from oversensitivity or reaching for the smelling salts every time we wade into a difficult topic.

It’s just small talk! What else is off-limits — asking someone what they do for a living in case they’ve just been fired? Asking someone what car they drive in case they’ve lost their licence?

Fertility is not a job or a car. It’s the most personal, private and potentially life-changing factors of a person’s life, whether they end up having children or not. We’re more coy about asking each other about our salaries or house prices than something that tugs at our very soul.

Just hold off. Ask something else. If a woman doesn’t have children let her tell you her story if and when she wants to, on her own terms.

Stuck for small something to talk about instead? Gossip about Harry and Meghan. Just maybe stick to her outfits and not their family plans.

– Alex Carlton is a freelance journalist. Follow her on Twitter: @Alex_Carlton

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Dad called a ‘paedophile’ over this photo in offensive online slur

2 min read

IT WAS one of those precious and intimate moments captured on camera between a father his and newborn bub that would be cherished forever:

Sean looking adoringly into his six-week-old baby girl’s eyes to give her a sweet little kiss on the lips just before she has a bath.

The smitten dad loved the photo so much that he put it as profile picture on Facebook to show the beautiful connection between him and his tiny little Bella.

For more stories like this visit kidspot.com.au

But shockingly, one woman in a Facebook group where Sean commented on a post was so offended by the photo that she bombarded Sean with the most inappropriate, obscene and unnecessary remarks.

“She said that he was a pedo and ‘what father kisses his daughter on the lips?’ She said she was calling DOCS (now Family and Community Services) so he can’t molest his daughter anymore — and was constantly calling him a child rapist and paedophile,” his partner Christal tells Kidspot.

“The picture has been Sean’s cover photo since that photo was taken as that is his favourite picture and he always has himself and Bella in all profile pictures so she went into his profile and screenshotted the picture and posted it saying he was a paedophile.”

THE OFFENSIVE COMMENTS REDUCED THE NEW DAD TO TEARS

In utter disbelief — Christal and Sean felt a whole whirlwind of emotions from the bizarre and hurtful comments.

“I felt angry at first, I have never had anyone call him that or even imply that and Sean was crying — so I knew he took what she was saying to heart,” she says.

“This also got me very confused — how can a father kissing his daughter at six weeks old before she got in the bath be a pedo?

“I then felt sad to think that someone would think that and it made me question if others felt the same about the photo and if I was just seeing at as beautiful when it was inappropriate to others.

“So the mum-of-one decided to share the image in a mums group to get their views and received an overwhelmingly positive reaction.

“I felt relieved and happy that the mums were on my side and that they were on the same page as me.”

However, sadly, the women admitted that many of their male partners wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing such an intimate moment on social media.

“I would never have looked at it in a negative way and as the woman who said the negative things was a mother, I wanted to see if it was seen by others as just a beautiful picture,” Christal explains.

“But I was surprised at how many mums said their partners wouldn’t share these moments due to these kind of negative reactions.

“I know many fathers that are scared of this reaction.”

It upsets Christal that fathers feel they can’t be as openly affectionate with their children in public as mothers so easily do.

“I know many fathers that are scared of this reaction — yet I don’t know any mothers who are. I feel this is why men are scared to change nappies or kiss their child in public,” she says.

“It honestly hurts to think that men won’t post pictures or do things in public because of someone assuming things to be sinister instead of what it really is.

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Australians don’t realise ambulances aren’t free

1 min read

IF YOU didn’t know ambulances weren’t free in Australia, don’t worry — you’re not alone.

New research from Finder has found that almost a third of Australians wrongly believe ambulances are totally covered by Medicare.

The findings, which came from a survey of 2085 Australians, found that 30 per cent believe ambulance costs are subsided wholly by the government.

In reality, getting an ambulance can be a costly experience if you don’t have a concession or health card.

In Australia, the cost of calling an ambulance without one of these cards differs by state.

In Queensland and Tasmania, ambulances are subsidised in full by their state governments — although these don’t fall under Medicare.

But other states they can be surprisingly costly.

In rural Victoria, it costs $1776 to call an ambulance for an emergency — and $1204 for non-rural parts. In Western Australia it costs $967.

South Australia, the Northern Territory, New South Wales and Canberra charge both a call-out fee and a per-kilometre rate.

In South Australia it’s $976 for an emergency, then $5.60 per kilometre.

In the Northern Territory, it’s $790 for a call-out, then $5.10 per kilometre.

NSW & ACT are notably cheaper — at $372 for an emergency, plus $3.35 per kilometre.

In NSW, residents who use emergency ambulance services are charged 51 per cent of the actual cost and receive a State Government subsidy of 49 per cent for the remainder.

“This research shows that many Australians think that, like other essential medical expenses, the cost of using ambulance transport is covered by Medicare. Unfortunately, this isn’t true,” said Finder Health Insurance Expert Bessie Hassan.

“Most insurance providers will offer a form of Ambulance cover but much like differences between the states, this can vary significantly between insurers.

“If you aren’t sure whether you are covered by your private health policy, it is usually listed under extras or sometimes as a stand-alone policy. It might also specify whether it is for emergency only or all ambulance use.”

The research also found it was mostly younger generations who were confused by the costs, with 47 per cent of Gen Z and a third of Gen Y believing it was free under Medicare.

Of the states who had to pay, people in New South Wales and Victoria were most confused about the costs.

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A customer was yelled at and jailed for groping waitress

0 min read

THIS is the moment a furious waitress body slammed a customer in a crowded restaurant — for grabbing her bum as he walked past.

CCTV footage shows Emelia Holden, 21, sorting through a pile of menus at Vinnie Van Go-Go’s in Savannah, Georgia, when the perv gropes her on his way out, reportsthe Sun.

But brave Emelia immediately turned to grab him by the scruff of his neck — before throwing him against a wall with one arm.

She then berates him in front of other customers before telling co-workers to call the police.

The customer was hauled off in cuffs after cops reviewed CCTV footage.

Emelia said: “I just did what I felt was best. I took the guy down and had my co-workers call the police.

“As soon as the cops saw the CCTV footage, they immediately arrested the man. He sat in jail until Monday so in my opinion, he got what he deserved.

“All that I want from my experiences is for women to know that it’s OK to stand up for yourself.

“You have every right to wear what you want and you most certainly have every right to defend yourself.”

This article originally appeared on The Sun and has been republished here with permission.

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