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How can I politely deal with people who offer their advice on whether we are having a boy or a girl?

Tagged as: Friends, Health, Pregnancy, Trust issues<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (28 April 2015) 12 Answers - (Newest, 29 April 2015)
A female United Kingdom age 22-25, anonymous writes:

Ok, so my fiance I have been thrilled to be expecting our first child. We dont want to find out what we are having because I cant wait for that moment when the doc says "its a..." when it is born, but I have had a lot of people who dont seem to get that I want it to be a surprise. Ive had mixed predictions. I dont mind people having a guess for fun, but the really insistent ones are starting to irk me.

I have one woman who says, trust me, you are definately having a boy, i just know these things.

And she says it every time she sees me. I've had a coworker put her hand on my tummy and say, definitely a girl, i'm never wrong about these things. These are just two examples.

I'd be THRILLED with a boy or girl. I know these people couldnt possibly know what I am having, but say they did, why do they want to take the element of surprise away?

How can I tell them politely to keep their comments and opinions to themselves?

View related questions: co-worker, fiance

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (29 April 2015):

I think like many first time parents that you are worrying way to

Much about something very unimportant in the scheme of things . I have four children. With two , I knew the gender and with two I did not

On not one occasion did I care less about anyone's opinion or imput. I just smiled and knew that all that mattered was my baby being healthy.

Seriously, the both of you are about to be parent and trivial matters like people's imput seem so silly when you realise what it's all about

Relax , smile and concentrate on enjoying your baby

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A female reader, Tisha-1 United States + , writes (28 April 2015):

Tisha-1 agony aunt"why do they want to take the element of surprise away?"

They don't actually want to take the element of surprise away. They are probably doing what is considered supportive in their family and culture. Or they are unbelievably insensitive jerks who should be shunned banned and avoided at all costs.

I'd feel a bit sorry for them. They want to feel competent and valued and their offering is their prediction of your child's gender. If that's all they've got, well, I think the kind thing is to be polite. Now, if someone is laying hands on your belly over and over again without asking or if someone is making you feel creeped out by it? Call them on it. You are about to be a mother. You will need to know how to handle this. You will be offered advice on breastfeeding and child-rearing and how they should sleep. Where to send them to school and what you should be doing to make sure they are x y or z.....

"Thank you for your input, we are so happy. I'm so appreciative that you care enough to offer advice. We are overwhelmed with advice from parents and sisters and brothers and aunts and uncles.... to the extent that I would appreciate most from my friends and co-workers is simply this: support and kind wishes.

"P.S. My pregnant belly, despite its luscious roundness, isn't any more appropriate to touch than our supervisor's bald head or impressive backside."

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A female reader, chigirl Norway + , writes (28 April 2015):

chigirl agony auntBecause while you might want to not guess, the others wanna take a guess at it.. It's fun! It's not to ruin things for you or force you to make a guess or have an opinion. It's just their idea of good entertainment and it's something thats been done for ages: people guess. Sure, with ultrasound we don't need fortune tellers any longer to tell us the sex of the baby, but it's old tradition to guess. So even if it's not YOUR tradition, or your idea of a good time, its something they like to do. For their own sake.

Now, if you don't want people placing their hands on your belly, that's another matter. Your body, your rules. Tell them to please don't touch your body.

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A male reader, Code Warrior United States + , writes (28 April 2015):

Code Warrior agony auntI can tell based on how you type your i's that you are having a boy.

There, now you have someone who knows that you don't want to hear it tell you anyway. Fire away. Take it all out on me so that you can be nice to those who care about you.

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A male reader, Sageoldguy1465 United States +, writes (28 April 2015):

Sageoldguy1465 agony auntYou look them straight in the eye, and say: "I'm hoping to have a beautiful, human baby.... girl or boy, makes no never-mind.... and I hope that YOU will be as happy as I am when the little critter arrives."

and... "P.S. I expect to get a GENEROUS baby present from you..."

Good luck... and enjoy your new bundle-of-joy....

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A male reader, mfj78 United Kingdom +, writes (28 April 2015):

There is no way anyone can tell if you are having a boy or a girl without ultrasound scans. HOWEVER - some people like to big themselves up by making out they have some kind of "special power" to pick up on these things.

In the same way that lots of people like to take a self important stance of claiming to see your aura, heal the sick or speak to your dead granny, so too is the world full of people who need the victory of correctly guessing the sex of an unborn child to make themselves feel more special than us mere mortals who rely on nurses and medical equipment to know the sex of our unborn child.

Us humans are pretty low adept at dealing with probability and odds, and for that reason its easy for otherwise rational people to confidently claim to have some kind of "gift" for touching a pregnant womans tummy and foreseeing the childs sex when of course its a 50:50 chance of being right.

Its not hard to correctly guess the sex of multiple children when the odds are even each time. And when a prediction is wrong it is ignored as a one off mistake rather than simple guesswork. Or the person doing the predicting will say "ah yes but you will have a girl in the future...!"

There's no shortage of people who claim that a psychic told them during pregnancy that they would have a girl and sure enough they did as "proof" that some can in some way "connect" with an unborn child - missing the point that if a so called psychic told ten women they were having a girl then by a law of averages five of those people will go on to have a girl and feel something magical has happened, the other five will forget all about it and not mention it to anyone.

Honeypie gave great advice in that we all want to feel something incredible/magical has happened to us. Take the famous Loch Ness Monster - We see a branch of a tree in Loch Ness and we convince ourselves we saw a fin, a hump and an eye because we want to believe it. We don't make it up we "did" see it because we all want that thrill of experiencing something incredible. In the same way most mothers like to believe they "knew" the sex of their unborn child as it suggests a strong, loving, amazing connection regardless of the reality.

We rarely see such things as pregnancy coldly, objectively or mathmatically. Our emotions get in the way.

If twenty people tell you the sex of your child (by guessing, touching your tummy, using so called mediumship, magnets, swinging a pendulum or whatever)then roughly half those people will go on to be right by simple mathematics alone. Those people will probably feel their "skills" have been proven and big themselves up about it. But its just guesswork.

Foretelling a child's sex before birth is as old as the hills as is the various nonsense often associated with it.

Sadly it comes with the territory. Just remember nobody knows and take no notice. Be polite and respectful but do say in a polite but firm way if you don't want to be touched. People soon get bored and nine months is a long time.

All the best


(its a girl by the way and your are considering calling it Marie). (Maybe)

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A female reader, CindyCares Italy + , writes (28 April 2015):

CindyCares agony aunt But the point is, these people CANNOT know what you are having !, so how are they taking the surprise element away ? ( unless they have a portable scan unit ? ).

All these unfailable divination methods- pointy belly vs, round belly etc. etc.- are just old wives' tales anyway. Simply put , there are only 2 options, so anybody has a 50% chance of guessing.

That's what these people are doing, guessing, NOT offering unwanted comments or opinions in the vein of" You SHOULD do this or do that ".

That you want to FORBID people to guess what's in your belly, no, I don't think there's a polite way to do it- unless you forbid all your acquantainces , and strangers too, to notice, mention, talk about, or compliment you for yor pregnancy anyway. But accepting people's BENIGN,well-wishing,kind interest , while forbidding them in the meantime a silly but innocuous guessing game- no, I can't see a polite way to do it. ( Other maybe than changing totally the subject from babies to the wheather or the news of the day etc.... ) Any comeback would be unnecessarily hostile. That you and your partner don't even want to try and guess what's the baby is going to be, fine- but to demand that everybody around you does the same, it's a bit too much.


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A female reader, So_Very_Confused United States +, writes (28 April 2015):

So_Very_Confused agony auntHaving had my babies before we were able to know what sex they were, the standard "I don't care as long as it's healthy" works for me.

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A male reader, WiseOwlE United States + , writes (28 April 2015):

Many may not agree, but here goes. Through the ages everyone wants to share in your blessed event. They feel either by already being a parent or having already raised a family; they owe expecting parents the benefit of their advice. Sometimes because no one offered it to them, mostly because people are a pack of butinski's. You just can't be overly-sensitive to inquiries and remarks; because it all comes with the territory of pregnancy. Everyone is happy for you.

Like any other unwelcome meddling, you ignore comments and suggestions that are of no use or value. It will always happen, and in most instances people mean no harm. You just can't get an attitude or be on the defensive about every little thing. You only have to deal directly with attacks or mean-spirited comments meant to hurt your feelings. You don't need advice about that, you know how to handle that.

Most people do.

These days, people are going off the edge over the smallest of things. It makes the world ugly to live in, and worst of all, not a good place to bring children into. Well-wishers often go overboard, especially family. Just remember, these are also the same people who you turn to in a crisis, who'll stand by you if something goes wrong; and who you may have to turn to when you can't find the answers on your own.


A pregnant woman gets a lot of attention. You'll be throwing barbs constantly to show your irritation; and people will volley it right back at you! Sass isn't always necessary. Using calm restraint is not being passive or submissive; it's using poise in uncomfortable social situations. When an angry reaction isn't necessary or appropriate. Be kind and take it with grace.

Talking-back isn't "polite;" because you feel you have to be on the defensive. You know how to "ignore it" or change the subject. That's tactful and effective. How will you look those same people in the eyes at your baby shower?

Strangers deserve nothing more than a smile, and turn-away.

Telling matronly or experienced-women to keep their opinions to themselves is confrontational; and some will scold you for your insolence and ingratitude. They're only trying to be helpful.

Take it like a trooper and smile it off, or simply ignore it. We've got too many snarky defensive or violent people on the planet. We need more strong, calm, and level-headed people who simply know how to deal with people and interact effectively without snotty or snobbish retorts to silly questions and remarks that really can't do any harm. Annoying as it may be, they are happy for you. Your mother, her mother, and mothers generations back; all heard the same commentary from well-wishers and butinki's.

God bless you! May your child be healthy, strong, and happy!

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A male reader, BrownWolf Canada +, writes (28 April 2015):

BrownWolf agony aunt

You say "It doesn't matter...We are having a baby. If it's a boy or girl, great."

As my friend told a lady..."Whatever GOD gives me, I will be happy with it...thank you."

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A female reader, Honeypie United States + , writes (28 April 2015):

Honeypie agony auntAh, the "gender game"!

I HATED people (strangers) who would walk up and touch my tummy when pregnant, I found it really offensive. But the gender guessing... IT does get old fast, but it's less offensive (to me at least).

But let me tell you a secret....THEY CAN NOT tell you if it's a boy or a girl. So LET THEM keep guessing. They JUST want to partake in a joyous event. Let's say you DO have a BOY, and ALL the ladies who were on Team Blue will tell you they knew ALL along and it's some kind of victory to their "special gender predicting skills" - it's not meant to me offensive (just like the belly touching).

Personally, I would just NOD and SMILE. (and ignore)

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A male reader, lawncare United Kingdom +, writes (28 April 2015):

lawncare agony auntAsking people not to say daft things to a pregnant lady is like asking two British strangers not to comment on the weather or asking a border guard to lighten up: it just isn't going to happen.

You can adopt a slightly haughty tone and you can definitely ask people not to touch you if you don't want to be touched.

Unfortunately, as sure as the earth goes round the sun, people go a little bit soft in the head over children. They're trying to be nice and they're trying to show they care, so my advice would be to soften up and only intervene if they cross a line you wouldn't let them cross if you weren't with child.

It's a hard world out there and people who care - truly care - are hard come by. Be kinder to them and to yourself.

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