Questions keep a conversation going. Some questions, however, hold the power to break down a man you are having a conversation with. They can be a constant reminder of what they never had. A man may not be heartless but the caliber of questions he asks may give him out as such.
Anytime a man sets out to make an enquiry, he ought to know that words carry power. Each moment he opens his mouth to ask another sane adult a question, he should first put himself in the shoes of the other person and listen to how the question in question sounds. Some questions are not just harsh. They are unnecessary!
Time and again, when we meet old acquaintances and colleagues, there are some “no-go area” questions we should note. When we make new friends on social media or wherever, as long as we agree that they are adults in their right senses, it’s needless to keep posing some questions to them.
Some questions may sometimes have a dose of concern therein but when you look at the bigger picture, they reek of irresponsibility on the part of the one supposed to answer them. One may genuinely want to know some details per the questions they ask. On the flip side, however, such questions may appear insensitive.
“When are you getting married?”
Anytime you approach a single with this boring question, it suggests two things― either they don’t know they have to marry or they are being intentionally irresponsible about their lives. Every moment you walk up to a sane adult with such a question, you are inadvertently telling them you know better about themselves than they do, thus, should walk down the aisle anyway anyhow.
Almost everyone will want to walk down the aisle someday. If they haven’t yet, needless to be a marriage police to be investigating constantly why they are still single. Respect their decision(s). You may be genuinely caring by asking. However, you may be genuinely insensitive, too.
When a man or woman is not married regardless of your self-imposed age ceiling, they may have a genuine reason. It may be financial. It may be emotional. It may be that they are not psychologically ready because of some recent or past experiences. They may even have been recently jilted. There’s always a sanely genuine reason why someone is still single. Get that!
“When are you having a child?”
Every married couple out there wants to have children of their own. Almost every couple dreams of naming their children after themselves or their parents someday. It is every couple’s wish to be parents one day.
If a mentally fit couple is childless at a point, thus, it goes without saying that it may be a well-thought through choice or just a circumstance beyond their power. It may be for job reasons. It may be financial. It may even be due to some health complications they may be facing as a couple.
As long as you know or, at least, assume that childless couples are sane, you need to respect their decision. Poking them with questions about when they would be welcoming a baby is overly insensitive and a gross disrespect for their sanity. You think they don’t know they need a child? Mind your business!
“When are you having a boy?”
Of course, we live in a patriarchal society where more preference is given to males than females. We live in the part of the world where some people assume that until their wives or daughters-in-law give them a boy, they are barren… forgetting that it takes two to make one.
When you go about asking a couple with daughters when they will be having a boy, it betrays your level of intelligence and sanity. When you keep forcing your outmoded “you-need-to-have-a-boy” rule on others, we should be wondering how you got here because the 15th century is where you belong!
Scientifically, the gender of a child is determined by chromosomes. Above all, it is determined by God. Whether sons or daughters, a couple has no power to decide whom they have. So… take your boring sexism elsewhere!
“When are you getting a [better] job?”
Times are hard. Well, they have always been. Any man you see on the street is doing all they can to make life more comfortable than it was for them initially. Every sane man out there is trying to get themselves a job or a better source of living― however possible.
There’s nothing wrong with urging one to do more to get a job (if they don’t have one) or get a better job (if they already have one from which they aren’t earning much). There’s, however, everything wrong to be consistently slamming this question into someone’s face just because you assume anyone who hasn’t gotten what you have is lazy.
Trust me, others work harder but don’t have what you have. Others serve better but have not been privileged as you. Life doesn’t always go the way we planned it to. Until we see life from the perspective that we are where we are not just because of our efforts but privileges too, we will be quick to assume that whoever is not where we are is lazy.
Many are doing everything possible to make life better yet have nothing to boast of. Be sensitive in your comments.
“When are you getting your own apartment?”
We all start life as dependent people. We live with our parents during a good part of our lives and as we become more independent of them, we make a move to go live on our own. At least, it’s everyone’s wish to live in independence someday.
When you see a young man or woman still living with their parents, give them time. Let them progress in life at their own pace. Not everyone is able to contain such subliminal pressure. Many have been forced to get themselves in some abominable covenants because of the urge to get what they don’t have because others thought they should have it.
Some may be genuinely immature to know it’s time to move from the comfort of their homes but oftentimes, it is a problem of lack. It’s a problem of not being able to sustain life when they move to be on their own. Just because life was all rosy for you doesn’t mean it’s same for everyone.
Sometimes, asking insensitive questions or making unpalatable comments about people’s situations is just because we have not walked in their shoes before. Experience births sympathy.
By Kobina Ansah
The writer is a Ghanaian playwright and Chief Scribe of Scribe Communications (www.scribecommltd.com), an Accra-based writing firm. His new play is THE BOY CALLED A GIRL on July 20th at National Theatre