What to Say When They Find Out I Have A Teenager

It happens with frequency. I meet a new person and we get around to chatting about kids. They ask, “How old are your kids?” I pause and say, “Eighteen and eleven.” The reaction is always the same, but the words people say vary from “you don’t look old enough to have an eighteen-year-old,” to really crass obnoxious things that would have your jaw on the floor. I’ve heard it all. I’ve come up with a series of comebacks to these. Pick your favorite:

The Celebrity Reference: Yes, my husband and I were twelve when we flew to Malawi to adopt our son.

The Slam: That’s funny, you don’t look smart enough to have a job.

The Veiled Sexual Reference: Well, I assure you I’m old enough now and I was old enough then.

The Denial: I don’t? You’re kidding. Thanks! I just celebrated my 60th birthday.

The Shocker: I’m not. It’s another tragic story of pre-teen pregnancy.

The Lie: Actually, he’s my mother’s son, who we raised because mom was not interested in raising another child at 50. Keep quiet, though. We’re waiting to tell him until he has kids of his own.

The Turnaround: I was 19 when he was born. What were you doing at 19?

The Smackdown: Yes, we got married at 18, I had him at 19, finished college, owned a home and two cars at 25. We both have great jobs. Oh, and we’re still married.  


Of course, depending on the person, I try to match my reaction to their response. More often than not, I think of a sweet comeback a day later. Most of the time I just say, “Thank you,” modestly, as if I am much older than I look. This is bound to catch up with me eventually, I imagine. What would you say?

About marijean

I'm a public relations professional, social media consultant and work-at-home-mom living and working in Charlottesville, Va. I'm Marijean Jaggers and this is my blog.
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16 Responses to What to Say When They Find Out I Have A Teenager

  1. Dana says:

    I think you covered it. I was four months pregnant (with bump) on my wedding day. The remarks I got ranged from humorous to asinine. I specifically remember telling you that you don’t look old enough to have a teenager, which, I think, is better than me or anyone else telling you that you do!

  2. marijean says:

    Dana, you know what’s funny? I was exactly as pregnant as you were on my wedding day. And trust me, the comments and asinine stuff doesn’t stop even when that baby is ready for college.

    I’m always happy to be told I don’t look old!

  3. Susan says:

    Do you know what I love about you? The fact that you had more responsibility in your life at my age than I do currently. Do you know why I love this? Because it keeps me striving to do better and work harder, since I know someone before me has. That probably doesn’t make much sense (I did just finish working a 70 hour week, after all), but I’m really proud that you’re one of my mentors, coworkers and friends. Oh, and I can’t wait for Wilco.

  4. As someone who has told someone, “You don’t look old enough to have a teenager/adult child/grandchildren,” I am embarrassed to think I might have caused someone discomfort. When I say something like that — and I never will again — my inner thought process is, “You look great and I need the name of whatever lotion it is you’re using so that I can buy a gallon of it because I need all the help I can get.”

  5. zuzuernie says:

    Okay, I’m guilty of saying this often. I always mean it as a compliment, not as a “hmmm…I wonder what is up with THAT?!?!?” Usually, it is someone, who not unlike you, also has a very hip, un-fuddy-duddy, outlook on life. I have never in my life actually thought that the person had gotten pregnant earlier in life than society would like.

    And, again, as you know, I am so very proud of you and the choices you and your hubby have made, especially that part about sticking together. You’ve beaten the odds, baby!

    Do you really think that people who say that are wondering about “how that is possible?”

  6. Patience says:

    I have so been there. I absolutely dread it when people ask me how old my kids are. And I look young for my age, which further complicates things. (And you look young too!) And you know what? I was four months preggers on my wedding day too!

  7. marijean says:

    Ha Patience and Dana — we should start the four month club support group!

    It’s not so much the question, or the “you don’t look old enough” comment — that doesn’t bother me at all — it’s the follow up crazy, blunt, ridiculous stuff that people blurt out after that.

    Zuzu — yes, I do think that people wonder how. Sometimes I do, too!

  8. Do you also get comments about how far apart the kids are? I have a friend who has one in college, one who will start high school next year, and one in preschool. What people say to her… *shakes head*

    I get them about how close together mine are. And they get a little more judgmental after they find out the middle child is autistic.

    The statement I would like to make to the world (not you guys): Honeys, life doesn’t always always work out like you plan, and when it does, my plans were not made worrying about what you might consider “normal.”

  9. Raquita says:

    my mom gets it all the time as I am thirty – and she is not fifty – we get the sisters thing all the time and if my grandmother is with us GAWD HELP US ALL.
    I tell people I need what ever secret they have for staying young or ask if they have a youth super power. (like evie with the fingers from that TV show when she paused time)
    I told someone today – if my mother was the age that she claims to be – I don’t exist… or I’m four- which ever..

  10. This post made me smile (even laugh). I’m glad you’re back from your bloggy break. I also took one and now is back 🙂

  11. Mindy says:

    I was only three months pregnant on my wedding day…but with our second child (whoops!). I, too, still get asinine comments and the classic “you don’t look old enough…” Most days, I take it as a compliment, and enjoy watching the gears turn as people try to come to a conclusion with no further help or information from me. Same thing happens when a discussion of “how long have you been married?” is part of the conversation. I especially like when people go ahead and assume that my daughter and I are sisters and don’t even ask, becasue it makes me feel good and completely embarrasses said daughter (age 13) at the same time 🙂

  12. Nikki says:

    Hah – you should take it as a compliment that I’m probably the 100th person to tell you this. I only feel qualified to comment because I have a mother who is 55 going on 30 (and looks it). When we have our first, I’m hoping I get a few of these comments! On another note, I get some weird ones when I tell people that my husband and I have been together for 14 years!

  13. Sean McCord says:

    Honestly, MJ, you are young and you look even younger. So take it as a compliment! That would be much better than to have people say “An 11 year old, really, at your age?”…

  14. I should start writing down the comments I get in my professional capacity about my age (some are the verbal equivalent of patting me on the head like a “good girl”). Isn’t it odd that it’s common knowledge that asking someone how old they are is a bit rude, but making direct comments about how old you think they are doesn’t register as being equally as rude.

  15. Suzanne says:

    LOL! Sometimes people just don’t think. I was told there are 3 things you never ask a person — their income, how they voted and their age. But, maybe that’s just the south? (I get the — “WHAT? You don’t have kids? What did you do with your life?” comments.)

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