'I need you to stop asking for grandkids right now, and it's not for the reason you think.'

It's the awkward question that every couple in their late 20s or early 30s anticipates and dreads when they sit down for a meal with parents: When are you going to give us grandkids? 

It's not every parent that asks it, but the parents that do tend to ask it quite a lot. 

And there's no good response to this question, really. There's awkward laughter, there's shifting glances, and the best attempts at politely rerouting the conversation, but even for couples who do plan on having children, there's a whole host of factors (fertility issues, financial obstacles, housing questions, career concerns) that mean the only correct answer to this question is actually: Who the f**k knows?

My partner's mother has taken to asking this question rather a lot recently and look, I know that ultimately it is a question that comes from a place of deep love and optimism. I think my (essentially) mother-in-law is a caring, brilliant person and would be, by extension, a caring, brilliant grandparent. I understand how meaningful family can be and that, to some, the growth of said family can only be a wonderful thing. 

But I'm going to need everybody to agree from now on that this question is banned. Off limits. It's done.

No more 'I'd love to see you two have a baby.' 

No more 'When are we going to hear the pitter-patter of tiny feet in your house?' 

No more 'You two are going to make great parents soon!' 

It is now against the law to ask, in any way, shape, or form, when you are going to 'get' grandkids from us. 

And the reason that it has to end is because, honestly, it is a really painful question for so many people. 


Until very recently, my partner and I had spoken about having children with a lot of joy and excitement. I even suggested that maybe it could be worth beginning to try within the next 18 months. 

Listen to the Quicky talk about the European heatwaves and fires below. Article continues after podcast. 

I had been visiting fertility specialists for my low egg count, starting the basic administration of undergoing tests and scans to ensure that it was a possibility for us. I have put in time and money, and I was starting to feel genuinely hopeful about a future with a child or two.

But now the question of having children feels vastly more complicated for us – as it does for many of my friends and many other people my age. 

The world has just experienced its hottest week on record. Blistering heatwaves hit the US, Greece, Spain and Italy. Fires blazed across Europe and temperatures strode well into the 40s in multiple capital cities. 

Phoenix, Arizona has been topping over 40ºC for over a month now.

We won't know the exact impact of these temperatures for a while but it's estimated that last year's heatwave that hit Europe caused 61,000 deaths. 

This year or next, the world is probably going to surpass 1.5ºC of warming – the threshold beyond which the planet will begin to change irreparably. The world has hit its tipping point.

The leader of the United Nations announced this week that the "era of global boiling has arrived". 


This past week, I have had multiple tearful, terrified conversations with friends, questioning our futures and whether or not to have children. Some of these are friends that I truly believed would be pregnant within the next six months and who I now see stepping back from the decision entirely.

To be clear, I do not judge those who are choosing to have children at all – in fact, I celebrate them completely. My heart is full of joy for the people I love who have had babies. I admire the hope and optimism that new parents are displaying and the way that so many people who are having children now are picking up the fight for climate action with more passion. 

But I know that many of them are scared, too. 

And I'm furious for those parents – in fact, I'm as furious for them as I am for myself and all the other people who have been put in our position by the failure of the government and the fossil fuel companies that are leading the world to the edge of the cliff.

It's a terrible injustice that so many of us who should feel entitled to have children and build happy futures around them are now being forced to question this decision.

Based on current projected scenarios, if the promised policies and actions of governments around the world hold true, we will hit a 2.7ºC increase by 2100.

If the window closes for dramatic action, a child born today will see a world ravaged by the climate crisis over the coming century. 

There are ways the world can step in. We can begin to act as though this is an emergency (because it is). We can take our dizzying over-consumption of global resources seriously, we can overhaul our energy systems, we can stop digging fossil fuels out of the ground and burning them, choking our atmosphere with greenhouse gases.


We can fight for our futures, as well our children's futures. 

Watch Greta Thunberg's speech at COP24 below. Article continues after video. 

Video via United Nations

But right now, as the world looks today, we haven't seen governmental action that is in any way proportionate to how terrified so many of us really are.

And until we do, I will feel deeply, agonisingly conflicted about the idea of bringing another life into this world. A world in which I may not be able to protect them from the heat, provide them with the stability they need, or even on a very simple level, give them interactions with the nature that I love so much – the perfect things in life, like whales sloshing around in the ocean.

So please don't ask anybody when they're going to have your grandchildren. Please know that we are up at night tossing and turning; we're crying, we're talking about it behind your backs, because we don't want to upset you.

Because some of us want those children, too – but we're afraid that the choice may have been taken away from us completely.

Image: Getty. 

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