How to Respond When Asked, “How Many Children Do You Have?”

A while ago a former student approached me for mentoring as a client wanted options for how to answer the question, “How many children do you have?”
This is a very common question for families who have lost children and taking time to think through what response one might give to this question can help families feel more comfortable and prepared as they face life without their little one. My response to this bereavement professional can be found below:
This will be a really personal decision for each family. Some may feel like they want to include and mention their deceased children and may say something like “We have 6 children and 4 are at home” or “Our eldest was born sleeping and we are raising three” or “We have two children and were able to raise this little one” or “We have one at home. His sibling passed away”.
Some families will want to edit how much personal information they share, so they may simply answer “We have 3” leaving the discussion of missing babies for another time, or they may say “We have three at home” or “We’re raising 4 sweet babies” as a way to answer inquiries.

It gets trickier when the family is expecting their first live child after a previous loss or losses. Then, the family might say “This will be the first baby we’ll be bringing home” or “Raising this little one will be a first for us”. It’s slightly round-about/awkward, but it may allow the family to honor the elder children while not entering into sensitive personal information.

The trick with answering but not revealing more than one is comfortable with is to leave space in the responses for the child who is no longer with the family. This often feels nice to the family- like leaving a table setting empty at an otherwise occupied table.
Hope this has helped!