How to be Supportive to an Infertile Couple

So your friend, family member, co-worker, etc just told you they can’t have kids.  Not that they don’t want them. No, that they can’t have them.  For what ever reason, nature has closed those doors.  So what is the right thing to say?  How should you react?

Just being there and listening is amazing.  Let me tell you.  Holding them when they need a shoulder to cry on, simply letting them vent about the injustice of this fate, you know being a good friend.

There are a million and one ways to be insensitive, cruel and nasty to an infertile person both intentionally and unintentionally.

“What could I possibly say that would be hurtful?”, you ask….   Lets look at the “accidentally” cruel and insensitive comments people make without knowing they hurt…

1) “Its just not God’s plan”, “God has a plan” or any variation on the theme.  Yes we know God has a plan, but right now it hurts that a baby isn’t part of that.

2) “Just relax, it will happen.”  Not if your body doesn’t work it won’t…

3) “Take my kids…”  Please understand that this is funny to you, but right now to those of us that are unable to have children, this seems as if you don’t cherish them.

4) “My {fill in the blank} adopted and then, BAM got pregnant.”  Fantastic, for your {fill in the blank} but sometimes you get a diagnosis that tells you this can’t happen.

5) “Well at least you won’t give birth to the next Hitler.”  There is SO much wrong with this. If you cant figure out why its not “ok” to say, you need to leave.

6) “Have you tried {insert fertility drug, procedure, diet, prayer to Babylonian god, etc}?”  Sometimes we’ve tried everything, sometimes we can’t afford to do {fill in the blank} sometimes what’s wrong means that there is nothing else we can do

7)”Just adopt.”  There is NO such thing as just adopting.  It is a long, expensive and life changing process. There is no promise you will even get to be a parent even then.

Then there are the really MEAN things people say.  I can’t work out if they mean them, or if they are just that stupid.

1) “Clearly if you can’t have children, God doesn’t want you to be a parent.”  And God loves crack whores more than me?

2)”Infertility is God’s way of telling a person they shouldn’t be a parent.” (A variation on the above theme that I’ve been told) Again, see comment about the meth-heads and crack whores

3) “If you can’t afford the fertility procedures (not covered by insurance) you can’t afford a child.”  Yea, I have 30k hanging out in a cookie jar for rainy days.  I don’t know of a kid that required 30k all at once…

4) “Cats aren’t babies you know.”  Actually said to me when I got a kitten after we started trying. I know, but we rescued this one because we wanted a cat not to replace a baby.

5) “You are too old to have kids anyhow.”    Since when is 38 too old?

6) “You are too fat to be a good mom.”  Please remind me again how the meth heads are good moms?  Im fat, not disabled. Moron.

7) “You’d be a terrible parent anyhow.”  Why would you even say that?

8)”You can’t know love until you have kids.”  Saying this to an infertile person is really terrible.

9)”You don’t have kids, so what.”  or “You don’t have kids  so you can work the extra OT”….  No kids doesn’t mean no life.

10) “If you had kids you’d understand {insert topic}.”  And if you had a brain you’d understand why that’s mean to say.

11) “I’d hate to be your kids, you are too {strict, Christian, loud, etc}.”  I love this one. It’s wrong on so many levels….

12)”Why are you so sad? Its not like you had a baby that died or something”…  I’ve heard this one said moons ago, and I was appalled even then before I found myself in the same raft.

Don’t ignore your infertile friends. Love them. Hug them. Tell them you are there to listen.  Its going to be something they are going to grieve. They are going to need you to still be there when they emerge from the darkness and start living the newly created plan for their life.

Most of all, be a friend. If you say something stupid, say you are sorry, and move on. Trust me, it will go a long way towards helping your infertile friends cope with the way things shook out.


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