Yesterday, I listed the stuff that is good to do and/or say for someone living with infertility. Today, the stuff to steer clear of.
Things not to do and say
- Don’t assume that everyone’s experience of infertility is the same. Comments such as ‘I know exactly what you’re going through because my friend/sister/colleague went through it’, are rarely helpful.
- “Just relax and it will happen” – saying this is one way to get them NOT to relax!
- “Don’t worry, you’re still so young“.
- “You can always adopt or do IVF” – although this may be true, it is not the case in all circumstances. As well as this, it tends to sideline the real pain that the couple is experiencing.
- “When are you going to have kids?”
- “It will happen eventually, just be patient” – God doesn’t make this promise to us in his word.
- Don’t stop inviting the couple to child related events, or events where there’ll be lots of children. But at the same time, don’t be offended if they decline the offer.
- It is usually best to not offer advice, unless it’s asked for. This can result in the couple/individual feeling like their unique experience has not been heard or understood. Plus, they’re usually getting a lot of advice of others involved (well meaning families, medical professionals etc).
- Don’t assume that a couple is supporting each other – infertility can do all sorts of things to a marriage.
- Don’t assume that other people are caring for the couple or asking after their wellbeing. Be that person.
- Steer clear of hallmark/clichéd Christian responses, such as ‘God is good’, or ‘God will teach you much in your suffering’. Whilst these may be true, those experiencing infertility may be struggling to relate to God and see his goodness in all of it, and it will sound callous. Instead, remind them of your prayerful concern for them, and perhaps ask them how they are feeling towards God.
As I have already said, everyone’s experience of infertility will be unique, so there will be things on these lists that will apply to some but not others. The struggle with infertility is at the forefront of a lot of people’s lives, giving us another great opportunity to show the love of God to people, as we care for them sensitively with our words and actions.