I could not be more proud of what has happened this week. Plus or Minus was finally given “birth.” Word of mouth reviews are getting back to me, and they are all encouraging. And hundreds of copies have already been given away, because Moody Publishers and I care about getting this book into the hands of people who need it.
But I know that for most people, infertility is not a personal reality. We have written a niche book, I get it. If people read the book who have not gone through infertility themselves, then they are reading it because they love someone who is struggling.
And you know what? We need those people to read the book. People whose friends or family are struggling need to know how to support them.
But even if you can’t read the book, I’m going to give you a few ways you can love the childless people in your life, church or family.
Don’t Assume the Childless Couple Has Made a Choice.
Childless by choice is now a socially acceptable and growing lifestyle choice in the West. This actually leaves infertile couples sandwiched somewhat awkwardly between parents (who still have the majority), and couples who just choose not to have kids. Infertile just does not have the social acceptance that every other lifestyle receives. So please, step one. Don’t assume, in the nation where everyone can supposedly have everything they want, that the couple without kids is making a choice. Maybe life has made a choice for them.
Give Space, but Concern.
Infertility is awkward because unlike most medical issues, it has to do with this little thing most of us like to keep private …
So most couples are not going to feel very confident letting just anyone into their bedrooms. Now, if you have a personal story that you are confident sharing, that is different. You’ll probably find that suddenly you are on the receiving end of TMI, but that’s really a good thing. It’s amazing what happens when you give someone the gift of going first.
If you don’t have a personal story, just express your concern, that you will be praying for them and let that be it.
Don’t Be an Armchair Fertility Doctor.
We know that the word infertility tends to suck the air out of a conversation. Your mind is racing, trying to come up with something to fill the empty void in the conversation. In your haste, you think up some anecdote about a sure fire way to get pregnant …
Stop right there. You don’t need to blurt out how your sister’s cousin got pregnant right after adopting. You don’t need to ask if the couple is using Clomid, or some other drug that you have heard of in passing, but have no idea what it does. We have doctors. We are trying everything. Just find a different way to continue the conversation.
Find a Way to Not Talk About Your Kids.
I know it’s hard. When you become parents, the kids’ lives become your lives. You feel like the kids are the only thing that is happening to you. What else is there to talk about?
It’s kind of like talking to a homeless man about the pleasures and pitfalls of wealth though. We know your kids are cute. We think they are cute too. People will try not to begrudge your family life. But if you have your childless friends over for dinner, let’s have a more adult topic of conversation for an hour.
Finally, for both couples who cannot conceive or couples who have lost a pregnancy, it’s just best to avoid cliches. What are cliches? They are probably the first five things that come to your mind. They probably sound kind of spiritual. They sound like they could be put in a greeting card. It’s OK to express your concern or sympathy. Just do it in your own words.