How to Cope with Intrusive Questions during Mother's Day when you're Battling Infertility
Whether you are going through infertility treatments, surrogacy, adoption, or any ‘non-traditional’ path to build your family, the road is tough. There are certain holidays that are particularly difficult to get through during this time. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Father’s Day, and Mother’s Day are all challenging, not only because of their focus on kids, but also because of the time you spend with family. Close family can be incredibly supportive during the journey to parenthood, but these holidays tend to bring together members of your extended family that may not be as informed. Dealing with intrusive questions can make these holidays even more difficult. As you attempt to navigate through Mother’s Day, here are some ways to cope with intrusive questions that family members may ask.
Remember That Your Family Has Good Intentions
The first and most important thing to remember when navigating the intrusive questions you may receive during Mother’s Day celebrations is that your family has good intentions. Often this will be your family members’ first time dealing with anyone who is having challenges in growing their family. They are curious about your struggles and want to help in some way, often with ill-placed advice! It is important to remember that their heart is in the right place.
Do Not Read Into Their Phrasing
Family feels like they can say anything to other family members without having to censor themselves or tiptoe around a subject. Because of this, the questions or advice you receive about your journey to parenthood may be phrased in a way that is hurtful. Try to practice listening to their questions or advice with detachment. Do not try to read into what they are saying - pretend that you have a filter that allows you to understand the root of their question instead of the way they chose to phrase the question.
Remember You Are Not Obligated to Answer
When you are asked questions by family members that you do not feel comfortable with, do not feel obligated to answer. Simply tell your family that you do not feel comfortable talking about it, or you aren’t sure of the answer. You may feel pressure to provide an answer, especially if they push the question or if they decide to follow up with lots of unwarranted advice. Just keep brushing the question off and your family members will take the hint.
Use the Opportunity to Educate
If you do feel comfortable enough to answer their questions, you can use the opportunity to educate people on your parenting journey. Often people do not have a basic understanding of what causes infertility or why you are going through what you are going through. Take the time to explain exactly what is happening and what your options are. If you are going through a process like adoption, many people have common misconceptions about the process. They do not understand that adoption does not have to take a long time, that the birth parents cannot take the child back, or that open adoption does not mean co-parenting. You can help by explaining the terminology of adoption and how the process has changed over the past few decades.
Additionally, you can also explain to family why some of their questions or comments are hurtful to you. This allows you to create understanding and may even help prevent family from using the wrong language with others in the future.
Bio: Nicole Witt is the owner of The Adoption Consultancy (www.TheAdoptionConsultancy.com), an unbiased resource serving pre-adoptive families by providing them with the education, information and guidance they need to safely adopt a newborn, usually within three to 12 months.