Supporting Loved Ones with infertility on Mother’s Day
Monday, March 20, 2023
For many people, Mother’s Day is a time for cherishing the relationships between mothers and children. Mother’s Day can be particularly painful for those who dream of being a mother.
If you know someone struggling to have a child, you can help them through a hard day like Mother’s Day. Infertility is a deeply personal issue, so it’s encouraged to offer help based only on what your friend or family member has shared with you directly. Don’t make assumptions about what they want or what is happening with their plans to conceive. Here are some tips for supporting them:
Be understanding: if they do not want to celebrate on Mother’s Day. Women who are struggling to conceive may decline invitations to events on Mother’s Day, and that’s ok. If you know why they are not celebrating and the rest of the family does not, support their choice amongst other people who do not know the whole story.
Listen before you speak: Do not offer advice. Your advice may be well-intended, but it will only result in pain. Instead, practice active listening. Let them share and feel heard. Allow them to speak freely, and don’t try to tell them you know how they feel because of something you think might be similar. Just listen, looking them in the eyes, repeating what they say, and letting them know if you feel sadness or anger along with them as they speak, while keeping the focus on them.
Talk about it: If they have shared their desire to have children with you, then it is appropriate to acknowledge this void in their life, particularly on Mother’s Day. You may reach out to them and say, “I know this day might be hard for you. I am here to speak about it with you if you want.” If the person in your life has not shared with you their struggles directly, it’s best to wait for them to bring it up with you before talking about it. Offer general support instead if you suspect this day is hard for them.
Let them know you care: The best thing you can do is let your infertile friends know you care. Offer to do an activity they enjoy on the same weekend, like walking or hiking.
If you know they need to get Mother’s Day cards or gifts for their family and that this may be painful, offer to do it on their behalf. Send them flowers or a card letting her know that you care.
Acknowledge their experience: You might not know how your friend feels about Mother’s Day, but you can acknowledge that it’s not easy for them. Acknowledgment goes a long way at a time when aspiring parents can feel left out
Be patient and give them space: If they don’t want to accept your invitation to go out or talk during this time. It’s important that they know you care; if they need their own time, that’s okay too.
Invite them to do something that’s not kid-focused: Suggest adult-only plans, so your friend isn’t confronted with happy families at every turn. Go to a movie, a concert, or meet at the gym.
Play interference: if they want you to explain to friends or family why they are withdrawn and not participating in Mother’s Day events. They may appreciate an ally who can explain to others why they are not celebrating.
Supporting a loved one through infertility can be challenging, especially on a day like Mother’s Day. Remember to listen actively, offer general support, and acknowledge their experience. Be patient and give them space if they need it, and suggest adult-only plans to avoid triggering situations. Let them know that you care and are there to support them in any way they need. Whether it’s sending flowers or offering to run errands, small gestures can make a big difference. Most importantly, continue to be a source of love and compassion for your friend or family member as they navigate their journey of infertility.