"I acted like it wasn't a big deal when really it was breaking my heart into a million pieces, over and over,” shared by a friend of mine, who really wanted a child but had personal constraints.
It's the end of the Chinese New Year celebration, a marvellous event. All had gathered in excitement, bonding over food, conversations, a festival where everyone's spirits lifted! On the flip side, certain "ice breakers" may be deemed insensitive and even taunting.
I've had the trust of some couples of various backgrounds, from ‘a spouse who does not want kid, whilst the other wants’, to as severe as, ‘affecting of one’s life expectancy’. They’ve shared their stories and concur, that to rid ignorance, awareness has to rise.
Hence, I can't hold back no more! Before you go hurling those questions at couples once more, hold your horses! Unless you are the chummy-gummy-bff with that couple, you may unintentionally intrude and say the wrong things, especially to childless couples. Let's practice some sensitivity and be aware that it is not our place to question them for 3 general reasons:
5 things never to say to couples without kids:
1. "When are you going to start a family?" : Seem only natural, the whole progression from "marriage to family" stage? Think again. You are invading one's privacy. Alike the general reasons covered above, factors for a couple's reason, may include:
Are you aware of how much stress or how much it hurts emotionally for a woman, whom is struggling just to conceive or keep a baby? If you were her, will you be ready to divulge such sensitive information to relatives or friends? Imagine going around asking about one's remuneration, how often one had sex, or how it feels to lose a baby? See how absurd it sounds? My point exactly.
2. “Just have a baby! Go with the flow!”: Don’t even start with this. Studies have shown how financial problems is one of the top reasons to kill a relationship and is a correlation to divorce. How distressing it is for a couple handling the massive change in lifestyle caring for a baby, hands full with diaper changing, feeding AND argue about finance! Unless you’re going to be their ATM, kindly refrain from using this phrase. Present times and stress are different from the past where policemen wore shorts. I know, one is never ready. But better to be 80% sure than 30%, right? It matters! Everyone leads and chooses a different lifestyle, if that’s their choice, why comment?
3. “You never really know love until you have kids. It makes you complete!” : Want your friends to think that you have a superiority complex? Sure, you'll like to share your joy and how complete you feel life is with a child but be cautious! Such statements said in a matter-of-fact manner, can be deemed as taunting them directly. Not having children may or may not be a choice. Everyone knows that becoming parents is a entirely different experience. However, alike point 1, it could have financial, emotional, or even medical constraints that are preventing them from having a baby.
Hard to let go without commenting something? Assume that the couple that has been married long enough, has gone over the thought of having or not having a child, and made their choices. Lastly, you are no love guru to describe what and how love should be.
4. “When are you going to have number 2?’ : Seriously? Aside from considerations of point 1, new parents are usually up to their necks dealing with the massive change in lifestyle. They juggle and adjust to what works for them, dealing with feedings and milestones, managing time, conjuring patience and energy AND here you are, asking for their complete rundown of their 5 year plan. And this I must emphasize once more, you never know how long or how much it takes for a woman to conceive so PLEASE, you should never ask about the planning of a baby, especially right after she just had one.
5. Don’t want to/can’t have a child? Get a pet!” : Worst of the worst. Are you implying that a pet can replace the 9 months of pregnancy, hours of labor pain, all the love and affection shared between the couple throughout this time, disruptive nights, sleep deprivation and breastfeeding? You THINK your intentions are good, have immense love for your pet and pets are great. I get it. However, to a childless couples (if they are unable to get pregnant), a pet is but a consolation prize.
Now that you know what not to say to couples, keep all of it in mind. In fact, take the opportunity to share and it'll go a long way to make family events much sweeter!
All 3 of us sisters will be sharing stories from our different perspectives. The good, the bad and the ugly, we're telling it as it is.