Being Sensitive to Couples without Children

  • Remember that the circumstances in which infertility occurs vary greatly from couple to couple. Infertility may result from a health condition on the part of either or both spouses. Sometimes couples become infertile after they already have a child or children. Some have married later or waited to try to have children, and some have not. Regardless, all deserve compassion and freedom from stereotypes.

  • For some sensitive situations, such as baby showers, it might be wise to ask first whether a person wants to be invited. You don’t have to handle infertile people with kid gloves; just ask how they feel and if they are up to certain events. But be sure to include them in Church and family activities.

  • Try not to second-guess a couple’s medical treatments or other actions. They have most likely been careful and prayerful in making difficult decisions. Trust that they have learned what is best for their family. Remember that decisions about building a family are between a husband and wife and the Lord.

  • Recognize positive contributions that are not related to childbearing or rearing. Everyone needs to feel valuable, and this is sometimes hard—particularly in Latter-day Saint culture—when one cannot become a parent.

  • Realize that infertile people can be sensitive to the undertones of your comments, and try to be careful about what you say. For example, saying “You’ll get pregnant if you just relax” implies that you think infertility is the couple’s own fault, when in reality it is usually a medical condition not caused by stress. “You’ll get pregnant as soon as you adopt” implies that you see adoption as merely a path to having a biological child, when it is actually just as valid a path to parenthood as pregnancy. Even reassurances such as “It will happen in the Lord’s time” can be painful for people who are preparing themselves for the possibility that they will not have biological children during this lifetime.

  • Express your support and love with simple, positive, nonintrusive comments such as “I love you” or “I have been praying for you.” Your genuine care and concern are needed by those experiencing the trial of infertility.

Ana Nelson Shaw is a member of the Brickyard Ward, Salt Lake Grant Stake.