5 things you should never say to a childless woman

There are many reasons a woman might be childless, and several of these statements may actually be hurtful.

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  • There are many reasons a woman might not have started her family yet. They range from infertility, to not feeling ready, to having serious issues in her relationship with her husband.

    None of these things are made easier by enduring questions or comments about her childless state. While few people will come straight out and ask 'why aren't you pregnant yet?', there are a several questions and comments that are considered reasonable, and just as many reasons why you just shouldn't go there.

    These five questions and statements are definitely among the things you should never say to a childless women:

  • Are you trying?

    Does this even really need saying? Other people's plans for procreating are not your business. Their sex life is certainly not your business. But this question still gets asked - a lot. Maybe it is well-intended, but it has to be one of the most awkward questions to answer. For a start, it does feel like people are actually prying into your intimate relationship with your spouse.

    It can also be upsetting and frustrating for a couple who very much want to conceive, but haven't done so yet. In that case, the question 'are you trying?' often sounds a little like, 'are you failing?'. And what if there's conflict in the relationship because one partner feels ready for a baby and the other doesn't? This question just adds fuel to the fire.

  • You'd better not leave it too long

    It's actually a bit of a myth that we're all rapidly running out of time to have a baby. Many women have healthy babies well into their thirties and even in their forties. Many couples are marrying later and focusing on building their careers and financial stability before actively trying to conceive. In spite of this, many women still feel the pressure of their own biological clock, and they probably don't need you to remind them of it.

    This question is a thinly veiled urge to 'hurry up and get pregnant, already', and again, can be hurtful to the woman who has been unsuccessful in her attempt to conceive.

  • There's still time

    You're right. There probably is, but this platitude is generally offered when it's well-known that the couple would like a baby, but don't have one yet. In this situation, telling someone there's still time is like telling an angry person they should calm down. The statement is true, but also unhelpful and a little patronizing.

  • You're better off without them

    If someone desperately wants a child, there are few things worse than people who already have kids, suggesting that they're somehow mistaken or deluded in their desires.

    If they don't want children, they have already decided that for themselves, but the reasons may be complicated or even tragic (such as a highly hereditary disease or condition they don't want to pass on).

    There's never a good reason to tell someone they're better off without children. 'Want one of mine?' falls into the same category. Just don't.

    My cousin/friend/daughter got pregnant by doing yoga/going on a real food diet/praying for a baby

    This is another type of comment that's sometimes offered when it's common knowledge that a couple is actively trying to start a family. If someone actually asks you for advice that will help them improve their chances of conception, by all means tell them what you know. Don't present anything as a sure thing, because there's no such thing. But if you genuinely know of some health or lifestyle tip that might support their efforts to get pregnant, offer it.

    But if they don't ask, don't offer. Chances are they've done their research, and are doing whatever they can to make this pregnancy happen.

    The best thing to do for your childless friends? Be there for them. Listen, if they want to talk about their situation. Offer support and comfort and friendship. Just don't offer empty platitudes or unsolicited advice.

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Karen Banes is a freelance writer specializing in parenting, lifestyle and entrepreneurship. Contact her at her website or via Twitter where she tweets as @karenbanes.

Website: http://www.karenbanes.com/

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