The holiday season — a time full of love, joy, and reconnecting with family. But, family doesn’t always mean love and joy, especially for those going through the infertility process. Instead, it can sometimes mean endless questions about a subject you’d rather not let be the focus of your holiday season.
For many relatives, close and extended, the holiday season is a time to catch up with family about the big updates of the year and those yet to come. Often, those questions involve discussions of family-building and future bundles of joy. While these questions may seem harmless to the asker, they can quickly take their toll on couples and singles at every stage in their family-building process.
We know that the holidays can be a tough time for intended parents, even if their families are sensitive about discussing their family-building process. That’s why your surrogacy specialist at American Surrogacy will always be here to support you during this time, whether you need more information about your personal surrogacy journey or connections to trusted local infertility counselors.
If you’re like many intended parents, no amount of preparation can stave off the inevitable question: “When are you having kids?” If you wish to spend time with family during the holidays, there are a few different ways you can approach this invasive question:
1. Explain your situation ahead of time.
If you know a big family gathering is coming — such as Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner — take the initiative to tell your family members about any news (or lack of) in your family-building process ahead of time. Consider sending a mass text or email to tell your extended family (who may be unaware of your recent life changes) about your current status in your infertility treatments. Whether you are still undergoing traditional treatments, have taken a break or are pursuing surrogacy or adoption, share that news with them ahead of time. That way, they can process any emotions they have and ask you questions in a less emotionally charged way than you would experience at a family gathering.
2. Redirect with a joke or lighthearted comment.
If you do get the dreaded questions during your family gathering, you have a few options in how you respond. If you don’t wish to go into depth about the personal details of your family-building process, you can respond in a lighthearted way. Often, family members and friends will pick up on your comment and redirect the conversation elsewhere. If they don’t, take that initiative yourself.
If someone asks you, “When are you having children?” you could respond with answers such as:
- “My dog/cat is enough of a child for me right now!”
- “That’s a good question! I have one for you, too” (and then change to another subject).
- “When I hit all the countries and cities on my bucket list!”
- “Well, we’re just doing a lot of practice right now!”
- “I don’t know, but we’ll give it a go tonight!”
- “Not sure yet — what about you?”
- “When people stop asking us all the time, so probably not for a while.”
Obviously, some of these responses will go over better than others, depending on who you are speaking to. Use your own judgement, and the right response will usually lead to the asker quickly changing the subject.
3. Answer honestly — and take this chance to educate.
If you’re dealing with infertility, you may have been keeping this a secret from your family and friends. However, infertility is more common than you may think — 1 in 8 American couples struggle to get pregnant — and you can spread awareness by being honest about your situation. If you feel up for it, explain to the asker that you have been having troubles getting pregnant and are looking into your options. You can also take this opportunity to explain why asking this question can be so harmful to people, and that advice from anyone other than your doctor won’t make you feel any better.
If you mention that you are pursuing surrogacy or adoption, you may receive misguided and misinformed comments from your family and friends. If you are comfortable doing so, take this opportunity to shed the light on the reality of these family-building methods. Not only will you help spread awareness about these beautiful methods of creating a family, you will also help your family and friends get as excited as you are about your future plans.
4. Make your discomfort known.
You don’t have to explain your situation if you don’t feel comfortable doing so. Remember, news about your family-building process is always personal, and it’s no one’s business but your own. If you don’t feel like answering the question, “When are you having kids?” with a long response, use something simple:
“That’s a really personal question that I’m really not comfortable answering.”
While it may be awkward when you start using this response, it can be incredibly effective at shutting down the conversation about your family-building plans and will often prevent your friend or family member from asking the same question again in the future.
5. Make any discussion about family-building off-limits.
If all else fails, you may need to use more forceful language when speaking with your friends and family. Subtle responses like the one above may not stop a nosy relative, so be prepared to shut down the conversation if you have to. As uncomfortable as it may be, tell the asker that this is not a topic for discussion during your family gathering, that you wish to focus on the family that is already here to celebrate, and that you do not want for them to ask again. It may cause tension in the family for a little bit, but it is always worth it when it comes to your emotional well-being.
The holidays can often be stressful enough without feeling like you have to fend off intrusive questions from your loved ones about your personal life. If you need to, don’t be afraid to take some space for yourself during these gatherings or even avoid certain get-togethers completely. It is important for you to keep yourself emotionally healthy, especially if you are in the middle of surrogacy, adoption or another family-building path. Remember, your family’s journey is only your own business; you do not owe anyone an explanation.
For more guidance about discussing surrogacy and infertility with your family and friends, don’t hesitate to reach out to your surrogacy specialist at 1-800-875-2229(BABY).