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To help daughter, Dad needs to get informed about infertility

To help daughter, Dad needs to get informed about infertility

Q: My 26-year-old, married daughter just told me, through tears, that she has been trying to have a baby for a year and eight months. She said she was going to get tested if they aren't pregnant by the end of the year. My only advice was to just relax, stop putting pressure on herself and have fun. That seemed pretty shallow. Any thoughts?

Dad

A: Uh-oh. That's one thought. Which I'll explain after I share my other thought, that it's good and important that you questioned your initial advice, because it shows your compassion and suggests you won't make that mistake again.

The mistake, though, was a doozie; "Just relax," while big among well-meaning bystanders, minimizes your daughter's fear and frustration, ignores the many possible medical angles of infertility, asks her to do the undoable (when was the last time you relaxed when told to relax?) and, last but most, implies that she's to blame for not getting pregnant because she's too uptight.

We know, we know, you didn't mean any of that. But you need to tell your daughter that explicitly, as you apologize for your thoughtless response. And "thoughtless" is the right word for it, vs. "shallow." Your daughter caught you off-guard with her news, and instead of responding, you reacted. Your "There, there" tone was knee-jerk.

When you do apologize, you'll get a chance to respond thoughtfully. To inform that response, read up at resolve.org, the website of the National Infertility Association. Under the "Support & Services" menu, select the page for family and friends.

While the complexities this page lays out are real and emotionally fraught, the purpose in understanding them is simple: so you can acknowledge your daughter's fears, offer your nonjudgmental support, and follow her lead on what she does and doesn't want to discuss. These are things compassionate parents do for their adult kids, often without knowing they've done it.

The infertility topic may be new to you and/or have you feeling self-conscious, but the blueprint is the same: get informed, validate, don't judge, follow her lead.

Keep quiet about rumor of friend's marriage troubles

Q: By way of a very reliable source, I have just learned that my dear friend's husband will leave her when their child goes to college in two years. No other woman is involved. She has no idea that he no longer loves her as she loves him. All of my conversations with her indicate such. I am sure that if she knew, she would do everything in her power to save the marriage. Do I overtly, covertly tell her? Or, do I remain completely silent?

Anxious friend

A: First thing, you urge your "very reliable source" to put a sock in it. The husband never should have shared this with anyone but his shrink, clergy person or one vault-like friend. If you got this via messenger, then this is one case where the messenger takes heavy blame.

Next, if you have any relationship with the husband, warn him this information has gotten loose and that it's unconscionable if he allows your friend to hear it from anyone but him.

Next, with my apologies: complete silence. You don't know that he'll leave; you don't know anything. A lot can happen in two years. This never stopped being their business, and theirs alone.

To help daughter, Dad needs to get informed about infertility 09/22/11 [Last modified: Thursday, September 22, 2011 12:17pm]

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