To think this isn't the most helpful response to big life news?(108 Posts)
Sitting on the sofa at my parents' house.
"I'm afraid I have some bad news, I say. You know all those operations I had? Well, we have found out that because of what as happened I'm probably infertile".
"Did they actually say that?" asks mum.
"Yes, because there is too much scarring from the operations", I say, starting to cry a little bit.
"Have you been trying?" asks dad, in surprise.
"Yes" I say "that's how we know".
There is a long silence.
"I'm sorry" I say in the end.
"There are worse things that can happen, you know" says Dad. "A lot worse. A lot of people have it worse.
You need to count your blessings."
"Never mind" says Mum, with finality in her tone. "You have things to do, like your allotment."
"Having children is not an easy decision" says Mum. "You're crying now, but if you had children, you'd just cry about that instead. I brought you back from the hospital, this lovely, tiny little baby and I cried because I was so terrified".
"That's right" says my dad, "having children. Isn't an easy option. It might not be right for you anyway, you're not really maternal. You have DH."
"I'm worried" says DH"I'm at work a lot now and not around much to support. She's on her own a lot".
"You're role is to support your DH. He has a high-flying job. You can help out around the house" says Dad. "You are a team. Doing the washing is really important."
"You should go out" says Mum.
"There's not much to do in the day" I say. "Everyone is either working or in Mum and baby groups. She says I can work at a charity shop.
"So many birds in the garden" says DH - they are all trying to distract now because I am now crying harder and wrestling with tissues.
"Yes, there are lots of collared doves" says Mum. "When we moved in they were rare, but now there are loads. They don't go out the front of the house, though, so people out there in the street don't know what they are. Ben came over once and was really surprised at them" (opens arms in show of surprise).
Dad comes in with coffee.
"Look at our lovely coffee pot" says Mum. "Your sister has one too, only hers is bigger and can make more cups. It cost forty pounds but it has been worth it".
Then Mum says "Life is tough, you only get glimmers of good times then big blows, like cancer. Get used to it."
"It's good to have a good cry, though."
My Dad comes in brandishing a computer "Look at my nature videos" he says.
We watch 34 of them while everyone pretends I'm not crying. At no point does anyone give me a hug or even touch me. I have never felt so alone.
Shortly after this, I make my excuses and leave.
I'm sorry. That is a bizarre and strange reaction from your family that shouldn't have happened. Hugs xx
It is certainly not what you wanted.
Not really seeing the problem.They were trying to be kind & supportive but didn't know how to react or what to say.
What response did you want/expect?
I'm so sorry
It's not the best reaction at all, they sound like they were in shock, trying to 'fix' your upset, trying to tell you all the good things in your life and trying to distract you all in one big clumsy mess of insensitivity.
Would it be worth writing an email to them to explain how they made you feel and that will give them some chance to absorb it and respond appropriately.
Sounds like a typical British response. Still shit though isn't it?
Creme of someone is devastated by infertility then saying things could be worse is helpful, in fact it's never helpful. And her mum talking about when she brought OP from hospital was just rubbing salt in the wounds.
I once told my dad I was worried I'd never find someone to settle down and have children with. He told me not to worry because I might not be able to have children.
That is pretty shit. Some people are shit when it comes to dealing with other people's pain.
They just needed to listen to you and hold you while you cried. They didn't really need to say anything did they?
I am so sorry OP
Absolutely not ideal, but I agree with a PP that they sound like they were clumsily trying to make you feel better. But no, "other people have it worse" has never made anyone feel better.
I don't get why people find it so difficult to comfort others.
There is nothing anyone can say that will help OP's pain. People need to stop trying to fix things and trying to make people feel better.
It isn't difficult.
Just listen and support.
I think that's pretty typical tbh. You don't have the emotional energy atm to translate what they are saying - trying to reassure you you'll be ok and also dealing with their own shock/grief at not being grandparents.
They are probably often wonderful but they are not in a place to give you the emotional support you need right now. Who is? Talk to those people - and get a counsellor to listen and help you process this (without nature videos).
It is big news and you need more tlc than they can give right now.
And I totally agree that it sounds like a "typically British response". Sounds like my DPs. I also think that there are generational differences to do with how infertility is viewed.
That was a pretty shit reaction. It sounds like they were trying to distract you, or to minimise the problem, when what you really wanted and needed was to talk about it, grieve for your hopes for babies, and just be heard expressing that distress.
Some people really don't know how to react in hard times: you may find that they can be more supportive when they've had a chance to digest it?
In the meantime, pls do keep posting on mumsnet, there is a huge amount of online support available to help you come to terms with this.
I'm so sorry. Their reaction was terrible but it could have been a mixture of shock and wanting to help by distracting you?
I think they were trying clumsily to be positive and comforting. They are human and they won't have had a prepared script. They are human and probably didn't know what to say.
I don't think they meant any harm tbh. More often than not people don't know what to say with things like that and it sounds to me like they were trying their best. From what you've written it sounds like they tried to be positive and then the more upset you got the more they floundered.
Did they know what you wanted them to say or do? Did you or your DH communicate that to them?
Yes it's shit and you totally have my sympathy, I'm just trying to give a different view.
Big hug from me. Oldies just don't know or get it sometimes.
Please try to ignore what's been said & not to draw conclusions on they're reaction. I've seen this non empathetic reaction in my family for the same reason. Ours didn't end pretty & I wouldn't wish that to anyone.xx
Agree about the British response. I know very few (if any) people who know what to do or say in that situation and unfortunately not everyone understands fertility issues or how they make you feel.
It sounds like they were relieved you weren't seriously ill and then didn't know what to say so tried to do the 'it could be worse' and trying to distract you.
So sad for you.
I absolutely agree with PPs. My parents are very 'repressed' in that they don't find it easy to deal with emotional stuff. That's exactly how they would react - by suggesting practical ways to cope whilst avoiding tears. You need to almost tell them how to react - hug your Mum & say you just need a cuddle?
annie 'Oldies don't know or get it sometimes'?
They may not even be that old but the ageism is unnecessary either way. PEOPLE don't know or get it sometimes.
The thing I find difficult is that they are very responsive to my sister - it's just me they can't treat as a person. They do her washing, ironing, cooking for her even though she has her own (lovely) house with all mod cons. There's no support for me - not even a hug. They just say that I'm not maternal and don't deserve kids.
I'm so sorry. Perhaps as others have said, they were trying to be kind, but are in a sort of shock. You had had a bit more time to process the implications and they weren't sure exactly what to say and didn't want to upset you further. Are they usually very tactile with you or is this a standard sort of response?
(As an aside I hugged a very long standing friend the other day after she told me that her mother died very suddenly - she is totally NON tactile and is very British and stiff upper lip about everything. However, my immediate response is to hug someone who is distressed - so it was very awkward and I ended up apologising for the hug because I could sense that she hated it. My point being that if they never usually hug you, then this isn't such an unusual reaction...?)
I hope that you get support from them in time. It sounds as though your DH is lovely and supportive.
It's a typical 'more tea vicar' type response....seems so insensitive Op, I'm guessing this has always been their way.
I with you OP, this response was embarrassingly awkward and lacking in human / parental compassion.
creme I imagine OP wanted and expected her parents to say something like:
Oh no sweetheart, I'm so sorry to hear that. That must be a real blow for you. Come here and met me hug you.
Do you want to talk about it or were you just telling me and now you'd like the subject left?
That's the sort of response my parents gave when I told them I was having fertility issues, along with offers of calling whenever I needed a chat, let me know if we can help with funding anything etc etc.
You know, like normal supportive parents would.
"I think they were trying clumsily to be positive and comforting."
I think so too.
I also think that they may not feel that this is big life news to them and are struggling to feel the same sense of disappointment that you are.
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