Couples without children may feel out of place in church and family circles. We can help them by showing greater sensitivity in our words and actions.
During the past year, my husband and I wanted to have kids, but for a while, we were unable to realize our dream. This time was one of lingering worry, and I found myself feeling like an outsider at church and in my family. Some well-meaning family members assumed that we hadn’t had a child because we didn’t want one, and their comments hurt us.
This experience opened my heart to couples who, for any reason, do not have children. Ana Nelson Shaw, in her Ensign article “Being Sensitive to Couples without Children,” says that “all deserve compassion and freedom from stereotypes.” She gives some simple suggestions for how we can help these couples feel their worth and belonging.
First, adopt a change in perspective if necessary. Remember that decisions about building a family are to be made between the couple and the Lord and that infertility may be affecting people you don’t expect to be affected.
Second, make sure to include these couples in church and family activities—even for sensitive events such as baby showers. If you’re unsure if they would like to come, simply ask them how they’d feel about attending.
Third, recognize contributions that are not related to the bearing or raising of children. Everyone needs to feel valued for their unique attributes and skills.
Finally, express your love and support with simple, nonintrusive comments. Otherwise, many questions and comments that you intend to be helpful are simply inappropriate—and can even be hurtful. Words such as “I love you” or “I’ve been praying for you” can go a long way.
Those you associate with will feel a greater sense of worth and belonging through your efforts to follow these four suggestions.
Read Ana Nelson Shaw’s full article “Being Sensitive to Couples without Children” for more information on what kinds of comments to avoid and other helpful suggestions.
—Maddy Abadillo, Latter-day Saint Insights
FEATURE IMAGE BY TIMO STERN
Find more insights
Read “‘Where’s the Baby?’: Some Questions We Just Shouldn’t Ask” by Breanna Call Herbert for more perspective on what questions are appropriate.
Take a look at “Belonging in the Church through the Lens of Infertility” by Jodi King to learn how one woman navigated infertility and her place in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Read or watch “Children” by Elder Neil L. Andersen for an apostolic perspective on the role of children and the challenge of infertility.