Children are often more aware that something is wrong than we think they are. Couples facing fertility issues are often asked by friends and family, “When are you going to have another baby?” When someone outside your immediate family asks, it’s perfectly acceptable to gloss over the question or change the subject. However, it’s a different situation when your own child asks. Children are highly observant, and even if you have not talked with them directly about infertility, the chances are that they know or at least suspect that something is wrong. Here are some tips for talking to your children, particularly younger children, about the issues you’re facing.
Keep it simple
When children ask questions, they need direct answers, but not necessarily elaborate answers. Answer questions with simple and straightforward responses. For example, if your child asks when he or she will have a baby brother or sister, you might say, “We’re trying to give you a baby brother or sister, but it’s going to take some time. We don’t know exactly when it will be.”
Be prepared to explain how babies arrive
In a young child’s mind, anything they might want is available at some local store or in a kitchen cabinet. Just ask Mommy or Daddy, and presto! So when they ask for a baby sibling, they may not understand that it’s impossible; they just understand that Mommy and Daddy said no. Be ready with an explanation you’re comfortable with, even if it’s, “Babies are complicated, so a special doctor is helping us.”
Be positive, but don’t make empty promises
Reassure your child that everything will be okay, but don’t promise that eventually they will have a baby brother or sister. You might not be able to keep that promise. Be hopeful – but truthful – when your child comes to you with questions.
Be clear that you aren’t sick
When young children see their parents taking pills or having injections, they might worry that something is dangerously wrong. Reassure your child that you aren’t sick, but that the medicine you’re taking is just to help you have a baby.
Remember to provide your child with plenty of support; this may be a difficult time for him or her as well, especially if a sibling is something he or she wants. And be careful about asking your child to keep your infertility a secret; this can make it more stressful and upsetting for him or her. With some care, some finesse, and some simple, honest answers, you can help your child feel much better about what’s going on.