Responding to Hurtful or Insensitive Comments

Alice Domar, PhD. Executive Director Mind Body Group Leader Individual Couple’s CounselingAlice D. Domar, Ph.D

It never ceases to amaze me how intrusive or oblivious people seem to be, especially when someone is in crisis. I have been counseling individuals and couples, who are struggling with infertility, for 29 years. Whenever I think that I have heard it all, a patient comes in and shocks me with some line that a friend or relative just uttered. What were they thinking??

Everyone has heard “just relax and you will get pregnant”. But some of the newer ones simply make me wonder. There’s “you want kids so much? Take mine”.  And “I got pregnant when your father passed me in the hall. You must have done something to cause your infertility”.  Even “God must not want you to have children”. jaw
I advise my patients to think about the words which bother them the most, and come up with what we call snappy comeback lines. You memorize them, and when someone drops a bombshell on you, you are ready.  There are three kinds of snappy comeback  lines: 1. Polite- you respond with dignity, 2. Educate- you inform the person about your situation in a kind but informative way, 3. Zing- you literally zing them right back. If you think they deserve it of course.

Here are some examples:

  1. “I am pregnant with my second and we got married at the same time. What is taking you so long?”
    Polite: “I am so happy for you both. We are hoping to join you soon”
    Educate: “Getting pregnant is easier for some people than for others. We are trying our very best to conceive a healthy baby”
    Zing: “I think you are very brave to have a second child in your situation. I feel so lucky that my life is going so much better than yours”
  2. “You need to stop focusing so much on your career. All that travel and stress is causing your infertility”
    Polite: “I so appreciate your concern for my health and wellbeing.”
    Educate: “Actually, infertility is a disease and is not caused by stress or travel. We are getting the best medical care available to treat this medical condition”
    Zing: “If you would concentrate a bit more on your own job and financial situation, you wouldn’t be in so much debt. I feel proud at how much I have accomplished and saved”.