Attending social events

Preparing in advance

Assume that you've decided to go to a social event where you are likely to be asked about children. It will be helpful to do some advance preparation. In particular, you need to work out why you are attending the event, what you hope to get out of it, and have some responses ready.

Why are you going, and what are your objectives?

The first step is to understand why you have decided to go the event, and what you hope to get out of it. Here are a few possibilities:

  • "I feel obligated to go. To be honest, I just want to make it through without having a breakdown."
  • "I think this would be a good opportunity to share my story, and let people know what I am going through."
  • "It's been a while since I've been out with my friends. I just want to forget about all of this conception stuff for a night and have a good time."
  • "I've had so many bad experiences in the past, and it's time to take a stand. I need to let my circle know that certain questions and comments are not appropriate, and they should be more aware of issues surrounding infertility."
  • "This is an important work opportunity for me. I need to focus on networking and make a good impression on everyone."

Have your responses ready

Sooner or later someone is going to ask:

When are you going to have kids?

Depending on your goals for the event, you need to pick an appropriate strategy for dealing with the question. Most of the time you will probably want to change the subject so that you don't open yourself to unsolicited and unhelpful advice. However, sometimes you may want to be more open. Here are some examples:

1Lie: Always remember – you aren't under oath, and you have no obligation to share details of your personal life with anyone."We're not ready for children yet"
2Change the subject"I'm not sure. Hey, did you see the news last night?"
3Stop the conversation in its tracks"It's actually a difficult topic that I'd rather not talk about."
4Talk openly "Actually, we've been trying for a while now, but sadly it hasn't happened yet. How long did it take you to conceive?"
5Brutal honesty: You can demonstrate that it isn't an appropriate question by turning the tables and making the person who asked it feel uncomfortable."Since you asked, I have been diagnosed with a medical condition known as..."
"I have been trying unsuccessfully for..."
6Brush it off with a joke"Kids - are you crazy? I can't even keep a plant alive!"
"I knew I forgot something!"

Attending the event

Preparing responses to difficult questions will help, but it isn't a guarantee that the event will go smoothly. For example, imagine that you summon the strength to go to a baby shower. Things are going well until someone says "becoming a mother is the greatest experience that life has to offer" or "I didn't know true love until I looked my baby's eyes". A comment like this, regardless of whether or not it was directed at you, can bring on a tidal wave of emotions, leaving you blind sided. It is important to plan for this as well. Here are a few things you can do:

  • Leave the event immediately. Don't worry about social niceties or hurting the host's feelings
  • In some situations, you might want to calmly confront the person who made the comment. For example, if it was made by family member who is aware of your situation, tell them to be a little more careful with what they say when you are around.
  • If there is anyone at the event who you know and trust, take them aside and tell them you are having trouble coping.