“So, when are the babies coming?” is one of the most repeated questions I was asked on the night of my wedding reception. Because once you’re married it’s time to have babies, right? While I knew my neighbors, friends, and loved ones meant no harm in their questions of when we would grow our newly created family, I started to wonder a few things surrounding that question.
I wondered how this question would feel to someone who wasn’t financially or emotionally stable enough to provide for another of God’s precious children yet. I wondered how hopeless couples who were unable to conceive and bear children on their own would feel. And I know exactly how it feels to be asked this question and simply not be ready for that huge step in life.
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This question usually (if not always) comes from a place of love, and I know many people who appreciate the concern. However, it can be a very sensitive topic for some couples, so it’s important to know how to bring it up in a caring way.
1. "When will you finally start your family?"
This is difficult for any married couple to hear, no matter what stage of life they’re in. Whether it’s a newlywed couple who were just sealed for time and all eternity or a couple who have been married for years, nobody wants to feel like they’re not an eternal family until they bring children into the world.
2. "You’re so lucky. . ."
“. . . you get to travel, sleep in, enjoy freedom, etc.” This is especially harmful to couples who long to have a child and are trying. It’s easy to think you’re helping them by making them feel better about their situation, but in reality, these couples don’t feel lucky at all. It’s important to be sensitive without belittling their desires.
3. "When are you giving me a (grandchild, niece/nephew, best friend for my child)?"
It’s completely understandable to be excited about your loved ones potentially having a baby in the future, but try not to make it about you. Make sure you’re supportive no matter when or how the couple decides to grow their family because that decision is strictly between them and the Lord.
4. "You’re not getting any younger."
Unless you’re her doctor, steer clear of telling a woman she’s getting too old to have babies. It’s important to remember that you have no idea what her situation is. She could be going through fertility treatments or maybe she is battling health concerns or chose not to have biological children, but it’s almost guaranteed that no woman (or man for that matter) wants to be told she’s getting too old for anything, let alone bearing children.
5. "You can finally have kids now that you’re done with (school, internships, looking for a house, etc.)."
Someone who just walked off the stage with their diploma in hand doesn’t want their hard work brushed aside as one more thing marked off the “to-do” list. Education is important for many different reasons, and receiving a college degree isn’t something you just do because it’s fun and easy. While many couples do choose to have children once they complete school, that isn’t the Lord’s path for everyone. Be proud of your friend’s accomplishment and be present in the moment.
1. "You’re doing incredible things."
Men an women have innate, divine gifts, and their worth is not tied to whether or not they have biological children. Sheri Dew counsels, “Motherhood is more than bearing children, though it is certainly that. It is the essence of who we are as women. It defines our very identity, our divine stature and nature, and the unique traits our Father gave us.” We have hands to lift each other up and bear each other’s burdens, and isn’t that a parent’s exact responsibility? Let your childless friend know that they are loved and valued for their very existence.
2. "I support you."
Support is the very best thing you can give someone who might be going through a difficult time. Offer encouragement and love while being sensitive to their wants and needs.
3. "You are loved and valued."
Having children is selfless and beautiful. Getting an education is fulfilling and wonderful. Figuring out life and navigating the waters of change shows immense bravery. No matter the season of life, everyone deserves to feel loved and valued—and it’s our responsibility to remind each other of our divine worth. So let your friend know that they're always magnificent, whether or not they have children.
4. "I’m always here for you (and I mean it)."
Simply knowing someone has your back is comforting during trying times. Be your friend’s shoulder to cry on or their person to talk to, and try to just be what they needs at the time. Having unconditional love and support is helpful when trying to navigate life.
5. "Trust in the Lord’s timing."
The Lord’s plan is always best, even if it’s different than ours. In a 2002 BYU Devotional President Dallin H. Oaks said, “We prepare in the way the Lord has directed. We hold ourselves in readiness to act on the Lord’s timing. He will tell us when the time is right to take the next step. For now, we simply concentrate on our own assignments and on what we have been asked to do today.” The Lord’s timing applies in every aspect of life, so remind your childless friend that they are exactly where they need to be right now.
6. "God knows your situation and His hand is in all things."
He knows the heart that longs for a child but can’t have one. He knows the heart that’s terrified to become a parent. He knows every situation, and it’s possible to notice His hand in everyday life when we pause to look for it. He knows us better than we know ourselves, and reminding your friend of this truth will help them feel comfort and companionship instead of misunderstanding and loneliness.
7. "I notice you. I am aware of you."
This might be something you say more through example than actual words. Include your childless ward members in your Sunday meetings. Much of what we learn about in our Sunday meetings revolves around marriage and family. There are often discussions and useful information on how we can better help our children grow into successful individuals. But there are brothers and sisters without children who feel slightly alienated from the discussion because they aren’t in that situation. When preparing lessons, keep in mind that these ward members appreciate when you bring up ways to apply the information to their lives, too.
8. "I was thinking of you and . . ."
Sharing scriptures and conference talks is a great way to show that you care when you don’t know exactly what to say to a struggling friend. In Elder Brian K. Taylor’s April 2018 conference talk “Am I a Child of God?” he says, “When asked, ‘How can we help those struggling with [a personal challenge]?’ an Apostle of the Lord instructed, 'Teach them their identity and purpose.'" Find scriptures and material that will remind your friend of their infinite worth and divine role as a beloved child of God.
9. "I love you."
Tell your friend you love them regardless of where they are in their journey. Unconditional love and support is the best gift you can give to someone who needs it.
The most important things you can do for your childless friend are to be there for them and remember that you probably don’t know their whole situation. Life looks different for every single person in the world, and only our loving Father in Heaven can truly know the ins and outs of ours. They might not be ready for kids or they might be praying for a baby, but you can be sure that they are incredibly grateful for your love and support during this season of life.