What to Say To a Friend Who Can’t Have Children

Tips from women who've been there

interview with a one year old
What a one-year-old might say.

I have two kids ages 3 and 1.  My friend just told me she can’t have children after trying IVF 4 times.  I don’t know what to say to her, help.  Kris – Vermont

heleneTozierListen, listen, and listen. Empathize as much as you can and realize her pain is a loss.  Don’t offer suggestions, just listen and tell her you are there for her.  Megan -30 something



Amy Brown“I’m here for you. Let me know what you need. And if you don’t know what you need, let me buy you some coffee or a cocktail and listen. I care.”  Amy B. – 40 something



annGlaserI think this would depend upon how good of a friend she is.  If she was a really close friend you might say “I am so sorry and bummed that you are having such a hard time getting pregnant.

Do you mind hearing about my kids or would you rather we talked about other things because I don’t want to lose your friendship?”   It might help your friendship just letting your girlfriend know that kids are a sensitive subject and that you really care about her.  Ann – 50 something


margeGiuntoliThis is a sensitive issue that has been with us down through the ages.  The fact is, some women can have children and some can’t, and society has adapted in all sorts of ways.   It is not your fault she does not have children and that you do.  Do not feel guilty.  When talking to her, don’t downplay motherhood by saying how much work it is or how you’ve lost your freedom.   She doesn’t want to hear that.  What she does want to hear is that she still has value as a woman and, as her friend, you will be with her throughout the grief process.  Acknowledge her emptiness, her sense of failure, her feelings of loss, and the struggles she went through with IVF.  Don’t suggest alternatives such as adoption or fostering, as she is in too much pain now to consider them.  Listen to her, care for her, and above all, give her hope that she can live a full life even if she never becomes a biological mother.  The love is there, and in her own time she will seek the best channel for her to express those most ancient of feelings.  Marge – 70 something