On Thursday during World Childless Week we shared out thoughts on comments that hurt. What we didn’t do was talk much about how we can respond to these comments. I think we find it hard to have a natural response because we are emotionally drawn in; be it anger, upset or disbelieve. Our reactions and responses are also swayed by the person saying the comment, the occasion and how confident we are to speak openly about our childlessness.
So many factors mean there is no easy answer on many occasions. Regardless of how untactful the comment may be it is often us who try to be polite and sensitive with our answers. At times no matter what we say our response will be interpreted as rude or abrupt and upset the person involved.
We can often be stuck between a rock and a hard place and there is not a one size fits all answer.
I think the best way to handle an insensitive comment is answer it in the way that best protects your emotions on that day, with that person and at that moment in time. You can direct the conversation another way, make a joke of your answer or be honest with your thoughts.
The stronger I get the more I speak openly and honestly. Being so open is not always easy and I have received backlash but there are others who listen and start to realise their comment was insensitive. The difference is that I have taken control of what I say and am prepared to deal with the reaction. I am not prepared to shrink backwards and allow another person’s words to upset or intimidate me. If they dislike my response the problem lies with them and not with me. I have not done anything wrong by using my childless voice to address their comment.
So no matter how you respond try and #Flip the Script of the conversation and #TakeControl.
It doesn’t matter if that means letting the remark go over your head, ignoring their question, laughing off the remark or responding openly and honestly. It just means accepting that you have to do what you need to do at that moment in time to protect yourself.
Afterwards you may feel like you should have said this, or could have addressed that but try not to dwell. We all have the best answers after the situation has gone.
I know that both of these ideas are easier said than done, it takes time to change the way we feel and react to these moments. It can be hard to release anger and upset, but the less we allow others to control our emotions the stronger we become.
Remember next time a situation arises to accept that whilst they were insensitive (knowingly or not) you have control. You can control your response and you can control your reaction. It doesn’t matter what they say, a simple “I’d rather not talk about it” is more than enough. Try not to dwell on their words. Look forwards to a time when their words don’t hurt.
Founder of World Childless Week