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Coping With Unwanted Advice

How to Deal with Friends and Family Who Seem to Always "Know Best"


Updated October 27, 2012

Woman angry on the phone.

Hearing insensitive comments regarding infertility hurts.

Photo: Stockbyte / Getty Images

Coping with unwanted advice is a frustrating but common part of dealing with infertility. Sometimes it can feel like everyone and their mother knows "just the right thing" for you to do. They all have a story of some friend of a friend, who went on a carrot-wheat-grass-pineapple juice diet and conceived that month.

They tell you that if you adopt, then you'd get pregnant just like that. Or, they heard on the news information on a new treatment and know the study will be the information you need to get pregnant. So you should do whatever it is. Now.

Coping with infertility is difficult enough on your own. Unwanted advice from family or friends is the last thing you need. And while some truly mean well, it doesn't make their butting-in any less irritating.

How can you cope? Here are some things to keep in mind, along with tips for dealing with a Mr. or Ms. Advice-Giver.

Remember the advice-giver means well. Ok, so you can care less if they mean well, they are driving you crazy. But most people don't give advice because they think you're incompetent (though there are some of those around, too!) Most of the time people just want to do something, and advice giving feels like... well, something.

Remembering this may take the edge off your frustration.

Tell them, "Thank you, I'll consider that." Especially if the advice-giving isn't chronic, sometimes it's easier to just say thank you, and leave it at that. This is also a good way to respond to those who don't want to hear that they are wrong or that you've tried that already. People who feel the need to push their point over and over. Even if your heart is pounding, find a way to squeak out the five words above and then switch the topic, quick.

Resist the urge to argue. I know it's tempting. If you honestly feel the person you're speaking to will listen to your arguments and change their minds, then maybe it's worth arguing with the bad or unwanted advice. You could try sending an email or two to them later, with myths on fertility or advice on how to support you better. But most of the time, in the moment, arguing just drags out an already uncomfortable situation.

Tell them, "I appreciate your concern, but if you could support me by just listening, instead of sharing advice, that would be much more helpful." If the advice-giving is chronic, you may have to gather your inner courage and tell them not to give you advice anymore. Sure, this may prompt an argument in some cases, and there will be those who get offended. But sometimes you need to be blunt to get long term relief.

And the next time they start giving advice, you should be able to stop them quick but saying, "Remember, no advice. Just listen."

Don't discuss the topic with them at all. If asking them to please avoid giving advice is either not working or not possible, you may be able to fend off the advice giving by not bring up the topic yourself. If they bring up the topic, a simple, "I'd rather not talk about it," should be enough.

To share with your friends:

More on coping with infertility:

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  1. About.com
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  3. Fertility
  4. Trying to Conceive Stress: How to Cope & Find Support
  5. Family and Friends
  6. Coping With Unwanted Advice When Trying to Get Pregnant

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