A client using the Fertility Awareness Method recently discussed with me ideas of how to make healthy personal boundaries… especially with family or acquaintances… especially during the Holiday Season. (See… we talk about waaaaay more than just cervical fluid and morning temps during one-on-one consults! It’s “holistic.”)
We know our family and close ones love us (or at least social norms dictate that they *act* like they love us), but they don’t always have the best tact. Many women and couples have chosen to keep certain aspects of their life private, especially things related to fertility, health, finances, and intimate decisions. And it’s pointless to write a blog saying, “These are the nosy/rude/insensitive/inappropriate questions NOT to ask anyone EVER” because the people that need to read it won’t ever see it:
- Are you pregnant?
- Why are you still single?
- When are the two of you finally going to get married?
- Why haven’t you had kids yet? When will you have more kids?
- Have you gained/lost weight? (A simple, “You look great!” is always appropriate.)
- Have you weaned your toddler yet?
So we decided she would be preemptive. Here are some ideas that we brainstormed so she can use them during the next few weeks of holiday gatherings:
- Have a prepared answer. Honey usually works much better than vinegar, so you might kindly respond, “Oh, why do you ask?” This puts the focus back onto the interrogator to explain further and hopefully give them a few seconds to realize that it’s an inappropriate question. It also lets you hear their intention instead of assuming it. (Maybe they have an extra $20,000 they’d like to give to someone for a wedding or to grow a family… score!) You could follow it up with another question and get right to the point, “Does it make you uncomfortable?” Alternatively, a humorous response that evades answering the question is a great option too.
- Change the subject. Once you’ve given the answer you prepared or heard their response to the above question/s, DIVERT! Talk about something, anything else… what you’re eating, what you’re drinking, what you’re wearing, what you did before you got there, what you’re doing after you leave, a book or article you just read, a show or movie you just watched… the subject choices are limitless. Quickly move the conversation from something that feels uncomfortable to empowering!
- Know your audience. Is your sweet great-aunt that sees you once a year just trying to make small-talk? Be kind. Is your co-worker more interested in giving you her opinion on the matter than listening to your answer? Be firm. Wishy-washy responses will usually give the inquisitor a chance to dig even deeper. If you determine ahead of time how much you want to share, then you’ll have a greater chance of walking away from a conversation not regretting what you just said.
Ultimately follow and trust your intuition. The holiday season can be fraught with stress, so hopefully by adding some of the above ideas to your repertoire, you’ll be able to sail through the gatherings with grace… or at least not be asked to leave because you just ripped someone a new one ;)