The moment I announced my pregnancy it began: the crazy comments from close friends and strangers alike. What I should do, what I should eat, and how my body looks. Like when my friend leaned across the table and whispered in my ear, “You shouldn’t eat that ceviche because it might kill your baby.” This was one of the first things she said to me after I told her the news!
I like to believe that it all comes from a well-intentioned place. When people don’t know what to say, sometimes they say things that are wrong and unhelpful. I’ve had to deal with this for seven months and it’s infuriating. It makes me think about survivors I’ve worked with in the past. When they tell their friends and family about the violence in their lives, they don’t always get the best response or support. The unfortunate outcome is that people walk away from conversations feeling further isolated, misunderstood, or judged. Not the end result either party wants.
So here are some tips on how to support your loved ones in good times and bad:
- Acknowledge what the person told you and what they are experiencing.
- Ask how you can provide support.
- Tell them you are there for them no matter what.
- Ask if they want advice before you give any.
- Think about what you are about to say. Is it helpful? Will it come across as supportive?
It’s okay to not have the perfect response. Being a good listener is sometimes worth a thousand words.