Things you shouldn’t say

Everyone wants to stop and talk to a parent with a new baby. They’re just so squishy and cute, right? You can’t help but want to get a bit closer.

But it seems everyone is reading from the same phrasebook when it comes to making conversation with new mothers in particular, and some of those phrases are not really helpful.

If you’re confronted with a parent and baby, here are some things to try not to say.

Is s/he a good baby?
I have heard this one so many times I have lost count. But what does it even mean? And how do you answer it? “She doesn’t seem actively devious, but then she is only six weeks old, there’s still time!” Or “No, she is just awful.”  She is my baby and in my eyes, she is pretty much perfect. What makes a good baby, anyway? Generally it seems what people mean is – is she eating and sleeping?

Which brings me to…

Is she sleeping well?

It may be because my two haven’t been fantastic sleepers (by that I mean, they haven’t been the type to nod off to sleep without assistance – ever – and definitely aren’t the sleep-through-the-night-by-eight-weeks – or 18 months – type) but this one gets my back up. I get defensive because I have to say no and then feel that I must justify it. I almost cried the first time someone switched it up and asked me: Are you getting enough rest? It’s a nicer way to ask basically the same question, without making the parent feel that the lack of sleep is due to some terrible failure on their part.

This too shall pass

I’ve heard this one a lot, too, particularly when my son has been having a major public meltdown or I’ve been vomited on by a gassy baby for the third time in two hours. Yes, it will pass. But so will my life. So what I’m interested in is, how quickly is it going to pass? And what can I do to speed it along?

They’re only little once…

Yes. See above. I know they are only little once and I’m trying to relish every minute of the baby and toddler stages. But sometimes it’s just not that easy.  Sometimes I’m just so tired. Or I’ve got work I should be doing. Or the house is getting to a seriously embarrassing state of neglect. Making me feel guilty for not loving and making the most of every single moment isn’t going to help.

Well we did…

If you’re a random stranger, and I haven’t actually asked you for advice, don’t tell me what you did. At all. Ever. Especially if it was 50 years ago and you were able to live on one income and weren’t juggling the stress of work, kids and worrying about whether your work means you were shortchanging your kids, and vice versa.  Other entirely unhelpful examples in this genre: Well I was smacked/left to cry/fiercely told off and it never did me any harm (that’s debatable) and kids these days just need more discipline/less sugar/less screen time/more sport.  Just don’t.

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