23 Terrible Things No One Should Ever Say To A New Parent
Parenting is a tough job – probably the toughest, as some people might say. Everything changes overnight, as you have to be responsible for not only yourself, but also a squirming baby who needs constant attention and care all throughout the day. And while all those added expenses, lack of proper sleep, and tons of new responsibilities can already be too much to handle, it is definitely the well-intended advice of people around us that makes parenting one of the most difficult jobs on the earth.
Most of these statements and pieces of advice are actually well-meaning, but they do end up affecting a new parent’s ability to cope with their new responsibilities. So, if you really want to be in the good books of new parents around you, it is very important that you stop yourself from uttering these phrases.
“I’m always ready if you need any help”
While this may seem like a well-meaning offer, uttering this phrase doesn’t really help a new parent at all. Most of the new parents are clueless about what they need and are even more tired to actually articulate it. Instead, if you could offer a specific help that you can offer during specific times, that would go a long way in ensuring the new parents do get some rest. From ordering dinner, so that they don’t have to cook to watching the baby while the parents can get some rest can be good ways to really be helpful to new parents.
“When are you planning on having a second baby?”
You shouldn’t ask new parents when will their kid have a new sibling. New parents already find it difficult to make sure their one new addition stays safe, healthy, and happy, and any talk of new children will just freak them out. Also, considering the fact that a lot of families these days consider having just one child as ideal – or the fact that they had to undergo a lot of effort in order to even conceive that one child they have – it is best one doesn’t say this phrase to a parent ever.
Do you seriously believe that just because you’re suggesting them to “cheer up”, they are actually going to have a change of mood immediately? It simply doesn’t work that way. So, whenever a new parent decides to share his or her concerns, exhaustion, or even sadness, you should always hear them out and tell them that you really understand them. Comments such as “cheer up” actually have an opposite effect on new parents, and push them into feeling more isolated and worried.
“These things are a total waste of money”
Sure, you might actually believe that an activity center, carrier, or a cool stroller might be a waste of money, but it doesn’t mean you have to spurt that out to the parents. The least you should do is understand that those things that you consider “a waste of money” actually come at a great expense, and no one likes being told that they bought something that is useless. Also, a lot of those things are actually gifts from their near and dear ones who love buying baby stuff. After all, anything and everything that makes a new parent’s life easier has to be a net positive, isn’t it?
“We didn’t use to do this back in our day”
Well-meaning family members and older friends can believe that babies were basically feral, but it doesn’t mean any new parent has to hear that. Previous generations did a lot of things in the past – rubbing whiskey on their child’s teething gums to allowing their children to ride without car seats – that was actually quite dangerous. So, if you encounter a new parent who is doing things differently from what you used to do, try to keep your well-meaning pieces of advice to yourself.
“Having a baby is the best feeling in the world, isn’t it?”
Having a baby is undoubtedly the best feeling in the world for a lot of people. However, for people who find the experience a slightly anxiety-inducing one, hearing statements such as these makes them feel as if they are falling short on the emotions they are supposed to feel and adds to that self-judgment. Even according to experts, no one can feel great about being a parent all day long, and even the most excited and enthusiastic parents actually feel a mixture of feelings because of the very tough nature of parenting.
“That baby doesn’t look like you at all!”
While it is always great to hear compliments such as the newborn has grandpa’s smile or his mom’s smile, it is never a good thing to hear that their baby doesn’t remotely look like them. It is not just rude, it can also hurt parents who are not the biological parents of the child, and don’t want to discuss it with you. So, be cautious and avoid saying anything like that.
“You are exactly like your parents”
Even if you know that the new parents have a great relationship with their parents, it doesn’t mean they would like to feel as though they are following the same patterns as their parents. According to a leading family and marriage therapist Steven Reigns, such comments only make them feel dreaded and hopeless. He also points out that even though you can find striking similarities between the new parents and their older folks, it doesn’t mean they would like to see it that way as well.
Anything that starts with the words “You should….”
If you really think that new parents are just dying to get your input on how they are supposed to hold, bathe, and feed their baby – especially in cases where you begin with the words “you should” – you are simply misguided. According to most experts, you shouldn’t just give out advice on parenting, unless they ask you for it. So, unless you see new parents doing something that may be dangerous for their child, it is better to keep your advice to yourself.
“My child was able to do that at xyz age”
So, we get the fact that your kid was able to talk, walk, and even cook some delicious chicken soup by the age of one. That is totally awesome for you and your child, but telling this to new parents about how their child was more capable than your child at the same age is just misguided and rude. It not only comes across as judgmental, but it can also be extremely painful for parents of children with special needs, as their child might not be able to complete those milestones as your kid did.
“Breastfeeding is best”
While breastfeeding may be a practice that has been going on for thousands of years, telling a mother who is not breastfeeding her child that “breastfeeding is best” is just rude. And while you may have your reasons to think they are not breastfeeding because of a certain reason, there are countless other emotional and physical reasons why a mother may not choose to breastfeed her baby. And most of them are valid reasons, too. So, whatever the reason, you shouldn’t jump the gun and shame the mother.
“Why are you not cloth-diapering or co-sleeping?”
There are a lot of basic things a new parent might not be capable of doing, which includes sleeping and bathing their child. And therefore, by commenting upon parenting practices that they are not engaged in, you are just being rude to them. Whether it is breastfeeding, cloth diapering, or sleeping, any parenting practices that they cannot perform should not be commented upon as it is never welcome. According to experts, one cardinal rule everyone should follow while talking to new parents is this: no judgmental questions.
“I wouldn’t think about putting my child in daycare”
We all have heard those horror daycare stories in the news every now and then. However, licensed day workers are proven to provide loving, compassionate, and necessary childcare to kids whose parents cannot afford to take more leaves from work. So, if you really want to help new parents who need to return to work, suggest them good daycares or get them in touch with other friends who might have used local daycare centers instead of judging them for the fact that they are going back to work.
“You are so lucky as you get to stay at home”
To a lot of working parents, staying at home while taking care of their kids at the same time is like a win-win scenario. However, for most people, it is more of a financial necessity than an actual luxury they cherish all the time. According to a recent report that was published by ChildCare Aware of America in 2018, the childcare costs are more than the public college fee in more than half of the states in the United States. And considering the fact that the job involves not a single paycheck, while at the same requires a person to deal with a lot of screaming, squirming and bodily fluids all day long, you should probably keep your opinion of how “lucky” they are to yourself.
“Wow! How can you go back to work so soon?”
In most cases, new parents simply do not have the option of staying at home and taking care of their newborn for a long period of time. According to a recent report published by Congressional Research Service titled “Paid Family Leave in the United States 2019”, only six states in the entire country offer paid leaves to new parents. So, the next time you think about questioning and judging a parent for returning to work “too soon”, you should direct that judgment towards the employers instead of parents who cannot wait to see their newborn after pulling long hours at work.
“All that attention is going to spoil your child”
There are lots of ways parents end up spoiling their child – from never assigning any kind of responsibilities to gifting them luxury sports cars as birthday presents – but simply snuggling your newborn isn’t certainly one of them.
According to experts, insinuating that somehow by holding their newborn the parents are going to spoil their child is not just misguided, but also affects the already fragile and emotional state of a new parent. According to family therapists, a parent should hold their baby as much as they would like to. After all, they wouldn’t want to be held sooner than later!
“If you actually think this is bad, just wait”
A lot of people love reminding new parents how everything will just go downhill from here on. However, regardless of the fact whether that is true or not, it is definitely not going to make the new parents feel any better. In fact, by comparing and bringing it in a conversation, such statements only dismiss and minimize the difficulty a new parent is going through in that particular phase in life.
“You can sleep when the baby sleeps”
It seems like a well-meaning piece of advice, and it comes mostly from well-intended family members and friends, it is rarely a useful one. “You can sleep when your baby sleeps” is such a difficult thing to practice. Also, sleeping while your baby is sleeping isn’t a good thing according to experts. Sleeping in small shifts isn’t what adults are good at. Further, most parents use the time while their child is sleeping to complete other important tasks such as bathing, eating, and working, this advice is not really as helpful as people would like to think it is.
“Don’t forget to enjoy every moment of this phase”
Every parent loves their child, but there are times when new parents feel tired and struggle to cope with the task of parenting, no matter how much others suggest that they should be feeling limitless joy instead. According to experts, a sense of guilt, depression, and shame start to set in when parents realize they are not being able to enjoy every minute. Therefore, by making such misguided statements, people only add to the pressure the parents are already facing.
“You are not feeling postpartum depression”
Postpartum depression is a serious thing, and it should be taken as such. From mild effects to some truly debilitating ones, a person goes through all while suffering from postpartum depression. It is, therefore, important that one doesn’t downplay a new parent’s experience no matter the severity.
According to a recent study that was published in Journal of Women’s Health in the year 2012, around ten percent of women will face some kind of major depression in their lives at some point. This is precisely why one should be supportive of them instead of dismissing how a new mom is feeling.
“You look tired and exhausted”
A baby wakes up every two hours every single day on an average. Considering this fact, it is not at all surprising that new parents look exhausted because they actually are feeling exhausted. And if you were only trying to tell them about how even you got little sleep last night, do keep this study in mind: According to a study published in Sleep journal in the year 2015, interrupted sleep is far worse for a person’s physical and mental health than short sleep. So, think twice before you toss that statement into the conversation.
“Don’t worry, you’ll get rid of that weight”
No one likes to hear negative things about their bodies – especially when they are quite vulnerable emotionally after having a newborn. It is common sense that no one just goes back to their pre-baby body immediately, and no one should really say such things to a new mother.
Maybe they will find a way to get fit and look the way they used to. Or, maybe they won’t. In any case, how their body looks shouldn’t be discussed at all.
“Your baby cries a lot!”
Any average newborn cries a lot – and in most cases, it seems the wailing just doesn’t stop at all, even when they are held, fed, and snuggled. And while you were just trying to point out a fact, it will feel like a criticism to most parents. According to experts, it is honestly out of everyone’s control, but for new parents, it might feel like a misguided statement.