As a pregnant person, no one prepares you for how judgmental other people will be towards your parenting choices. You have an idea, sure, but you don't know the depths to which this judgment goes until after you give birth. Parents and non-parents alike see your newborn as an invitation to give you unwarranted advice or make passive-aggressive criticisms. But if you want to be a good friend to the parents in your life, then you should never say these things to a new mother, according to a new British study.
Channel Mum, a YouTube network and parenting community, surveyed more than 2,000 moms to find out which phrases they found hurtful as a new mom, according to the Independent. From the survey results, the brand came up with 30 comments that, while seemingly innocent, are pretty judgmental. Think remarks like "I would never let my child eat sugar," "You spoil your child," or "I could never miss a school trip with my child."
Let this survey serve as a reminder to be gentler to new parents. As a spokeswoman for the YouTube network put it, according to the Sun,
Words are a powerful weapon, and some of these phrases will seriously wound a mum’s self-esteem. Whether these phrases are said accidentally, clumsily, or on purpose, they help neither the person saying them or the person receiving them.
Here are 24 of the 30 phrases moms found hurtful, according to The Independent:
- He’s a bit of a handful, isn’t he?
- I would never let my child eat sugar
- My little one slept 12 hours last night
- Breast is definitely best
- You spoil your child
- I had all the cleaning and cooking done by 9am this morning
- You look tired, are the kids playing up?
- I wouldn't dream of giving my child a dummy
- Anything that starts with 'when my child was their age...'
- I think he's just playing you up because you're his mum
- My child will literally eat anything
- Oh, is she not sitting up yet?
- The teacher says my child is Xx years ahead of his reading/writing age
- Oh, didn't your child get invited to their party
- I could never miss a school trip with my child
- My child was dry at night well before the age of XX
- My son wouldn't struggle with the words in that book
- My child always eats their fruit and vegetables without a fight
- I can't believe XX can count to 10 already
- My child is already toilet trained
- Well, he is very bright
- You're very brave parenting that way...
- I couldn't bring myself to buy a nativity costume, I'll hand-make mine
- We always eat together as a family
But here are the remaining six from the Channel Mum survey that I, in particular, find infuriating.
"I don't hold my child like that."
That's great, Karen. But I do.
In all seriousness, every parent holds their child differently, and for different reasons. It could be because of comfort, physical ability, or child's preference. Sure, you may cradle your kid, but my kid may hate that. Also, it's none of your business how someone holds their child — unless they are hurting their child on purpose.
"I wouldn't let my child watch that much TV."
Sometimes, you can't help how much television your child watches. I understand that research shows an overload of television can have a negative impact on your child's brain and behavioral development. But there are also studies that show that educational programming can help children achieve better educational outcomes in elementary school. The truth is, a lack of affordable day care forces working parents to rely on television. Don't like that? Then start advocating for better childcare policies.
"Giving a child an iPad is just lazy parenting."
There are so many reasons why a parent will give their child an iPad at home or in public. When we're eating out, and my son is having a particularly bad time, I will let him watch shows on the PBS app to keep him calm. Some parents use iPads to help their kids cope with sensory overload because their children have autism. And maybe the iPad just makes their little one happy. Frankly, you shouldn't care.
"Oh, are they not talking yet?"
The competition over milestones is disturbing to me. Every child develops at their own pace, and how that development plays out should be discussed among the parents and their child's doctor. It's ridiculous to impose standards on babies way before they can even understand the concept of standards. Plus, these milestones may be achieved at heartbreaking times; my son said his first word, "mama," the same day my father died. To be honest, I wasn't worried that day over when my son would start talking.
"Oh, are they not walking yet?"
See above. This is one I've had a bit of trouble with myself. My son didn't start walking until after he turned 1 years old. I know that was around the average time for most children to start walking, so I know developmentally, he was fine. But because of deep-rooted issues stemming from my own childhood, I projected my own insecurities onto my healthy baby boy. And that wasn't fair to him, me, or his father.
"Don't you feel bad going back to work?"
No. Would you like to know why? Because bills need to be paid and mouths need to be fed. Plus, I love my career. Mothers shouldn't have to give up their professional lives because they've had a child. Mothers are still people with goals and dreams, just like fathers. So no, Karen, I don't feel bad going back to work.
I know, in a perfect world, none of these phrases would be uttered to parents. I know, in a perfect world, parenthood would be collaborative and cooperative and treated respectfully. Of course, this isn't a perfect world, but maybe — maybe — let's try to get close to it by minding our business.
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