Being a new parent is hard, plain and simple. There are no straightforward how-to guides. There’s a stupid amount of advice. Everything from eating to sleeping to crawling to nursing has a million articles and experts for and against every aspect you could think of (and plenty you haven’t thought of yet).
Navigating all of this sh*t while you’re sleep-deprived and feeling like a shell of your former self is only compounded by the snarky comments—made intentionally or not—by family and friends. If you’re wondering how to tactfully interact with a new parent while being supportive and kind, here’s a list of all the sh*t NOT to say to them.
1. “You Still Look Pregnant!”
Before you go thinking, “nobody would ever say this”, I literally had someone say this to me and I about had a crying episode in public. (Don’t worry—I waited until I got back to my car, then cried alone in a parking lot, like an adult.) Having a baby is f*cking hard. Being expected to look immediately like how you did before you had said baby is hard. If you aren’t sure what to say, don’t f*cking say anything. It doesn’t matter if it’s been a week or a year. Everyone is different, and everyone’s body handles pregnancy and childbirth at its own rate. Some people can go for three-mile walks two days after pushing out a kid. Some, like me, are healing from C-sections and literally can’t move, like, at all. So chill with your judgment. And while we’re at it, how about we stop commenting on people’s bodies altogether?
2. “Are You Breastfeeding?”
Breastfeeding, formula feeding, exclusive pumping—it’s a torrid mindf*ck. Some moms breastfeed without a problem whatsoever. Some formula feed and love every minute. Some do a combo, and some exclusively pump. Basically, it’s none of your business, and you shouldn’t ask or offer advice either way. There are a lot of #feelings about how people *should* feed their babies, and it kind of boils down to not concerning you, at all.
3. “You’ll Lose The Weight”
A close family member said this to me, and my first thought was, “but what if I don’t?” Does that make me a failure? Maybe I’ll drop all the baby weight and then some. Maybe I won’t drop any at all, or I’ll stay somewhere in between for years. It honestly doesn’t matter, as long as you’re healthy and your baby is well taken care of. If it isn’t okay to make comments about someone’s weight while they aren’t pregnant or just had a kid, why is it okay after?
4. “You Look Tired”
Wow, do I really? I thought this new two-hours-of-sleep-at-a-time thing was really going to do wonders for my skin, hair, and overall appearance. I know I look f*cking tired. I have no idea how to take care of myself or this tiny person. Pointing out that your friend or family member looks like they haven’t slept when they have a new kid is not a cute look for you. It isn’t helpful; it isn’t being supportive or real. Instead of pointing out that mama looks tired, tell her that you bought her more lounge pants and cuddly bathrobes, or that she deserves a personal box of party tacos for holding her sh*t together through such a life shift and you’re proud of her.
5. “Sleep When The Baby Sleeps”
Cool, and I’ll do laundry when the baby does laundry and also wash dishes when the baby washes dishes. I’ll pencil in having a glass of wine when he has a glass of wine. I know this is old, tried-and-true advice, but in practice, it’s really kind of meh. I can say I tried to do this for a bit as a new parent, but eventually, the piles of dishes and laundry and need to wash your hair outweigh the need for sleep, so you have to take advantage of what little time you have.
6. “You Should Have Another”
Are you f*cking kidding? I can’t even wrap my head around how to take care of one tiny person and myself. How can you even mention a second? This is a pretty sh*tty thing to say regardless. Like, sure, maybe down the road, you’ll forget all about the sleepless nights, the tantrums, the hours nursing and pumping, and the good times you missed out on because you couldn’t figure out how to leave the house—and then decide to add a second or third kid to your household. But, until then, one is more than enough, and guests, family, and friends all need to respect that, too. Additionally, it’s NO ONE’S BUSINESS.
7. “Let Me Know If You Need Anything”
This one can seem confusing, so allow me to elaborate. New parents are f*cking tired. We don’t know what day it is. We don’t know what bag of Cheetos, old salad, or Pop-Tart is going to suffice for dinner. We need lots of things—spa days, time away from the baby, more time with the baby, wine, more wine, etc. If you want to help, just straight-up offer something. Instead of asking “what can I do?” or saying “let me know…” just offer something concrete. “I’m bringing you two bottles of wine, a footlong Italian sub, and a pizza” or “Hey, I picked up 12 trashy gossip mags and your favorite cake from that bakery” will be much, much more appreciated than making us think about anything other than when we can nap.
8. “It’s Supposed To Hurt”
I was told this when I was struggling with postpartum depression and a difficult breastfeeding and nursing period. When my son latched, I fantasized about throwing him like a football across the room—that’s how bad it hurt. I heard everything from “just go see a lactation consultant” to “well, you’re just making it harder on yourself to do formula or pump” to “you’re clearly doing something wrong” to the above, “it’s supposed to hurt”. A mom’s breastfeeding, nursing, formula, and/or feeding journey in general is none of your business. Be supportive of however she’s feeding her kid, and offer no other “advice” unless specifically asked.
Images: Wesley Tingey / Unsplash; Giphy (3)
We here at Betches celebrate moms. Moms are great to talk shit with. They always take your side. And, most importantly, they gave us at least 50% of our current beauty. But just like all things that are great—like cheese and my regular coke binge—limits are key. It’s great to be close with your mom, but you’ve got to have boundaries. Otherwise it’s just plain weird. And that’s why I’m here, to write a response piece to an article I read called “My Mom Is My Best Friend And That Is More Than Ok.” I, a random Betches writer with literally no personal interest in the matter and who doesn’t even know you, am here to tell you that no, it’s not okay—it’s fucking weird.
Literally the first words of this piece are “Thank you for being the Lorelai to my Rory,” so I was already suppressing my gag reflex to begin with.
Things did not get any better for me when I came across passages like:
“Many people can see this as a bad thing or that it means that your mom is your only friend, but that is far from the truth.”
Okay, I am down with the whole “mom as a friend” idea to an extent—which we’ll get to later—but your ONLY friend? Honey, that is concerning. You need to have friends your own age, and you need to have friends that aren’t basically required by virtue of being related to you/having housed you in their womb to be your friend.
Like, if your mom is your ONLY friend in the entire world it means either of a few scenarios are possible. 1) You just moved, which, okay we’ll cut you some slack, Squid. 2) You can’t relate to people your own age which indicates that you should stop watching Oxygen and go to a party or something. 3) You just suck as a person so nobody who doesn’t have to be your friend will. Both the latter two options are troubling, to say the least. If you have ZERO friends other than the woman who carried you in her uterus for nine months, it’s time to look at your life, look at your choices.
“I may have seemed unappreciative growing up, but truthfully I just did not appreciate you enough.”
That … that is literally what unappreciative means.
“My mom is always the first person I call in the morning and the last person I call at night.”
Oh, so you’re one of THOSE. Look, I’m sorry, but between the time you called your mom at night, slept, and woke up, what could have possibly happened in your life that you need to fill your mom in on? Did you have a bad dream? Sorry, but seeing as you’re not Martin Luther King Jr., literally nobody cares. Not even your mom. Yeah, I said it.
“She knows all there is to know about my life and I would not want it any other way.”
See, this, this right here is the problem. Is it great if you’re close to your mom? Yes. Sure. By all means, have a ball. Should your mom know ALL THERE IS TO KNOW about your life? Hell to the no! It’s all about BOUNDARIES. Say it with me now. For instance, it’s cool to tell your mom you went out on a date. It’s even fine to tell her you met your date on Tinder. It’s NOT cool to tell your mom you and said Tinder date met up in an Kroger parking lot and you sucked his dick in the backseat of his car. I’m using a completely random and made-up example for illustrative purposes, obviously.
See what I mean? If your mom really and truly knows every detail about your life it means there’s something wrong with the both of you. Like, my parents love me and are interested in my life and all, but when they asked me what I was doing last Saturday night, they didn’t really want to know what I was actually doing, which was mixing vodka and
Adderall emotions at a lingerie party in Brooklyn. They just wanted to know that I was going out with some friends. Both statements are technically true, but only one allows me to keep my inheritance. Feel me?
In short, if your mom is really your best friend, it’s fucking weird, and I don’t think it means what you think it means. I tell my mom about 20% of what I tell my ACTUAL best friends (sorry, Mom). If you think of you and your mom like Rory and Lorelai Gilmore, there’s probably something wrong. Then again, I never watched Gilmore Girls.
Appropriately Distant Kisses,