New parents are a lucky group of people who are entering the parenting world with a newborn. It's a scary and exciting time, one that is full of joy and exhaustion in equal measures.
When people see new parents, they want to offer words of wisdom or well wishes. While this is normal, there are things new parents really don't want to hear. It's not that they are bad sports. There are just some comments that are insensitive and some questions that are too personal. Unfortunately, people don't always think before they speak.
Because no one knows what each parent's journey to parenthood looked like or what they are going through in the early days of parenting, it's important to offer supportive words without judgment or malice. New parents are running on almost no sleep, and their nerves are shot from trying to keep a tiny person alive without any help from the tiny person. One unkind word can cause a world of problems.
For seasoned parents, try to think back to those early days and remember what was and wasn't helpful to hear from others. For those who have never been parents, don't feel pressured to pretend to understand all the challenges of a new parent. Just offering kindness and help is enough.
These top 15 things new parents don't want to hear made the list for a variety of reasons, but they all have one thing in common: they can earn people a smack down, or at least the stink eye.
15 You Look Tired.
New parents look tired because they are tired. They are new parents. Babies don't sleep for long, consecutive hours, and they are incapable of meeting their own needs. That means parents are on demand 24/7 for small, angry bosses who literally can't live without them.
Parents already feel tired, but being told that they look it too is just adding insult to injury. There are a ton of other comments people can make about a new parent the first time they see them after the baby is born. "You're doing great!" or "How can I help?" are both wonderful.
Also, for those who are close to the new mom and dad, offer to come watch the baby so they can catch a nap. It's not necessary to comment on how tired new parents look, but it is nice to offer them a way out of the sleep-deprived haze that is the early days of parenting.
14 How's The Baby Sleeping?
This question is tricky, especially if it comes from other parents. Each baby has their own sleep groove, with many babies not sleeping through the night for the entire first year. This is normal and fine, though it is exhausting. Other babies sleep through the night very early and just keep at it. Parents who have kids who aren't doing well in the sleep department do not want to be asked this question by people whose kids never wake up at night.
New parents also don't want advice on how to get their baby to sleep more. The Internet is out there, so any parent can read up on sleep training or tricks for getting kids to sleep anytime. However, many parents choose not to use cry-it-out methods or the like and instead decide to endure the late night wake ups. It's each parent's decision, and parents who don't want to let their kids cry it out don't want to hear from parents who say it's the only way to parent.
13 Is Everything Healing Down There?
People just don't get to ask this. While mom might be comfortable sharing some aspects of her birth story, no one gets to know how her lady bits are doing after the trauma that is childbirth. That is private information.
In fact, women may not even want to talk about their birth experiences right after they occur. If mom hoped for a drug-free, vaginal delivery but ended up with an emergency C-section, it may take some time for her to be ready to explore the feelings connected to this change. It's fine to ask if birth went well, but if mom doesn't offer details, don't push for them.
It's also never a great idea to talk about how bodies are damaged after childbirth. Many older moms like to talk about how birth ruined them, but this is not helpful for new moms. Birth doesn't ruin moms. It just changes their bodies a bit.
12 It Goes By So Fast!
No, it really doesn't when living through it. Sure, seasoned moms can look back and realize that the baby phase really does pass in the blink of an eye, but when parents are sleep deprived and stressed, nothing goes by fast. Every day crawls by as they try to figure out how to keep a tiny human alive while still getting some sleep.
This phrase rolls off of the tongue of so many well-meaning individuals, but it can actually be very hurtful to new parents. It makes them feel like they aren't enjoying this phase enough or like they are taking for granted the blessing of their children. None of this is true. It's possible to be completely in love with a sweet newborn and still be losing our minds from lack of sleep and so many demands. This doesn't make us bad parents.
Tell parents they are doing a great job or that it gets easier. Something encouraging is better than telling them how fast the days go by when they are moving at a snail's pace for the parents.
11 When Are You Going Back To Work?
Another topic that is off the table are mom's plans for her work life after a baby. Some moms don't know what they are going to do until the baby arrives, and some do. No matter what choice a mom makes, someone will have something to say about what she should do instead, so it never feels safe to answer this question.
Many women have to go back to work after having children in order to put food on the table and a roof over their children's heads. There's no choice in the matter, so having people assume there is can be hard. Other women choose to go back to work because they love their jobs and don't want to miss out.
Women who decide to stay home are often asked if they are okay with "just being a mom", as if that's not a high enough calling. Either way, moms feel judged, so steer clear of job related comments or questions.
10 When Are You Having The Next One?
Seriously? If mom is holding a newborn, do not ask her when the next one is coming. That's insane! Let's take it one kid at a time and see how it goes, okay?
For some reason, people want mom to have her life planned out from start to finish once the baby comes. How many kids will she have? Where will they go to school? How far apart will they be spaced? We don't know any of this, and trying to raise a newborn is a full-time job. We don't have time to figure out the logistics of welcoming a sibling when our first child is weeks or months old.
Plus, some couples choose to only have one child. Only children are not elusive unicorns or weirdos, but that's how society sometimes treats them. That's why parents may shy away from sharing their plans to only invite one child into the family. It saves them from having to hear all the reasons having an only child is a bad idea.
9 How Much Baby Weight Is Still Hanging On?
Questions about pregnancy weight are never okay, not while mom is pregnant and not after. In fact, comments about mom's body are some of the worst that can be made after a child is born. Mom has just welcomed a person into the world, and the size of her waist or the number on the scale are not what is important.
Treating moms like real, whole humans instead of just physical decorations to look at is a great way to show that women are so much more than just appearance. Moms don't need to hear that they still look pregnant, and even telling a mom she doesn't look like she's just had a kid is a sort of back handed compliment. What's wrong with looking like we've had kids?
Steer clear of comments or questions about appearance, and instead compliment mom on her stellar parenting skills.
8 I Just Got A Dog, So I Know How You Feel
Not really, nope. We know that it's normal for people to try to empathize by comparing their experiences to our own, but having a pet is not the same as having a child. Even comparing the two shows a vast ignorance of what it means to be a parent.
If a person is having a hard time fully understanding mom and dad's new roles and experiences, that's okay. They can just say they can't imagine what they are going through. It's better to be honest than to make an insensitive comment out of stupidity. Parents don't want to hear that a dog waking up in the middle of the night is like their infant waking up repeatedly for food. They don't want to compare potty training stories. These situations are just not the same.
7 We Don't See You Anymore
New parents do not need guilt from friends about not showing up for the latest events or get togethers. The excuse for not coming is the best ever: we're taking care of a person. However, that doesn't mean we don't feel guilty or like a flake.
New parents need to be given a full, free pass on everything, especially in the beginning. Many new parents want to spend as much time possible with their little ones, and even when they do want a break every now and then, it's not easy. Leaving the baby means the other parent has to pull the slack while one partner gets to play, and that's not easy in the early days. Plus, breastfeeding moms generally find it's more trouble than it's worth to pump enough milk to go out and then have to pump while visiting friends so their boobs don't explode.
Give new parents some slack. They will see friends again, eventually.
6 Doesn't Breastfeeding Make You Feel Awesome?
Breastfeeding is great. All the research is out there to support it, and it would be very difficult for a mom to have a child and not know the benefits of breastfeeding. However, it's not easy for every woman. Some moms have no trouble breastfeeding, and other moms struggle from the very beginning. Don't assume it's easy for everyone.
Even moms who can breastfeed don't always enjoy it. Many feel it's uncomfortable, and some have issues having another person in their personal space that thoroughly. Some moms choose to keep breastfeeding anyway, but they may not feel like it's the best thing in the world.
It's common practice to shame moms, whether they breast or formula feed, so simply telling a mom she's doing a great job is the safest way around this issue.
5 I Wouldn't Make That Decision
There are so many topics that are debatable when it comes to raising kids. Vaccinating, circumcising, and how to feed kids are just a few of the top issues everyone seems to want to argue about. Often when people in mom's life find out she has made a decision that they wouldn't have, they feel the need to educate her on why she is doing it all wrong.
This is not necessary. If someone has a child, they are mature enough to make the decision for that child. With the exception of child abuse, there's not really any other reason for outsiders to get involved. Everyone can agree to disagree and move right along with their own lives.
If parents want other people's opinions, they know how to ask. They also know how to do research on their own.
4 Newborns Are Easy. Just Wait.
Every parent has their favorite age, but regardless of what that is, never tell new parents the newborn stage is easy. Some people may love it, but there are definite challenges that make it difficult for most. Saying it's easy or that it's all downhill to a new parent is like punching them in the face and leaving them for dead.
Acknowledging the hard parts about having a newborn, like the lack of sleep, the fear of SIDS, and the constant need, is a good way to bond with parents. It lets them know they are not alone in feeling overwhelmed, and that takes away any guilt they may have about not loving every minute of having a little baby.
It's fine to talk about how cute babies are and all the precious things newborns do, but don't forget that the early days are some of the most trying for most moms and dads. Be sensitive to that.
3 Sleep When The Baby Sleeps
We know this advice is meant to be helpful, but it's not realistic for many parents. Some moms feel better getting things done while their little ones sleep, and they don't like being told that's not wise. If it offers them peace of mind, then it's the right choice.
Some parents also deal with babies who don't sleep well due to colic or other problems. Telling them to sleep when the baby sleeps is like telling them they will never sleep again. It's frustrating.
The best advice to give any new parent is "if it works in your family, it works", because it's the most honest advice. No two families are going to do things exactly the same way, and that's fine. Telling a parent that they will find their own groove and that it will be perfect for them is one of the kindest things anyone can say.
2 Was This One Planned?
That's quite personal actually, and mom and dad may not want to share the details if their sweet newborn was a result of some malfunctioning birth control. Plus, unplanned doesn't mean unwanted, but parents fear that's what others will think.
Asking questions about conception is always tricky and should be avoided. If mom and dad want to share information about their conception journey, they can, but they often don't. Many couples go through fertility treatment, and this can mean they have experienced losses before having a live birth. Parents also may not want their kids knowing that they were surprises, so they don't share that information with just anybody.
Once a child arrives, it really doesn't matter how they got here. On purpose, by accident, with fertility drugs or without, they are here now, and that's all that matters.
1 I'll Be Around If You Need Help
This is a nice offer, but new parents often don't know whether or not to take it seriously. Instead of making a generic statement about offering support, set a time and say how help will arrive. For instance, telling a new mom that it's no problem to bring a meal over on Monday night is much better than just telling her to call if she needs anything.
New parents always need something, but it's not always easy to even verbalize what in the beginning. Showing up with food or extra diapers is welcome, as is watching the baby so mom can get a shower. If the friendship is close enough, it's also nice for someone mom knows to load the dishwasher and switch the laundry over since she will be stuck nursing and changing diapers.
Offer tangible help, not just vague offers. New parents will be very grateful.