We've all been there. I know for sure I've done things and said things that I regret. More often than I'd like to admit, I've felt so awkward remembering things I'm not proud of. The worst part is knowing that I made someone else feel even more awkward and awful because I was being thoughtless. Please, help me help you NOT make the same mistakes that I've made. Sometimes, even when we mean well, we can unintentionally hurt people. Everyone knows the obvious "big ones"; you should never ask a woman if she's pregnant, never ask her age. Let's take this a step further.
When Are You Having Kids?
I'm not sure why this needs to be said, but here goes: It's never polite to ask if or when a woman is having kids. Before I come off as judgy, let me be the first to admit I have done this. Not proud of it. I distinctly remember asking a friend who had been married a few years when they were having children. Talk about putting somebody on the spot! I try to remind myself that people might be walking through a tragedy I know nothing about.
Are You Done Having Kids?
This question is potentially another painful reminder for a couple that desperately wants to conceive again. Bottom line: it's best to avoid anything that touches on fertility. The subject is so deeply personal, so fraught with emotions. When we speak on it, we're forcing the other person into a position of vulnerability. Also, generally speaking: deciding how many kids to have is not a group decision - it's for the couple only.
Do You Have A Favorite Child?
Yes. At the moment, our favorite child is whichever one is being the most cooperative and/or quietest. But also, no. No, love is not a zero-sum game. What are we trying to do here, hurt a kid? Work out our own sibling rivalry issues? Have we ever considered how truly cringe-worthy this question is?
Was This Baby An Accident?
Translation: Were you using contraceptive? If so, why did it fail? To be quite frank: if the baby was a surprise, chances are the parents don't understand why their prevention failed. If they did, it probably wouldn't have failed. Saying the baby is an accident can really hurt! The implication is ugly: "Did you want your child?" Not the nicest accusation against other parents.
How Dilated Is Your Cervix?
Yikes. Yikes all over. Where do we begin with this one? Well, first of all: that's private medical information. Do you make a habit of asking your non-pregnant friends about their cervixes? Second, consider that cervical dilation does not indicate speed or imminence of labor. At best, it may describe the stage of labor with some accuracy. Still - none of that is pertinent unless you're giving birth or on the support team.
Did You Tear Your Perineum?
Again with the personal questions! If you're willing to help a woman brace or support her perineum during labor, then yes - you may ask this question. Otherwise, please don't. It's not necessarily something any of us who lived through it want to relive.
When in doubt, follow this easy rule of thumb: would you ask your non-pregnant friend the same question? If not, then hold your tongue. Trust me, pregnancy and having kids is weird enough. Listen long enough and a real mom will tell you all the juicy stuff when she thinks you can handle it.