Is any new parent going to answer “no” to the question: “Is he/she a good baby?”
When entering parenthood for the first time, there is a gamut of information out there on what to expect (including the somewhat fear-mongering series of books by that very name). You anticipate the sleepless nights and all hours of the day rocking and feeding and changing. One thing you really don’t see coming though, is the barrage of questions that friends, family and strangers alike ask, simply because you have a baby in your arms. While it mostly comes from a place of well-meaning, these questions can end up being awkward, uncomfortable and sometimes even invasive.
If you really think about some of these questions, it’s pretty obvious how ridiculous some of them are. And yet over and over, new parents (especially a new mother) will be made to fumble through answers to them.
So here are 5 questions I kindly suggest stop being asked of new parents:
1) ARE YOU BREASTFEEDING? To this, I ask: Why does it matter?
Breastfeeding is often such an emotionally-charged question for women and something that they can be judged and scrutinized for, greatly. If you aren’t her doctor or her partner, you really have no business asking what she may or may not be doing with her boobs. End of.
2) WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO HAVE ANOTHER? This tends to come up frequently now that Everly is two, and the longer time goes by, people seem to get very concerned whether or not you’ve thought about expanding your family. Things like “well don’t wait too long or she’ll be lonely” and “you’re not getting any younger” get said, and that for lack of a better term, is really annoying to hear. You never know what someone’s story is. They may be trying desperately, struggling with postpartum, have suffered loss(es), can’t get their spouse on board, feel like they can’t financially support another child, or straight up just don’t want to have another kid. Either way, if they wanted to let you know they we’re trying or hoping for number 2/3/4/etc, they’d let you know.
3) DON’T YOU THINK THEY DESERVE TO HAVE A SIBLING? This is a loaded one that gets asked often of parents who’ve decided to be one and done. The notion that you automatically should have a second child in order for your first to be completely fulfilled in life is… bullsh!t. Personally I have a younger brother, and he was an amazing companion to me growing up, but that isn’t the case for everyone. Sometimes it’s health complications, not wanting to go through another pregnancy, financial standing or straight up just not wanting more than one child. And that is all OK. What a child deserves is a loving parent(s) and a safe and happy childhood – that can all happen whether they are solo or have 9 siblings.
4) DO YOU LIKE BEING A PARENT? There’s really only one publically acceptable answer to this isn’t there? That’s “Yes, of course”.
5) IS HE/SHE A GOOD BABY? No, Karen, she’s the spawn of satan. Of course, she’s a good baby! All babies are good – they are born asking nothing of us other than to feed them, change them and keep them safe. I often feel like what people are really saying here is, “Does baby sleep well, never cry, smile on command and only poop when it’s convenient?” – and when you put it clearly like that, it sounds like a whole lot to ask of a baby, doesn’t it? This notion that a small, innocent little being could be considered ‘bad’ is kind of heartbreaking, and we know no one would ever want to say that, so let’s stop asking it.
DISHONOURABLE MENTIONS GO TO: “Are you feeding baby enough?” , “Are you going to try for a boy/girl next time?”, “Does your husband/partner help?” and “What do you do at home all day?”
Ok, so what should I ask new parents then?
Glad you asked, here are some really thoughtful conversational questions that I loved getting asked as a new mom, and I think make for much more product and considerate conversation:
1) WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE TAKE OUT SPOT? I’LL ORDER YOU DINNER TONIGHT.
2) WHAT’S LIFE LIKE NOW THAT YOU’RE A MOM/DAD?
3) I’M AT THE STORE, CAN I GRAB YOU SOME SUPPLIES?
4) MY FAVOURITE THING ABOUT BEING A NEW PARENT WAS ______ WHAT’S YOUR’S BEEN SO FAR?
5) HAVE YOU HAD ANY HILARIOUS FIRST TIME PARENT MOMENTS YET?
6) HAS HE/SHE SMILED/COO’D/GIGGLED YET?
7) IS PARENTHOOD LIKE YOU THOUGHT IT WOULD BE?
8) WHAT BABY GIFTS HAVE YOU FOUND THE MOST USEFUL?
9) CAN I HOLD/ENTERTAIN HER/HIM WHILE YOU GET A CHANCE TO SHOWER?
10) CAN I SEE YOUR FAVOURITE PICTURE OF HER/HIM?
In conclusion, let’s stop asking new parents awkward questions that make them squirm, justify feelings, or feel ultimately uncomfortable. Respect people’s boundaries, and keep things in a supportive, celebratory tone when in doubt.
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