Being a new parent can be overwhelming. I know. I’ve been there. And in my opinion, it doesn’t necessarily get easier with each child just because you’ve done it before. Every child is unique, just like every parent is unique and every situation is unique. But there are some things that are common across the board. Lack of sleep, love for your child, and of course, all the “help” and “advice” that everyone and their mother (see what I did there?) seems to have for you.
Some of the suggestions I was given were great and we put them into effect. Others I had to try very hard to keep my eyes from rolling. And my favorite…. “when my kids were little” (note the sarcasm). Times change. Recommendations change. New research is done.
mom parent is just trying to do what they feel is best for their child, their family, and themselves. What’s best for you may not be best for me, and I am ok with that. Although from all moms I have talked to about this, there seem to be 4 questions that all new parents hate to hear.
- How are you sleeping?
Umm…. really? How do you think I’m sleeping? It’s easy to very quickly forget just how demanding a newborn baby is. They are hungry every couple of hours and have no discretion whether it’s day or night. They also sleep a lot during the day while the parents are trying to do what’s necessary to keep their home and family running. No new parent is sleeping well. They just aren’t. And bringing it up just reminds them of how much sleep they are not getting. Want a better use of your time? Offer to take care of the baby for a couple hours and let the new parents get some rest. All children sleep through the night at different ages, so this is a good question to avoid potentially until the child is a teenager. Then again, the parents may not be sleeping well then, either, if they are worried about their child being out somewhere.In other words, let’s just avoid the whole sleep issue altogether, ok?
- How well is he/she eating?
The baby is eating. Don’t worry. The process of feeding a baby can be such a touchy subject. Women feel like they are being judged for every decision they make, but the feeding seems to be a huge one lately. Breast fed vs bottle fed, baby led weaning vs baby foods…. it goes on and on.Almost every parent worries about how much their child is eating. Are they eating too much? Are they getting enough? I didn’t breastfeed for long, but the whole time I wasn’t sure if they were getting enough. It never seemed like it because they always seemed hungry. I liked the exact measurements of bottle feeding. But that’s my preference. I have nothing against breastfeeding and think it’s a wonderful thing for those moms/babies who do it.But to ask a parent about how well their child is eating can bring up a lot of insecurities, especially for the mom. A breastfeeding mom may be wondering about how much they are getting, or not like being judged for feeding in public. A bottle feeding mom may feel guilty about not being able to breastfeed or worry about what others will think about it.And once the child is older, no one will ask about what they are eating. I often get asked if my boys are eating enough because they don’t eat a lot, especially Tyler. But every time I’ve taken them to the doctor they say that they are very proportionate for weight to height and compared to their ages. They regulate their calories well and obviously eat just what their body needs.
- Don’t you just love it?
Honestly, not always. But who is going to say that? There is no right answer to this question. If you say that you aren’t loving every minute, someone may think you don’t love your child. If you say yes, then if they are also a parent they probably know you are lying and are afraid to ask for help.A new mom is usually a hormonal, emotional wreck on top of being exhausted. A new dad is just as exhausted as the mom. Just because they aren’t enjoying every moment of being a parent, such as the middle of the night waking, doesn’t mean that they don’t love their child.There have been many times that I think I can’t handle this being a parent thing. Then they do something so adorable that you just melt and remember it’s all worth the frustrations. And now that my boys are older, I feel like I can say this. Although I do also feel like some people are judging me when I do.You can’t like someone 100% of the time. It just doesn’t happen. And it’s ok to admit it. In my opinion, it’s even healthy to admit when you are feeling overwhelmed and get help from someone before you possibly do something you regret. Everyone needs some alone time, new parents included.
- Can’t you just……?
Oh, this one is probably the most irritating of all. Usually, because it is the tone and what’s not said that makes it so annoying. I’ve noticed this saying mostly comes from those whose kids are older, who aren’t in the midst of keeping this tiny little human alive. They are past this point, past the emotional, exhausting state of new parenthood.You ask one of the annoying questions previously listed and the conversation goes something like this:
“How is the baby sleeping?”
“He still wakes up to eat a few times per night”
“Well mine was already sleeping through the night”
*hidden eye roll* “I know, he just isn’t there yet. His reflux makes it so he has to eat smaller portions more often” (even though I shouldn’t have to explain myself)
“Oh, can’t you just……. [insert well-meaning advice here]”
“We already tried that” or perhaps “That won’t work for us because…” or even better “The pediatrician recommended this because…”
“That’s not how we did it when mine were little”Yes, it may be different. But every family, every situation, is unique. I know you are trying to help, but new parents are already so unsure of what they are doing, and this instills even more lack of confidence. Maybe they feel bad they didn’t think of it. Or maybe they really did try already and it didn’t work.But mostly, it’s the tone. The “can’t you just” makes it sound like you have a simple solution and it should work for everyone and how could the new parents not think about it? I know it’s not the intention, but as a new parent, it can make them feel like they are doing something wrong.
Whether you are talking to someone who is a new parent for the first time or the tenth time, it doesn’t matter. I know you are meaning well, and just trying to be helfpul and supportive, but please think about what you are asking/saying before you open your mouth. Parents of a newborn are often exhausted, emotional, hormonal, and sometimes at the brink of insanity. Trust me, you don’t want to set them off!
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