What Not to Say to a Mom
Last week, I told you of some things experts say we shouldn’t say to our children, but now here are some things we shouldn’t say to moms.
You’re So Dressed Up – Your friend who’s a mom is wearing nice clothing and some makeup instead of yoga pants and a baseball cap that you usually see. Mother and psychologist Elizabeth Lombardo, Ph.D., says she could interpret that to mean, “You always look like a slob! It’s great to see you finally wearing makeup. What’s wrong?” In her book, A Happy You: The Ultimate Prescription for Happiness says that if you want to tell her she looks great, say so and use those exact words. “You look great!” Then if you’re curious about her plans, ask if she’s doing anything fun or special. That’s going to communicate exactly what you mean and make her feel good.
You Look Tired – Whether you’re talking to a new mom or a mother with older kids, this is just another way of saying to her, “You don’t look your best. What’s wrong with you?” Naturopathic Physician Dr. Nancy Steely tells Teen Mom on Shine that looking tired can be from a lack of sleep, poor nutrition or an illness that she doesn’t want to talk about. If you want to show your concern, ask her, “How’s everything going?”
What Do You Want to Have? – Most mothers to be don’t care what they have as long as it’s healthy and mothers of boys probably hear this a lot. Founder of BoyMom Designs Amy Williams says that when she started telling people she was having another boy, people would say, “Oh no!” or “I’m sorry!” Oftentimes, in front of her other son. She says to focus on the fact that having a child is a wonderful thing on its own. Just a simple, “Congratulations!” is enough.
When Are You Due? - Before this question comes out of your mouth stop and ask yourself, “Has she ever told me she’s going to have a baby?” Asking a woman who isn’t pregnant when she’s due is the fastest way to damage a woman’s self esteem. Therapist and mother, Erika Meyers says that it can really tap into feelings of insecurity, guilt and body image issues. If she hasn’t lost her baby weight yet, you’ve just served a reminder to her. As if she needed another one. Maybe the weight gain is due to health issues you aren’t aware of, so instead of asking her when she’s due, don’t say anything.
When Are You Going Back to Work? – Maybe she has decided to be a stay at home mom and hasn’t told anyone yet or, she’s having guilt issues because she’s going back to work and would rather be at home with her baby, but the family can’t afford to be a single income household. Focus less on her employment situation and more on her as a person. Meyers says that it’s just better to ask what she’s been up to.
They’ll Grow Out of It - Feeling like you aren’t a rookie parent and can offer advice can be a good feeling, but to the mother, it can seem patronizing and dismissive. Maybe what you’re witnessing is a behavioral issue that the child won’t “grow out of”. Meyers says that when a child is going through a rough time or something that has the potential to be significant behavioral issues, parents can feel overwhelmed and inadequate. She adds that if you want to just be a friend, all you have to do is listen and don’t try and offer advice. If you feel the need to comment, just say that you also went through rough periods with your child when they were that age and that it was tough for you, too.