Tshepiso Makhele
5 minute read
15 Oct 2018
1:22 pm

Things you should never say to a mom

Tshepiso Makhele

Be more sensitive to other mothers’ feelings by remembering that what you say and how you say it matters.

Picture: iStock

Motherhood is stressful enough and often mothers need all the support they can get emotionally or physically.

It’s a job; a fulfilling one, but nonetheless a job. Criticism from other mothers, friends or perhaps infuriating family members who don’t know their place can make the job harder for the mother, increase their stress load and get incredibly frustrating.

There are certain phrases that are just unkind and insensitive. Think of it this way, if it would leave you hurt, torn or discouraged to hear a certain phrase said to you by another mother, don’t say it. It’s a case of merely doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.

It’s inappropriate and definitely not attractive to have pull her down (PHD) syndrome and drag another mother down when you know that motherhood can be taxing. Well, if you didn’t know, now you do. Being a mother is strenuous; it’s tough.

It’s always advisable to guard your tongue because there are some words that one says without properly thinking them through that can hurt a person’s confidence. So purposefully saying negative phrases to another mother is something all moms should avoid.

Before you choose to remark about your child’s speed of development and fantastic growth or comment on another mother’s parenting style, bear in mind the effect it could have on them. Words have a lasting impact, whether they are said purposefully or accidentally.

A phrase like “she’s so beautiful, but she doesn’t look anything like you” is insensitive. Reading between the lines, which is what the person you saying this to will do, this phrase is somehow suggesting that the mother is not as cute as the baby, and which mother doesn’t want their baby to look like them anyway? Don’t be rude. I mean it could sound better and actually make the mother happier if you just stopped at “she is so beautiful” and left it there.

Picture: iStock

“You look tired” some women sometimes say to others. Obviously, she looks tired because she is. My mother tells me that if it’s not necessary to say something or if saying something will not change anything, it’s best not to say it at all. I believe she was right.

Why point out the obvious and alert the woman that you think they look awful, because let’s face it, a tired look is not really the greatest of looks. What positive change will it bring to point out the bags under another woman’s eyes, when you know exactly how exhausting parenting can be. Will it make you feel better about yourself, when she feels unattractive? If you don’t know what to say, rather just stay silent. This is not nearly as rude.

“Why are you so worried all the time,” a family member once said to me. Struggling to contain my aggravation, I replied: “Well, let me guess. Perhaps it’s because I watch and read the news and in every other update there is something terrible happening to some innocent child somewhere. If I’m not careful my child could get abducted, hit by a car, eat something poisonous, choke on something or I could just lose her,” I said, annoyed to the core.

ALSO READ: Things you should never say to your child

If she is a stay-at-home mother the “what do you do all day” question is insulting. Children are a handful. There is always something to do when it comes to being a hands-on parent.

Wake the kids up in the morning, bath them, make them breakfast, unpack their toys for them, make lunch, prepare dinner, make kiddy appropriate snacks. Then clean the house, do their laundry, go shopping for their sports gear, take them to extra classes, take them to extramural activities and fetch them from somewhere.

And don’t forget organising play dates, putting a band aid on a wound, wipe teary eyes, make them laugh, taking them to the doctor, helping with homework, organising birthday parties, buying birthday and Christmas gifts, breaking up fights, putting them to sleep – and much more.

The “are you going to let your child do that?” and the “you let your child eat that?” questions are quite infuriating. It’s okay to offer some friendly suggestions, but making another mother feel like they are making a horrible decision in their children’s upbringing is a big no.

Graphic: Costa Mokola

Rather say “the paediatrician told me that drinking milk is better than any fizzy drink for a child, been trying it myself with my kid” or “what Gareth is doing looks pretty scary. I’m scared that he might fall”. This way the mother doesn’t feel attacked, and your words have a sense of care in them. How you say something makes a difference. Try it.

Never tell a mother that she spoils her child, as it might make them feel like you are questioning their parenting style and judging them and their child. Being spoiled is not necessarily a good thing so the mother might think you are noticing some negative qualities in their child and find it invasive.

No parent is perfect, and there is no definite manual on how to raise kids. Most of us are just trying our best to be good parents and going a bit overboard sometimes, but there is always a better way of putting your point across to being offensive.

Questions like “is he or she walking or talking yet?” are also some of those things one should avoid. Who doesn’t know that milestones are a sensitive subject for a mother? Anything that starts with “when my child was their age …” should be avoided.

Be more sensitive to other mothers’ feelings by remembering that what you say and how you say it matters.

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