Before You Offer Advice to New Parents, Remember How It Felt to Hear It
Seasoned parents love to dish out advice to new moms and dads. Their intentions are good, but their words aren’t always useful in practice to the sleep-deprived and terrified. “Cherish every single moment!” is an old favorite every new parent loves/hates to hear from just about everyone they meet. This statement is both impossible (no one cherishes every moment of a colicky baby screaming for hours on end, or a tantruming toddler in the middle of Target) and condescending, implying that new parents aren’t being appreciative enough of their squirmy spit-up-soaked rugrat.
So, when your kids are older, and you’re tempted to offer “friendly advice” to the frazzled-looking new moms you see out and about, try to remember how those comments made you feel when you hadn’t slept in days. And days. And days. In case you’ve blocked it all out, here’s a refresher:
‘Take care of yourself so you’re better able to care for the baby.’
How you felt: Make me a sandwich, find my toothbrush for me, then go stick your head in the sand.
‘If you breastfeed the baby, all the weight you gained will just melt away.’
How you felt: Um, no, I’m not Princess Kate looking fabulous as I leave the hospital, and if you remind me one more time about the donut of blubber around my midriff and how it will magically melt away if I only breastfeed, I’ll come to your house and inject all my cellulite into your face.
‘Sleep when the baby sleeps.’
How you felt: And when, pray tell, might I shower, cook dinner, go to the bathroom and write a zillion thank-you notes for all the cute pajamas everyone seems to think my baby needs?
‘Schedule personal time for yourself away from the baby to relax and rejuvenate.’
How you felt: Great advice, now please hand over your checkbook to cover the cost of my nonexistent babysitter, then ask me how relaxing it is to pump milk in the mall bathroom.
‘Don’t forget to feed your relationship with your spouse, or weeds will grow.’
How you felt: If it’s the smoking kind of weed, please bring it. Otherwise, if he tries to come near my breasts, I’ll murder him.
‘Don’t try to accomplish too much in one day; housekeeping chores can wait.’
How you felt: I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you over the 6-foot piles of laundry and echoing sounds of an empty refrigerator.
‘The days are long, but the years are short.’
How you felt: I’m sure that’s true. Is it nap time yet?
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