10 OBNOXIOUS QUESTIONS STRANGERS ASK NEW MUMS
Most of the people who ask these inconsiderate questions aren’t even aware of how rude they’re being; in fact, they feel as if they’re only being nice. There’s just something about a baby that makes people feel as if it’s acceptable to meddle in a new mom’s affairs, and these are 10 of the most irritating things that regularly come out of those busy mouths.
- “When Are You Due?” – To the chagrin of many a first-time mom, it’s not uncommon to still be wearing maternity jeans for weeks or even months after the birth of a child. When well-meaning passersby and casual acquaintances inquire about the remaining length of a pregnancy weeks after delivery, it can just compound the frustration of dealing with stubborn baby weight along with the demands of new motherhood.
- “Are You Breastfeeding?” – There’s no doubt about the fact that breast is best, but that doesn’t mean that breastfeeding is feasible or even possible for all new mothers. There are plenty of extenuating circumstances that can affect a woman’s decision to breastfeed or go with formula, up to and including a simple disinclination to nurse. Regardless of others’ feelings on the subject, how a new mother feeds her baby is ultimately her own choice.
- “Did You Have a Natural Childbirth?” – Few medical procedures open the door to invasive questions like a discussion about childbirth. Everything from anesthesia to bodily functions seems to be on the table and a valid topic of conversation, regardless of how invasive or personal those questions might be.
- “Are You Going Back to Work?” – Some new moms will go back to work, and others will stay home with their children. Whichever choice they make, there is someone on the opposite side of the fence that will find fault with their decision.
- “Isn’t Motherhood Great?” – For some women, new motherhood is a glorious and life-affirming experience that brings them more joy than anything they’ve ever known. Others, however, suffer from the very real symptoms of postpartum depression and may not feel like motherhood is something so altogether grand, after all. Excited inquiries about how wonderful they’re finding the world of parenting are great when they’re echoed, but they’re just hurtful and awkward for those moms that are struggling to settle into their new role.
- “Is That Your Grandchild?” – Changes in the social structure and advances in modern medicine have also brought about changes to the face of modern motherhood. These days, it’s not uncommon for a woman to give birth well into her forties, leading plenty of confused onlookers to come to the conclusion that she’s looking after a grandchild.
- “Did You Adopt?” – There’s more than one way to become a mother, and one of them is adoption. While there’s no shame in adopting, there are plenty of adoptive parents who would prefer to avoid the subject. Asking pointed questions about the origin of a child serves only to satisfy curiosity, and can be quite upsetting to a new parent.
- “Are You the Nanny?” – Genetics work out in strange ways sometimes, leaving a biracial child looking far more like one parent than another. Being regularly confused for the nanny of a baby that more heavily favors his father is not only insensitive, but can get tiring very quickly for a new mom.
- “When Are You Going to Have Another?” – When a baby is still in diapers, the last thing that most mothers are thinking about is adding another baby to the mix. Just as it’s rude to prod newlywed couples about when they’re planning to have children, it’s also very intrusive to ask a new mother about her plans to have another while her first is still an infant.
- “Are You Getting Enough Sleep?” – In short, the answer will always be “no.” Asking a new mom if she’s getting enough sleep can feel like a kind of commiseration, but it’s also a question she’s been fielding since the moment she brought her child home from the hospital. Reminding her of the sleep she isn’t getting is more likely to bring on gritted teeth and short replies than anything else.
Even if you feel that you’re sharing great advice to a clueless new mother, try to keep in mind that unsolicited advice is almost never well received. Your opinions on co-sleeping, vaccinations, pacifiers and every other hot-button parenting topics are your own. Asking nosy or leading questions as a means of foisting your parenting wisdom upon a new mother may not have the results you’re hoping for, even if she smiles politely and squelches the urge to roll her eyes at you.