Bite Your Tongue, Mama! 7 Times It’s Probably Better to Say Nothing at All
When you’re a new parent, surrounded by other new parents, there’s typically a lot of talk about kids. Topics like how they eat, how they sleep, and how to raise them into good people are common. While all parents are doing their best, there are a range of theories and practices related to raising kids that can quickly turn into hot button issues. While you should always speak up if you’re worried that another parent’s child is in danger (like if they’re unknowingly forward facing their two-week-old) there are lots and lots of times when it better to hold your tongue. Check out the situations below when it’s probably best to say nothing at all.
When you’re a passionate formula-feeding mom talking to a mom who breastfeeds.
If you are a passionate formula-feeding mom who simply can’t understand why anyone would spend the time and energy breastfeeding, and you are talking to a mom who does just that, now’s not the time to let her know how you feel. While it can be tempting to justify your decision by citing all the reasons you believe formula feeding is better, that will only serve to leave you, and the other mom, feeling judged and frustrated.
When you're a passionate breastfeeding mom talking to a mom who formula-feeds.
Breastfeeding is hard work and the choice of whether to do it or not is often wrapped up in all sorts of other things like family and work situations, mom's preference, and physical ability. If you’re a passionate breastfeeding mama talking to a formula-feeding mom and she hasn't asked you for feeding advice, bite your tongue. While it can be tempting to justify your hard work by talking about the benefits of breastfeeding, doing so with a mom who's already made her decision to formula feed won't do anything but cause hurt feelings.
When another parent’s child is acting up and you know just the thing to whip them into shape.
Parents think a lot about discipline and, whether they’ve decided to disciple in a way that’s similar to you or not, chances are they have a reason for it. Whether you believe in gentle discipline or spanking, bringing up what you think would work (without being asked) is sure to cause defensiveness. Instead, offer empathy and support. We all know what it’s like to parent a kid through a tantrum or bad behavior in public.
When another parent’s child isn't sleeping well and you think you know why.
Unless that reason why is that the parent has absolutely no understanding of how humans work, drop it. Parents of kids who don’t sleep are not only highly motivated to solve their kids sleep trouble, they also have the internet and every other resource in front of them to try to identify solutions. Everyone knows that having a calming routine, sleeping in the dark, and adding a sound machine helps. Chances are your ‘suggestions’ have either been tried or ruled out based on some of the parent's other beliefs. Instead of offering suggestions or trying to diagnose the issue, offer empathy. “I know you’re tired but you’re doing a great job and this won't last forever,” is far better than anything else you could say.
When you opted out of vaccines and are pretty sure vaccines are causing another parent’s child illness or issue.
Look, the science is just not there on this one. Often when parents are having issues with recurring earaches, eczema, or other common childhood issues a well-meaning friend will suggest that it was the life-saving vaccines they gave their baby that is causing all the trouble. Not only is this not backed by science, but, even if it were true, the vaccines have already happened and this pseudo-advice isn't at all helpful.
When you had the natural birth you wanted and are talking to a parent who didn’t.
Birth can be a touchy subject. If you had the natural birth you wanted, congratulations! Natural birth is a lot of work and you should be proud! You should also avoid mentioning how much better it is than medicated birth or a c-section to a mom who birthed along a different plan. While there’s always room to share experiences among friends, birth discussion is not the time to talk about how much better natural birth is than medicated birth. Instead, share how happy you were to hear that first cry, how unbelievably beautiful your baby was, and how awesome that post-labor meal was.
When you opted for a c-section or medicated birth and are talking to a parent who had a natural birth.
Birth plans are personal. You chose what you chose because it was right for you. When the topic of birth comes up though it can be hard not to justify our decisions by bashing other ways of giving birth. If you opted for a medicated birth and are talking to someone who had the natural birth they wanted, congratulate them on their new arrival, pat yourself on the back for working hard too, and keep the conversation moving.
Is there a time you knew when to say nothing? Share in the comments.