Dealing with Judgmental Friends and Family During the Holidays
The holiday season should be a time to catch up with friends and family and enjoy each other's company. However, for many people, going to the family Christmas party is a dreaded chore only to be endured — not enjoyed — because people question, judge, and put down their parenting decisions. If you think you may be dealing with judgmental friends and family this holiday, read these tips.
“That baby needs socks.”
These words are only spoken by people who have never tried to keep socks on a baby — or toddler for that matter — or those who have forgotten that baby socks are slipperier than eels and more elusive than the giant squid. It also often comes with similar phrases such as “Oh, where's your hat?” and “Did your mommy forget your mittens again?” This one is best ignored if you can. Otherwise, a smile, “He's fine,” and quick change of subject work well.
“You're letting him have another cookie?”
Many of us parents raise the white flag during the holiday season and let that extra cookie (or three) slide, but if your great aunt Martha is playing sweets police, it's easy to get frustrated and defensive quickly. Take a deep breath and try some humor first: “Just be glad we'll be out of here before the sugar rush hits!” If that doesn't work, a simple “Yes” may be best. Remember that you don't have to justify your parenting decisions and you don't owe anyone an explanation.
“Oh, you're still breastfeeding.”
While it's easy enough to head into these situations armed with a few facts and figures on the average weaning age and the benefits of breastmilk for toddlers and beyond, this type of judgment often comes in other forms:
“The baby is thirsty. He needs some water.”
“Oh, come on, a little bit of juice in the bottle won't hurt.”
“Don't you give him rice cereal? He must be starving!”
If this sounds like your family, try to remind yourself that most people don't keep up with child-rearing research and the changes in recommendations once they're done having children, and these comments may be made out of ignorance and not judgment. While you can certainly educate these people if you're feeling nice, it's sometimes easier and less stressful to avoid these situations as much as possible. A wrapped baby, for instance, is a great way to nicely force friends and family to keep their hands and comments to themselves.
“When are you going to give her a sibling?” / “Surely, you're done having kids now.”
Many people just don't realize how personal and offending these types of questions can be.
This is another situation where humor is your best friend. Come up with a few smart responses and rehearse them with a smile beforehand. You can take it one step further by asking the other person an equally personal question and hope they take the hint, but walking away and ignoring them completely works just as well.
What kind of comments have you dealt with from friends or family?