What Not To Say To Your New Parent Friend
If you are a mid-twenty-something to 30-something, you probably have a lot of friends who are becoming parents for the first time. Hell, in this millennium, if you’re a fifty-something to sixty-something, you may fit in too. There’s a ton of advice for new parents out there. Between Google, apps, books, podcasts, and family, there are plenty of places that parents-to-be can turn to for sound advice about the journey ahead, meaning there is no need for me to venture on that path. Who I do think could use some advice? The sideline spectators, the backseat drivers, the friends to those new parents. You love your friend and you have opinions, that’s fantastic. Keep them to yourself.
Here’s what not to say to your new parent friend.
“Don’t worry, you’ll be back to your old self soon.”
No they won’t. Your friend who just had their first child will literally never be the same person ever again. Statements about someone reverting back to their “old self” imply negativity in regard to their “new self”. Embrace and enjoy the new person who your friend is. Granted, part of becoming a new parent is learning how to balance being a whole person outside of just existing in the new role, but encourage growth and positive changes. That’s what friends do, no matter what the journey is.
“Do you even have time?”
You really don’t need to be concerned with another adult’s time management skills unless you’re paying them. This question is called projecting. You’ve already made up your mind that because your new parent friend has more to juggle, they don’t have time for anything other than changing diapers and are looking for confirmation. Here’s a secret: You don’t have to ask. Your friend will tell you if that’s the case.
“Well, when I watch my niece and nephew…”
To new parents, the fact that you are capable of babysitting your niece/nephew is not comforting! A first time parent to a 3-month old barely trusts their own parents who raised them with their baby, much less you and your anecdotes about your instagrammably adorable kin. Trust me, no one thinks you’re stupid and you probably DO have great advice. That’s not the point, okay? All you look like to your new parent friend is someone who has never ridden a bike giving a lesson on how to dominate a unicycle.
“You’re so lucky that you get to be home all day.”
This applies in two arenas: your friend on maternity/paternity leave and your friend who is a stay at home parent. Having children is nothing other than an absolute blessing, but be clear - maternity leave is not a vacation. It’s literally time for organs to get themselves back together while learning Advanced Baby 101 without sleep. Stay-at-home parenting? That’s the PhD. Check on your stay-at-home parent friends because kids are crazy.
Sidebar: It is really unfortunate that every parent does not receive leave benefits. It’s actually inhumane and unsafe, but that’s an entirely different post.
“Your baby isn’t [blank] yet?!”
It is really easy to forget that children do not develop skills in the same order and at the same pace, but do your best to remember that. If you can’t? Just hush, boo. The wonderful thing about 2019 is that we have these people who go to school to become something called pediatricians. These pediatricians are amazing. They literally keep track of children’s health and development from the time they are 2 days old to around 21. Can you believe this? No need to fret or show concern about your friend’s baby’s development, leave that to these pediatrician people.
I selected these keys because they were either said to me during my first few months as a parent or I was once the friend who was guilty of saying them. Everyone can relate to the feeling of completely lacking confidence in something and, usually, an outside person applying extra pressure, guilt, or stress just does not help. Becoming a parent for the first time is scary as sh*t, so even when you have the best intentions as a friend, just shush. A hug is probably your best bet.