Every other day, I come across an article warning me about things I should never say to a new mom or a parent of a kid with a disability or a mother who breastfeeds.
These articles are helpful for people like me, because I have a habit of saying stupid things all the time, especially after a glass or three of wine.
At the same time, it’s easy to get caught up in the political correctness and almost negativity of it all. I mean, let’s be sensitive, but not TOO sensitive. Yes, I want to punch people in the throat when they ask how my kids are sleeping, but realistically, I know they mean well.
Maybe instead of talking about things we should NEVER say, we should talk about the things that are ALWAYS good to say. I think I can speak for every parent when I say that you can always come at us with one of these:
1. “Your kids are beautiful.”
I don’t want my kids to start associating their value with their looks, but at the same time, it never bothers me when people tell me how stinkin’ cute they are. Because they freaking are! Even ugly babies are still somehow cute, right? Those little hands, curious eyes and squirmy feet are just precious. You can also give my kids any number of compliments and I will gobble it right up: they are smart, they are funny, they are athletic or they are bound to get scholarships to college based on their awesomeness so stop fretting so much about that pathetic savings account.
2. “You look great.”
I’m a mom. Despite all my efforts, my stomach will never go back to the way it was. My eyes will always look a little tired, and my outfit will typically come with a side of Play-Doh. As parents, it’s not often that we hear that we still look good. That doesn’t have to mean that we conform to some kind of societal standard of beauty. Maybe it just means we look happy, or healthy, or less exhausted than the day before. Or just straight up lie to me and say I look nice when I look like a dumpster fire. I don’t even care at this point. I’ll take the compliment.
3. “I can tell how much you love your kids.”
Really? Can you? Because sometimes, I worry that it isn’t always so obvious, like on the really hard days when I am frustrated or when I talk about needing a break. I carry around so much guilt on those days, worrying that perhaps my children feel less loved. I hope my kids know how much they mean to me. If you can see it, it is an assurance that maybe they do, too.
4. “Can I help?”
Even if I say no, your offer for help is always so meaningful. I love that the people at the grocery store always ask if they can help us to the car. I rarely take them up on it, because loading the food and the kids in the car is a much-needed workout. But I must say there is a feeling of validation there, knowing that someone else recognized that I might have my hands full and they want to do something to help.
5. “You are doing a good job.”
I suppose this depends on where you set the bar for effective parenting. For me, it’s slightly above just keeping the kids alive but well below feeding the kids only organic food. No matter how you define a good job, I will never tire of hearing you tell me I’m a good parent. In fact, parents need to tell each other that more frequently. It’s easy to forget because we are constantly worried that we are failing. Like, CONSTANTLY worrying about it.
I don’t tell the parents in my life these things often enough, and I’m going to start. Join me, won’t you?