Be sen­si­tive to moms

WORDS: CHOOSE COM­MENTS CARE­FULLY AND HOW YOU SAY THEM TOO

The Citizen (Gauteng) - - CITY - MOTH­ERLY TALK Tshep­iso Makhele

Don’t be that woman who pulls an­other woman down.

Moth­er­hood is stress­ful enough and of­ten moth­ers need all the sup­port they can get emo­tion­ally or phys­i­cally. It’s a job; a ful­fill­ing one, but nonethe­less a job. Crit­i­cism from other moth­ers, friends or per­haps in­fu­ri­at­ing fam­ily mem­bers who don’t know their place can make the job harder for the mother, in­crease their stress load and get in­cred­i­bly frus­trat­ing.

There are cer­tain phrases that are just un­kind and in­sen­si­tive. Think of it this way, if it would leave you hurt, torn or dis­cour­aged to hear a cer­tain phrase said to you by an­other mother, don’t say it. It’s a case of merely do­ing unto oth­ers as you would have them do unto you.

It’s in­ap­pro­pri­ate and def­i­nitely not at­trac­tive to have pull her down (PHD) syn­drome and drag an­other mother down when you know that moth­er­hood can be tax­ing. Well, if you didn’t know, now you do. Be­ing a mother is stren­u­ous; it’s tough.

It’s al­ways ad­vis­able to guard your tongue be­cause there are some words that one says with­out prop­erly think­ing them through that can hurt a per­son’s con­fi­dence. So pur­pose­fully say­ing neg­a­tive phrases to an­other mother is some­thing all moms should avoid.

Be­fore you choose to re­mark about your child’s speed of de­vel­op­ment and fan­tas­tic growth or com­ment on an­other mother’s par­ent­ing style, bear in mind the ef­fect it could have on them. Words have a last­ing im­pact, whether they are said pur­pose­fully or ac­ci­den­tally.

A phrase like “she’s so beau­ti­ful, but she doesn’t look any­thing like you” is in­sen­si­tive. Read­ing be­tween the lines, which is what the per­son you say­ing this to will do, this phrase is some­how sug­gest­ing that the mother is not as cute as the baby, and which mother doesn’t want their baby to look like them any­way? Don’t be rude. I mean it could sound bet­ter and ac­tu­ally make the mother hap­pier if you just stopped at “she is so beau­ti­ful” and left it there.

“You look tired” some women some­times say to oth­ers. Ob­vi­ously, she looks tired be­cause she is. My mother tells me that if it’s not nec­es­sary to say some­thing or if say­ing some­thing will not change any­thing, it’s best not to say it at all. I believe she was right.

Why point out the ob­vi­ous and alert the woman that you think they look aw­ful, be­cause let’s face it, a tired look is not re­ally the great­est of looks. What pos­i­tive change will it bring to point out the bags un­der an­other woman’s eyes, when you know ex­actly how ex­haust­ing par­ent­ing can be. Will it make you feel bet­ter about your­self, when she feels unattrac­tive? If you don’t know what to say, rather just stay silent. This is not nearly as rude.

“Why are you so wor­ried all the time,” a fam­ily mem­ber once said to me. Strug­gling to con­tain my ag­gra­va­tion, I replied: “Well, let me guess. Per­haps it’s be­cause I watch and read the news and in ev­ery other up­date there is some­thing ter­ri­ble hap­pen­ing to some in­no­cent child some­where. If I’m not care­ful my child could get ab­ducted, hit by a car, eat some­thing poi­sonous, choke on some­thing or I could just lose her,” I said, an­noyed to the core.

If she is a stayat-home mother the

“what do you do all day” ques­tion is in­sult­ing. Chil­dren are a hand­ful. There is al­ways some­thing to do when it comes to be­ing a hands-on par­ent.

Wake the kids up in the morn­ing, bath them, make them break­fast, un­pack their toys for them, make lunch, pre­pare din­ner, make kiddy ap­pro­pri­ate snacks. Then clean the house, do their laun­dry, go shop­ping for their sports gear, take them to ex­tra classes, take them to ex­tra­mu­ral ac­tiv­i­ties and fetch them from some­where. And don’t for­get or­gan­is­ing play dates, putting a band aid on a wound, wipe teary eyes, make them laugh, tak­ing them to the doc­tor, help­ing with home­work, or­gan­is­ing birthday par­ties, buy­ing birthday and Christ­mas gifts, break­ing up fights, putting them to sleep – and much more,

The “are you go­ing to let your child do that?” and the “you let your child eat that?” ques­tions are quite in­fu­ri­at­ing. It’s okay to of­fer some friendly sug­ges­tions, but mak­ing an­other mother feel like they are mak­ing a hor­ri­ble de­ci­sion in their chil­dren’s up­bring­ing is a big no.

Rather say “the pae­di­a­tri­cian told me that drink­ing milk is bet­ter than any fizzy drink for a child, been try­ing it my­self with my kid” or “what Gareth is do­ing looks pretty scary. I’m scared that he might fall”. This way the mother doesn’t feel at­tacked, and your words have a sense of care in them. How you say some­thing makes a dif­fer­ence. Try it.

Never tell a mother that she spoils her child, as it might make them feel like you are ques­tion­ing their par­ent­ing style and judg­ing them and their child. Be­ing spoiled is not nec­es­sar­ily a good thing so the mother might think you are notic­ing some neg­a­tive qual­i­ties in their child and find it in­va­sive. No par­ent is per­fect, and there is no def­i­nite man­ual on how to raise kids. Most of us are just try­ing our best to be good par­ents and go­ing a bit overboard some­times, but there is al­ways a bet­ter way of putting your point across to be­ing of­fen­sive.

Ques­tions like “is he or she walk­ing or talk­ing yet?” Are also some of those things one should avoid. Who doesn’t know that mile­stones are a sen­si­tive sub­ject for a mother? Any­thing that starts with “when my child was their age ...” should be avoided.

Be more sen­si­tive to other moth­ers’ feel­ings by re­mem­ber­ing that that what you say and how you say it mat­ters.

Pic­ture: iS­tock

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