August 5, 2013
Your sex life never will be the same. In my day. What, not breast-feeding?
From diet tips to "little baby, little problems," sleep-deprived and super-stressed new parents have heard it all. And they want you to stop it.
As Britain's Prince William and his wife, Kate, move along on their parenting journey, it seems even the queen has had a what-not-to-say moment. According to a special edition of Us magazine on raising royals, she exclaimed soon after William's birth: "Thank goodness he hasn't ears like his father!"
Most every new parent has a greatest hits of lame advice and annoying remarks. For fitness buff Brook Benten, mom of 4-month-old Hayes, her list included her post-baby body.
"My swollen uterus made me look like I was still five months pregnant," said the Round Rock, Texas, mom. "I was elated to be a mother, but I knew good and well that I looked baaaaad. Well-intending visitors would look me once over and say, 'Wow! You look great!'"
And how SHOULD that have gone? "Compliment our baby. Tell us he/she is the cutest baby you've ever seen. But don't compliment the body of the new mother."
Perhaps most acutely distressed in the very early months are the parents of preemies.
Things not to say to the parents of a preemie?
"'Well, my child is the same age and much bigger!' Or, 'Your son is awfully thin,'" suggests Megan Lubin of Philadelphia, who gave birth three months early. "The worst was when they would compare what their child was able to do."
Brandi Jordan, who owns a parenting resource center in Los Angeles, said the way to avoid ticking off new parents is pretty simple.
"I think that people should not give advice. Period," she said. "People see it as open license when they see someone with a baby to give them their opinion on how they should have socks on, or they should have a hat on, or they need sunblock, or you shouldn't be taking them out, they're too young. Some people make themselves armchair experts because they've read a lot of things."
But she has a suggestion for new parents, too: How about not rejecting outright the experiences of your own parents due to their grandparently status?
"A lot of new parents discount what their own parents actually know, but a lot of grandparents do have good traditional things that work really well," she said.
First, she said, parents need to realize that they really do need help. "Before, you didn't need help because your family was right there and did everything, but so many people are far removed from their families."
But make sure help is help. Visits should be 10 minutes, not two hours, in the early days unless you plan to throw in a load of laundry, do dishes or cook a meal.