10 Times You Can Choose to Affirm a New Mom Part 2
This is part two of a double post, and also a part of my greater "affirmation series".
To get caught up, read part one here.
6. When she reveals her child's name to you.
Try not to say: "That's common." "That's strange." "You can still change your mind." "I knew a (insert name) once and they were like (insert long, not very flattering story of someone else)." "Really?!" "But what will you call him/her?" All of these statements are unhelpful because they question or unnecessarily comment on a decision she has already made. You don't have to like the name she chose, but you should try to respond positively.
Instead, say: "What a great name!" "I love it." "Can't wait to meet baby (insert name here)." All of these comments acknowledge the information shared and affirm her in her decision or edify her to know of your excitement.
7. When she makes a tough parenting decision
These are tough. I've had to make several tough parenting decisions, such as to pump and bottle feed my babies, and later to give them formula. From pacifier weaning to sleep training, I've unfortunately faced judgement (but also amazing support) through it all.
Try not to say: "Well have you tried...." "You should really reconsider." "Here's why I chose differently." You are more than allowed to have strict opinions on what is best for babies. And if she asks you for your opinion or advice, by all means share. But in certain cases, when she is only sharing the fact that she has made a decision, challenging it can sometimes make her feel guilty or more guilty. (Moms usually guilt themselves over tough decisions). These are unhelpful because of such.
Instead, say: "That must have been a really tough decision." "It sounds like you did what you knew was best for you and your baby." "Thanks for sharing with me."
8. When she has the baby blues
Try not to say: "You're just overly tired." "You're still adjusting" These kind of comments are unhelpful because they negate the feelings she has shared and pin them on some other cause.
Instead, say: "You are not alone." "Being a mom is really, really hard and you're doing a great job." "Do you need a break? I can help you." "It's okay that you feel this way. You're a great mom"
** if any woman shows signs of PPD/A it is imperative that they seek proper medical attention right away.
9. When she makes the decision to go back to work
Try not to say: "Do you not like being at home?" "Won't you miss your baby?" "I could never do that." These are unhelpful because they alienate her and may accidentally make her feel like you question her love for her child.
Instead, say: This is actually something that doesn't really warrant a response. But if you were in a situation where you wanted to affirm her for her decision you could say "I really admire the way you make sacrifices and work so hard both at your job and at home." or "I know you made the best decision for you/your family."
10. When she makes the decision to not go back to work
Try not to say: "Why?" "Did you not like your job?" "What will you be doing all day?" "Did you want this all along."
Instead, say: "Congratulations!" "Sounds great." "Taking care of your kids is a full-time job." "I know you made the best decision for you/your family."
Disclaimer: These are not rules or even etiquette. Rather, I'm just trying to encourage people to use their words to edify instead of question, and to build support instead of domination.