It’s easy to give the standard, off-the-cuff advice to new mothers in order to make conversation or bolster our “been there, done that” parenting cred. Unfortunately, there is too much unhelpful advice passed around that only frustrates new moms or causes unnecessary guilt. There are many things we have to stop telling new moms.
When I was pregnant with my first child I received a lot of eye-roll worthy advice. I thought it would stop when my baby was born, but the bad advice continued. I politely thanked a lot of sweet old ladies and well-meaning relatives for their input – even when I knew they were wrong.
4 Things We Have to Stop Telling New Moms
Here are four common pieces of advice doled out to new moms that aren’t helpful at all.
Enjoy Every Moment
Why do we tell new mothers to enjoy every moment of new motherhood? Now that my oldest child is 15, I understand the urge to tell new moms how fast childhood goes by. I wish I had spent more time relaxing with my children and less time worried about a clean house. But, being told to enjoy every moment when I had three children age four and under was not helpful.
Being told to enjoy every moment made me feel guilty because I was most certainly didn’t enjoy the sleepless nights, the tantrums, the exhaustion, the sibling rivalry, the diapering and so much more. I enjoyed plenty of things about motherhood, but many moments were a struggle. I needed to hear from moms who had been there that they didn’t enjoy every moment either.
Sleep When the Baby Sleeps
Why do people say this? Especially moms who know they did no such thing when their children were babies. Nap time is for catching up on housework or taking a shower or returning phone calls.
And, why would I lay down for a nap when my baby will wake up every three minutes? I appreciated the permission to get rest, but being told to sleep when the baby sleeps is bad advice unless a new mom has a housekeeper and a personal assistant.
You’ll Change Your Mind About That When You Have Two
When I was a new mom I had a lot of ideas about how I wanted to parent my son. I practiced attachment parenting and was committed to child-led weaning, co-sleeping, baby wearing, cloth diapering . . . you get the picture. I can’t count the number of times I was told, “Oh, you’ll change your mind about that when you have more than one child to deal with.”
Guess what? They were wrong. Even after my third child, I continued to parent my children in the way I thought was best for them.
No matter how a new mom decides to parent or what priorities she sets, it’s dismissive of her maternal instincts to tell her that she’ll change her mind when she has more children. It’s not as if having another child makes it impossible to stick to her convictions and parent in the way she feels best.
Maybe she will change her mind if she finds evidence that there is a better way to do things or if doing things differently is better for her children and her family. But it’s not a given that a new mom will abandon the way she parented her first baby when she has the added pressure of a second, third or more child.
It Will Get Easier/It Never Gets Easier
I actually wrote a post about how I think parenting gets easier. I am firmly in the “it gets better” camp. It has gotten better every year for me, in fact.
However, to tell a new mom who is struggling that things never get easier is cruel. The things that are difficult for her during this season may very well get better. Likewise, to assure a new mom that things definitely get better is not wise, either. Again, it depends on what exactly she’s struggling with.
The best thing to do is to wait for a mom to ask you if gets easier and then tell her from your personal experience what got better, what got worse and what didn’t change. If she doesn’t ask, don’t volunteer the information.
2 Things We Should Tell New Moms Instead
The advice we need to pass on about motherhood is simple – It’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do and it’s totally worth it. These two simple statements both validate and soothe a new mom whether she is struggling with new motherhood or not.
Parenting is hard. It’s difficult in different ways for different moms, but every mother struggles with some aspect of parenting. But, parenting is worth it. The joy outweighs the struggle – if not in the day-to-day, then throughout the entire journey of motherhood.
Are you struggling as a new mom? Here are some great resources to help.
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