We have all probably heard one (or more) of these asked, or maybe we’ve asked them ourselves. After being a parent and working with pregnant individuals and families, we’ve learned which questions should never be asked. So, let’s make life a little more pleasant for everybody and just ban a few questions from our conversation–don’t ask moms, don’t ask dads, don’t ask people who look pregnant to you.
Top Five Questions
1) How far along are you? Or Are you expecting?
Just don’t. If the person who looks pregnant to you wants you to know about their pregnancy, they’ll tell you. That might just be the way their body is shaped. They might have just suffered a miscarriage or be going through infertility, may be pregnant but not discussing it with anyone, or may have just received a heartbreaking diagnosis that puts their life or their baby’s life in danger.
Caveat: If they have already told you they are pregnant, it’s OK to ask about a due date. Just refrain from any comments about size. Please. Great things to say to someone who has already discussed their pregnancy with you: “You look amazing!” “You’re going to be a great parent!” “Can I bring you a cool/warm beverage or a snack?”
2) Aren’t you going to miss your baby when you go back to work?
Please don’t ask moms or dads this.
Hahahaha! Nobody asks dads this. It serves no purpose but to make the parent in question feel terrible, and unless that’s your goal in life (we sure hope it isn’t).
Try something encouraging: “I’m sure they’ll be glad to have you back, and what a great example of hard work you’ll be setting for your child!”
3) What do you do all day?
This one is usually directed at stay-at-home parents, sometimes while gazing around at a messy house. All parents generally judge themselves harshly enough and don’t need any more, thanks. A lot of times this question comes from a spouse, in which case some conversation about expectations, needs, and roles, can happen.
Instead, try: “What were you guys up to today?” “Did you two have any adventures today?”
4) When are you giving little So-and-So a sibling?
Your idea of an ideal family size is not the same as someone else’s. And just like pregnancy questions, sibling questions can cause great emotional pain for someone going through infertility or miscarriage. Infertility and loss is a common situation families deal with and being reminded of the struggles can be stinging and utterly devastating.
Caveat: If someone is a close friend of yours, it’s OK to ask if they’re planning to have any more children, as long as you save the judgment when you receive an answer and support their journey!
5) Isn’t So-and-So a bit small/large for his age?
Most parents are perfectly aware of their child’s size, and this question just sparks anxieties. We hear it all the time when speaking to clients, their parents or neighbor or daycare provider says their baby is too petite or eats too much. *SIGH*. Then the parent is doubting their ability to feed and care for their baby. It is just always a good rule to avoid commenting on body shapes, no matter the age.
What to say instead: “[Insert age here] is such a great age!”
If you’ve caught yourself asking some of these questions in your conversations with acquaintances or strangers, take a moment to think about the impacts of your words. These questions may not have an emotional impact on you, but that doesn’t lessen their impact for others. All parents can use a little more compassion and listening and less unsolicited advice and judgement.