Becoming a new mom should be a joyful time in a woman's life. Yes, there’s the stress of having to take care of a new child – but none of that should compare to the joy of being a mom and having brought a new life into the world. Everyone is prepared for the fact that there might be some hard stuff, but it’s worth being excited about this.
What most new moms don’t think of, however, is the other people they might have to deal with.
Not everyone has manners and is as polite or aware. Some people put mothers (and people, in general) in awkward positions where they aren’t sure where to draw the line between being rude and simply doing what's best for them and their child.
It’s best to think about these moments in advance so parents can prepare for them when they do arise. It might not even be other people making a parent question what the right thing to do is – it might be their very own child who hasn’t grown up and learned social etiquette themselves yet!
Being a mom is wonderful, but it will present some challenges, big and small. So here are 20 tips all parents should look out for concerning etiquette.
20 "When are you having another one?"
Although you’re finally done with pregnancy (or the adoption process!) and you’re looking forward to motherhood without much of the physical discomfort pregnancy brought, you’re going to come across people who are concerning themselves with when you’re going to have another baby.
You might not even have thought about it yet, but other people are going to put you in the position of answering that question. And it’s fine to politely (but firmly!) tell them that you’re putting off that timing decision until a later date.
19 Dealing With People Touching Your Child Without Asking For Permission
People touching your child without permission is going to happen. It may not happen because people have bad intentions towards your child, but it might still be something you aren’t comfortable with – especially because they might have germs on their hands or because it might simply be a stranger that you don’t want being close to your child.
Don’t be afraid to speak up in this situation. People often worry about being rude, but protecting your child is more important than that.
18 And People Touching You Without Asking For Permission
And yep – you’ll get people touching you without permission too, and the same applies in this case.
It’ll happen mostly before you have your baby (if you’re carrying your child). People will ask when the baby is due and put their hand on your stomach in a way that would be nowhere close to acceptable to them if you weren’t pregnant. And then when you’ve had the baby, they’ll do the same, or try to give you congratulatory embraces you may not be comfortable with. It's totally okay to draw boundaries in this situation — it's YOUR body.
17 Passive-Aggressive Comments About How "Easy" Your Job Is
If you’re lucky enough to get extended maternity leave, or you’ve quit your job to take care of your child, there’s a chance you’re going to deal with passive-aggressive comments about it. People who have never been moms or who forget how hard it was, will comment that it must be nice enjoying the time off, implying you’re on vacation relaxing on a beach somewhere when you are, in fact, doing the hardest job ever.
Whether you smile and grit your teeth or politely correct them, it’s understandable.
16 How To Deal With Rude Comments On Your Post-Birth Appearance
People WILL comment on your appearance. They might not mean it rudely, but they’ll tell you that you look tired, or comment on your weight after having a baby – whether to congratulate you on losing it or something intended to be more insulting.
Regardless of the comment and how it makes you feel, you have every right to shut them down. They’re rude, and having been pregnant doesn’t give people a free pass to comment on your appearance. Sadly, people are entitled, and you can’t expect everyone to have good etiquette.
15 How To Answer Parents Comparing Their Experience To Yours – Often To One-Up You
It doesn’t matter how many challenges you face as a new mom or how much panicking you go through because your child gets sick or develops problems along the way – there will always be someone who feels the need to outdo you and expect you to respond with sympathy. It’s the same with all aspects of life – there’s always that person who’s done more than you or has had it harder.
Smile and brush them off. They’re looking for attention, and you’re not obligated to give them it and when you’re dealing with your own problems.
14 Unsolicited Advice On How To Be A Parent
There will be people who offer unsolicited advice that you didn’t ask for. Your baby will be a newborn and people will be offering you advice on how to drop them off at preschool for the first time, or finding a nanny – and it’s totally okay not to be ready to deal with any of those problems yet. Just smile and say you haven’t started thinking about those things yet. Some people like to feel like the expert and want others to see them as such.
13 ...And How To Deal With Judgement If Your Decisions Don't Align With Theirs
These aforementioned rude people might offer you advice on something that you just don’t agree with. Their thoughts or actions might be fine for them, but that doesn't mean you have to listen to them just because they're telling you to. It's your life, your baby, and your body. Listen to their advice but that doesn't mean you have to take it.
The truth is, you’re not obligated to tell anyone else how you parent. You don't need to justify yourself, so don’t fall into that trap of feeling like you have to. People will always have their own opinions and if they’re being judgmental, it’s on them.
12 What To Do When Your Requests Are Ignored
Just as there are people who think they know better, some of those people close to you might ignore your boundaries; this is where you really have to put your foot down. If you tell someone not to give your child candy and they do it anyway, or a babysitter ignores your bedtime rules, it's time to not leave them alone with the child until they can follow your rules. It might seem harsh but at the end of the day, you are the parent. You make the rules.
11 When People Show A Lack Of Understanding About The Hard Stuff
People might also show a complete lack of understanding – especially if they’ve never been moms. You might be venting to a friend and they might not understand what all the fuss is about – and that’s okay! If you need to talk to someone, make sure you talk to someone who is going to empathize with you and not to someone who is going to look down on your problems and make you feel like they aren’t worth happening. Simply avoid people like this if you need to talk.
10 Dealing With Snide Comments From Friends About How You Don't Have Time For Them Anymore
Another problem with friends who aren’t moms is that they might not understand why you don’t have as much time anymore.
Being a mom is nothing if not time-consuming. Those lunches, dinners, nights out, trips away, and everything else with your friends have to mostly come to an end, because your priority is your child and that’s how it should be.
If faced with snide comments, just try to stay calm and explain. If they ever have kids, they’ll get it one day.
9 People Showing Up Unannounced At Inconvenient Times To Meet Your New Child
People in your life will want to meet your new baby, and the timing might be inconvenient for you. They’ll show up during nap time, or during the only time you get to yourself, or during feeding time – and the cycle will repeat.
The best way to avoid this is by laying down boundaries at the start. When you have the baby and get home, make sure you let everyone know to give you plenty of advance notice when they want to visit, so you can check that the time is okay. If not, tell them a better time that works for you.
8 Relatives Who Just Won't Give You Space
There might also be relatives who just won’t give you space because they want to spend as much time with the child as possible, or they think they’re helping by hovering around you constantly. It’s completely okay to tell people that you need some space and that they need to let you and your child have some bonding time alone. Sometimes, clear communication is all that’s required to solve a problem, especially when people just think they’re helping!
7 People Coming Too Close To Your Baby When They're Clearly Sick
Yes, it’s fine and not rude at all, to tell people to stay away from your baby when they’re sick.
When their immune systems are still developing, babies are more at risk than anyone else, so when someone is sick—or has recently been sick—it’s better to tell them to hold off on the cuddles. If they’re sensible, their feelings shouldn’t be hurt and they’ll understand that you’re putting your baby first. Babies will get sick sometime, but it’s best to not put them at risk when it’s avoidable.
6 When Your Child Causes A Fuss In Public
Sometimes it’s your child that’s the one who puts you in a moral dilemma when it comes to etiquette. Your baby, and then toddler, will not always behave in public. They don’t know how to calmly express their emotions so, when unhappy, they might cry. And sometimes this could be in a restaurant at dinner. Pre-decide how you’re going to handle these situations. Do you get up and leave, or do you stick around until they calm down? Just be prepared.
5 Receiving An Unwanted Or Inappropriate Gift For Your Child
If you’ve watched Friends, you’ve seen Rachel receiving a massive stuffed monkey she has absolutely no use or room for. This might happen to you, too. It might not be the same, specifically, but it might be something similar. Someone hands you a gift and you just think… why?
In this case it’s probably better to suck it up, smile, thank them, and then do what you will. Store it or give it to charity for someone who can enjoy it.
4 Where To Bring Your Child And Where Not To
It’s often hard to decide where to bring your child; whether to leave them at home when you’re going on an outing or if it’s appropriate to bring them to work. Many things can influence this decision, like attachment issues, but it’s important to try and look at this as objectively as possible. People in your office, even if it’s technically allowed, probably don’t want a toddler running around. Make sure you have a babysitter in place for when it really would be better not to bring your child somewhere. Always have an emergency backup.
3 Balancing Everything Else In Your Life With Parenting
One of the most important etiquette issues you will face is how to balance everything else with parenting. And if you’re in a romantic relationship, you may need to take some time to prioritize this. Partners often end up feeling neglected because a baby takes up so much time and while this is unavoidable, some time should be set aside to focus on your relationship — as well as your family and friends!
People should understand when your baby takes priority, but don’t forget them entirely.
2 How Often Is It Okay To Leave Your Child With Other People?
So you have a relative who says they will babysit for free.
Great! Lucky you! But how often is too often?
It’s essentially best just to check in and encourage the person to be open and honest with you about their boundaries. Leaving your child with them for days on end is probably not okay, but as long as you use your judgment and don’t feel like you’re taking advantage, then checking in with them and your instinct alone should do the trick.
1 Putting Your Foot Down When It Comes To Parenting Decisions – It's Ultimately Your Call
Ultimately, you’re going to come up against a bunch of etiquette challenges as a new mom. It’s inevitable. But the most important thing that you can remember is that everything is essentially your call, and that everyone makes mistakes. Make your decisions based on what feels best for you and your child and remember not to beat yourself up too heavily if you make a mistake. No one is a perfect parent, and you’re doing the best you can.
And it’s okay to remind others of that too!