by Jocelyn Jane Cox
As parents, we need to commiserate and compare notes. However, there are certain things we should never say to other parents. Some ill-chosen statements will a) inspire envy and maybe even rage in your listeners and b) you could jinx yourself. Therefore, don’t utter any of the following:
- “My child has always been a good sleeper” a) Fatigued parents are often angry parents. You might as well duck and cover if you’re going to say something so ridiculous and downright offensive. b) Kids change. Your sleep-centric offspring could at any point start waking you up all night for various and sundry reasons: for a drink of water, to go to the bathroom, to ask you if worms have faces…
- “My kids will eat anything” a) Oh, the struggles so many have faced: the wasted food that could fill whole dumpsters, mealtime show-downs, and that panicked statement, “but you have to get some nutrients!” that falls on deaf ears. b) Kids change. Picky eating is a hobby children can pick up at any time. After all, it feels good to assert opinions even if they aren’t genuine i.e. when suddenly even donuts are described as “yucky!” Besides, sitting at the dinner table can really cut into their rigorous playtime schedule.
- “We’ve never been to the Emergency Room with our children.” a) There’s nothing more terrifying than your child getting hurt; there’s nothing more painful than seeing your beloved offspring in pain. When you say something like this, you throw salt in a parent’s wounds, and you may incite a PTSD flashback. b) Kids make stupid decisions. Even kids who are coordinated and otherwise sensible can ask themselves, “I wonder what would happen if I climbed up on top of the refrigerator and jumped off?”
- “My kid doesn’t show much interest in screens/TVs/tablets/phones.” a) For many parents, screens are simultaneously a means of survival and a source of extreme guilt. The result is a great deal of rationalization and defensiveness that could become combative. b) If you claim to not be using screens at all, you are probably a sadist, a liar…or a genius. But screens are part of our world and can only be avoided for so long, and we all know that even the purest lil’ Luddite could end up as a gamer or a hacker or, worse, a movie critic.
- “Our kids never have potty accidents.” a) Potty training can be a long, arduous, not to mention disgusting process. For most, this stage underscores the fact that we unfortunately cannot fully control another human being. For example, try as we might, we cannot force our children to empty their bladders before a long car trip. Likewise, we cannot stop the pee once it starts a’flowin’…all over the car seat. b) Regression. It’s a thing. And it can happen when you least expect it, usually in the most inconvenient or most embarrassing situations and almost always when you forgot to pack a change of clothes.
Just remember, we cannot rewind or retract our words, so choose them wisely and consider your audience. Basically, when you’re with other parents, it’s best to focus on your struggles, since misery always loves company. And if you really need to brag about your kid, you should only do so around those who haven’t become parents yet. This will inspire them to procreate and then you’ll have more people to…commiserate with.
Freelance writer and author Jocelyn Jane Cox reports on the Great State of Parenthood with advice you never knew you needed and the chuckles you know you really need every other week in the Chronicles of Parenting. Her 2012 humor book on life in the New York suburbs, The Homeowner’s Guide to Greatness: How to handle natural disasters, design dilemmas and various infestations, is available on Amazon.com. Follow her on Twitter at @JocelynJaneCox.