“You Know What Causes That, Don’t You?”

A friend of mine recently had her third baby, one of three girls. In a recent post she vented about a stranger coming up to her, shepherding her three daughters, and saying, “You know what causes that, don’t you?”
It’s true that the issue of global population is a touchy subject for many. But it doesn’t give anyone the right to speak so judgmentally and so rudely to others who make different choices. Of course this happens all the time, in every facet of life. But until my friend’s post, followed by several comments from other moms, I hadn’t really been aware of how often mothers are judged for how many kids they have, what their children’s gender is, how far apart they are in age, etc. Here’s a few:

To a mom with two girls: “Oh, it’s too bad you didn’t have a boy with this one. Will you try for a boy next?”

To a mom with twins, followed by a daughter, “Oh, it’s good you didn’t get twins again!” (This mom said further, “because now my boys think it’s the worst thing in the world to be a twin…”)

A mom of six children gets judgment from strangers, and asked what religion she is that would justify her family. She gets sympathy, and pity on top of that.

Why do strangers feel the need to comment, judge, criticize and pity these families?

I have one daughter. Comments like the above aren’t exclusive to larger families. I received comments too. Like, “Oh, you only have one? Didn’t you want any more children?”

I answered this woman. With complete honesty. “Yes, I did. But I had two devastating miscarriages and then I left my husband, so it didn’t work out.”

The woman’s startled expression and silence was gratifying.

So what to do? I’ll tell you. Parents need all the support they can get. It’s not like rude comments are going to make a mom suddenly think to herself, “Oh my gosh, she’s right. What have I done! Do over, please!” I mean, really. Parents love their children. They are doing the best they can, and often do it very well. They need supportive, friendly comments. Here’s a few to try on next time you see a mom with young kids:

“Are all those yours? That looks like a whole lotta joy to me!”
“You’re doing such a nice job with all these kiddos, thank you for populating the world with loving people!”
“Do you need a hand with that? It takes a village you know…”
“Sometimes we all have hard days, you’re doing a great job, hang in there.”

What are some comments you’ve heard, or needed to hear, that you could add?

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