What NOT To Say To New Parents Who Are Clearly Struggling
New parenthood – some take to it like a duck to water, others… well, they need a little extra swimming practice, that’s for certain. There is no shame in that!
After speaking to new parents in our private Facebook group, and reflecting on mine & my partner’s personal experience as struggling new parents, I’ve put together this guide on how to help parents who are struggling with new parenthood, for whatever reason, from the perspective of REAL parents who needed a little extra help, because sadly there are still ignorant and self-righteous people out there who struggle to empathise. This guide goes beyond the typical ‘make her food, let her relax’ advice.
And yes, the shockingly rude comments that will follow are 100% legit. Being a new parent is hard – support, don’t slate.
Don’t Judge Them.
We all go through tough times. Becoming a parent is above and beyond the biggest change in all areas of your life, and whilst you may have handled it well, not everyone does, and no one can predict whether they’ll develop PND, or struggle to adjust to the lack of sleep, constant crying etc (and don’t get me started on colic, reflux, CMPA etc). Telling them ‘well I coped’ or ‘we were fine’ is absolutely NOT helpful. You were fortunate, so get over yourself sunshine! If a new parent is struggling, it isn’t any reflection on them as a person or as a parent – it doesn’t discriminate, ANY person can struggle to adjust to life as a mama or papa.
Don’t Gossip About Them/Slag Them Off.
If their house is upside down, if they’ve gone from well groomed to permanently scruffy and existing in baby-sick stained pyjamas, if they often cancel plans, they may need some support and helpful advice. Don’t run to other friends or family members and gossip about their house being a tip. Be a decent human being and discretely offer to pop over to ‘help around the house’ or offer some babysitting – trust me, it will be SO appreciated, and serves more good than snotty gossiping.
Don’t Attack Them.
Never use their struggle against them. This probably sounds like a really weird point, but from personal experience, when there is tension/strife within the family or with friends, if they’ve noticed a weakness of struggle, it is a very easy and available attack tool for them if they’re wanting to piss you off or upset you. Totally shitty, so if you ever fall out with a struggling new parent for whatever reason, please don’t use the ‘well at least my house is tidy’ card.
Don’t Make Them a Social Pariah
Even if they turn down your invites out for coffee, a night on the town, a shopping trip, persist and don’t give up. If your friend is a struggling new parent, don’t go out gallivanting with your mutual friends without at extending an invite. Imagine being exhausted and feeling overwhelmed, and then seeing your closest pals tagging each other on Facebook about the fabulous night they’re all having. It feels shite. Your struggling friend will feel themselves again with support and time, don’t break the social connection.
Don’t Put Them Under Pressure
Don’t ever make a struggling new parent feel that you’ll think of them negatively for not being able to socialise all the time. Understand that the paradigm has shifted, and they’re still getting used to the new dynamic in their life. Adding pressure on them to go out will just make them want to go out even less! Give them time.