I know you probably think you’re being cute and clever, or perhaps you’ve never seen a family with more than 1.25 children before and just want something to say. But as a mom of many I can tell you whatever quip just popped into your head, I’ve heard it before. Pinky swear.
Here are five things to NOT tell a mom of several children when you see her out and about. Bonuses – What she might say back to you and hints to think about before opening your mouth.
1. Do you know what causes that?
I’ve heard this gem dropped from lips with everything from derision, as if in scorn, or jokingly, and yes, even suggestively. It’s not funny. We all went to Junior High and thus yes, we all more or less “know what causes that”, and for many large families a pregnancy is considered a blessing, not a “that”.
What she might say back: “No! Why don’t you explain it to me?” (Usually said with very-blond-wide-eyed look of cluelessness.) or perhaps “Yep and we’re pretty good at it too!”
Hint: Do you really want to explain the facts of life to a total stranger in the middle of the grocery store?
2. Are these all your kids?
This always cracks me up because it’s usually in the middle of a hectic pre-dinner-grocery-store rush when this comment comes out. It makes me wonder if I’m the only mother on the planet NOT picking up random neighborhood children to take shopping with me. Trust me – if they are in the grocery store with me, they are all mine.
What she might say back: “Nope. They just keep following me around. Worse than stray puppies.”
Hint: Have you ever known a woman to purposefully go shopping with other people’s children? Usually ones own offspring is more than enough.
3. Some of these kids are adopted aren’t they?
Yes – I’ve actually had a woman tell me one of my children must have been adopted before. Besides being highly inappropriate to ask a stranger, this women (and most who have made similar comments) are usually doing so in front of the children. Totally not OK.
What she might say back: “Do you always ask total strangers such personal questions?” or simply “They are all my children.” depending on her mood.
Hint: Even IF one or more of the children were adopted, would you really want to be the reason that family conversation took place?
4. Do they all have the same father?
Again, a comment I’ve actually heard before. And again, another comment that crosses right into the TMI category. The who-do-you-think-you-are category. The not-really-your-business category. I wonder if it’s because large families are so unusual that people’s internal censors get momentarily switched off by the shock, or whether these people actually have no internal censor and walk about making inappropriate comments to EVERYONE.
Hint: Do you really think it’s any of your business whether I’ve been previously married, previously promiscuous or any of the above? Nope, neither did I.
5. Are you done yet?
It’s hard to explain why this comment rubs us the wrong way. Perhaps because the tone and wording used is the same as I use with my 3 year old when he’s beginning a little temper tantrum he knows we won’t tolerate. Perhaps it’s the implication that I was doing something WRONG having children in the first place and should cease all such behavior ASAP. Or perhaps it’s just because the state of my uterus isn’t actually anyone’s business but mine, my husband’s and my midwife’s.
What she may say: “Why do you ask?” or “Nope – I’ll be parenting for at least 18 years.” or perhaps even “I’m not prepared to discuss my reproductive habits with you.”
Hint: Before asking this question consider your motives. If you are in any way implying there’s something wrong with the number of children standing in front of you, just be quiet.
What should I say to a mom with a large family?
In almost every case if you want to say something to the lovely mother of many standing before you in organized and super-woman fashion, try something like this, “What a lovely family you have!” complete with smile of approval. Chances are that might be the first time she’s heard that comment all month and she’ll be grateful.
Note – I have friends with no or one child and they too get horrible, rude, and intrusive comments. Manners, People! Manners!
Have you had rude and insensitive comments made to you about your family? Size, make up or just parenting decisions in general?