One of the things you learn from the moment you become a woman of child-bearing years is that almost everyone feels like they have license to ask ridiculously personal details about your “mom life.” This is true even if you aren’t a mom yet. I know that many of these questions come from a place of love. I have been the person with my foot squarely flung into my mouth enough times to have more than an ounce of humility as I type this list. YES, I still believe in extending grace. But can we just please take a moment to talk about how downright inappropriate some of these questions are? Here is our top 10 list of stuff we should stop asking moms.
1. When are you having a baby? I get it. I do. Your friend gets married. She is adorable, and you just can’t help yourself. You want to plan a baby shower. I catch this very question on the tip of my tongue often. Now, I stop myself, because I know better. This question is just hard on so many moms. Having a baby isn’t just a matter of desire. There are so many factors at play. If your friend doesn’t tell you she’s trying to have a baby, then don’t ask. Just don’t. Infertility struggles and miscarriages are deeply challenging times. And some perfectly awesome women decide not to conceive or adopt. It is just none of your business. So why ask? Another variation on this question is, “When are you giving him or her a brother or sister?” Infertility isn’t just a struggle for parents with without any children at home.
2. Do you know how babies are made? It is amazing how quickly the pendulum swings. First people long for you to have your first bundle. Then they quickly begin counting your children in awe. As if to suggest you are trying to land your own reality show. This is question is one that honestly shocks me. I haven’t heard it myself; I have a smaller family. But several of our contributors with three or more littles have been asked this rude question point-blank. Families come in all sizes.
3. Are you pregnant? This one just takes the cake or more to the point doesn’t take the wine. It happens when you refuse an alcoholic beverage or maybe don’t feel like eating a soft cheese. It happens when you enjoy a bite of something a little too much or show any sign of morning sickness. Listen, we never know the struggle in anyone’s personal journey. The woman in front of you could be trying to get pregnant and having no luck. She could be pregnant and not ready to share because she has suffered miscarriages in the past. She could just want a dill-pickle cupcake… so lay off. They are called pregnancy announcements – not pregnancy inquiries, friends.
4. When are you due? Unless the mom-to-be has started a conversation on the topic, take it from me — you should avoid this question. There are the obvious reasons: What if she isn’t pregnant at all? Or just delivered? It seems like an easy question not to ask. But true story, I just did this. The mom had already told me she was expecting in mixed company, and she was showing. I thought everyone knew. Guess what, I was wrong. I asked if her due date was pre or post summer right in front of someone who hadn’t heard the news yet. Ah! I felt just awful.
5. Did you adopt? This question is one that just shouldn’t come up in casual conversation. It’s never appropriate. It is safe to say that you would not point at a baby or smile and inquisitively ask, “Did you have sex?” So, don’t ask if babies or children are adopted.
6. Does that run in your family? Food allergies, Down Syndrome, juvenile diabetes, autism, ADHD… you name it. When you parent a child with any sort of perceived differences, invasive questions hit a fever pitch. And this one is particularly rude. Odds are you are not doing a peer-reviewed study, looking for solutions on said topic. You are just being nosey and looking for an easy answer to a situation that frightens or intrigues you. Here is the thing — your fear has nothing to do with us.
7. I know you have children. Are you sure you can do this? Yes. I have children. But no that doesn’t mean that I have suddenly lost my ability to make plans, meet goals, and contribute to my community. Sure it may be harder, but immediately assuming that I can’t is just down right disrespectful. If anything, “mom life” intensifies our abilities as scheduling and multi-tasking ninjas.
8. How can you go to work and leave your precious baby? I don’t know if you have heard, but being a mom doesn’t prevent you from having a career. The decision to go to a brick-and-mortar job, or hop back on a career path post baby is a matter of necessity. For some, it may be financial and for others a personal necessity. No matter their answer to the question, it’s invasive and none of your business.
9. What do you do at home all day? It is past time to destroy that myth that stay-at-home and work-At-home moms are not just sitting on the sofa in PJs eating bonbons. I know it’s shocking, but they are busy raising children and running households. Just from a time perspective, answering this question would take them days.
10. Wow! I could never do that. This comment often follows one of those awkwardly inappropriate questions, so naturally, it earns the number 10 spot on our list. If a mom takes the time to explain to you how she manages a large family, got pregnant, is not pregnant, deals with food allergies, diabetes, autism, work or whatever, just thank her for sharing. We are just moms loving our children and women building our communities. We aren’t looking for sainthood, judgement or envy.
Every woman’s journey is unique. We miss the chance to really know each other when we frame other women based on our own experiences. The next time you feel like asking one of these questions, take a breath and think twice. Your foot and mouth will thank you for it.