"Are those all yours?"
“Wow, you have your hands full.”
“You are a busy woman.”
“You hang in there!”
“Goodness, you’re fully loaded!”
“Wow, they must be a handful.”
“How do you do it?”
“I could never have that many children.”
“Are they all from the same father?”
"Which one is the accident?"
"You must've had a few failures, eh? *snicker snicker*"
"Don't you know what prevents these things?"
"Are you on welfare?"
"Have you ever heard of birth control?"
Some parents, if they have all girls or all boys, get even more:
"Wow, only boys, what a tough job!"
"I bet you're hoping for a little girl after all those boys!"
"Are you trying for a boy?"
"What will you do if you only have girls?"
You know, whether or not *I* take offense, have you stopped to think about the little ears listening to your flippant comments? Did you ever stop to think that my little 5 year old is a very curious kiddo who can read into things really well? Did it ever occur to you, as an adult, that maybe your random questions are not appropriate in front of children? Did you ever notice that my 3 year old’s shoulders sag just a little bit when you talk about my children as if they are unwanted, as if they are accidents, as if I have somewhere better to be, as if they are unpleasant mistakes in my life?
Have you ever thought about the questions young children ask after you walk off from your word-bombing? “Mommy, do we only have one daddy?” “Mommy, why does she think I have more daddies?” “Mommy, are we bad?” “Mommy, do you like me?” "Mommy, what's birth control?" (And what about the gender, size, race, family setup, and adoption comments? Nothing like encouraging a young child to internalize negative thoughts about herself or himself. Wonderful. Thanks a lot.) As one mom commented:
"I have 5 boys and it kills me when people ask if we were trying for a girl. My eldest has even asked if I wished they were all girls...." ~Alissa Y.
Today was a rare one. Today, despite hearing the litany of chants like above as we finished our errands, one lady walked by us, then stopped. I waited for the words to tumble out of her mouth, for her voice to rise in shock, for her little rude smirk. Instead, she smiled at my kids. AT them. And said,
“Wow, you are so lucky to have these wonderful kids.”
And then she walked away.
Thanks, Random Lady. You really made my kids stand tall today. I know I'm lucky. But, sometimes the kids need to hear it from others after all the negative remarks people spew at them.
Are you guilty of mouthing off random statements in front of innocent children? To some degree, for most people, I think they are just trying to say something and it comes out without any deeper meaning. The next time you feel an urge to talk to a parent in front of her/his children, try some of these:
"Look at your growing family!"
"What helpful kids!"
"I love to see kids helping at the grocery store!"
"You are fortunate to have all these little ones."
"You must feel really lucky to have these children."
"You must be a happy mom/dad with these kids!"
"I bet your house is full of fun."
And don't ever, for any reason, make any comments about race, religion, orientation, gender/sex, looks, etc etc etc. If you wouldn't say it to your boss, don't say it in front of little ears.
Please. Think whatever you want to in your head. But, if you are going to say something in front of the children, make it something respectful. They are listening.