Man, I’m so sick of these Internet memes about What Not to Say to [Morally Outraged Group Here]. You’d think Huffington Post Parents writers get paid by the Don’t.
What Not to Say to Parents of Only Children. What Not to Say to Pregnant Women. What Not to Say to Disabled Kids. What Not to Say to Moms with Eight Children. How about I just don’t talk to anyone, mmmmkay?
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Isn’t that already a problem? We can get so isolated these days — especially as parents — that we go days and days without really talking to anyone who doesn’t live in our house. (Texts and Facebook don’t count, y’all.) No wonder we’re failing, as a society, to be able to walk in someone else’s shoes, so to speak.
How about instead of reading these lists, we just do some sitting and thinking about what Parents of Only Children, Pregnant Women, Disabled Kids and Moms with Eight Children might like to be treated? How about we remember that good ol’ Golden Rule — do unto others, etc., etc. — and operate accordingly? How about we try a sincere smile if we’re not sure what to say, instead of being too afraid of giving offense to talk to anyone unfamiliar?
If you’re tired of being asked a certain thing, or being the subject of a certain comment, how about deflecting those negative feelings and turning it into something positive? Prepare a comeback that is gracious and educational. Be honest and kind in your responses. Realize that most people, if they’re taking the trouble to come up to you, are doing so with good intentions, and so strive to do some good in return.
As the parent of an only child, I get asked “So when are you having another?” all the time. And sure, it’s annoying. Especially as an only child myself, when the question smacks of “How can one possibly be adequate?” But my response is generally “We’re good with one.” Short, sweet — and it introduces the idea that just one can be just fine without getting all high-horsey about it. My work here is done.
So please, y’all, let’s not give clicks to those awful “What Not to Say” lists. We don’t need the Internet to script our lives for us. With a little sensitivity and a spirit of kindness, we can do just fine on our own, thank you.
But that’s probably a great big “What Not to Say” to a HuffPo blogger, so I’d better just shush.