Life has gotten hectic three weeks out from the due date. Andrea is still wrapping up her school program, I am trying to finish off work, plus we are at a constant scramble preparing for the little guy. It seems like this is the case for many couples. Things just crazier and crazier just before delivery (if this doesn’t apply to you then you have lost all commenting privileges for this post).
The stress levels for us just got turned up a little bit this past week. We have ran into some speed bumps. Instead of our scheduled once a week doctor visit, we have been coming and going twice a week now to monitor the little guy. It’s stressful. Inevitably, some caring individual (lets refer to them as Kind Soul) will notice you are not yourself and will ask how you are doing. You give them the update and in an attempt to make you feel better they something like,
“Well women have been having babies for thousands of years, your doctor is probably just over reacting.”
The problem with this statement is that at the end of it you don’t feel any better. You are legitimately concerned and you don’t like the feeling of having your situation marginalized. There are some things you just don’t want to hear albeit there may be truth in what is being said. I don’t have any healthy advice on how to avoid these situations, but I have come across a very therapeutic way to handle them.
The idea here is to have a line prepared in advance to respond to one of these comments. They don’t have to be mean (although that might be more fun), but a little sarcasm dosed with some humor makes for some great healing. I have just started so my list is not extensive. Feel free to contribute in the comments below. Leave your name so you can receive full credit and glory. Here is what I have so far.
Kind Soul: “Well, women have been having babies for thousands of years, your doctor is probably just over reacting.”
Rebuttal Line: And child birth was the leading cause of death among women worldwide until the 20th century.
After sharing all of your plans and expectations you have for your baby.
Kind Soul: “Oh, you will never do that!” -or- “Oh, that will never work.”
Rebuttal Line: “You mean you could never do that.” -or- “You could never make it work.”
Kind Soul: “Oh, you should never do that!”
Rebuttal Line: “What, too good of an idea?”
Kind Soul: “You are obviously first time parents.”
Rebuttal Line: “You are obviously jaded parents.”
Sometimes you may need a rebuttal line to defend your wife.
Kind Soul to your pregnant wife: “You sure are looking big!”
Rebuttal Line: “Yup… What’s your excuse?”
Alright, Andrea is elbowing me to stop. Apparently I am being too mean. I guess I never could suggest this as real solution. Rather than starting from scratch on this post I will just change directions and focus on the Kind Souls. We are all guilty of saying something along these lines to a new couple. Sometimes it is taken well while others smile it off and curse us under their breath. The thing to remember is that there is a lot of excitement with new parents and our words shouldn’t be anything but encouraging. Lets say a new couple suggests an odd plan for getting their baby in a sleep pattern and you find it concerning, There is a great way to inquire about it other than just saying, Well that will never work!
Try this instead.
How will that work for you two?
Leave it open-ended so that they can explain themselves if they want. Most of the time a person can hear a bad idea on their own when they try to explain it. Maybe then they will ask you for an opinion in which case that would be an appropriate time to share your thoughts.
I am sure some of my plans are geared up and primed for disaster. I will keep an open ear from the Kind Soul’s opinions, but at the same time I need to remember that Andrea and I have already put a lot of thought into what will work best with our beliefs and personalities. As a new parent, you should feel confident in your plans. The best thing to listen for from experienced parents is not, you should do it like this… but, have you considered this? Often times talking to parents with older kids can reveal issues you haven’t thought of before.
So as a Kind Soul
1. Always be encouraging to a new parent
2. Ask ‘what if’ questions and refrain from ‘that will never’ statements.
3. If new parents completely disregard your wonderful advice don’t take it personally.
As a new parent
1. Get advice, but then make a decision on what works best for you.
2. Be confident in yourself and your spouse
3. Listen to the Kind Soul’s ‘what ifs’ and not their ‘that will nevers’.
4. If 1, 2 and 3 fail and you still have a pesky Kind Soul, refer back to the Rebuttal Lines. (just kidding)
Proverbs 12:15 – The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that listens to counsel is wise.
Proverbs 15:22 – Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established.