Looking Past the “What Not to Say” List

Let’s start with a universal truth :: PEOPLE SAY DUMB THINGS. We all know it. Especially as moms. We have all received the comments that made our jaw drop, or stirred up our angry mama bear, or made us want to cry, or laugh hysterically. Anyone who has been pregnant has probably received some ridiculous comment about the belly. And anyone who has adopted has probably been asked inappropriate questions. We have likely all been given some super {un}helpful parenting advice. I have been asked if I was “due any day now” when I was definitely not that close to my due date. I have been told how cute my baby bump was, except it wasn’t a baby bump…it was my postpartum jello. I have been told how my daughter was “looking a little cross-eyed today.” Um, yes she was born with strabismus, thanks for noticing.

Again, people say dumb things. But that brings me to our second universal truth :: WE ARE ALL PEOPLE. We have all said dumb things. I know I have many times. And those are just the times I remember. I am scared to know how many times I have said something that hurt someone or was inappropriate and not even realized it.

For starters, we all have different ideas of what is acceptable to say. If each of us made a list of “things not to say to ____ {fill in the scenario}” all of our lists would look a little bit different. Do y’all remember Breonna’s Get Out My Business post? If not, go read it. Well, it made me laugh but also made me realize I have probably been up in peoples’ business too much.  Because the thing is, I don’t really care if people ask me if I want more kids. If I don’t feel like answering, I just give an ambiguous response. But it was a good reminder that other people may not appreciate my curiosity over their reproductive plans.

Speaking of what not to say, let’s talk about the lists. There are so many. What not to say to adoptive families, what not to say to large families, what not to say parents of a child with special needs, what not to say to people who eat non-organic food… I am not against the lists. I actually think they are great. I loved Meagan’s guide on what not to say to someone struggling with infertility. If you have not walked in someone else’s shoes, you might not even realize something could be hurtful. So by all means, let’s keep up the lists because I definitely learn from them.

But I guess my point is, sometimes it can seem like there are 800 unacceptable responses and only a handful of acceptable responses. People {us included!} can end up saying the wrong things.  Just last week, Heather gave plenty of examples off the top of her head.

So let’s decide to RELAX and show GRACE. Let’s give people the benefit of the doubt. They are most likely a} making conversation, b} just curious, or c} trying to be helpful. When we say dumb things, don’t we usually defend it with one of those 3 reasons? Sometimes people just don’t know what to say. This is especially true in unfamiliar situations. When someone is going through something I haven’t been through, I don’t always know what to say. I can only hope that I am shown grace, and I hope to show that to others as well. I still may laugh with my husband later about the hilarious thing I heard in the checkout line at Kroger, but I will try to just shake it off {right Taylor?}. Who’s with me on this?



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