Saturday, July 19, 2014

What NOT to say when your friend announces the pregnancy of their third girl

We are expecting girl #3 to join us sometime in late November/early December, and since we have recently announced our pregnancy, we have heard it all. Not too many comments are solely congratulatory, surprisingly, and many are even downright cruel, although I'm sure they weren't intended that way. We have received a few comments that really made a difference to me because there wasn't anything negative at all in them. So for those of you who would like to learn from our experience, here is a guide of what you shouldn't (and should) say when your friends announce their pregnancy with a third little girl:
1.     “Poor (father’s name).” Condolences of any sort, especially towards the father, are really terrible things to say to a family who should be celebrating new life. I believe “congratulations” is the term you are looking for.

2.     “You should buy a male (pet of any variety).” Because that’s the same as a son. And a dog with no testicles will definitely help even out the testosterone levels of the house. For sure.

3.     “Better start saving for three weddings!” What is this, the 1950’s? Yes, weddings cost a lot of money, but not every girl gets married and even if she does, her identity should not be tied up in the end goal of marriage, but rather in becoming a strong woman who makes a difference in the world. Besides, she may choose to elope or get married at a courthouse or in an inexpensive ceremony. She may not wish to have her parents pay for the wedding. So stop with the assumptions.

4.     “Were you trying?” or "Were you trying for a boy?" (Especially if the children are close in age.) Asking about someone else’s sex life is just gauche. And you don’t know what they’ve been through.  Miscarriages happen. Trying all of the “swaying” techniques for one gender or another doesn’t always work. At best, you’re being tacky, and at worst, you are bringing up some very sensitive and hurt areas in their lives.

5.     “Better luck next time.” “Imagine when they’re all on their periods at the same time!” “Bet you’re not looking forward to when they’re all teenagers.” Or any other disparaging remarks about this child’s gender, or how disappointed you are on the parents’ behalf. What if they’re NOT disappointed? What if they are truly excited to be having a third girl, because they know how to handle girls and have been doing it well already?  Or what if they ARE disappointed in not having a boy? Does your remark do anything to encourage them and support them? No, it does not. Reminding anyone about the negative aspects of three children of the same gender is cruel to the baby, cruel to the parents, and cruel to the older children as well. And maybe they are both ecstatic to be having another girl, AND disappointed that they aren’t having a son. If you haven’t walked in their shoes, don’t pretend to know how they feel.

6.     “At least you won’t have to… (wipe pee from under toilet seats, deal with penis humor, go to soccer practice, put up with burping contests, fill in the blank).” Maybe the parents would have LOVED to put up with all the things that go along with having a boy, and maybe they will still experience some of those things with their girls. These comments, though well-intentioned, can be hurtful.

7.     “At least girly outfits are so much more fun than boy outfits!” Starting a sentence with "at least" implies that there is one good thing in all the bad, so don't do it. And by the third daughter, the cute outfits are pretty well worn out and spit up upon, and no one wants to throw a baby shower for a third girl. Besides, the box of cute boy clothes they may have been accumulating won’t get any use now. So unless you make this comment with a gift of a ruffly dress, hat or diaper cover in hand, shut up.

8. "When I finally got my boy, I was so excited!" Way to rub it in, jerk. Try to find another, nicer way to relate to their pregnancy with their girl.

What TO say when your friends announce the pregnancy of their third girl:
1.     “Yay!!" "Congratulations!" "I’m so happy for you!!” And anything else you would say to parents who are expecting their first child. New life should be celebrated, whether it is the first girl or the 14th!

2.     “Another girl? That’s so awesome! I’ve always admired how you parent the two you have. The world needs another girl from your family!” Or any other encouraging and positive remarks to let the parents know they are doing something right.

3.     “A is such a good big sister to B. I bet she’ll teach B how to be an incredible big sister as well.” (Fill in the letters with their daughters’ names.)

4.     “I love the names you have come up with for your two daughters. I can’t wait to hear what you come up with for this sweet little one!” Just one caveat: Don’t offer name suggestions! Unless they are completely off the wall and zany, designed to make the parents laugh.

5.     “Let me babysit for you sometime. How’s next Friday?” Offers like this are extremely welcome, for parents of any kind, especially if you are a bit pushy about setting a date. Often, parents don’t think you really mean it unless you set a date for them then and there. And pregnancy is uncomfortable, makes you pee a lot and not sleep well anyway. Add taking care of two little girls on top of that, and life is exhausting. A date night or mom's night out would be extremely welcome.

6.     “Here’s a (Target, Babies R US, heck even Walmart) gift card. I know with another little one on the way there are always things you can use.” If you bring it to them with a chai tea latte in hand for the mom, even better.

7.     “Here is a handmade (dress, wall art, sweater, hat, headband, etc) for your newest little one. Every new baby deserves something special that is just hers.” This is just a simple way of reminding the parents that YOU know their littlest one on the way is unique and special, and not just like her big sisters. She’s not a stairstep, she’s uniquely HER and uniquely special.

Well there you have it. That's my list of 8 things NOT to say, and 7 things TO say to parents who announce the pregnancy of their 3rd girl. What else would you add to the lists?