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18 Things Parents Need to Stop Saying

Imagine, for a moment, just how much better (or at least how much more judgment- and stress-free) our collective parenting worlds would be if we stopped saying the following to one another:

1. At least you have a healthy baby

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Healthy moms and healthy babies are the top priority for almost any birth. That doesn't mean that they are the only priority, however. Any women who feels disappointed or frustrated by her birth experience should be allowed to feel those feelings without having them belittled or erased by presumably well-meaning statements like these. We are complex creatures who can feel immensely grateful for our healthy babies and feel disappointed about the way they entered the world.

2. Don't wear or carry your baby all the time: you'll just spoil him

Milk left out in the summer sun will spoil. Babies cradled in their parents' arms won't.

3. Don't push your baby in a stroller: you'll just ruin your bond with her

There is absolutely no evidence suggesting that stroller rides by themselves will do anything to harm the bond between parent and their child. To suggest otherwise is to fall prey to sanctimonious hogwash.

4. Were your twins conceived naturally?

If someone wants to share her fertility story with you, she'll divulge that information on her own. It's private, personal and intimate. And if you insist on asking parents these questions, they're more than justified in asking you what sex position you used when you conceived your kids.

5. A third/fourth/fifth/etc., kid! Don't you know how babies are made?

Parents of big families are probably experts in knowing how babies are made. Unfortunately, they also have to become experts in drowning out this sort of nonsense.

6. Won't being an only child make your kid more selfish and lonely?

There's a right size for every family. What makes that size right isn't anyone else's business.

7. You should breastfeed somewhere else

No, you don't need to. In fact, 49 U.S. states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands all have laws protecting a person's right to breastfeed in any public or private location.

8. Formula? Don't you know about the benefits of breastfeeding?

Oh yes, the benefits! If only we talked more about the benefits of breastfeeding, then we'd magically eradicate all cases of low milk supply, grant extended paid maternity and paternity leave to all new parents, and fix the disjointed lactation support system that most new moms experience.

9. You should really cover up when you're breastfeeding

My favorite retort to this comment is as follows: "If breastfeeding offends you so much, then why don't you cover your own head?"

10. If you use formula, your baby will get more ear aches and will probably be obese when he's older.

Just hold my hand and repeat the following: "Correlation is not causation. Formula is not Satan's Milk."

11. When I have kids, they will never [insert your favorite offensive behavior]

Oh, yes they will. They will make you eat your damn words. In fact, every time you say something like this, you all but ensure that your future kids will do exactly what you don't want them to do—and probably 100 times worse than you imagine.

12. Are you trying for a boy/girl this time?

Are you trying to be annoyingly nosy?

13. Isn't your child big/small/slow/etc. for her age?

If it's that noticeable, the child's parent and/or pediatrician has probably already addressed it. If it's something that worries the parent, they'll talk to you about it if they value your input on the matter. And if you see something that's super difficult to spot but super worrisome to you because of your medical or scientific expertise, bring it up with the parent in a compassionate and loving way.

14. My kid's already crawling/walking/sleeping through the night/reading/applying to college/memorizing Shakespeare. Is yours?

Parenting is not a sport. Celebrate kids (and parents) where they are: not in comparison to, or in competition with, other kids (or parents).

15. I'd hate to leave my kids at daycare all day. I could never leave them like that

You might. And other parents might, too. But they might also love being at work. What's more, they might resent the implication that they are somehow abandoning their children at daycare.

16. I'd hate to stay home with my kids all day. I'd be so bored

You might. And other parents might too. But they might also love being with their kids. Furthermore, they might resent the implication that they are engaging in meaningless, boring work by staying home with their children.

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17. If you just [insert favorite parenting solution], then you wouldn't have to worry about [insert favorite parenting problem]

The issues each of us face are radically complex and unique. There are no one-size-fits-all parenting solutions. For some of our more complicated sleep, eating, discipline and other parenting problems, there are rarely any easy fixes either.

18. [Insert your favorite unsolicited advice]

Thanks, but no thanks. If we want it, we'll ask for it.

Photo by Twenty20/jstweart3

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