Here are questions we don’t ask others:
1. How much money do you make?
2. How much did that cost?
3. How can you afford that?
4. Have you lost weight?
5. Who did you vote for?
6. Are you saved?
7. Why is your baby so small?
8. What’s wrong with your baby?
9. Was your baby premature?
I bring up the last three items because my friends Lynn and Pete have a brand new, perfect baby girl named Petra. She is tiny and beautiful. She is tiny because she is a baby.
Yet people – people who are adult strangers – like to approach Lynn – also an adult – and ask her why her baby is so small and if she was premature.
In fact, Petra was not premature, and she is not undersized. But that’s not their business anyway.
The only appropriate thing to say to a mother about her baby is “What a beautiful baby!” That’s all. Just say it and stop talking, unless you want to add that you love that sweet little outfit.
Hmm. I tend to tell everyone that there baby is tiny, in so much that all babies are tiny and that is amazing. I wonder if I’ve offended (in that manner, I know I offend in other ways)?
I don’t know. Are you quizzing them, or remarking on their tiny perfection? Are you belaboring the point?
I am intending to belabor their tiny perfection. The comment is often followed by further amazement from tiny, tiny toes and ears and super soft head. But, if it’s sensitive…
Why don’t you ask someone you’ve complimented and see if they were complimented or offended?
I think people like to be told their babies are strapping.
A mom overheard me say today that her toddler was “chunk-tastic” and she responded with “She is. She was 10 pounds when she was born. I got a pinched nerve, I still don’t have feeling in this knee (pointing to her right knee).” I was initially worried that she’d be offended by my word/comment but I guess she could tell by my tone, and my follow up of “I love it, it’s the best!” (true), that I meant it as a positive.
How about saying that she took up smoking when she got pregnant because she knew small babies were easier to deliver.
It might depend on how well you know the folks in question, but if you DON’T know them, definitely none of those questions are generally appropriate.
I’m never surprised at the colossal ignorance and lack of tact people display via their rude comments and ridiculous, impertinent questions. I learned two other “nevers” a long time ago and they have served me very well: 1) Never make fun of another person’s lunch; and 2) Never make fun of another person’s dog. Simple politeness, practiced religiously, would do much to elevate our unfeeling society to new heights of sensitivity. Excellent post.
I recently ran into a coworker I hadn’t seen in months. She was dramatically smaller than the last time I’d seen her. I’m sure I looked surprised. All I could sputter out was, “Have you changed your hair? I like it.” Because she is awesome she said, “My hair is a little darker now. Also, I’ve lost more than 100 pounds.”