Congratulations: You’ve taken an important first step! You read the headline and you’re here, wondering if you’ve violated any of the cardinal rules of parenthood.
Hold on—there are cardinal rules of parenthood? Well, if you don’t want friends and random strangers to roll their eyes at you when you turn your back, then yes, there kind of are.
But you couldn’t be one of those parents, could you? Despite your best intentions, the answer is: maybe. That overwhelming, blinding love we have for our kids can make us do weird things. So, while we all think our kids are perfect and talented, they may not be the most perfect and most talented kids ever to walk the Earth. And becoming a mom changes us in a very fundamental way…but that happens to everyone.
If you’ve got some perspective on that, you’re on the right path. If not, you might be crossing the line from innocent to—you guessed it—insufferable. Here are some telltale signs.
When you’re finally ready to share your big news, you feel like you’re about to burst if you don’t do it right then. But you won’t actually burst, so hold off on the announcement if you’re celebrating someone else’s big moment. Prince Harry and Meghan, I’m looking at you. I still can't believe you didn't wait to tell the family until after Princess Eugenie’s wedding—and waited to tell the rest of the world till, like, a week later instead of a day later.
Do you not see the bags under that poor woman’s eyes and the spit-up on her shirt that she was too tired to even notice was there? Or the desperate way she’s trying to figure out how to get her little angel to go the eff to sleep and stay that way for more than two hours at a time? This isn’t about you—it’s about her. So if your child really did sleep through the night from the get-go, keep your lips zipped, listen and maybe share a few tips. You could also offer up another parenting struggle that you faced. And no, it can’t be that your child slept too much and you had to wake her up to play with her.
No one plans to have their toddler think of fast food as haute cuisine, and we all want our kids to eat better. If you discuss your family’s superior eating style ad nauseam, oblivious to how judgey it sounds, you could be pouring salt into an open parenting wound. Also, it’s a scientifically proven fact that if you start talking about how your little one prefers cauliflower to cake, 99.9 percent of moms will totally tune you out.
When you do this, you’re not a follow-upper—you’re a one-upper. Let the other mom revel in her little one’s glory, celebrate her happiness and, of course, share your stories. Just remember that there’s a difference between friendly conversation and fierce competition.
This is the opposite of a humblebrag, and it’s rooted in your own stress and motherhood worries. When you’re in the middle of this, it really does feel overwhelming because you want to give your child the best and also figure out what’s best for him. I get it; I’ve been there. I’ve had to work hard to keep my effusiveness in check—and remind myself that my kiddo is probably not the next David Beckham, John Legend and Neil deGrasse Tyson, all rolled into one.
This may be true, but it’s also presumptuous, condescending and potentially hurtful, depending on the other person’s situation. So, please, ban this statement from any and all conversation.
You know: That following any parenting style other than attachment parenting is basically child abuse. That formula is the devil’s drink. That kids whose moms work are more poorly behaved than their counterparts with stay-at-home moms. (In case you’re wondering, I’ve had all of those things said to me in confidential, hushed tones, to my absolute horror.) You have no idea what another mom believes until you ask, and regardless, parenting choices are just that: choices.
Kids change everything—including the tone of an event. If it’s a casual get-together with good friends, you have an infant and no childcare options, it can’t hurt to ask. But if it’s anything more structured than that, if it’s a formal affair and your little one’s name wasn’t on the invite, or you’ve got a toddler or older child, send your regrets. Remember: Even the world’s cutest, most well-behaved party crasher is still a party crasher.
Yes, we all know that these years go fast. We also know that the lollipop and/or smartphone we used to bribe our toddler to just make it through an event isn’t a long-term parenting solution that will help her develop great life skills. And no, we’re not really going to throw the empty boxes wrapped like Christmas presents into the fireplace to scare our children into behaving. But if we don’t laugh, we’ll cry, so please, lighten up and laugh with us!
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