Stop Advising New and Expecting Parents to “Just Wait”—There Is a Better Way

Parents, especially those who are new and expecting, frequently encounter comments such as “You think this is difficult, just wait!” which can feel invalidating. In response to this common issue, it’s time to stop advising new and expecting parents to “just wait”. But how do we hold space for the challenging aspects of parenting in a way that is both honest and supportive? An expert provides insight.

Recently, Bachelor star Vanessa Grimaldi, who is expecting her first child, wrote a post on Instagram on behalf of “all the pregnant mothers.” In her message, she requests that everyone refrain from urging expectant parents to “just wait.” Grimaldi cites lines such as, “Considering that this is your first pregnancy, it goes without saying that pregnancy is a breeze now. Wait until you have a moment.”

“STOP attempting to dissuade. STOP making comparisons between your experiences. Why must everything be so negative?” She composes.

Recently, actress and new mother Becca Tobin spoke about the same issue. “I cannot tolerate the doomsday parents who say, “Just wait until he starts crawling!” You believe it is simple today. Why are we being so cruel to each other? Just allow us to arrive when we do.

Grimaldi and Tobin are not alone. If you’ve ever grumbled about the utter weariness of having a newborn, you’ve probably been said something along the lines of, “Just wait! The toddler stage is quite difficult!” These remarks are not only unpleasant; they can be extremely invalidating, condescending, and frightening. According to one expert, they may even increase the incidence of mental health problems among new and expecting parents.

Emily Guarnotta, Psy.D., a certified psychologist and proprietor of The Mindful Mother, says, “So many individuals struggle during pregnancy and in the postpartum period, but they’re so afraid to admit it.” “When someone says [wait], it causes them to withdraw farther. We want [people] to accept that things are difficult, but they will pass, and everything will be fine. But when you hear it phrased in those words, it can make you not want to be honest about how you feel, which I believe exacerbates depression or anxiety symptoms. That just makes you feel more alone.”

It is difficult to find a balance. On the one hand, it is vital, to be honest about the harsh realities of parenthood. As unpleasant as the “just waits” of parenthood can be, the toxic positivism that has defined conversations about parenthood can also leave parents feeling dismissed and isolated. What is the most effective method for communicating with new and expectant parents? How can we communicate with them in a way that is neither unduly negative nor condescending, nor does it stray into toxic positivity? How can we address the reality of parenting without frightening the parents-to-be? And how do we make it plain that, regardless of how many years any of us have under our belts, no one ever truly gets the parenting thing figured out?

Here is how, as explained by Dr. Guarnotta.

Never Underestimate the Importance of Remarks

Dr. Guarnotta agrees that these invalidating remarks are typically made with good intentions, yet, this does not diminish their impact. It is essential to examine not just our objectives but also how our statements will influence the recipient.

“I believe that often, but not always, [these statements] come from parents whose children are much older, so there is that distance from the difficult times—you view the past through rose-colored glasses,” explains Dr. Guarnotta. “I believe they are experiencing a sense of nostalgia; upon seeing the infant or the adorable child, they are remembering the enjoyable aspects of parenthood while blocking out everything else the parent is experiencing.”

Dr. Guarnotta adds, “I recall publishing a post a few years back when I was having a particularly difficult weekend with my teething toddler.” “I recall words to the effect of “just remember that it’s all worth it.” And it is all worth it, but hearing it made me think, ‘I also have the right to feel this way and to accept the fact that things are difficult right now.’ It feels disdainful.”

Avoid Imposing Your Experiences on Others

Everyone experiences parenthood differently. When we make comments like, “You believe having a newborn is difficult? Wait until the toddler stage!” or “The day you give birth will be the finest day of your life,” we impose this idea that the experience of becoming a parent needs to look a specific way.

“I recall a period when my firstborn child was two weeks old. I was sleep-deprived and overwhelmed, and someone told me, “Just wait till she starts walking; then you won’t get any rest, and it will be hard.” I recall thinking, “Oh my goodness, I can’t picture it being any more difficult than it is right now.” says Dr. Guarnotta. “With time, I found that when I get a little more sleep, I feel a little more grounded. The walking stage was difficult, but I experienced it differently than this other contestant. Various individuals may struggle with different aspects. We struggle with certain issues.”

Offer Support

“When a family member or acquaintance is experiencing postpartum, I always check in with them,” says Dr. Guarnotta, who loves to ask, “How are things going? The kid looks beautiful, but I just wanted to check in with you and see how you’re doing because I know that this can be both a wonderful and challenging time.”

Dr. Guarnotta thinks that it is essential to validate all parental experiences. “Try to leave the door open for them to talk more, but avoid making too many assumptions or projections. Let them share their experiences, and let them know I’m willing to share the tough stuff as well.”

Avoid Offering Unsolicited Advice

New parents are generally already overwhelmed by the amount of information and advice they receive.

“During this stage, it is sufficient to listen. When a person is experiencing a difficulty, issue-solving and solution assistance are limited. Sometimes imposing one’s own advice is neither desired nor beneficial. I believe that simply listening, normalizing, agreeing, and validating goes a long way,” says Dr. Guarnotta. “I believe it is much more beneficial to ask the person if they want your opinion before offering it.”

Furthermore, you must give advice in a way that respects the variety of experiences if you do so. Dr. Guarnotta proposes prefacing it with, “Here is something that worked for me, and I’m pleased to share it with you, but this is your experience and your journey, and I won’t impose mine on you.”

Stop the Cycle

In many ways, the repercussions of leaning too much toward negativity or poisonous positivity are the same.

“Those who are already struggling are less inclined to express their emotions, and both toxic positive and invalidating comments increase the likelihood that they will shut down,” explains Dr. Guarnotta. “This creates a vicious loop that exacerbates their sadness or anxiety, and they’re even less likely to talk about it, and they’re not going to ask for treatment or utilize their resources.”

It is essential that we have these conversations correctly because if we do, we can mainstream difficult topics without frightening other parents. According to Dr. Guarnotta, the mental health burden on new parents could increase if we do nothing.

The Conclusion

Even when well-intentioned, it can be difficult and frustrating for new parents to hear words like “Just wait!” Recognize that there is no right or wrong response to these comments and that it is crucial to put your own well-being first. “Remember that often—not always, but often—it comes from a place of a person not wanting to hurt you,” adds Dr. Guarnotta, “but it’s perfectly acceptable to let people know that you’re not okay with these comments or that you don’t agree with them.” “This strategy works for certain individuals. For some folks, they’re more comfortable trying to envision these insults sort of rolling off their backs. Everything you must do to assist yourself is perfectly acceptable.”

Meaningful articles you might like: Don’t Miss These Important Aspects Of Their Life, Special Occasions Can Be Made More Pleasant By Expecting The Best, Reflecting On Life’s Biggest Moments