A sidebar discussion from yesterday’s post ended up being about small talk and babies on the way. One friend pointed out that the “boy or girl” question is, for many, the only safe thing we can think of to ask a pregnant or expecting person. For those of us who aren’t very good at small talk to begin with, what are some topics we can safely bring up when talking to other parents and parents-to-be other than gender?
There is always advice available for what not to say to a pregnant person. Obviously “Wow, you’re huge!” or, “I sure hope it doesn’t look like you!” or, “Gee, was it an accident?” aren’t remotely acceptable things to say.
But even seemingly innocent questions have a way of coming out wrong and getting us into trouble. “When are you due?” can even be dangerous, since some women simply carry their weight in such a way that they look pregnant all the time – it is never safe to assume someone is pregnant unless she actually tells you she is, and it’s not really acceptable to ask. There are also those of us who continue to look pregnant for several months after having the baby. And “Are you excited?” can be construed as an underhanded way of asking “Did you actually want to get pregnant?” even if you don’t mean it like that.
But, given that you have absolutely solid evidence that someone is pregnant, what are some nice, non-gender related things to talk about? Since I am one of those parents woefully untalented at small talk, this list will be on the short side. Please help me come up with more!
The ones I know of are pretty generic, such as:
- How exciting!
- How are you feeling?
- When are you due? (Really, seriously, only if you KNOW the person is pregnant!)
If the expectant parent is someone you know well enough to ask some slightly more personal questions or offer help to, you could try these:
- What are your family’s plans for after the baby is born? (safe way to ask without making any stereotyped assumptions about childcare choices)
- Is there anything you need to help you get ready?
- Do you need someone on hot standby for pet-sitting (or watching the other kids) when the time comes?
- Would you rather be left alone at first when the baby comes, or have someone come over right away for company/bringing food/assisting around the house/huffing that amazing baby smell?
Or introduce a little humor into the small-talk:
- Have you memorized the wallpaper at your OB’s office yet?
- So, what’s the most obnoxious unsolicited advice someone has given you so far?
- Has a crazy stranger with no sense of personal space tried to touch you yet?
And, of course, if your friend is a fellow geek, you could try:
- I’ll bet the force will be strong with this baby, with you as a parent
- What age do you think is good for introducing a kid to Dr. Who?
- If you could have any member of the Serenity crew as a godparent, who would you pick?
- Too bad the Enterprise isn’t real, or you could take the kid to space with you!
Alright, that’s even shorter and less helpful than I feared it would be. More socially adept people, help me out here and add more in the comments!