Thoughtful, Tactful Words Please

Social media provides a strange platform whereby many of us feel comfortable “commenting” in ways that are rarely acceptable in the “real world.”  You see this don’t you?  Or am I the only one?  People who are more concerned about being heard, being right than they are about the feelings of others.  Our words hold weight for others more often than we think.

I have low milk supply, and my first two children hung around the 3rd-15th percentile for weight.   I heard two comments frequently, “Your baby is so skinny.” and “Are you feeding her?”   These statements were never said with any unkindness, but they stung me.  They hit me in my weak spot.

My very good friend has a fabulous milk supply and her girls have always hovered in the 90th percentiles for weight.  One day, they had a service person over and he said to her baby, “Hi fatso.”  Do you think it was easy for that mom not to feel defensive?

A woman once told me she switched to formula. She mentioned something about breastfeeding being too hard.  I said something like “It is really hard without good support”.  She immediately said, “Oh, I had lots of support”  I don’t remember everything else she said, because I realized I had done what I hated so much. I replied with a blanket statement. I felt terrible.

I’m challenging myself to have thoughtful and tactful words. I have the right to say anything I want.  My desire to respect others, to be compassionate and loving is more important that my first amendment rights. It’s not easy. I’m encouraging you to carefully consider the words you use with others.

Breastfeeding is my most sensitive example, but this can apply to anything in life.  Someone shared this and I thought it was a great example.

Only 1-2% of the world’s population have red hair.

Therefore, redheads are a myth. There is very little chance you will ever meet a redhead. If you ever meet someone who claims to be a redhead, she probably just isn’t educated enough to realize she has a different hair color. I thought I might be a redhead but then I just drank more water and my hair turned brown.

Let me break this down for you.  Low milk supply is “rare,” Drinking adequate water is critical to producing enough milk.  Women need support. We need resources to overcome challenges. All of these statements are true.  However, that 1-2% is real too.  Their physiological inability of that 1-2% to breastfeed isn’t attributed to poor breastfeeding management, lack of education, confidence and support. If we care about others, we should seek to understand their experiences.  Spouting information without understanding tends to hurt more than help.  I think when we harp on “breastfeeding management.” we do it for two reasons 1) It IS a common cause of breastfeeding trouble.  2) It’s easily documentable, controllable advice.

If breastfeeding fails, it can fail for a host of reasons: breast anatomy, baby’s anatomy, hormonal issues, and breastfeeding management.  Well, if you can’t breastfeed because you have nerve damage from a chest surgery, I can’t really help you.  If you say, “I have low milk supply.” and I respond with, “are you drinking enough water?  Have you tried lactation cookies?  are  you rooming in with baby?” You are not likely to open up to me.  I think you’ll change the subject.  It’s painful and I have inadvertenlty implied that you did something wrong.

So, I suggest you ask open-ended questions.

Instead of, “Have you tried ________” try asking “What have you already tried?”

I suggest this because it not only communicates genuine concern and interest, it offers her the opportunity to share her story.  Instead of just making conversation, you have invited someone to share their pain, triumphs.  Isn’t this what we need as postpartum moms, connection?

I was really inspired by the words of Glennon of Momastery in a webinar I watched last week.  She said that we tend to talk about the stuff that is on the surface.  Our surface stuff is all different, but when we go deeper we are all the same: fears, insecurity, desire.

My best friend has a fabulous milk supply, three girls, cute pets and a husband with a great job, our circumstances are not alike on the surface.  But go a little deeper and you find we are both affected by comments about our daughters appearance.  Go deeper and we share our frustrations, our fears, our dreams, this is what builds our friendship.

Chose your words wisely, to lift up and encourage.

Ask open ended questions to connect.

Our words matter.

Thanks for sticking around for the past 15 days. DaySpring is generously doing a giveaway for readers of #write31days bloggers.  Please, enter here to win a $500 shopping spree.

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