After four kids I have heard the question “is she a good baby?” more times than I can count. Sometimes it makes me want to reply sarcastically, ‘No, she’s terrible! Put her back in!’
Of course she’s a good baby! I know what this question really means though…
Does she sleep well?
Does she cry much?
Is she easy to look after?
Is she happy?
Is she fussy?
Basically, does she disrupt your life as little as possible? Is she GOOD?
Now I am sure that people mean this question in the nicest possible way. They’re just trying to make conversation, be friendly, show an interest. They want to know how you’re going and if everything is ok. All good intentions! However, it still gets on my nerves. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but I can’t help it.
To me, the question ‘is she a good baby?’ just reiterates the way our society often views children these days. Good children are quiet, do what they’re told, don’t make a fuss, sleep all night, are independent and not clingy, eat all their dinner, follow the rules, are polite, don’t make a mess, are happy and no trouble. So what if your children aren’t like that? What if, God forbid, they don’t sleep through the night? What if they’re the loud and energetic type? What if they aren’t so keen on instant obedience? Does that make them bad children?
No. Of course not.
All children are good. All of them. No matter their temperament, no matter how they behave. They are all wonderful individuals. And they were certainly not made simply to please us. They were not made to disrupt our lives as little as possible. On the contrary, I feel like my children are here to change my life completely. To teach me so much about myself and life. It is wonderful to let that happen.
Most people aren’t meaning to come across this way with their simple question of ‘is he/she a good baby?’ But, the language we use certainly has an impact and we should choose our words wisely. Let’s not start putting these expectations on babies the minute they’re born. Or new sleep deprived mothers for that matter. Let’s think about what we’re saying. Let’s think about how we view children and choose words to empower, encourage, and support. Let’s choose words that show we value children as the individuals they are! Let’s just be a bit more mindful. Attitudes are hard to change, but we can make a difference, starting with the small things like this simple question.
“Children are more than their ability to sleep through the night. They are more than their willingness to instantly obey. They are more than a grade. They are more than a mood. They are more than they display at any given moment, more than what we see on the surface. They are human beings. Messy and beautiful, wild and compassionate, and worth getting to know, not just getting to mind.” – Rebecca Eanes