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By Cheryl Bac

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About this blog: I'm a wife, stay-at-home mom, home cook, marathon runner, and PhD. I recently moved to the Silicon Valley after completing my PhD in Social Psychology and becoming a mother one month apart. Before that, I ran seven marathons incl...  (More)

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Talking as if he isn't listening in

Uploaded: Mar 7, 2015
When you are a new parent it is easy to get into the habit of talking about your little one as if he is not there. You openly and honestly discuss your parenting worries, struggles and disappointments with other new parents hoping to form friendships and get support.

However, as your newborn grows up into a toddler, it can be difficult to switch from talking about him all the time to realizing that he can overhear some of these conversations.

Now that I am parenting a baby and a toddler, many people ask me how the transition is going and whether they get along. From the close friend to the stranger at the grocery store, some weeks I am asked this type of question daily if not more so.

I feel very lucky that (at least so far) my kids do get along and my response can be a quick "yes, very well" or a more detailed response with sweet examples about him helping out his little sister - bringing her a pacifier when she is crying, turning on music to soothe her, etc.

When lost in the newborn daze, it would have been so easy to forget that I'm not only replying to this question multiple times a week but my son is hearing it multiple times a week as well.

I don't know exactly how I would have responded if the transition wasn't going smoothly. Would I really want my son to constantly overhear that the transition has been rough?

When I see a mom with a baby and a toddler I also ask how the transition is going. However, I'm starting to wonder if I should ask a question that is easier for her to answer when her toddler is within earshot.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Jay Park, a resident of Mountain View,
on Mar 7, 2015 at 2:54 pm

You can just simplify the question and ask "how are things going?" without leading the discussion.

Or even simpler: "Hi, how are you?"

Posted by Mother of 4 , a resident of Palo Verde School,
on Mar 7, 2015 at 5:51 pm

I have been there and been guilty of doing the same too.

I now make it my habit to greet the mother and then ask the toddler if they like being a big brother/sister. It gives them the opportunity to say almost anything or if they are too shy for the parent to answer.

It still happens as they get older, a quiet child is often forgotten about when adults are chatting and can overhear all sorts of things that they shouldn't. I try to remember who is present when I chat with other adults, but it is easy to forget. Some children seem to deliberately listen in to a conversation they shouldn't be hearing, even if you think they are in the next room.

Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Mar 8, 2015 at 10:09 am

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

Jay Park - Thanks for the suggestions. I'll try them out.

When I was pregnant I personally found it hard to answer the general "how are you?" question because I didn't know if the person wanted a quick "doing well" reply or if she was really interested in a longer response about how my pregnancy was going. I started asking "how are you feeling?" when I meet other moms who are expecting. I hope it gives them a little more opportunity to vent, talk about strange cravings, etc if they want it.

Mother of 4 - I can imagine that this only becomes more tricky as the children get older. Interesting idea to address the child. Might have to try it at one of our upcoming playgroups.

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