13 Shockingly Rude Things People Say to Parents

It takes very little to surprise or shock me, but I am shocked by how insensitive people can be when talking to moms. I was speechless when a dad from my son’s preschool “complimented” my son on “getting over all the issues he used to have.” (Problem is, my son never had any issues, at least not ones I ever knew about.) When I told a few friends about that awful incident, they shared some of the rudest things they’ve heard since becoming moms. Here, the worst of the worst:

Do you work at home making money, or do you work at home making babies?” My friend Nicole opened the door and was greeted by a door-to-door salesman who asked her this question. Apparently the salesman wanted to talk to the moneymaker of the house, not the decision maker he just accused of being a hooker.


“If you can’t control your child, you shouldn’t have kids.” Andrew, my friend’s husband, was in Target when his 2-year-old had a full-on meltdown…just like 2-year-olds do all the time, especially in public. Andrew kindly and patiently comforted his daughter, knowing full well he could do nothing to end the meltdown faster. Apparently that wasn’t enough for the woman walking by, who clearly has never spent more than 10 minutes with a child.

“He should be in a cage!” My friend Karen’s 3-year-old son is autistic. On a crowded subway train one day, her son was pulling her hair and wrapping himself around poles — while wearing a full suit, tie, and coat despite it being hot outside (he has an adorable Doctor Who obsession). It was obvious there was something different about him, but a woman still chose to say this awful thing to Karen after criticizing her son’s “behavior. It’s heartbreaking just to think about.

“Your daughter thinks she’s all that and she’s not.” Um, this blows my kind. My friend Cynthia has a daughter who was reading above grade level. So when her daughter was in second grade, Cynthia asked her daughter’s teacher for reading material that would keep her daughter engaged. This was the teacher’s response. Cynthia was speechless and so am I. 

“How dare you have so many kids!” I actually overheard this one at a frozen yogurt shop. A customer walked up to a mother and her four children and started screaming at the woman that she had no right to have so many kids. Apparently being a “breeder” as the woman said, will harm the world — but being totally rude to a stranger and her kids won’t.

“That helmet your kid is wearing is just a fad, not a medical necessity.” Stacie is a friend of a friend and her daughter needed to wear a helmet to reverse the effects of a flat head. Tons of babies have to do it, the result of our generation of mothers not letting our babies sleep on their bellies. Since helmets are prescribed by a doctor, I’m pretty sure they’re a medical necessity. And by the way, no mom puts her kid in a helmet to be trendy. 

“Don’t worry, he’ll catch up.” Since my friend Ashley’s 2-year-old son is as big as a 5-year-old, strangers and even friends assume her kid is older than he is. So they’ll talk to her about his learning problems or ask about his delays, which he doesn’t have. That is, unless being super tall is a delay.

“Aren’t you a little young to be starting a family?” My friend Rachel was getting her blood drawn when she was pregnant and the phlebotomist asked this question. She looks young. But honestly, who says that?

“When are you due?” The checker at the grocery store left me in tears when she asked me this question. I had my baby two weeks before. And up until that point, I thought I was looking pretty good.

“Too bad you’re going to miss all your daughter’s firsts.” When my friend Joanne went back to work after having her first baby, this was what her co-worker had to say. I would have been so mad I would have looked for a new job! 

“Are you having twins?” My childhood friend Sara works in the NICU. You’d think her colleagues would have some tact but apparently not, because one of the nurses asked her this. How do you respond to that?

“But you’re not really their mom.” After 25 years of being a stepmom, my neighbor would always refer to her stepson as her son. She had always been an involved parent. Despite that, a very close friend said this to her. How insensitive.

Your daughter is so adorable.” Sounds like a compliment, right? Well it would have been a compliment had my son not been standing right next to my daughter when a neighbor made this comment. I mean, how was that supposed to make him feel? Like he was invisible? Not adorable? I still find it mind blowing that strangers will acknowledge only one child when his or her siblings are standing nearby.

What’s the rudest thing someone has said to you since becoming a mom?


Graphic: Meredith Gordon