“Help” From Others

Dear yayas,

I’m a single mom. My daughter and I are doing just fine. But it is starting to feel like other people think we aren’t or something. I keep getting a lot of offers to “help” that aren’t actually helpful. For example, people wanting to watch the baby (she’s too young to be left & I don’t need childcare at the moment). There is one couple in particular that keeps pushing. Every time I give excuses, they give “helpful tips” back and aren’t taking no for an answer. They are making me feel guilty by having all these baby things ready for my baby in their house. What do I say or do to get these “helpers” to either back off or offer something that would be genuinely helpful?

– Mind your Business

Hi MyB, Chances are this couple is genuinely trying to be helpful and would appreciate the chance to help you. I’d offer something that would be truly helpful to you in place of childcare & I’d sandwich it in a compliment: “You are so thoughtful to think of me and my daughter. I don’t need childcare right now, but a warm meal would mean the world to me. I’m so lucky to have generous friends in my tribe to help during this transition into mommyhood.” Often times, I think that people don’t know how to help, so they offer the most obvious thing to them, or the thing that would have helped them the most. Good luck and congratulations to you! – Cortney

Hello Mind your Business, I can totally understand where you are coming from as I too am very independent. While it sounds like it is a nice offer it can feel intrusive especially as a new mom. I would let this couple and others know that you appreciate the offer and will certainly reach out if you need anything but everything is going PERFECTLY so far. Sometimes it is about the words you use and the way you use them for it to get across to people. I generally advise mom’s to accept any help they can get and to always say yes. But you also need to set your own routine with your little one. It is good for you to have your time and space especially as a new mom. I hope that helps. – Nadia

I may be the odd person out on this one, but I personally find it strange that someone (especially if it’s non-family) would purchase baby supplies for their house without checking with you first. Sounds a bit off-putting and overstepping…not to mention incredibly presumptuous. I imagine you have a lot of people assuming you need help because of the single mother stereotypes. It’s too bad that from time to time people forget that women are incredibly capable beings. If I were in your shoes, I’m sure I’d want to prove to others that “I’ve got this.” You are not obligated to accept help now because you “might” need it later. Focus on you and baby’s needs now. If you don’t need help, you don’t need help. Please don’t feel obligated to take something you don’t need or feel uncomfortable with. Also, not sure how old baby is, but there is absolutely a biological element to not wanting to be separated from your baby, especially for the first months. Draw your boundaries. Hold them where you need them, change them when you need to. You are your baby’s protector and family. You know your family best, rest easy in that. Maybe try a, “thanks for the offer, but I’m good.” If they keep pushing, maybe try a more firm, “no thanks. I’ll let you know if I need help.” Repeating this simple, respectful phrase over and over will eventually get the point across. No need to elaborate…they will eventually get that no means no, and if they don’t they might need a time out. Boundaries are healthy. – Lori Beth

Tell them “while I appreciate your help, I need to be with my baby.” – Grama Claire Bear

I think you’re doing a great job at setting your own boundaries and sticking to them. Continue with the “broken record” approach – thank them for their offer and decline. It does appear that their offers are rooted in kindness, even if it’s a little overbearing. Keep them in good company for a future time or emergency when their help might be needed. – Diana

Dear Mind your Business, As a single mom myself, I understand. You have many responsibilities and challenges as a single mom, but you got this! Many people can’t imagine how you do (maybe because they couldn’t) and think they are “helping” in their repeated offerings. Try straight up telling them that you don’t need child care help right now but that you really appreciate knowing they are there if you ever do. (which could be never if you choose). Maybe ask them if they could help with something else. Give them something they could do on their own and bring to you? Some people will always be giving “helpful tips”. You just need to take it for what it is. Something they need to do and not a judgment of you. As a single mom I found that I would unnecessarily “guilt” over many different things, and when I stopped to really think about it, wonder why?! In my heart I always knew that if I was raising her based on what her needs and my needs were, then we were doing great! When my daughter was older I realized that I was much more awesome that I thought I was! She told me! (And continues to!) Enjoy the very special bond you will create as you grow with your daughter. – Taren

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