Manners Monday: Engaging with fellow moms

You could be walking blissfully through Target when your baby starts crying.  You instantly reach down to pick him up and a mother comes out of nowhere and says ‘You really shouldn’t pick a baby up every time they cry. You don’t want your baby to be coddled, do you?’.  You are bottle feeding your baby and a fellow mother approaches you to offer breastfeeding advice.  You could be enjoying a Gymboree class when you run into a competimommy who feels inclined to tell you how her child is pretty much way better than yours.  Who knew a child could swim, sign, repeat the entire alphabet, still take 2 naps a day,  read, and be completely potty trained before the age of two?

I give these moms the benefit of the doubt as they may not know their random, unsolicited advice or judgment is viewed a little… rude.

Below are a few simple steps to successfully engaging with other moms:

Step 1:  Practice the SAIL method.  SMILE, ASK QUESTIONS, INTRODUCE YOURSELF (and your child), and LISTEN.

Smile.  A smiling person is more approachable than someone who is sullen and frowning.  First impressions are everything and people are generally more willing to befriend a smiling person over someone with a grumpy exterior.

Asking get to know you questions not only helps you get to know another person, it helps others feel comfortable around you.  Who doesn’t enjoy talking about themselves every once in a while?

Introducing yourself (and your child) is very important.  A friendly ‘Hi, I’m Rochelle and this is Adriana.  I’ve never taken this class…Do you like the instructor/teacher?’ can do way more than ‘This is our first time…Do you like this class?’.  Although the second example is still friendly, a proper introduction and a friendly ‘Hi’ is more personal and friendly.

Listen when talking with other moms.  I can’t stress enough the importance of active listening.  Sure, your child may be running around like a tazmanian devil, but atleast try to listen.  Empty other thoughts from your mind and really listen to what the mom is saying.  This may be her first outing in weeks with actual adults.  Make eye contact, nod occasionally, and intermittently say, ‘I see" or ‘Really?’ to indicate that you not only heard but understood what was said.

Step 2: Don't be a competimommy.

Competimommy:  ‘Your little boy is so sweet. How old is he?’

Mom:  ‘Thank you!  He’s 2 and a half.  How old is yours?
Competimommy:  ‘Mine is 2 as well…almost 3.  Wow, he sure is big for a 2 year old.  I bet he will excel at sports.  Does he take swimming?’

Mom:  ‘No, I haven’t put him in swimming yet.  Unfortunately, most of the weekend classes are full and I work on the weekdays.’

Competimommy:  ‘Oh no!  I work too, how funny!  You should try taking off work a little early.  That’s always worked for me.’

Competimommy:  (mildly interrupting) ‘Somehow we also fit playgroups and Gymboree into our schedule.  It’s just so important for children to engage with other children that even though I’m but, I still make it work’.

{child clutches diaper region}

Competimommy:  ‘I think your soon needs to be changed…Wait, is he potty trained yet?’

Mom:  ‘No, not yet.  We are working on it though’.

Competimommy:  ‘Really!!  Our little guy was trained 6 months ago.  Best of luck!’

Word to the wise:  Don’t be that girl.

Step 3:  Don’t offer unsolicited advice.

If I had a nickel for every time another mom gave me unsolicited advice, I would be able to able to fly to Paris and back…twice.  I find it a bit odd, because I know a few moms who this simply doesn’t happen to.  Maybe it happens and they don’t know it or perhaps others feel I need a little more direction than others, who knows?  Still, I’d like to feel that there are other moms out there that would be just as taken back or offended by some of this random advice.
My mom has always taught me that if someone doesn’t ask for advice, don’t give it.  If one feels absolutely inclined to hand out advice, I suggest nicely asking if they would like pointers.

Step 4:  Handle special situations with care.

Once you are on friendly grounds with a fellow mom and a relationship progresses, it’s only natural to let certain guards down.  The fellow mom may reveal that her child has disabilities, she may no longer be with the child’s father, the child’s father may be completely out of the picture, or the mom may have a same-sex partner.  Sensitive subjects like these should be handled with the utmost respect.  Too much questioning or getting into the subject too deep can rub a mother the wrong way.  Every situation is different and even if you know someone who has a child with disabilities or someone who’s ex is absentee, can cause hurt feelings if brought up to the mom.  My best advice is to listen.

Step 5:  Don’t be a Plastic.

Ten points to you if you understand the Mean Girls reference J.  I’ve read many studies on how mean girls grow up to be mean moms and I agree 100%.  It’s sad, but some women can be just as clique-ish as high school girls.  I know a few Junior League-esque Hilly Holbrook types (another 10 points if you instantly thought, THE HELP!) that are mean moms to the T.  They know all the hottest gossip about who’s recently separated, who has the newest Coach purse (the non-outlet mall variety), and can recite every detail of why one mom is feuding with another.  Unfortunately, some can find all the gossip a little unsettling.  Some people gossip…it’s their thing.  However, I suggest knowing your audience.  Before going into a tangent on how Noelle in your mommy and me class has a fake Longchamp and is so tacky, take a step back and know your audience.  A daily dose of snark may make ones day, but on the flip side, it may turn someone off to you, completely.

Lastly, a lot of parents seem to forget that our children repeat everything.  I used to service in Primary at church and boy oh boy, I’d get all KINDS of personal info about their parents.  That being said, if you don’t want another mom at playgroup knowing your true feeling about her, I’d suggest not vocalizing them around your kids.  Better yet, maybe don’t vocalize them at all.

Step 6:  Keep the SAHM/Working mom judgement under wraps.

If you can’t fathom how one could leave their children for 8 hours a day, it’s normally best to internalize that thought.  Likewise, if you think staying at home all day/everyday would drive you up the wall….It’s only polite to not vocalize your opinion on the subject.  Remember, everyone has a choice on what is best for their children.  It is never polite to vocalize your opinion on another mom’s choice to stay at home or work.  Since this is a sensitive subject to a lot of moms, I recommend being curious, not judgmental.  Both parties of moms tend to have their guards up and feel they need to overexplain themselves once this subject is brought up.  A good way of broaching the topic is: ‘That’s really cool! What is a normal day like for you?’  By asking this non-threatening question, the other mom will be at ease and know you are genuinely interested in her life.

Step 7:  Be respectful during play dates.

As much as I adore Brandi Glanville, it irks me that she just brushed off the fact that her sons feed on another person’s lawn.  Come on, who does that?  Anywho, I feel it’s important to have a ‘When in Rome’ mindset when it comes to play dates.  First, try not to show up too early or too late.  If you are like me, I normally get the best cleaning done before guests show up and if someone shows up too early, it really ruins the cleaning process.  It also can be viewed as rude to show up late.  Second, being mindful of another’s house rules is a must.  If the house rules call for shoes to be taken off at the door, take off your shoes.  If the hosting mother has a formal living room, try and keep your children from exploring it.  Also, keep an eye on the host mom’s children.  If the mother doesn’t bat an eyelash as her children run from room to room, slide down the stairs, and play with the baby grand piano, she may not mind if your child does the same.  Still, I would refrain from letting your child let loose in someone else’s home.  I would wait for verbal/non-verbal cues from the host mom.  Third, practice proper etiquette.  Even if you are used to making yourself at home in the kitchen, finding your own way to the restroom, and just plopping down wherever there is a free seat, on a first time visit to someone’s house it’s only proper for the host to direct you.  Sure, it may be easier guiding yourself to the restroom, but what if that restroom is broken?  What if the host mom has a restroom specifically for guests?  What if the host mom may feel uncomfortable with people helping her out in the kitchen?  In addition to this, make sure both you and your children mind your Ps and Qs.  Ensure that you and your children offer a warm thank you prior to leaving.  Lastly, please clean up after yourself.  Make sure your kids clean up too.

 Step 8:  Don’t brag.

I’m sure life is so hard when you are mistaken for Lauren Conrad everywhere you go, but do we all have to hear it on a regular basis?

No one likes a bragger.  I know a few gals who just love to toot their own horn.  It’s cute at first but after awhile it can get pretty annoying.  For all the braggers out there, I suggest you direct your braggy comments elsewhere…like Facebook.

Step 9:  Try not to be cliquey

Although it’s natural for people to gravitate towards certain types of people with similar interests/values/lifestyles, it’s important to be social with everyone.  To be totally honest, finding other mom friends is hard.  I’m sure many others out there feel the same way.  It takes a lot of certain women to step out of their comfort zone and engage with other women.  One reason it’s so hard for some is because of the cliquishness.  I strongly suggest making everyone feel welcome in whatever environment you’re in.  If you’re at toddler story time and you see a mom sitting alone, invite her over.  If there is a new mom in your congregation/ward, invite her over for a playdate.

On the flip side – A lot of moms still encounter cliquishness, even after several get to know you attempts.  If this happens to you, keep in mind that you aren’t doing anything wrong.  Some women are too set in their ways to let others in.  Sadly enough, the need to band tightly together and not let others in normally stems from some sort of self-esteem issue.

Step 10:  Playgroup isn’t a fashion show.

Dressing your kids up is fun, but not always appropriate. Be realistic in how you dress your child. He or she should be wearing shoes they can safely run around in.  I’ve seen so many children slip because of poor-fitting or overly-dressy shoes.  Also, dress them in play clothes.  Save the dresses, tights, and hair bows for church and special occasions.  Kids tend to get messy in playgroup, after all, and they should feel comfortable enough to do so.  They should wear clothes that are okay to spill paint on or are suitable for sliding down the slide.   This goes for moms too.  Sure, you may feel inclined to dress to the nines for a playdate, but remember... you will be chasing little ones around and may want comfort over style.


  1. Hi! I really like this post. I run a playgroup of over 100 women, so this post really hits home :) Thanks for stopping by my blog! I am now following back!!
    The Eyes of a Boy

  2. Very nice! You would hope that most of these are no-brainers, but unfortunately that is not the case! Thanks for sharing!
    Maybe I'll see you at BYB! I have never been to one of these, so I don't know how they work, but it would be fun to meet some fellow bloggers!

  3. Ohhh...I am SO there on a lot of these points! I never realized how cliquey and exclusive moms can be- totally thought I was done with that in the 8th grade. I often feel like I am at a sorority rush party- ridiculous. Thanks for such a truthful yet entertaining post!

  4. ha ha ha....and not so HA! Loved the post Talia. You are right on the mark. :) That's why some of those are not so funny. Man, do I wish WE could have a play date. It would be so nice seeing you again.

  5. Love this!! Made me think about the mom at story time last week who mumbled under her breath that I should have left the double stroller in the car...I just gave her a big smile ;)



  6. hahaha, these are great! I especially love the 'competimommy' and not judging working vs. SAHM. I've been in both shoes!


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