I've Been There

How family and friends can help

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Are you a friend or relative?

Family and friends play a big role in helping new parents adjust to all the changes.

 

Here are some tips on how to be supportive while avoiding conflict. Try and get the timing right. If the person is not in the mood to talk, try another time.

 

I liked it when my mum just gave me advice. She never told me what to do, just said to maybe try it this way or that way. It made me feel supported, and then it was still my choice how to do stuff.”

 

Emotional support

Sometimes new parents just need someone to talk to. Try to listen and let them talk about what’s going on.

Pay attention to what they are telling you about how they’re feeling without jumping in with a story of your own. Ask questions. Listen to any concerns and offer compassion with comments like “I can really hear how tough you’re finding things today.”

 

Practical help

Life is getting a whole lot more chaotic for new parents and an extra pair of hands can be useful. But you don’t want to overstep the mark - so ask for clear instructions.

Parents can find it hard to ask for help and would probably appreciate you offering first. Avoid saying yes to favours that you know you can’t commit to.

 

My mum helped me so much, I don’t know what I would have done without her. She does some cleaning for me, but she also reassures me that I’m doing a good job.”

 

Advice and information

If you’re a parent yourself then you are probably a great source of information for people starting out. It can be a fine line though, so make sure your advice is welcome.

 

If you’re not a parent, you could encourage your friend to join a mothers’ group or playgroup to connect with other parents going through similar things. 

 

At the end of the day, the idea is to help the pregnant or new parent feel confident that they are managing things - so try and be supportive rather than taking over. Parents want to learn how to do things themselves.

 

My friends are still going out and doing the same stuff and they’ve stopped calling me now, but I made friends with some new people from the clinic and we’ve been meeting at the cafe once a week. I really look forward to it.”

 

Cheering them on

Everyone needs a cheer squad sometimes. This is especially true when we face big changes and new challenges. Help your loved one to recognise all the things that they are doing well and getting right.