8th May 2018

Ten things people say about your child – and what they actually mean

After a year of motherhood, Manisha Ferdinand is fluent in backhanded compliments in the direction of her child…

One of the great joys of being a parent is watching your child grow up, and wondering what they will be like as they get older. What will they like doing? What kind of friends will they have? At what point is it OK to start making them learn showtunes so they’ll go on to have a successful career in musical theatre?* The one that’s really baking my noodle at the moment is: what will my kid’s voice sound like? What will it be like when he can actually USE WORDS? What if the only word he ever uses is ‘no’? Or, something completely inexplicable like ‘shed’?

*this might just be me.

Whatever the moment of curiosity / wonder / panic you’re currently going through, one thing is for sure – no matter what their age, signs of the person they’re going to become are already showing. And another thing is even more certain: other people can see it too, and they’re damn well going to tell you about it. But (er, very, very rightly) societal norms dictate that they can’t be mean about children. So, here are a few things people might say, along with what they REALLY mean….


What they say: Isn’t he lively?

What they mean: Someone please find that child’s volume switch and turn it OFF.


What they say: Oooh, she’s so independent.

What they mean: Bossy much?


What they say: I’ve never seen such a wilful kid before!

What they mean: Well done – you have spoilt your child beyond all recognition!


What they say: She’s very clever, isn’t she?



What they say: That kid is fearless.

What they mean: Someone’s got a death-wish.


What they say: What a healthy appetite!

What they mean: Fatty.


What they say: Don’t worry, he’ll fatten up.

What they mean: Stringbean.


What they say: She is so advanced for her age!

What they mean: I can’t believe she can use an iPhone better than I can.


What they say: Wow! He’s so exuberant!

What they mean: He’s an effing maniac.


What they say: What a lovely child.

What they mean: Swap your kid for mine?


@Ferders @mushmums

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