As Harry becomes a dad: 10 things not to say to a new father

7th May 19 | Family

Just don’t go there, says Luke Rix-Standing.

Royal baby

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are now settling into life as a family of three after welcoming their baby son early yesterday morning.

Speaking after the birth of his 7lbs 3oz boy, an elated Harry said the baby was “absolutely to-die-for” and that he and Meghan planned to present him to the media in two days’ time “so everyone can see” him.

Like new dads the world over, Harry is overwhelmingly proud of his first born. But when talking to new fathers – royal or not – there are some phrases to avoid using at all costs.

Here’s a quick rundown of what not to say…

1. “She’s got you well-trained!”

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If you think about it, this squirm-inducing phrase is offensive to every member of the family.  It’s insulting to the children, as it implies they aren’t enough on their own to inspire full attention; it’s insulting to their mother, portraying her as an uptight killjoy cracking the parental whip; and it’s insulting to the father, suggesting that at heart he’s a responsibility-phobic layabout.

Most of all though, it’s insulting to the speaker themselves, because it makes them sound like a… Well, insert word of your choice.

2. “He wants his mummy!”

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OK Sherlock, what precisely led you to that conclusion? Was it the crying, gurgling, toy-throwing, or other ten-a-penny baby behaviours? Or did he perhaps slip you a note or a text message?

Or might it, just possibly, be a product of your own prehistoric perceptions of parental roles?

3. “Wow, you’re really good at nappy-changing!”

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Yep, I can also fetch, roll over, and bark on command. You would not be congratulating mummy on her silky-smooth handiwork, and this is one pat on the head we can do without.

4. “You look exhausted!”

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This is like wandering round a hospital telling people they look unwell.

5. “The good times are over, pal!”

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Inevitably spouted by boozy-breathed, middle-aged men, this implied ‘family as prison’ motif sees children as chains. A misguided attempt at locker room backslapping, it is in fact just annoying.

You should also beware phrases like “the man card”, “daddy-sitting”, and “missing all the sports”.

6. “No, no, do it this way”

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There are exceptions to every rule, and if the dad in question has locked their child in the car in mid-July you have every right to remonstrate, and if unheeded call the police.

Otherwise, keep your pearls of parental wisdom to yourself. Most parents hate being told how to raise their children, and an undercurrent of matronly daddy-shaming will do nothing to ease the tension.

7. “On baby duty?”

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Yep, as I will be for the next – *checks watch* – 17 years.

8. “Don’t burn the house down!”

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Ohh I get it, you’re saying I’m incompetent at looking after my children, and because mummy is away I might set fire to the house. Did I mention I’m extremely over-tired, and therefore prone to lashing out?

9. “I don’t know how you do it!”

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Why? Parenthood ranks alongside breathing and disliking Coldplay as one of humanity’s fundamental touchstones. It’s super-hard, and sure, it’s not for everyone, but it’s not as though nobody’s done it before.

10. “Just hire a babysitter”

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Babysitters are for Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, and possibly the odd trip to the theatre, and we will not be hiring one because Big Kev wants to hit the local boozer. Again, we’re filing this one in the “wouldn’t say it to mummy” pile.

© Press Association 2019