“Oh wow! You’ve gained a lot of weight during the pandemic!” “When are you going to have a baby?” 

Now that COVID-19 restrictions have lessened, we can socialize again. The return of insensitive questions and comments are on the comeback as well. Do not be the person to make such statements or ask such questions. If you are not that person but know someone who is, do us all a favor and share this article.

Yes, the pandemic has caused many of us to gain weight. We have been on lockdown since March 2020. We were stressed, so we had stress eating. We worked from home and had more access to snacks and other food than usual. We had to plan more convenient and quick meals because the kids were at home and would not eat their vegetables. After the millionth time encouraging them to eat those veggies, we gave up. 

We may have chosen to focus on other battles to fight, like going to bed at a decent time or doing math using the common core method. When the kids ate the chicken nuggets or the pizza rolls, instead of a salad or chicken and broccoli medley, we ate the nuggets and pizza rolls too. When they had a snack bag of Doritos, we began sneaking one of our own. So yes, many of us gained weight during the pandemic. But no, we do not need anyone telling us!

Yes, some people learned they were pregnant during the pandemic. Many of them have shared their great news. Let us celebrate those who have shared. Asking someone about their situation does not need to be the greeting after months of separation. If they want to share that they are expecting, they will share it without being asked. If they do not share it with you, then perhaps, it is not something they are ready to share. Therefore your questioning is an invasion of privacy. Maybe the person you ask when she will have a baby recently suffered a miscarriage or experienced a failed adoption. After over a year of separation and being amid fellowship, you are now bringing up painful thoughts that have hampered the joy of the occasion.

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What can you say instead when you see someone who has gained weight during the pandemic? “Hey! It’s great seeing you again after all this time!” If you would like to ask a question, ask a general question like, “How are things going?” Then, you can respond to their statement or question. If they say something about their weight, the door is opened to bring it up in discussion, but be mindful and determine if they asked for your opinion or just made a statement. Be kind! We have all been through a stressful period. Follow one of the golden rules; if you do not have anything nice to say, do not say anything at all.

How can you find out about plans for children because you want to know? It is okay that you want to know, but that does not mean you need to know.  You could ask a general question like, “How’s the family?” You can then respond based on their response. Indeed, most people do not mind being asked about plans for children, and you may have even wondered about this before, and it was no big deal. For people who have experienced pregnancy loss, fertility issues, or adoption difficulties, such questions are often fine until the experience has occurred. 

I had no issues being asked about my pregnancy plans until I had difficulties. Once it happened, those types of questions only became constant reminders of the hard time I had, and I did not want to rehash it at every social event that I attended. But if you want to ask something more specific, you can ask if they have anything new on the horizon in the next year. That is generic enough that it is not directly asking about children but could cause them to share information about future children if they expect or plan children soon.

There is much joy to be shared as the world opens up again. Do not sadden the mood by using statements or questions that may be sensitive subjects for some people. Greet someone by simply saying hello and letting them know you are glad to see them again in person. Listen to them and be kind in your response. It has been over a year since many of us have seen one another in person.  There are tons of things to catch up on. Do not start your reunion off on a sour note!

Crystal A. Maxwell, MD, MBA, FAAFP, is a board-certified family medicine physician with over ten years of experience. She is the Founder & CEO of LIGHT Family Wellness. She is also a wellness coach, author, speaker, wife, and mom. Her website is www.lightfamilywellness.com, and she can be followed on Instagram and Facebook @lightfamilywellness.