DARE TO ASK: This is very touching, folks, but ...
By PHILLIP MILANO, The Times-Union
Since I've been pregnant with my first child, complete strangers come up to
me and rub my belly. Why do people think this is socially acceptable?
Tracy, 25, Jacksonville
Some people are not socially educated. While I was pregnant, people found joy
in knowing of the miracle of life growing inside. That elicits an urge to take
part in that joy. Although people you don't know shouldn't approach you and rub
your belly without asking, hopefully you can understand that they must be happy
Cyndi, 41, Stoneville, Miss.
My son is 14 months now. When I was pregnant, not many people touched my
belly without asking. My friends and I talked about this very subject, and some
said a lot of people did touch their bellies and some said they did not. So it
is my opinion that maybe it is the personality of the pregnant woman that may
draw strangers to touch their bellies.
Susan R., 29, Cleveland, Miss.
We thought we had a quick solution for expectant mothers, but n-o-o-o-o,
"some people" had to tell us doing crunches and sucking it in a little wasn't a
viable option. So we grudgingly sought answers from Paula Spencer, author of
Everything Else You Need to Know When You're Expecting (Griffin).
People pat pregnant paunches for several reasons, says Spencer, who writes
the Momfidence! column for Woman's Day magazine:
Folks are just damn glad to see ya, laden ladies! "They're excited about the
prospect of a baby . . . they forget themselves in their enthusiasm."
They want to bear . . . your . . . children (well, not exactly). "People want
to vicariously participate in the pregnancy. They can't carry the baby for you,
but they can pat it."
They're amazed. "They've just never been close to a belly. And in today's
fashion world, we're flaunting that belly like it's an irresistible, exotic
They think they'll hit the jackpot if they brush that breadbasket. "Some odd
souls consider it good luck, like rubbing the lucky Buddha."
What's a glowing gal to do or say? According to Spencer:
Realize most people aren't trying to be rude. "They are thinking they are
touching your baby, not your body."
Have a good comeback. "If somebody says they can't resist a pregnant belly,
say, 'Yes, but it's attached to my body.' "
Make like you're sick. Really sick. "One line I've heard is, 'It makes me
nauseous when people do that.' Believe me, no one wants to go there."
Head for the potty. "That's a good one if it's becoming a group grope."
Know your internal sense of what crosses the line, and use a sliding scale
for offenders. "Probably your male boss is on one end, and your partner is on
Phillip Milano, author of I Can't Believe You Asked That! (Perigee),
moderates cross-cultural dialogue at Y? The National Forum on People's
Differences. Visit www.yforum.com to submit questions and answers. Send general
column comments to phillip. firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also hear his
podcasts or watch his