24/07/2014 13:14 BST | Updated 23/09/2014 06:59 BST

12 Things NOT to Say to a Mum Whose Child Is Sick

1) Try to enjoy him!

Try? Enjoy him? He's not a test drive, a haircut or a bag of dried fruit! I love him and delight in everything he is and all that he does. This is upsetting when he is struggling. He is my all. He isn't here for me to enjoy. He is here for me to mother. With everything I am. Including the worry. But I do enjoy him.

2) If he was that bad they wouldn't have let you go home.

This is not the 1920s. Nowadays, we don't admit kids, and keep them in until they bounce out the door or are stretchered out to the morgue. Plenty of children are at home with diseases that are 'that bad'. They may be awaiting further tests. They may be receiving home care or self-monitoring, or waiting and watching for any number of life-threatening conditions. And told to return to A&E if anything worsens. Your suggestion that I am being a drama queen, and that really you hold some secret knowledge I don't, is frankly insulting.

3) Do your other children have it?

Erm. Where to even begin...? If they did you would probably know by now. It's often not even genetic. If it IS genetic then you're opening up another can of unnecessary unhelpful little worms. If it IS genetic, will my other children be diagnosed too? Does every mother of a baby with a genetic condition have siblings with it? No! Do you see all siblings with asthma, cystic fibrosis, and different genetic syndromes? No. Asking about my other children's health, unless you are a doctor, is none of your business. Though it will certainly assist your Dr Facebook diagnosing and aid your Google search. Jog on!

4) They would do x/y/z if they thought it was that serious.

Would they? I didn't realise you were qualified in this specific area or knew my child and his case! How do you know they haven't/won't/can't /aren't already doing that? Define 'that serious'. And then define 'bell end'. La'ers!

5) My kid had that too!

When my child was ill once, she had to go to hospital. The food was awful. Hope he's better soon. We were in there ages. Hire the telly, call your mother - it's all good.


6) Be strong.

What the actual ***k...? This is never helpful. If you can't work out why then I'm not going to bother explaining.

7) Don't stress - they pick up on it!

This is one of the very worst experiences of my life. Telling me I am possibly making my child/ren suffer more, by feeling bad about what we are going through, is cruel. I am in bits. I can't avoid that really. Guilt trip too? Think I'll pass, ta!

8) At least you know now, so you can do something about it.

Well, I just wish we didn't have to deal with this. And there's not always something that can be done about it. And we don't even know for sure what it is. So this phrase is wholly irritating. In fact, in the wee hours alone on a chair, it makes me more worried - what about the things we don't know that we aren't doing anything about? And what's with the "...know NOW..." part? Like, when we didn't know then, we were somehow letting him down? Urgh.

9) It seems okay to me.

If those readings, results, weights, signs and symptoms are not concerning for your old school mate Sandra from the donut shop down the road, then they really shouldn't be concerning your consultant paediatrician at one of the world's leading children's hospitals.

Filled or glazed?

10) Ditch the breast and stick him on formula!

Um, no. Actually, I won't. And since all this I have even less time. So where I once would have referred you and your ignorance to lots of online links about how breast is almost always best, now I will bite my lip to stop myself punching you in the face. This, or any inference that somehow I am a failure, and you think probably I simply need to eat a bit more spinach and then he will fatten right up, is not wanted or warranted. My diet is good enough. My child's is the best! Because he is breastfed.

11) He's perfect.

His 'perfection' is not in question. Well, maybe. Only if 'perfect' is having every bit of his body fully clinically typical. Who defines their children - or any children - as perfect or not perfect anyway? So if he has an atypical part of his body - an anomaly in his physiology - then he is 'imperfect'. Really? So what about the flaws in your character, not least these very ones that cause you to judge a baby in this way? Are you perfect? What is perfect? What you mean is, you don't know what to say and you are trying to say something nice. Do one!

12) Try to find some time for yourself.

Oh right. Golly, I hadn't thought of that! You are sooooo right. I do need sleep. And food. Who knew? If I could have more rest/time to eat and sleep, then believe me, I sodding would. With or without this incredible insight, top tip and humble permission of yours!

I can't end this article without a quiet word in your shell-like. Lean in, folks. Ready?

If you know a family and they are dealing with the hardship of a child who is unwell, in hospital, or being medically investigated, the BEST things you can do are:

- Offer practical help without your own agenda, which especially includes entertaining any other children, giving lifts or light shopping/chores.

-Visit if they want - take caffeine and chocolate.

- Don't ask probing insensitive questions about what's going on/what might happen next but let them lead the conversation. Never use phrases like "Oh my God!".