Once you have a child, the unsolicited parenting advice starts rolling in. In fact, your friends and family will start dispensing it as soon as you announce the desire to have a child – or even way before. Everyone has strong opinions on the best way to raise a child – even those who have never held a baby in their life. Here are some ways to handle unwanted instructions on child rearing.
Consider where it’s coming from.
Simply asking a few questions will help you determine why someone thinks you need this particular piece of information. If Great Grandma Shirley scolds, “Don’t let that baby sleep during the day!” ask why she feels that way. It’s likely because it’s advice she was given fifty years ago and she’s just trying to help.
It’s easy to feel judged when people ask questions like, “Does he still use a pacifier?” Responding with “Why do you ask?” gives you a chance to gather more information and decide how – and if – you want to answer. They may even be looking for validation regarding their own parenting choices.
Decide what issues are off limits.
Spanking is a hot topic for many people. It quickly gets people on both sides of the fence riled up. We all have parts of parenting that we are extra sensitive and emotional about. They aren’t necessarily as big as spanking. It could be when to feed your baby solids or letting your boy play with dolls. Whatever it is, it’s okay to call it off limits for discussion and let anyone commenting know that.
Stand your ground on important issues.
There are other issues we become so passionate about we want to educate the world. This may be breastfeeding, co-sleeping, homeschooling or anything else you’ve found works well for your family. Feel free to advocate for what is important to you – just don’t become someone who is handing out unsolicited advice yourself.
Come up with a few standard responses.
Be polite, but clear. Some examples are:
- “Thank you, but I’ve got this.”
- “I’m figuring it out on my own, but I appreciate you’re thinking of us.”
- “Good thing parenting isn’t one size fits all! There’s lots of room to try different ways.”
Take what you can use, throw out the rest.
You’re going to get a lot of bad advice. There’s also going to be a few gems. Give what sounds like it might work a try. Keep what you like. Ignore the rest.
Unsolicited parenting advice doesn’t have to be a pet peeve. Use it as a source of entertainment instead. Have a contest with your friends to see who has been given the worst or strangest advice. And share it with us here in the comment section!