Is it just me or does it feel like the moment you announce your pregnancy you’re inundated with unsolicited parenting advice? How do you handle this flood of well intentioned (yet un-asked for) advice? It’s a delicate balance.
As a newly pregnant woman I got tons of advice from friends, my bosses, my mom, my in-laws and extended family. The funny thing about it, is most of the advice was contradictory. One mom would suggest a feeding schedule and one would swear feeding on demand was the way to go. One said breast feeding was easy and the most natural thing in the world and one encouraged me to have bottles on hand. The advice may not have all lined up, but it all had one thing in common, it was given with good intentions by people who love me.
Why Are They Giving Me Unsolicited Parenting Advice?
That’s the first thing I try to remember when I’m on the receiving end of unsolicited advice. The persons intentions are probably good and they’re truly trying to be helpful.
That doesn’t mean you just need to take it with a smile. There are several ways to shut down the unsolicited advice.
When You’re Venting
I found that a lot of unsolicited advice came when I was complaining. I’d be going on about James’ crappy naps and someone would try to suggest a solution. Have you tried a sound machine? How about a swaddle? You’re not feeding him to sleep, are you?
Yes, yes, and uhhh yes?
The best response I found to shut this down would be to preface my comments with something like “I’m not looking for advice, just venting, are you up for listening?” If advice is given anyway, you can just politely say “I know you’re trying to be helpful, but I’ve gotten so much advice already I really just need to vent.”
If they can’t respect that, they’re not the person you need to be venting to. Call me, I’ll listen!
When Unsolicited Parenting Advice Comes Out Of The Blue
When unsolicited advice comes out of the blue it’s always acceptable to say, “isn’t it great how many different ways there are to raise kids? What we’re doing now really works for us.”
I used this one when (very well meaning) family members would try to give me strategies on how to keep James up later. He has always been an early to bed guy. In those first few months it seemed like wake windows stopped completely by 6 pm. Even today, at 15 months old, James is in bed most nights by 6 or 6:30. This works for us. Could I switch up his nap schedule or do some other crazy rain dance to try to inch his bedtime to the more standard 7:00/7:30? Sure. But why? 6:00/6:30 works for our family in this season.
When Generational Differences Play A Role
I’ve found with generational differences the advice can often be contradictory to what research and doctors currently recommend. My grandma for instance was shocked and appalled that I didn’t let James sleep with a blanket before 1 year old. “Won’t he be cold? How would you like to sleep without a blanket?” After I explained that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends this for safety reasons she was a little more understanding.
We have to remember that research and recommendations are constantly changing. Did your mom put you to sleep on your tummy and you turned out just fine? Mine too! But now we know that placing babies on their backs to sleep reduced cases SIDS substantially. Peanut butter at 6 months old?! Are you trying to give them an allergic reaction? Actually, guidance on introducing allergens changed too! Now the AAP recommends early exposure and waiting until 2 years old to introduce is no longer the standard recommendation.
So when unsafe unsolicited advice is given, you can shut it down with: “Science and research is constantly evolving and changing. I’m going to listen to our pediatricians recommendation on that because they’re up to date on the latest research.” When it comes to safety, as the parent you get to set firm boundaries. Your family members will probably more receptive to these boundaries than you expect. Again, they’re coming from a good place remember. They love you! They love your baby!
You Have The Final Say
When it comes to making decisions for your baby, ultimately it’s up to you and your husband. You know what’s best for your baby, over time you’ll kern to follow your mom- gut and intuition. In the beginning though, it’s tempting to second guess yourself when you have so much unsolicited advice coming your way. All I can say, is try your best to tune it out and trust yourself.
Tell me the craziest piece of unsolicited advice you’ve ever received! Leave a comment below!