As a mom, you’re bound to receive more than your fair share of unsolicited parenting advice. Been there! From strangers in the grocery store to daycare providers to even your own family members, everyone has an opinion on everything when it comes to raising kids. You know the kind of “advice” I’m talking about. The stares when you give your kid an iPad at dinner or the eyebrows raised when your baby has no shoes on and it’s below 65 degrees outside. If you’ve ever found yourself on the receiving end of all this amazing parenting wisdom, here’s what to do with it.
Don’t assume everyone else knows better than youThis one especially goes out to all the first time moms who are probably questioning every decision they make for their child. When you’re a new parent, it’s incredibly easy to convince yourself that if someone is offering you a piece of advice, they must know better than you, right? No. The answer is no. At the end of the day, you’re that baby’s mom and will undoubtedly make the best decision or judgment call you can. So give yourself a little more credit — you've got this!
Thank them and move onAs annoying as it may be, always assume positive intent. Chances are people aren’t trying to judge you or be mean, they just simply want to help and be heard. So responding with something like, “Thanks, I’ll keep that in mind” will usually satisfy them because they feel like you heard them and are considering their two cents. In my opinion, it boils down to a level of self-awareness and most people probably don't even realize when they are doing it. That is why I try to give them the taste of acknowledgment they’re craving and then move on.
Don’t feel obligated to justify why you aren’t doing things the way others suggestIt’s far too easy to hop on the defense immediately after receiving unsolicited advice. I have memories of tripping over my own words as I would quickly try to explain why George was acting a certain way whenever someone commented on it. The truth is though, you don’t owe anything to anybody. That stranger at the park who made an unwanted suggestion knows nothing about your life. And blurting out personal stories to them in defense of your decisions probably won’t make a difference anyway.
Clap back with humorThis is one of my personal favorite ways to handle unsolicited parenting advice. For example, if your baby is crying in a public place and someone comments on it, you can say, “Oh, this is nothing. You should have seen him last week!”. It lightens the mood and usually shuts people up pretty quickly without making you look like the rude one.
Consider it if it truly is relevantI almost don’t even want to include this one because it might be taboo, but sometimes (very strong emphasis here) a good piece of advice might fall into your lap. As annoying and frustrating as it may be, it’s important to keep our ears open for those people that really are just trying to share something that worked for them. So if it truly is relevant to you and your baby/child’s situation, maybe it’s worth thinking about. But if not, see tips one through four. Navigating motherhood is a highly personal experience. It’s filled with successes and failures, which means emotions run high and any criticism can be extra difficult to take. Just remember to not let it get you down — you’re doing great!
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