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How to Handle Unwanted Parenting Advice

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When you have a bipolar child, you can be overwhelmed with unwanted parenting advice from family, friends, even complete strangers. Here's how to handle that.

For Parents of Bipolar Children

Let's face it, all parents with a bipolar child have been in an embarrassing situation where the child is raging or otherwise being symptomatic in public, only to have the situation compounded by some well-meaning stranger that feels they have the answer to cure your "problem child." Or worse, tell you what a horrible parent you are. What do you do?

There are a number of ways to handle these situations. Some things that parents have used include boundary setting statements, surprise tactics, ignoring the person, educating through a few short statements or a flyer/business card with critical information.

Boundary setting statements

  • "Just why do you feel you need to share that?"
  • "That would be your opinion, I'm sorry you feel that way."
  • The silent stare
  • "Today I'm here to purchase groceries. Thank you, but I do not care for any advice."
  • "I'm sure you mean well but I did not ask for advice."
  • "My child is under the care of a qualified physician and I am following his prescribed treatment plan."

Surprise tactics (sarcasm)

  • "Well, I would never have thought of that, thank you so much!"
  • "You know how to fix him? That's wonderful! I appreciate your offer to take him for me. I sure need a break." (said with relief and excitement)
  • "I'm so glad to finally find someone who knows how to fix my child. I've been searching for years now!"
  • "Do you have any research studies to validate your claims?"

Ignoring

  • Simply pretend you don't hear or see them
  • Walk away while they are talking

Educating

  • "My child has a neurobiological brain disorder called bipolar, this causes electrical 'storms' in his brain and results in this type of reaction."
  • "My child has an illness. To learn more about it you can visit (url or support group like NAMI)."
  • Business cards or flyers with information (a website URL, "My child has bipolar disorder, thank you for understanding," or "Caring for my child's illness is very difficult, thank you for your understanding."

Sometimes one method of handling these intrusions is easier than another. Some days, you just don't want to educate. Some days, you have had it up to 'here' and the surprise tactics are a way to let off a little bit of steam. It can be helpful to be familiar with more than one type of response. Choose what you are comfortable with. You may wish to rehearse some statements to become comfortable and familiar with them so they are easy to recall during that critical high-stress moment.

APA Reference
Writer, H. (2008, November 20). How to Handle Unwanted Parenting Advice, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, August 18 from https://www.healthyplace.com/parenting/bipolar-children/parents-bipolar-children-handling-unwanted-parenting-advice

Last Updated: May 23, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD