Dealing with Parenting Advice You Don’t Want or Need To Hear
Parenting advice is hurled at mothers and fathers like balls at a dunk tank. As a parent, you neither need nor want most of this unsolicited parenting advice. Yet there you are, sitting with your baby in the tank, behind glass where you are visible to the world. It can seem like you’re captive, unable to escape from all the people who think they have wisdom to offer you. You probably won’t be able to stop all unwanted parenting advice, but you can learn to deal with it positively and stay calm for yourself and your baby. If this sounds good to you, read on—and no, this is not another source of parenting advice in disguise.
Handling Unsolicited Parenting Advice from Well-Meaning Loved Ones
Loved ones often share unwanted opinions about how you should care for your baby, which calls for a kind, gentle response. The family members you care about also cares about you and your baby. Their parenting advice comes from a loving place. That doesn’t mean that you have to agree with their comments and implement every suggestion. You have options, including these:
- Listen openly, with no expectations and no judgments. When a family member or good friend gives you input, drop preconceived notions. Maybe they’ll have worthwhile advice. Maybe they won’t. You might gain a new idea. You might not. This helps you remain detached and unemotional.
- Consider using their parenting advice every now and then. If you take their advice sometimes, especially on little things such as putting a hat on your baby when you take them outside, you’ll be seen as rational rather than stubborn. This will make it easier to stand your ground on bigger topics that are important to you.
- Have an honest conversation. Listening and being reasonable doesn’t mean that you must always listen to unwanted parenting advice. When a close family member or friend is taking their role as advisor too far, it’s okay to talk to them about it. Let them know that they do have some sound advice and that you know that they’re competent and insightful. Then tell them that you have a parenting style that works for you.
Remembering that you care about these friends and relatives will help prevent you from firing back harsh words that could damage your relationship. What about strangers? There’s no relationship to preserve. Does that make a difference in how to respond to unsolicited parenting advice?
Dealing with Strangers Giving You Parenting Advice for Your Baby
Given that you don’t know these people who approach you out of nowhere, any place and any time, and tell you what you’re doing wrong and how to be better, you might be tempted to respond harshly and even sarcastically. Unfortunately, that can be worse for you than for them.
Strangers might fight back, becoming snarky about your parenting abilities. This risks escalating the situation. Reacting negatively is hard on you and your sense of serenity with your baby. Reacting calmly and politely is for your sake rather than the stranger’s.
You can be civil without listening to unnecessary comments. Respond politely and shortly to discourage conversation, then walk away. Preparing and rehearsing some responses ahead of time will help you avoid being caught off guard when someone approaches you in the grocery store. Keep statements neutral, vague, and short. Avoiding arguing will get you out of the situation sooner and preserve your own mental health.
Try statements such as:
- “That makes sense. Thank you.”
- “Thanks. I’ll consider that.”
- “It’s nice of you to be concerned.”
Welcome Your Own Expertise
A great source of parenting advice is you, the parent of your baby. Become an expert on your parenting style by reading books, magazines, articles, and asking your doctor questions. You’ll gain the confidence required to let unsolicited parenting advice go.
You can also become an expert in letting things go. Rather than carrying around the frustration and irritation of unwanted parenting advice, try:
- Use your short statement, then walk away immediately.
- Take slow deep breaths.
- Focus on your baby, revel in the cuteness, play with little hands and feet, make faces to elicit laughter—baby mindfulness is effective in reducing stress and negativity
- Purpose and perspective: starting now, be a role model, acting the way you want your baby to grow up to act.
When you don’t feel trapped in the dunk tank with unsolicited parenting advice hurled at you, you don’t have to struggle and fight. You can choose to respond in a way that’s mentally healthy for you and your baby.
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Peterson, T. (2019, July 1). Dealing with Parenting Advice You Don’t Want or Need To Hear, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, February 19 from https://www.healthyplace.com/parenting/parenting-skills-strategies/dealing-with-parenting-advice-you-dont-want-or-need-to-hear