Nothing in life seems to invite unsolicited advice more than having kids. It starts the moment we announce a pregnancy. The floodgates open and suddenly everyone has an opinion and some “friendly” advice about how to handle stretchmarks, bloating, names, and nursery colors. Everything. It doesn’t stop once the baby is out either. If nothing, it increases. It can be incredibly overwhelming and emotionally taxing to process all that advice.
Not that you need any more help in your life but here’s some advice on how to deal with all that advice.
- Consider the source. I tend to avoid any parenting advice from people who have no kids and no experience with kids outside of a babysitting gig when they were 14. Remember how great of a parent you were before you had kids? How your future children “would never do _________?” While these advice givers are well meaning, I just don’t value the advice of someone who hasn’t been in the trenches (I’ll make an exception for children’s medical advice from a doctor or health professional). On the flip side of this, I treasure advice from experienced moms. I might not use it all, but I appreciate someone sharing their experience. It might not work for me (see #2), but I know that it at least comes from a source who has been through it a few times. Advice coming from some random internet stranger? Probably not going to listen.
- Filter it for your experience. My grandma gave me lots of parenting advice, often in the forms of stories of raising six kids. I treasured the time spent with my grandma and the chance it afforded me to hear stories about my dad growing up. But there are a lot of things she told me that just wouldn’t fly today. She was raising kids in an era before carseats and couldn’t understand I why couldn’t just hold the baby on my lap when we drove to church. My grandmother-in-law, likewise, suggested I tie my oldest to a chair like her mother did so he would leave the baby alone. Did I do that? Absolutely not. But I did take the idea of keeping him contained and used an exersaucer/bouncer to keep him occupied. Can you take bits and pieces and apply to your situation? Absolutely. Do you need to follow it to the letter? Nope.
- Avoid any advice that pushes a timeline. I am not a huge fan of any advice that causes a kid to do something super early. This includes adding solid food to a bottle (my grandma told me to do this at 1 month!!!), super early potty training, and sleep training, and the list continues. Kids develop on such a continuum of ages that trying to push something early does nothing but cause anxiety for you about what your child “should” be doing. And on the extreme end of things, it could be potentially dangerous. Remember, no kid goes to college nursing, wearing a diaper, or co-sleeping with mom and dad. They will grow out of it.
- If something sounds off, don’t be afraid to google it or call in an expert. When my four year old got sick recently, I was told to give them an expectorant by a well meaning family member. I googled the drug and found huge warnings against giving this to a child my son’s age.
- Smile and say thanks! Then move on. Most advice comes from a place of love, even if it is misguided. Appreciate the sentiment behind it and forget about it.
- Remember you don’t have to follow everything. You’re the mom. You know your family and you decide what is best for your family. Just because someone tells you something does that mean that A) It is true or B) It is the only solution out there.
Hopefully, this helps with the onslaught of advice that comes with being a parent.
What was the most off the wall piece of advice you ever received?