When You Get Unsolicited Parenting Advice
A friend of mine reached out to me recently, asking my opinion on receiving unsolicited advice when it comes to parenting. I must say that with my second baby, I haven’t gotten a lot of unsolicited advice; this is either because people think that I know what I’m doing now that I’m on my second, or that I’ll just snap. Haha. But seriously, it’s frustrating as a new mama to be told what you should or shouldn’t be doing. With my first baby, I got a ton of unsolicited advice, so I’ve come up with a few comebacks for these “do-gooders”. (Note: it’s one thing to offer advice when asked, or to offer advice in a genuine helpful way; but also remember that each Mama is paving her own path and in the end it is HER baby).
1) You shouldn’t hold your baby all the time, they won’t learn independence. Don’t pick them up when they cry right away, it’s good for their lungs. Let them learn to self soothe. Seriously, just look that person in the eye and say “I’ve got it”. That’s it. No room for argument, a follow up suggestion, or another comment. And if they do, just smile and repeat. Look, there’s a thing called motherly instinct. And I would wager a guess that the vast majority of mothers out there have this! Unless this new mama is asking your opinion, just zip it please.
2) In my day, we used give rice cereal at this age, use bumpers, put babies to sleep on their stomach, blah blah blah. Well we’re not in your day right now, are we? It’s present time. And this isn’t your baby. This is my baby. I will make my own mistakes and that’s fine because it is MY journey. With all due respect, research has come a long way since your day, which is why pediatricians tell us what is recommended NOW, and not what was recommended in the 80s or 90s, or whatever generation of parenting that is being referred. Thanks but no thanks. Now you don’t have to be outright rude, but a simple “My pediatrician actually says…” is fine here. Or if you don’t feel the need to explain yourself then just shrug and say “Well this is what we’re doing”.
3) Your generation coddles your children too much, doesn’t want to say no, explains too much, tries to reason with them etc. Well if you’re lumping an entire generation into one generalization, don’t you think we know what we’re doing? We have readily available access to Google any question we have about parenting, or to shoot a quick text out to another Mama friend for their opinion and so on. Just like other generations had parenting trends, our generation has them too. It’s up to each mama to choose how they want to parent, and that’s the mama’s choice; not yours (whether you agree with her or not. Again, it’s her baby, not yours). Granted, there is a lot of tried and true advice that has worked for many generations, and it can be nice to be supported & try something that has been suggested, but in the end it’s up to each Mama to decide what works for her and her baby
4) I’ve never heard of baby led weaning, attachment parenting, wearing babies, cosleeping, breastfeeding on demand (anything can really apply here). Ok, well if you’re genuinely interested I’d be happy to explain it, but if you’re saying that in a negative way to show that since you personally have not heard of it, then it must not be legitimate, then please stop right there. Again, as mamas (and parents) we are doing what works best for our family. I know that I personally parent both similarly and differently from my fellow mama friends. Some things work for all of us, some things are different for each of our babies and toddlers. And that’s ok. And it makes sense, because we are all on our own individual and unique parenting journeys.
5) I’m not comfortable with how you (do whatever parenting thing it is that’s being brought into question). Well that’s fine, sorry I’m not sorry, but he/she is not your baby. I’ve heard from quite a few mamas how they would get so frustrated when family members would offer unsolicited advice and they’d just want to say “Well this isn’t your do-over baby! You don’t get to have an opinion here. I get to make my own mistakes and/or successes”.
Because the bottom line is this: most moms are fiercely protective over their children. They love their children with the greatest love that there is. And they are trying their hardest and their very best. You don’t see behind the scenes where a mom might be doubting herself, or crying because she is wondering if she’s just messing it all up, or worrying that she isn’t mothering like she dreamed that she would, or maybe she’s stressed out of her mind and just taking it all day by day. So please take a moment before blurting out your opinion. In my own experience as a mom of two, I try to ask “Would you like my opinion?” Or “Would you like to hear my personal experience with this?” Because I know first hand how truly disheartening it can be when someone outright tells you that you’re doing it all wrong. So stay strong Mama. You know your baby best. And he/she is YOUR baby. Your baby loves you and you love your baby, and that is all that matters.