Imagine you’re out with your baby minding your own business, checking your grocery list to see if you’ve missed something, and someone comes up to you giving you parenting advice that you never really asked for. Whether it’s the pacifier your baby is carrying, the nursery rhymes on your phone, or the formula milk you have in your cart, people will bombard you with unsolicited parenting advice.
As parents, one thing we’ve all heard now and then is unwarranted parenting comments be it at a family gathering where the entire dinner table conversation revolves around parenting skills or at a park you’ve gone to for an evening walk with your baby, and a stranger comes up to you with advice you never really wanted. Well-meaning helpful advice is surely welcomed, but everyone has their unique parenting style, and such advice might give you second thoughts, leaving you overwhelmed. We’ve all been there so just take a deep breath and relax.
Parents often have a hard time dealing with such unsolicited parenting advice. You might become irritated even when the advice giver means well. Condescending or non-condescending, words of advice might overwhelm or hurt you. Responding to a stranger might be easier, but if it’s your mother or mother-in-law insisting that they know what’s best, standard responses might not work. But you don’t want to hurt their feelings even though the advice makes you question your parenting choices and is hard to listen to. It’s okay if you feel that way. Try to be polite and firm with your responses. Be thankful for their two cents and be respectful, knowing it’s okay to say no to their advice. While you should be confident with your parenting values, approach their guidance with an open mind.
To make things easier for you, we’ve gathered tips and tricks to help you handle unsolicited parenting advice in the best way possible!
Why Do People Enjoy Giving Unsolicited Parenting Advice?
Whether you’re a new parent or have been a part of this club for many years, unwanted parenting comments manage to find their way to you. You might come across parenting advice from your parents, in-laws, and even your friends. Most of the time, these people mean well.
You might even come across strangers that have opinions to offer, and sometimes it isn’t easy to shut them off in a polite manner. What’s worse is saying no to your loved ones when they’re trying to give you tips on taking care of your babies.
While some people think that they are the best parents in the world and try to push their parenting style as the best advice, other parents try to engage in such conversation to get an insight and feel better about their parenting decisions. Some people might find your parenting style interesting and just want to engage in a conversation with you, and might end up giving you unsolicited parenting advice, which you can politely decline.
When you step into parenting you might notice that everyone around you seems to have an opinion about parenting. Be it any subject, from breastfeeding to schooling, you might find various approaches to parenting and it’s completely fine. Everyone has their own set of parenting values that might differ from yours. No need to judge, rather be accepting and open-minded.
Receiving Parenting Advice From In-Laws And Parents
Overwhelmed by unwanted parenting advice, you might come off as rude when you say no to such comments by your loved ones, especially your family. Such well-meaning comments might make you feel that they are putting you down. It’s common for parents to disagree with your parenting style and this might be a challenging situation, especially when you know it’s coming from a place of love and care for you and your baby.
Facing criticism in parenting is the last thing you want on your plate while you’re dealing with a baby on your hands, and every piece of advice at this point might seem like a huge heap of judgment and expectation. When it comes to your in-laws, try to be very honest and gentle with dealing with advice. Avoid snapping back at them, which might end up in an unintentional rift in your relationship. Try to be grateful for the efforts the advice-givers are putting in, and make sure they feel heard. It’s important to bring your concerns and values to the table without being dismissive.
Receiving Unsolicited Advice From Friends
If you’ve got friends that you can open up to, it’s okay to ask for help and advice now and then. But unsolicited advice might catch you off-guard. You might even find some single friends come up with the most bizarre advice you’ve ever come across. Brushing them off in a polite way might be the way to go. That being said, you might find some substance in some advice from your friends. Be open-minded, but know that you are the best one to make decisions about your children.
Receiving Unwanted Advice From Strangers
As unsettling as it may sound, you might come across a stranger while you’re hanging out in the park, who might want to share their opinions about what you should be doing with your little one. This isn’t new for most parents, and such advice often seems a bit pushy. As much as you might want to snap back at them, it’s better to be polite and thankful for their concern.
The “Mum Patrol” as they are often called, always have something to disagree with. Whether it’s the way you feed your baby or how you dress them, they want to share their opinions about anything you’re doing, especially if it’s wrong in their eyes. Try to be polite and make sure your confidence shines through while you communicate that they should mind their own business.
How To Respond To Unwanted Parenting Advice
Parenting is all about trial and error. You never know will work and what will fail. While you’re handling all that this new chapter of your life throws at you, it’s difficult to deal with unsolicited advice. Be it a well-meaning comment or a condescending criticism, it’s never easy to tackle such situations. Knowing that the other person means well, it’s not easy to control your emotions when someone makes you feel that you are not doing well enough as a parent.
Try to remain calm when you receive such advice. Be polite and gentle, and be open-minded to understand where they’re coming from. This makes things effortless, and you might even get some meaningful advice out of such a conversation.
Be Respectful And Polite
Try to understand that most people who give parenting advice are just trying to help you. They see it as a way to be caring towards your baby and want to contribute to your parenting success. Though not justified, advice in most cases comes from a place of love and care, so try to be polite while you brush off their advice. Try not to be dismissive or submissive in any way, but take a middle ground and listen to them with an open mind.
Refrain From Being Defensive
It’s important to communicate your parenting values, but make sure you don’t get offended by their genuine care, which might end up leaving you in a defensive stance. Try to showcase your confidence in your parenting skills and make sure you don’t come off as rude or arrogant. Not all people who politely add constructive criticism are judging you or think they know better. With that being said, make sure you communicate why this doesn’t work for you and how every child is different.
Educate Yourself And Consider Their Advice
Though every comment might seem like a personal attack, listening to what your loved ones have to say might not be a bad idea. After all, every parent needs all the advice they can get to deal with the tough challenges babies bring. Try to educate yourself on what they are trying to tell you and let them know you’ll look into it. It’s important to stand with your values, but try not to be stubborn with trivial things and consider what the other person means.
Moreover, do your research before responding to advice that people around you keep throwing at you. Be it sleeping patterns or burping sessions, try to be educated so you can stand firm when someone bombards you with unwanted parenting advice.
Be Thankful For Their Input
If someone takes the time out of their day to add in some advice, try to be thankful for their concern, even when it gets on your nerves. Remember, if someone is giving you advice, in their minds they are trying to help you out, so try to be nice and thankful.
Pick Your Battles
When receiving advice from strangers, you do not need to explain your parenting style or values. In this case, simply avoid talking to someone who makes you feel like they know better when it comes to parenting.
Along with this, be a bit lenient when it comes to advice that doesn’t clash with your values or your baby’s health. For example, fighting over whether your wee one should wear a hat while going out might be a waste of time if your mother suggests they should wear it. But hey, no compromises when it comes to things that might directly or indirectly affect your baby’s health or clash with your values.
Be Confident About Your Choices
It’s okay to second guess everything that you do, and frankly speaking, it’s a part of parenthood that no one talks about. But when it comes to unsolicited parenting advice, be firm about the choices you’ve made. Educate yourself about different parenting styles, and make sure you know what you’re doing so that you can be confident and sure of your values.
Change The Subject
As a last resort, if the other person has a hard time getting the memo, then the best way to get out of this situation is to change the subject. Start talking about the weather or anything else that might get the conversation going without making it about your baby.
As you step into parenthood, you will likely be bombarded with ever-so-helpful yet unsolicited parenting advice. Unexpected and unwelcome, such advice about how you should parent your baby is probably not what you’re looking for. It’s important to learn how to navigate through all these conversations.
Though overwhelming, unsolicited parenting advice should be dealt with with patience and understanding. No one wants to ruin your baby’s life, but rather want to add useful and meaningful contributions to your baby’s upbringing, which might not be needed.
Try to be polite while declining a piece of unwanted parenting advice. It’s important that you consider the advice, educate yourself, and formulate your values to know why you’re doing what you’re doing so you can be firm when hit with questions regarding your parenting. Make sure you are thankful and confident about your parenting, and know when to fight for your values.
Lastly, remember that most advice your loved ones give you comes from a place of love for your little one, so try to understand and do not be dismissive of their advice, especially if you think it’s harmless.