Dealing with unsolicited parenting advice
Everyone in the world seemed to be giving me contradicting parenting advice when I was pregnant with my son. I listened to what everyone said, even the extremely obnoxious neighbour who seemed to think she knew it all even though she did not have kids. It seems her friends had them and that was enough to make her an expert on every thing. I smiled and said thanks for the information. When people told me I was doing this wrong, that wrong, I needed these or that I said I would look into it. No matter how ridicules or sensible every piece of unsolicited parenting advice was I took the time to let the people know I heard them. I never said what I would do with their advice.
I was being told every thing from “your breasts are to big, your baby will not be able to breast feed, you better get these bottles and formula” and how I needed to “be able to speed change my kids diaper with one hand.” It was unexpected to have complete strangers telling me what I “needed to know” about having kids. I think I heard every horror story out there about labour, child rearing and what the kids will do and what can happen to them. I smiled and let everyone tell me whatever, and thanked most of them. Though I did start avoiding my obnoxious neighbour.
What did I do about all the advice? Nothing, I found a very good class on everything you needed to know about childbirth, and breast-feeding. And let me tell you I learned more in those two hours a week then I ever expected. I was even able to stop my neighbour by saying, “that does not sound any thing at all like what they said at class”, or “we just covered that in class, thanks for the information though.” That class was worth every penny. It gave me the information I needed to make real informed decisions and a place to question some of the advice being given to me.
My son was born and then it really started. It was like having a baby gives everyone the right to judge what you do or don’t do and give you unsolicited parenting advice. I was recovering from a very bad birth and my stitches became infected. I was on bed rest and antibiotics for 5 weeks after my son was born. I was getting everything like “I was just lazy laying around the house and I needed to get out and do things” and that I was not breastfeeding the right way, I was feeding him to much, my son was overdressed, underdressed, that I spent to much time with my son and just about any other thing you can think of. I checked with the health nurse and my doctor. I let people tell me what they thought I should know and then talked to the people who do know.
So I have two kids of preschool age, and still lots of advice coming my way. I should use this discipline method, that method, I am soft on my kids letting them get away with to much, to hard I should just give them what they want in the store, I should read more to them, I needed to spend less time with them. Again anything you can think of and some things I had not even thought of I got advice on. I started parenting classes that were age appropriate for my kids, or were about issues I needed help on, like discipline, potty training and how to get them to sleep. Most of these classes and seminars are through a free program called Early Years and are done by people who are professionals in this field. Now people can tell me what they want, I know where to go to get information to be able to make informed decisions.
I believe that most people who give all this unsolicited parenting advice are being nice and helpful. They don’t think that it’s rude or unwanted, or know that they are the 10th person that day trying to tell you what to do with your kids. I believe being polite is the way to go, and let them go on their way. However I do come across some people who will just not let things go. My daughter was two and was still emotionally attached to her nummy / soother. We all knew she did not need it, but it was her security blanket and I know soon she would out grow the need for it. But it would be on her time not any one else’s. Every day she would take her nummy to preschool and then give it to us at the door. If we forgot to take it from her before entering the classroom the teacher would make a comment to her about it. We told the teacher that we, her parents, did not have a problems with it and that should have been that. Nope, every time she had the nummy the teacher would make the comment. We finally had to take her aside and explain again that we were the parents and we would decide when to take away the nummy. One of the parents decided to help us one morning by taking our daughter on her lap and told her that if she did not stop using the nummy Santa would not visit her house. Lets just say this lady was told what end was up and to stay away from our kids. I don’t mind if some one wants to tell me what they think I need to know to be a better parent, but I draw the line when they try to Parent my kids. No matter what, remember you are the parent, and you have ways to find out what you need to know to make informed decisions about how to be your child’s parent.