06 January 2016

Dealing With Unsolicited Parenting Advice

Dealing With Unsolicited Parenting Advice. #parenting #motherhood #parentingadvice

I remember the incident as if it were yesterday.

I just had my first baby. Madeline was only about a week old and it was my first attempt to go grocery shopping with baby sans Michael {which by the way, WTF was I thinking?} I had not slept in days. My hair was in dire need of an oil change and I'm pretty certain that I was wearing a pair of yoga pants with a hole in the thigh so big, that it would have rivaled the Grand Canyon.  I was a walking zombie; no make-up, no hair did, nada.

I could have cared less.

The fact that I was even out with a newborn and grocery shopping to boot was impressive in my book. Up to that point, Michael had pretty much been the errand boy and was doing his best to keep up with work and daddy duty. It was time for me to buck up, put on my big girl panties and brave the outings with my child.

So there we were in Kroger, just us girls. Things were going great for about the first thirty minutes and then it happened. I got the cranky baby hungry face. You know that face. That face don't play, but it's all good! Mommy is prepared! Mommy's got this! I reached into the diaper bag only to find that oops! No bottle! Which quickly led to a nuclear meltdown. 

While desperately looking for anything and everything to shove in her mouth, I notice an older lady standing to the left of me just looking at me. I happen to look her way for a hot second and wouldn't you know it, we made eye contact.

Never - EVER - make eye contact.

"Sweetie, you know, things with a baby go a lot more smoothly when you're prepared. You should always have a bottle with you!"

I honestly don't remember what my response was because I was so out of it and sleep deprived but I'm sure it was something along the lines of…

It seems like from the moment we find out that we're pregnant, the laundry list of unsolicited parenting advice begins:

"Don't take a bath! You'll drown the baby!"
 "Is that really the name you're picking? Why not X, Y, or Z?"
"Let me show you the right way to hold your baby."

Yes, I heard all of these and more so how do you deal with it?

Here's the bottom line for me: Unless my child is in imminent or immediate danger, keep your comments to yourself. I know that most people {and I'm probably being generous when I say this} have good intentions when they offer up their "advice" but here's the problem - they usually end up making the situation worse because they know nothing about what the mother or father are dealing with nor do they know the struggles of the child in question.

Rarely if ever is it helpful to give unsolicited advice regarding a situation that you know nothing about. Think about it. How much sense does that really make? Nowhere else in life would reasonable people do this. Would you really speak up out of the blue in a work meeting in front of a room full of people to comment on something you know absolutely nothing about? No, probably not. So why do we do it with complete strangers and about something so private and personal as our children?

For those who give unsolicited parenting advice, please know this: you have no idea that I've been trying for weeks to desperately breastfeed my child with no success and have tried everything possible to get my child to nurse so when you tell me that formula feeding is wrong, how do you think that makes me feel? You have no idea that my child may have a learning disability that makes it difficult for them to understand what I'm saying to them in order for them to be obedient. How do you think it makes me feel to get your "helpful advice" to just "Be a good parent, do your job, and get your kid under control." You don't know that I may be a mother suffering from severe PPD and your comments, albeit helpful in your mind, only comes across as judgmental with a voice of "Why aren't you capable?"  You see - not so helpful. You never know the battles each mom is facing. 

Silence is golden.

I have to admit that when it comes to my family, the rules are a little different and I do tend to cut a little bit of slack because that's just the reality. There's no way in hell I'm going to tell my grandmother to take a flying leap and get lost - obviously. A simple smile or nod goes a long way in cases like that. I've even offered up the generic, "That's something to think about, thanks!" and kept going on about my merry way. At the end of the day, family is family. These are the people in your life who will always be there for you and your family. They are not strangers and do deserve a certain level of respect where this topic is concerned. 

Strangers though? They are getting a world of snark coming their way. My theory? If you're ballsy, rude and presumptuous enough to say something to me, then you've earned what's coming. Don't get me wrong, I'm not going to tear you down. I'm not going to be mean. I'm just going to have a little fun at your expense and when it’s all said and done, you will know that you were put in your place.

Have you had a hard time dealing with receiving unsolicited parenting advice? How do you handle it? 

Courtney @ Shiraz In My Sippy Cup
Courtney @ Shiraz In My Sippy Cup

Courtney is a published author, mom, taco enthusiast, and a Star Wars and Tennessee Volunteers fanatic. She's never met a piece of sushi she didn’t like and enjoys an amazing glass of wine and a great cut of meat. You can read more of her wine-induced, sleep-deprived adventures on The Huffington Post and Scary Mommy.

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