Unsolicited advice, no matter how good the intentions if the advice-giver is not always welcome. We are all doing our best on this parenting journey and sometimes the feeling that others are judging you for your choices is too much. Our author has some (possibly unsolicited? But hey, you clicked on it!) advice of her own for you.
No matter where we go, who we speak to or what we do, people always seem to have an opinion, or another, better way of doing things, or at very least, a comment on what we could be doing differently. It can be absolutely exhausting. I have come to not only expect comments, advice or suggestions, I have also learned to not take offence especially when it is unwanted.
Unsolicited advice can come from all different directions and can feel overwhelming at times. I find that it is easier to deal with the advice given by a complete stranger than it is to deal with then when given by friends or family members. It also depends who is offering the advice. If it is someone close to me that has children, then I understand they are just trying to be helpful. If the advice is coming from someone that has never lived a day in similar shoes and does not have children, I find that advice very hard to swallow.
Advice from Family and Friends
I don’t expect those around me to always agree with the way I do things like our bedtime routine or choosing baby-led weaning, but I do expect my choices to be respected. I hate feeling judged or criticized by those closest to me. As a first-time mom, I was sensitive and got upset easily when this would happen. After having three kids I’m more confident in myself and I’ve learned how to take unsolicited advice in stride.
I have learned to take those comments and just brush them off. I do what I feel is right for my family and I refuse to let anyone make me feel bad about my choices.
I have learned that people can offer you their opinion, but it is just that, an opinion and I don’t have to do what they say.
I have learned that sometimes it is ok to speak up and say that you don’t appreciate or need their advice. It might feel rude or inappropriate but I believe that we need to stand up for ourselves. I’m not saying to start a fight. Just a polite thank you or no thank you to unsolicited advice from family is all you need. After all, these are the people we call family so why not be open, honest and truthful with them. The last thing you want is to have resentment towards those that you have to see most often.
Advice from Strangers
When it comes to strangers, I have learned it’s best to avoid confrontation. With people we don’t know, we don’t know how they will react, so I like to play it safe.
The lady at the grocery store that felt the need to tell me that I wasn’t holding my baby in the correct fashion, the person at the mall who didn’t hold the door open while I struggled with the stroller but found the need to tell me that my baby should be dressed more warmly, the fellow that sat next to me at lunch and criticized me for feeding my child food that wasn’t necessarily healthy. To all of them I kindly smile, nod and say thank you have a nice day.
I’ve learned that although we may be trying to raise kind, compassionate and caring little humans, there are people out there who just aren’t nice. That’s their choice and doesn’t mean I have to do the same. I live by the philosophy that we should treat others the way we would like to be treated and so in these types of situations, that’s what I try to remember.
Sometimes you’ll find that someone might offer you a piece of advice that is worth listening to. It may not be wanted in the moment but they are trying to do something good. Sometimes you might learn something you didn’t already know or a way of doing things such as an easier way of changing a diaper in public.
Not everyone is trying to be judgemental, some really just want to help. If you were to approach people that are just trying to be friendly and helpful in a grumpy, rude or unfriendly manner, you may miss the opportunity to learn and grow. It is hard to know when helpful advice is coming your way, which is why I choose to be as open minded as I can be. I have learned a lot from complete strangers and family members alike even though I wasn’t entirely interested in hearing it at that specific moment.
You Do You
I like to think that everybody has good intentions and that people really are not out there to upset you or make you feel judged or inadequate. Truth is, it is hard sometimes to brush off what others say but I know that I am doing what is best for me and my family. Ultimately, they are not me and they do not have a say, only I do. Reminding yourself of this when someone gives you unsolicited advice definitely helps.
In the end, we cannot control the people around us even though we’d love to. We have to go through life being true to ourselves. More importantly, we have to set the best possible example we can for our children. So, take the unsolicited advice with a grain of salt but remember that someone may have something valuable to share! Keep shining, you are doing the best that you can!
*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Parent Life Network or their partners.