Many, oh so many, of us can name a parenting-know-it-all in our lives. It’s that person to whom, without any former question or struggle has been posed, decides to jump right into our ears screaming all knowledge and advice they think us dum dum’s need to know. They can be strangers, family members, child-less, educated, or a parent to a plethora of kids. When you are around them you are as uncomfortable as prey that could be pounced on at any moment. You shy away from any conversation that could be driven back toward parenting or child development, as to avoid any attacks that may arise. Mostly, you feel bullied and belittled by them.
Unfortunately, in these types of situations many of us, myself included, feel the urge to bully back. To shut down the behaviour by blasting them. By discrediting them. But does this tactic really work, or does it create two bullies instead of defeating one? Many days pass with separation from this person and the dust settles. The perfect maturely sophisticated response pops into your mind of what you should’ve said… over a week too late.
I put out a request to friends and family for suggestions in dealing with parenting know-it-all’s to help me write this post. I was actually fairly surprised with the many different responses I received. As it turns out, situations are unique and there are many ways that they can be handled in a respectful but assertive manner. Here are a few of those wonderful suggestions I received:
Make them feel heard. There are certain situations where opinions are just not going to be changed. When you state things like “I can see why you would feel that way” or “I understand your concerns” it can make them a lot less combative and less inclined to continue on repeating the same advice to you. Just as with anyone, the feeling of being heard and understood causes many heated debates to settle down into tolerance.
“I’m glad that works for you.” This phrase is great on so many levels. It acknowledges that you heard them, but it also doesn’t invite further commentary. It is simple and precise. Just make sure your tone isn’t sarcastic…
Be upfront and honest with how their comments make you feel. You need not go deep into details, but you can simply state something like “I feel criticized when you make comments like that“ or “stating it in that manner makes me feel belittled.” You may just find that it was a misunderstanding on one or both parties and your future dialogues can then be altered for the better. If this seems to escalate the situation you can fall back on other suggestions as well. Sometimes just knowing that you at least shared your feelings and confronted what’s been bothering you can bring you peace and a sense of closure.
Separate yourself. Sometimes this action is necessary to your happiness. If belittling dialogues continue on after effort has been made to correct it, you may have to evaluate your time spent with that person. You don’t have to cut them completely from your life, but you may find that limiting your contact may actually improve your relationship.
A know-it-all-ness cure for the childless. Let us not forget that we too, were probably a little ignorant before we had these precious gems we call children. I know I kind of was. Once having children of their own they’ll humble themselves with ease. Fast. Just knowing this can make you less inclined to take offense to those aggressive critiques that they may vocalize.
There are many that can easily shrug off and/or ignore any overbearing comments spoken to them by others. I believe this is truly a talent and I am ever so jealous of happy for those that possess it. We are all different in our backgrounds, personalities, and the way we handle confrontation. Finding our own way in dealing with these situations is key. Let us take higher roads and lick wounds. It’s far better to have hurt feelings, than deal with the guilt of also becoming a bully.
Stay classy my friends and make sure you Pin for later!
*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Parent Life Network or their partners.