It can be difficult dealing with all the advice given as a new parent. Particularly as a first-time parent, you can soon find yourself fielding a range of unasked-for and unsought parenting advice from all corners. While some of it can be welcome – and is almost always well-intentioned – it can also often be a bit of a nuisance! So what do we do about those friends, family and even strangers who see you and your baby and want to offer their two cents?
In all things it helps to be grateful. Most people offer advice out of generosity, care and concern, while some do so because of their own insecurities. When it comes to being a parent, we should be grateful to be surrounded by the former, while also aware that there is a likelihood of the latter.
Likewise, it pays to be discerning. If the advice being given is something you’re unfamiliar with, make sure to do a bit of research from multiple sources, both professional and anecdotal, before enacting it. What works for one individual might not work for another.
Sometimes the people around us offer advice as a sub-conscious way of regaining control of something absent from their lives. You might be able to recognise this if the person’s advice is premised with an anecdote from their past or from their home-life; talking aloud about themselves is almost a way of ‘making’ something true. A smile, a nod and a ‘thank-you’ is a small price to pay to make them feel better without committing to any action on your behalf. Be considerate of this as but another unique human frailty to navigate in social interaction.
The decisions you make as a parent are yours to make. Whether it’s breastfeeding in public or drinking a coffee while pregnant, don’t let the ignorance or hang-ups of others impinge on your right to make choices for yourself or your baby.
If someone is persistent in their advice, you can say, ‘Thanks, I’m glad to hear that works for you,’ and you can decide whether you add, ‘but I’ll stick to what works for me.’
The people who give advice or make comments are usually saying more about themselves than you or your parenting. Life is tough enough as it is without letting them get to you.
Advice taken or not, parenting is as weird and wonderful a journey as the childhood your baby is soon to grow into; chances are you’ll make mistakes along the way. Use these mistakes as an opportunity from which to learn and grow, and above all keep a good sense of humour!
Pay Your Way