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How to Deal With Unwanted Parenting Advice

Alison Wood |12, July 2013


"Don't you let that baby cry! He's crying for a reason!" "You need to give your baby formula and cereal to help him sleep through the night early." "Don't put hair bands on your baby! She's going to get headaches!"

Have you ever heard these unsolicited comments before? Sure you have—especially if this is your first baby. For some strange reason, many people have an overwhelming urge to share thoughts on baby care as well as help you along the way. Some, though, only want to give their opinion without any concern for your feelings, desires or questions. Parents and grandparents can be the worse.

"My son was only one week old. We were enjoying a Sunday afternoon when my dad said, Ґut some socks on this baby!' I had already dressed him and gave him socks, but in his constant squirming, he kicked them off. I scurried away to retrieve a pair of socks feeling utterly humiliated," remembers one mom.

It's true. Sometimes parents and grandparents can say things that just plain hurt. We fell like we have just crawled out from behind a rock when they do a double take as we go along our daily duties—performing tasks a little differently than they have been taught.

"An older friend was so concerned that I laid my baby on her back to sleep. I constantly heard about the concern if the baby spat up. I just replied kindly—every time—that this is the sleeping position we have felt is safest for our little one. It's all I could do not to snap back with a smart remark," relays a frustrated mom.

With all the changes happening—new baby, lack of sleep, new routine, new lifestyle—it's easy to snap and push away unsolicited comments. But what is the best approach to these words of wisdom?

Realize the truth.
For the most part, the majority of people are only trying to help. They are not making critical judgments of you in their mind; they are only trying to relay their experiences and tried and true wisdom with you. It's tough to admit at times, but all moms do not have it all figured out. If you have never breast-fed before, why not give a listening ear to the mom who has breast-fed four babies? She may have some pointers on dealing with mastitis, feeding routines, correct positioning or other issues you may face now or later on. Face the reality that you are new at this, and there are people out there that have been there and done that. Make your life easier by listening to what worked for them!

Don't push them away.
Avoiding older, experienced moms is the last thing you want to do. Yes, they may offer advice when you don't want to hear it, but stick around. There may be a time when you need direction that only an experienced mom can give.

Practice patience.
It's too easy to tell someone to "Stop telling me what to do!" It's much harder to smile, nod and quietly listen when you would rather be walking your baby in the stroller while listening to some classical music. Sure, this pow-wow of advice wasn't in your schedule, but it is helping you and the giver-of advice. How? He or she is gaining satisfaction from someone listening to their thoughts. You, on the other hand, are learning how to develop patience. This virtue is something that some people never learn. Patience will help you become a better parent now and in the years to come.

Know when to speak up.
If someone does continually harp on the same bits of adviceدver, over and over again—it may be time to let them in on your little secret. Though they want you to raise or care for your baby a certain way, you are not changing some ways you care for your little one. You can still treat your friends, neighbors, family members or acquaintances with kindness as you choose your words carefully as well as speak in a calm voice. If you address this issue, it will most likely stop the incessant rants on your care-giving.

Stranger Danger.
Don't fret too much about stranger's opinions. You will probably not see them again during your entire life. You can just smile and go on. No need to bring up conflicting information even if you disagree. Peaceful confrontations with strangers are much more pleasant than an all out debate on bottle-feeding vs. breast-feeding. Let someone else fight that battle. You? Just take your baby home and focus on the wonderful little life you have been given to nurture.

Alison Wood is a stay-at-home mom of six and freelance writer and blogger. She enjoys raising her six children and desires to share her experiences to help other mothers.

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