Coping With Unwanted Advice
Today, parent educator Hetti Wohlgemuth admittedly engages a bit of a paradox and offers advice about coping with unwanted advice:
“‘Talk is cheap,’ or so they say. Apparently so is advice. You can get bundles of advice -- more than you'd ever want and more than you could ever use -- totally free. And much of it is contradictory, whether the advice is about clothing, food, sleep, or discipline. So what can we do with this advice?
Trust your instincts. ‘You know more than you think you know,’ says Dr. Spock on the first page of his tome on childcare. Spock may seem dated, but he makes good sense. Only you know your baby and only you know what feels right for you and your household. You can't walk in shoes that don't fit and you can't wear advice unless it's comfortable. As Spock says, ‘We know for a fact that the loving care that kind parents give their children is a hundred times more valuable than their knowing how to pin a diaper on just right.’
Don’t let excessive advice erode your confidence. In the face of excessive advice, it’s common to think, 'I must look like I don't know what I'm doing,' or, 'The parenting bar is very high,' or 'Maybe they do know better,’ or ‘Maybe there’s something to all of these should’s.’ Not so. Keep in mind that this is your baby now. Others had their chance and now it's your turn. Yes, you may stumble here and there, but each time you cross a new parenting threshold by marching to your own drum, confidence will grow.
Advice givers speak volumes…about their own need to offer advice. This may sound a little harsh, but the truth is, sometimes people offer advice because appearing knowledgeable makes them feel good; generally their interest is not in guiding you. And if you take the advice, you are affirming their parenting style and we, as humans, like to be affirmed. So, when you're listening to the volumes of advice, realize that the advice is not a free lunch, but more about feeding the giver.
Give advice a chance, some of the time. Although I've been pointing out negatives about advice, sometimes it is in fact given with you in mind. The best advice I ever got? "Don't fret about your weight. It took nine months to go up and it takes nine months to go back down." The second best advice I got? "Hire the occasional sitter. It's good for your mental health and your marriage." Perfect. I was planning on doing that anyway. The worst bits of advice we ever received (e.g., being accused of carrying our daughter too much and thus spoiling her) seemed rooted in the advice giver’s own issues. So listen carefully, and take the good advice to heart.
Sometimes silence really is golden. We expend a lot of mental energy (energy we don't have as busy parents of small children) wondering how to answer our advisors. Sometimes the best answer is no answer at all. We don't owe "the experts" anything. If you feel must respond, simply say 'thank you' and move on.”
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