How to Deal With Unwanted Parenting Advice
Back in the day, your own mama swaddled you tight, tucked you into bed (with 47 stuffed animals and a big ol’ blanket) and let you cry it out. But a lot can change in a few decades, which means that some of that old-school advice just won’t cut it. Not only do you have to navigate new safe sleeping guidelines and research the latest car seats, but you also have to meet the brand-new challenge of raising digitally savvy kids. Even so, your parents (not to mention your partners’ folks) are all about giving you their two cents. You don’t want to be rude, but you think you’re gonna lose it if you hear just one more, “You should really do it my way.” Before blasting somebody for their constant stream of unasked-for advice, check out these seven strategies for dealing with it!
1. Smile and suck it up. Maybe you really only see the in-laws once a year. Sure, it’s obnoxious when your mother-in-law tells you that she never put her incredibly intelligent little one (now your spouse) in preschool — and look how they turned out! It’s clearly a critique of your parenting decisions, but if the unwanted advice is more of a one-and-done deal than a constant barrage, you can just smile and nod while it rolls in one ear and out the other.
2. Understand the advice. Your parents probably aren’t trying to mom-shame you. They want to help… or they want to relive their own parenting days… or they want to feel useful. Before jumping to conclusions about the attitude behind the critique, think about what’s really going on. Not only will this help you take the next step in handling the issue, but it also makes a sour situation a bit sweeter.
3. Be confident. It’s completely normal to feel unsure of yourself as a new parent (and as a not-so-new one too). Hearing that you’re “doing it wrong” from someone you trust can shake what little parenting confidence you’ve built up. Take a long look at what you’re doing as a mama — chances are you’re actually pretty awesome. So step back and then step up: You know that you’ve got this, and no one’s going to tell you otherwise.
4. See the love. The older generation loves your baby. They don’t just love them: They are absolutely crazy about them, and they only want the best for their grandchild. No, you don’t like the advice that’s being dished out… but you can see the love behind it. Every time a grandparent says something you don’t agree with, take a look at the love. It may help to focus less on what’s being said and more on who it’s really being said to (or at least about).
5. Find the facts. When was the last time the grandparents read a parenting study (or even a mommy blog)? Probably not lately. The problem here is that your folks don’t know the facts — or rather, that they do know the facts… from 30 years ago. Instead of point-blank calling out their outdated advice, you could help them understand what’s what. Casually mention a parenting site that you often read or send them an email with links to some new articles on child development.
6. Agree, kind of. Everyone wants to be heard. This totally applies to your family members, in-laws and anyone else who’s shoveling out parenting advice you never requested. While you don’t have to agree with everything that they’re saying, pick one piece of advice that you really could follow. It might not be major, but it’s probably possible to find one thing that’s “right” in the middle of the redundant and useless opinions. If the advice-giver feels like they’ve been able to contribute, it could slow the stream.
7. Get real. Honesty can be the best policy — especially when it’s coupled with tact. If the incoming advice is completely unwanted, find a time when you can calmly explain that you need a break from their guidance. Let them know how their never-ending advice is making you feel. Does it make you feel like a bad mom? Is it making you feel claustrophobic? Is it just too much to process? Whatever the reason, share it, while making sure to let them know that you love them (even when you don’t love everything they have to say). They don’t have to like the boundary you’re setting, but their love for you and your little one should help them respect it.
What’s the weirdest piece of parenting advice you’ve gotten? Tweet us @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)