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  • Forthe Baby

HOW TO DEAL WITH UNWANTED PARENTING ADVICE

Updated: Nov 14, 2022

Introduction

Have you ever wanted to scream at someone who gave you unsolicited parenting advice? I have, and I'm pretty sure I'm not alone. While friends and family can be supportive by listening to your problems or offering their own solutions, sometimes they don't know when to stop. You might feel like all you want is some space and time to figure things out on your own—but that's often not what people want to hear. They may interpret your desire for privacy as a sign that they should push harder. That's where the problem lies: while it's true that we shouldn't ignore our loved ones' concerns or pretend they don't exist, it's also important not to let people steamroll over us just because it makes them feel better about themselves!


It can be tempting to take advice people offer us, even when we don't ask for it.

It can be tempting to take advice people offer us, even when we don't ask for it. We're social animals and like to help others, especially if we think the other person will appreciate our help. The problem is that often the advice isn't helpful at all.

Sometimes it's just not relevant or appropriate for your situation or family dynamic (e.g., someone tells you to put your toddler in a crib). Other times, the advice might be right but comes across as condescending (e.g., "Builders aren't meant to be parents"). Or maybe the person is trying to control you in some way by telling you how they would do things differently than what works best for YOUR family.


If you have had requests for advice ignored in the past, you might be extra sensitive to people offering advice unasked.

If you have had requests for advice ignored in the past, you might be extra sensitive to people offering advice unasked. It's not uncommon for an experience of being ignored to add fuel to your fire, making it seem like no one cares about what you have to say. It can also leave you feeling frustrated and annoyed with the person who asked for your help in the first place.

It may be helpful to think about how this influences how we respond when others ask us for advice with our parenting skills or knowledge. We can either take things personally and become defensive or choose instead to share our wisdom without feeling precious about it.

If someone offers unsolicited advice, consider if there is any value in what they suggest before dismissing them entirely as a know-it-all or trying too hard not to make eye contact when they're talking at length about their own experience (which usually translates into "I did this because I'm awesome").


It's a good idea to weigh the benefits and costs of accepting unwanted advice, no matter how well-meaning the person dishing it out is.

It's a good idea to weigh the benefits and costs of accepting unwanted advice, no matter how well-meaning the person dishing it out is.

Benefits:

  • The person offering you advice may actually know what they're talking about. If they've been through something similar, they might have some good insight that you're not considering.

  • You can use the information in your own way, rather than as a mandate for action. This means that if their suggestion doesn't work for you or go against your values, there's nothing stopping you from disregarding it entirely and finding other ways to handle things.

Costs:

  • Discouragingly enough, many people don't listen when others tell them things they already know — especially if those people are friends or family members who hold power over us (like parents). When someone offers us advice without asking first if we want it, we tend to get defensive because we feel as though our autonomy has been invaded in an unkind fashion — which makes sense! But sometimes this kind of reaction can lead us down paths where we find ourselves doing things just because we don't want anyone else thinking poorly of us.

Be proactive about getting the help you need.

You don't have to go through this alone. If you're feeling overwhelmed, ask for help. You can ask for advice, support and resources.

If you are struggling with the mental health effects of parenting alone or with an abusive partner—and the domestic abuse is happening in front of your children—there are organizations that can help. You can call a local domestic violence shelter or hotline in your area to talk about your options and get referrals to other agencies that may be able to assist you as well.

If you are struggling with the mental health effects of parenting alone, then it's important to seek out help. You may be experiencing a range of emotions such as anxiety, depression or anger. These feelings can become overwhelming if left unchecked which is why finding support from others who know what it's like to be in your shoes will make all the difference in getting through this difficult time.


Unsolicited advice is rarely about having your best interests at heart.

The other person is probably not thinking about your needs. They don't want to hear that they are wrong, and they certainly don't want to change their behavior. They likely have a personal stake in the issue that makes it harder for them to see your side of things (e.g., they might feel jealous or threatened).

The other person is probably not thinking about your feelings. I'm pretty sure this goes without saying, but people are often not conscious of how their words affect others' emotions—especially when "helping" you by giving unsolicited advice on something you've already decided isn't worth arguing over!

The other person is probably not thinking about your baby's needs or feelings either! Babies aren't big enough yet to articulate their preferences in any meaningful way—and even if they were old enough to talk, they still wouldn't be able to express themselves clearly enough that anyone else would understand them anyway (neither do we). If someone wants advice on what's best for my child/my family/my relationship with another adult with whom I share parenting responsibilities, then all I can say right now (and possibly ever) is "no."


You are under no obligation to explain why you aren't taking someone's advice, or even acknowledge it at all.

You don't have to explain yourself, ever.

You can tell the person who is giving you advice how you feel about their unsolicited input with a simple: "Thanks for your input, but I'm not interested." You don't have to go into detail about why—you just need to let them know that what they are saying does not interest you. You're under no obligation to justify or defend your parenting decisions and opinions, so don't even bother trying. If someone tries to argue with you about it—even if they are family members—don't engage in an argument; simply repeat the phrase above until they get the hint and stop pressing the issue.



If unsolicited advice makes you angry or anxious, it's important to have a support system of people who will listen without judgment and help ground you when you need it.

If unsolicited advice makes you angry or anxious, it's important to have a support system of people who will listen without judgment and help ground you when you need it. Your support system can be friends, family members and even co-workers. Having people in your corner is essential for dealing with the stress that comes from other people's opinions about how you should raise your child.

If there are any doubts about whether or not someone is in your corner when it comes to parenting, ask yourself this question: "Does this person make me feel supported?" If they do, wonderful! If not, don't lose sleep over it—just move on and find someone else who does give good advice (and knows how to take better care of their own children).


You can still get support while also protecting yourself from unwanted advice.

  • You can get support from friends and family.

  • You can get support from professionals.

  • You can get support from online communities.

  • You can get support from books, podcasts and other resources.

  • You can get support from your partner.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by unwanted parenting advice, be sure to keep these points in mind: * You can still get support while also protecting yourself from unwanted advice. * A good way to deal with unwanted advice is by ignoring it and focusing on your own needs first.

* The first step in dealing with unwanted advice is to figure out what kind of support you do want and where it is best to seek that support.

* If you are feeling overwhelmed by unwanted parenting advice, be sure to keep these points in mind: You can still get support while also protecting yourself from unwanted advice.

A good way to deal with unwanted advice is by ignoring it and focusing on your own needs first. The first step in dealing with unwanted advice is to figure out what kind of support you do want and where it is best to seek that support.


Conclusion

Obviously, there are times when you might choose to take unsolicited advice—and that’s okay. But it's important to remember that no one else has the right to make decisions for you, and that you have every right to set your own boundaries. If someone offers advice without being asked and you don’t want it, just say so! You can be polite and respectful of their feelings while still sticking up for yourself.

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