The most common complaint that I seem to hear from new parents is about all the advice they receive. While most are trying to be helpful, all the advice can be overwhelming, and even lead to you doubting yourself as a parent. This is especially true when coming from family. They know you well, and often, believe they know best. You can take a few routes on handling the situation.
- Take the advice into consideration, if it’s reasonable.
- Stand up for yourself, if the advice is a negative comment towards your parenting
- Smile and nod, and hope it ends soon.
While I’m sure there are more routes to take, these are what I see most often, with my wife and me. Advice is fine, it’s usually the delivery that throws it off. For instance, hearing “it’s good for babies to socialize” is perfectly acceptable advice, and most wouldn’t take offence to that. However, hearing “You need to socialize your baby more” or “if you don’t socialize your baby, she’ll end up like BLAH BLAH BLAH” is not acceptable advice. This can feel like an attack on your parenting and shouldn’t be tolerated. A lot of new parents can struggle with this. Trust me, I’ve been there. You don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but you also want to parent your child the best you can. You just need to understand, that whoever made the negative comments, didn’t seem to mind hurting you, so you should be ok with standing up for yourself.
I also understand the difference between advice and corrections. If I am blatantly doing something wrong, such as strapping my baby into the car seat. I would want someone to correct me immediately. That is for the safety of my child and even if in the moment I wasn’t happy I’d appreciate it down the line. Suggestions about the best baby products are also fine, most new parents are looking to optimize the way they parent, and if a material purchasable item can help me with that, I’m all ears. Once again, it all comes from the delivery. If you are having trouble getting your baby to take a bottle, and someone says “we used Dr. Brown’s maybe you should give those a shot” I’d gladly give it a try. However, if someone said “she isn’t eating because you aren’t using the right bottles” it feels like they are blaming you as a parent for not making the right purchase. Personally, I can shrug off a lot of things, or vent about them later. As the father, I’m not as scrutinized as the mother, while it may not be fair it’s true. New mothers are under a ton of scrutiny during the first years, and it’s also a point in time when a lot of women feel the most vulnerable. So “advice” should not feel like you are being attacked. The easiest way we have found to cope with the advice that seems like an attack is to just ignore it. A typical scenario for us is sitting at home, just laughing about the awful advice we received or how condescending it came across. It’s much easier to shrug off as a couple, than stewing on the comment on your own.
Basically, it’s not about blatantly ignoring advice because you are too stubborn to listen. It’s about ignoring advice when it degrades you as a parent. Trust me, positive advice in a positive manner can be undeniably helpful, but even the best of advice delivered as an insult isn’t helping anyone. Just don’t take it too hard!
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