Dealing With Unsolicited Parenting Advice
I have found that most people who have offered me unsolicited advice do it from a well-meaning perspective. Sometimes the information will come from someone who you love and trust. It may be a parent or a grandparent or a sibling. Either way, they will have your best intentions at heart, so there is no need to snub them. You tell them how much you appreciate their help and that you will take what they have told you into consideration. Your family is trying to become involved in your pregnancy and will be doing what comes naturally to a family unit, and that is to pass down valuable information. Whether it is useful or not, that is for you to decide.
Dealing with unsolicited advice from well-meaning people is part and parcel of being a parent. In fact, by using your judgement and verifying facts at a later date, you may find that some of the advice you get given can be quite useful. Expecting a baby, especially your first one, can be quite a daunting prospect. Everyone who has already experienced childbirth and who has brought up a child remembers the experience that they went through. For some, it may have been a straightforward experience, for others, not so good. The one thing people have in common is that they are aware of what you are going through, and this solicits an emotional response to your happy news.
You will learn during your pregnancy and bringing up your baby that you develop an intuitive feeling for when something is right or wrong. All people are different, and what may be right for one child may be unsuitable for another. Sometimes a mother's instincts can outweigh any scientific knowledge. For example, you may not be happy with the advice your doctor or midwife is giving you, and you may need to get a second opinion about something. Don't worry about voicing an opinion about your child if you have any concerns. You will find that the medical profession has a lot of regard for the motherly instinct, and your health care expert may well seek another solution on your behalf.
Always double-check facts, no matter how persuasive the advice can be. I found various polite ways to deal with well-meaning people, and with time I developed a thick skin and an assertive attitude to deal with all the confusing information that was being passed on to me. After all, people are only doing what comes naturally because the sharing of knowledge is part of what makes us human. It comes as second nature to us to pass on advice gleaned from our experiences, especially when concerning the joys of parenthood. Sometimes a simple, "That's a great idea, thank you," is sufficient or a "That's a good idea I will look up a bit more information about that later," can be another way of dealing with advice. Sometimes you may find that you feel compelled into a course of action that you are not at all happy doing. It may help you to say something such as "I don't feel comfortable with that idea." or I am sure I read differently elsewhere; I will verify the facts." Even: "I really like that idea, but we have already started this method first; perhaps we will try your idea later."
Each child is different, and so the method of parenting will vary in each case. Never allow another parent to undermine your sense of worthiness or proficiency as a parent. In most cases, the adage still holds that "mother knows best" Conflicting parenting advice can sometimes have the effect of making us feel a little confused or undermine our confidence. It may benefit some people to attend baby/toddler classes as this will give you the benefit of meeting other people who are in a similar situation. Pooling your experiences as a collective within a learning situation can reap many rewards.
From the moment you get the happy news of your impending new arrival, I would advise you to read up as much as you can. There is plenty of information available from books and magazines, on the Internet, health pamphlets and DVD's, so you will find it relatively easy to get a rough idea of the very basics to more sophisticated parenting methods.
In conclusion, taking advice from well-meaning friends and family may be something that you need at first, but remember this is about YOU and your child. You will learn from your experiences as a parent and will learn to find your unique way through the up and down task of bringing up another human being. Trust your instincts, accept help, and advice when you need it, and if you are unsure about anything, you can always speak to your midwife or doctor.