How to Deal With Unwanted Parenting Advice
We all have been there haven’t we? That smug smile that says they know everything about parenting as they explain that how THEY do things is simply so much better and easier than the way you do things. If ONLY you would just wake up and do things their way everyone would be happier right? Except they aren’t you are they? And last time we checked, their kids were not carbon copies of yours either.
It’s never easy to sit by quietly while others criticize something so personal as your parenting style. But do you really want to fight and explain time and time again why you do things the way you do? Do you want to risk offending family members and friends who feel they are “oh so innocently” trying to help? I am far from an expert in this area and in fact this article also acts as a reminder to myself how to keep it cool in these situations.
You see, my parenting style is considered by many to be “out there”. So I certainly sympathize with you. I had a planned home birth, I plan to breastfeed past 1 year, I co-sleep, I didn’t circumcise my son, I waited to introduce solids until almost 6 months, and I carry him as often as he wishes without fear of spoiling him. And no I am not going to defend any of these choices here. The truth is I am tired of defending myself. It gets me nowhere. That brings me to the number one item on my list.
1. Don’t feel like you need to defend yourself. Parenting is a touchy subject and everyone with a child seems to consider themselves an expert. Most that I have encountered have no intention of changing their opinions regardless of what you have to say or how many studies you have supporting your choices. So just stop defending yourself.
2. Remind yourself that you know your child better than anyone else in the world. You know what feels right and what doesn’t. You know what fits your lifestyle and what doesn’t. You know what you are capable of dealing with and what you aren’t. So who cares what anyone else thinks? Your child is unlike any other person out there. Sure they might share one or two traits with another kid but that doesn’t mean that what works for them will work for you.
3. Realize that the reason they do what they do is probably because that’s what people around them told them to do and it’s just easier for them to go with the flow rather than be different. You do the research. You read and think until you are comfortable with your choices not just because that’s what “most” people do.
4. Also realize that the reason they are so upset is that they feel that you are implying that they were wrong for doing things differently than you. Maybe it would help to reassure them that you don’t think people who disagree with you are horrible parents (even if you secretly do).
5. Smile and say as little as possible. Remember they probably mean well and don’t want to offend you even if you DO feel offended. Try saying something like “That’s interesting, I will take that into consideration.” Or “Okay well I’m glad that worked well for you. I don’t know that it will work for me but I’ll think about it next time.” Or try to make a joke of it and quickly change the subject.
6. If they become rude and cross the line, calmly and quietly find a way to remind them that their child is not Jesus so maybe they should stop believing they have all the answers. “Oh since you know everything you should have your own parenting talk show!” Or “So what is your child doing right now? I’m sure they must be reciting Shakespeare while painting a masterpiece and thinking of the solution for world peace, right?” Okay I wouldn’t actually say any of those things but you get the picture. Sometimes a little sarcastic joke can make them realize how they sound. If someone is rude it’s perfectly okay to tell them “Well it’s actually none of your business.” Then remove yourself from the situation as quickly as possible.
No one is a perfect parent. Don’t try to be perfect, just be yourself and do what YOU feel is right deep in your heart. Love your child with everything you have and just be there for them in any way you can.