Giving advice when you have no reference:

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  1. Mom Kat profile image79
    Mom Katposted 11 years ago

    Does it bother anyone else when people who have no children give advice on what you should or shouldn't be doing ~ or on how to raise children "the right way"?

    I don't care how many books you've read, classes you've taken, or number of families you've "witnessed" - unless you are a parent yourself you really don't have a leg to stand on.

    Parenting advice from non-parents is like going to a grocery store clerk and asking for a medical diagnosis.  Sure, he may have seen something on the Discovery channel about it, but he is no expert & it would be foolish to count his word as the "end all be all" of solutions.

    Anyone else agree, disagree ~ share your thoughts on this, please smile

    1. profile image0
      Ian Moonposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      It's not the same unless your asking the non parents for advice, like you would be by going & asking the grocery store clerk....Every adult out there was a kid at one time who had parents, & good advice is good advice no matter who gives the advice. :-)

      1. gmwilliams profile image85
        gmwilliamsposted 9 years agoin reply to this

        THANK YOU, +1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000- so many people mistakenly think that non-parents know nothing about the mechanisms and psychology of children.   Give ME A BREAK, c'mon now.  Everyone knows about children.  One does not have to be a parent to be familiar with the workings of children.  There are parents out there who do not know how to raise children.  Being a parent does not give automatic knowledge regarding the raising of children!

    2. GA Anderson profile image88
      GA Andersonposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      Agree? Hell yes!

      You are spot on.


  2. Lisa HW profile image60
    Lisa HWposted 11 years ago

    I'd agree in some instances.  On the one hand, I've seen for myself (as a result of getting older and having kids who aren't just "recently grown", but who have been grown for quite awhile now) that there are some things we can't/won't understand until we, ourselves, have children of a certain age or in a particular situation.  I was around forty when I knew someone who had a twenty-year-old daughter who was giving her a hard time.  With three children of my own, and knowing I was a "good and mature" forty, I thought I had my "right" to my opinions (even if I didn't voice them to her) in my own head, and about what she should do about the daughter.

    Several years later, when I had gone through having three children be twenty years old, and when I had learned, for myself, how we (some of us) can feel about some situations with twenty-year-old sons/daughters, I suddenly realized how little I'd understood when I was that "good and mature" forty-or-so but hadn't yet dealt with having a son/daughter, say, twenty.  My own kids didn't have the same "issues" that the young woman in question did; but still, I understood why it was her mother didn't just kick her out when she acted up as badly as she did.

    On the other hand, though, there are a lot of parents who - really - just aren't very educated and/or have the kind of common sense needed to do what's best/healthiest for a child.  A forty-year-old with five kids, but who hasn't done the most skilled parenting in one way or another; can know/understand a whole lot less than a twenty-five-year-old, educated (and with common sense), person who doesn't have children of his/her own.  There are people who have raised a few (or a bunch) of kids and who think they're "big experts" because they have; when, if you see/hear some of the things they do/think, it's obvious they're clueless and/or without common sense.  Then again, there are people with impressive credentials related to children who are also clueless and/or without common sense.

    So I think it depends on the issue in question, but also on the individuals in question.  It can also depend on whether the person who does have children and/or has raised children into adulthood has made it a point to educate himself/herself as far as having solid, sound, information about child development/human development goes.

    When it comes to something like writing a Hub, though, I think the author needs to be very clear about where his/her ideas come from and why.  People who are parents (but haven't educated themselves about child development (etc.) ) often come on here and pipe off with advice that's out-and-out wrong.  On the other hand, there are the people whose material clearly comes "out of a book" (or more often, from a reference to a book/site), and that shows, too, to anyone who has a lot of real-life experience with being a parent.   People shouldn't automatically assume, either, that because someone writes "as a parent", rather than as an expert, the parent is uneducated and/or doesn't have years of studying up (of solid, legitimate, sources of information) under his belt.  Sometimes the parent who doesn't pick up a parenting book once his/her child is a year old often tends to assume that other parents aren't studying up on their own either.  So, again, it depends on the issue and on the person (and his/her situation/background) involved.

    Solid ideas (when, in fact, they ARE solid) are the same whether they're presented by a non-parent or a parent.  I think the key in offering those solid ideas is that the writer be able/ready to offer plenty of solid back-up/reasoning to what he says and that he knows what is involved in determining what is "solid back-up/reasoning".   There's reasoning behind every solid idea.  It's kind of the non-math version of "show the work".  The person who really knows his subject can easily pull that reasoning out of his head, whether the reasoning went into what someone else said or researched, or was his own reasoning process.

    But - yes - it bugs me when someone either just spouts off what he saw in a study or article somewhere.  But, it also bugs me when someone spouts off what his opinion is without backing it up with his own reasoning/experience behind that opinion (because he thinks that having children makes him an expert). 

    Oh.... Here's "The Ultimate", though:    The person who is neither educated, nor a parent, nor emotionally well adjusted/mature enough to have solid ideas, but who spouts off about the subject anyway.   smile  No doubt about it, though, there are SOME things the person who has no children and/or hasn't raised them to adulthood and beyond can/will ever understand.  The trouble is that such a person doesn't know what he can't/won't ever understand because he does lack that frame-of-reference you mentioned.

    1. Efelisa Ifezuo profile image65
      Efelisa Ifezuoposted 2 years agoin reply to this

      You are so on point! I love what you stated here.

  3. Mom Kat profile image79
    Mom Katposted 11 years ago

    I see and agree with your valid points here Lisa.

    I get frustrated with the people who claim to be educated, yet not parents themselves and even more agitated by those who are not educated and not parents.  They just love tossing their 2 cents into the mix & telling others what to do.

    I myself feel that I am highly qualified on both counts smile

    I was a babysitter & nanny before I became a parent myself, then became a preschool teacher on top of that.  I am an early childhood specialist, and even after graduating ... what 9 years ago now, I am constantly picking up information from books, articles, website, other parents, and basically anywhere that has valid and credible information. 

    And with all of that - raising 6 kids of my own, 2 step kids, babysitting, preschool teaching... reading, researching, & constantly learning - I know that I still don't "know it all". 

    That being said - I feel I have earned the right to get upset when someone with less experience and/or less education on the subject tries to give me advice.

    Thanks for your input, I enjoyed reading what you have to say.

    1. Thelma Alberts profile image91
      Thelma Albertsposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      I agree with you on that matter. Like you, I´ll be upset when someone give me an advice on how to bring my child up when this someone has not even a child of her own not even a bit of experience of baby sitting.

      When I was a young mother, someone had given me an advice about my kid. I got upset but I did not say a word. I just smiled. This woman was not even married and no child but he told me how to bring my child up in a German way.

      When that happened to me years later (when I was fluent enough with my German language), I could have barked her out of our house the way German do when you meddle with their own business.

  4. psycheskinner profile image84
    psycheskinnerposted 11 years ago

    I think suggestions for any source should not be ignored, if offered in a helpful and constructive manner. Anyone can have a good idea.

    1. Mom Kat profile image79
      Mom Katposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      yes, everyone can have a good idea ~ that isn't what I'm talking about here though.
      I'm talking about the people who push their ideas on you like they know everything.  The ones that don't have kids & have only read things in books yet think they are masters on the subject.
      Really, unless you've lived it - you can't possibly know.

    2. gmwilliams profile image85
      gmwilliamsposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      +1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 spot on!

    3. gmwilliams profile image85
      gmwilliamsposted 2 years agoin reply to this


  5. profile image0
    Arlene V. Pomaposted 11 years ago

    People will always give unwanted advice.  The ones who are always willing to give advice are the ones who really need to give a good, hard look at themselves and their own lives.  They need to get a life!  I am childless by choice.  Instead, I'm always ask why I didn't have any.  Some went so far as to tell me that I was missing out.  Whether I had kids or not, I would not tell a parent how to raise a child.  That is just plain rude!  It is none of their business!

    1. Mom Kat profile image79
      Mom Katposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      If I could give you a "high five" right now, I would!
      It is so rude.  I agree.

      I totally love being a parent, but I wouldn't bash you for choosing not to have kids of your own.  That would be the flip side of this coin, wouldn't it. 
      Parents telling non-parents why they should become parents....

      Darn people and their pushy selves smile

  6. psycheskinner profile image84
    psycheskinnerposted 11 years ago

    I will give some suggestions when the the kids do things like light fires right outside my apartment or tease my dog. Sometimes the child's behavior is a community issue, not just a family one.

    1. Mom Kat profile image79
      Mom Katposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      That's a totally different ball park!
      Yes, whether you have kids or not, you are allowed to tell a parent that you don't appreciate their child teasing your pet or destroying property.

      Before my sister had kids of her own she tried to tell me how I should be raising mine... it got me so worked up!  After she became a parent she started doing the same things she was telling me not to do & worse!

      for example: She told me that I was allowing too many sweets - which is funny because of all the parents I know, I limited the sweets like hitler... lol

      anyway, when she became a parent she dished out the sweets like they were going out of style, telling me to lighten up & let my kids enjoy their childhood....

      One of my children has ADHD - I can't just let the sugar flow freely around here & it isn't right to give everyone else treats but not him.  So we all adjust and eat healthier fruits and other snacks.

      Which is another thing she still tries to tell me how to do - she doesn't have a kid with ADHD.  She doesn't live with it, so she doesn't understand.  I don't care how many books she reads - she doesn't have practical, real life experience. 
      Now if other parents of children with ADHD want to tell me what works for them & what not - I would be willing to hear what they have to say.  Because they know - they live it just like we do.  It isn't just something they read about or watched on a TV special.

  7. theliz profile image61
    thelizposted 11 years ago

    Great question! I think Lisa HW said a lot of great things, and thank her for sharing her wisdom and experience.  I have two kids and I welcome sharing information with other people who have been where I am.  I also welcome my friends with new babies asking me for my advice.  For me the best rule to follow has been: share your stories and experiences and leave it at that.  The best advice (IMHO) comes when it isn't advice, but when you are able to form your own opinion based on the wisdom shared by what others have been through.  It has been hard for me to swallow help (no matter how sound) coming from people who pit my way against theirs.  When someone attacks your methods and espouses theirs as the only sensible ones then everyone looses.  It's about helping the children and their families mitigate the choppy waters of life, not about being right.  I guess that sometimes people without children (or who haven't been in our shoes) can have a perspective that we may be blind to while in the trenches, and if offered with empathy and respect they may have something to teach us.  However when people spout off at the mouth and don't think about what they are saying, particularly with no experience to back it up, it is beyond aggravating and puts up a wall that can be almost impossible to break down.

  8. K. Burns Darling profile image77
    K. Burns Darlingposted 11 years ago

    It isn't that I don't appreciate their desire to share information, but it is as you've said, unless you've been in the trenches, you REALLY don't know.  This also applies to lots of other sensitive life subjects.  My mother died when I was eleven, and the one thing that irked me most, was when people would say to me, " I know how you feel, my (fill in the blank with anyone other than mother) died."  Every time someone said that, my insides tightened up like a clenched fist, and I had to fight back the urge to shout at them.  "No, you don't know how I feel!  Unless you are an eleven year old girl who just watched her mother wither away and die, you have no idea how I feel! "  When my dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2008, and I took on the roll of his primary caregiver, I was the recipient of a lot of advice about caring for my dad from people whose parents were perfectly healthy and who had never taken care of anyone with dementia or a terminal disease of any type.  That advice ranged from being told that I should put him in a facility, to I should "tie" him into his chair to keep him from roaming around the house.  A lot of it was done with the best of intentions, but again, no matter how much you have read, or how many people you know who know someone who has been there, unless you've been there yourself, you just don't know.  A couple of weeks ago, after being bombarded with this type of unsolicited advice, I posted this as my Facebook status: 
    Thought for Wednesday: I was taught that every person has their story, even the dull or the ignorant, and I used to have a lot of paitience with people, but l think I must be getting older, because lately all I keep thinking is that people who don't know what they are talking about should just not speak.........

  9. psycheskinner profile image84
    psycheskinnerposted 11 years ago

    My friends with kids don't hesitate to have me sit their children.  So they can't think I am completely ignorant on the subject.  But then they have never looked like they want to muzzle me when the conversation turns to child issues (nutrition, development etc) and I don't suddenly become mute. 

    If they did think I should never ever have input, invited or not, the free babysitting would go out with the bathwater. I know I am not a parent.  They know this doesn't make me a moron when it come to basic issues like what kind of food has potassium in it or what products can kill a virus. We have conversations like friends do without rules along the lines of "always" or "never"..

  10. Hollie Thomas profile image60
    Hollie Thomasposted 11 years ago

    I'd feel irritated if someone told me how to raise children "the right way" whatever that means, irrespective of whether the advisor may have children of their own or not. Mostly, when we have children we raise them in a way which we *believe* to be the best way, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it is. Parenting is a minefield.

    A mother might find herself in a particular situation with her child where she herself feels that something is *wrong* her child doesn't appear to be developing, or behaving in a way that is age-appropriate or usual. I know from personal experience of raising a child with special needs that there are a million mothers who wish to tell you where you are going *wrong* I also know from personal experience that an individual who is detached emotionally from the situation, who can view the mother, father and child through an objective lens, usually offers the best advice. However, it can be a hard pill to swallow when you have to look at your own parenting techniques and also take a good long look at your own flaws. Children usually reflect the behaviour of their parents, the question is; does the parent love their child enough to put the child's needs first? Some parents have an ego which is greater than their love for their children.

    1. gmwilliams profile image85
      gmwilliamsposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      A RESOUNDING AMEN to this brilliant analysis.  When will SOME learn!

  11. psycheskinner profile image84
    psycheskinnerposted 9 years ago

    I think having ideas pushed on you is annoying whether the other person is a parent or not.

  12. Karen Ray profile image74
    Karen Rayposted 9 years ago

    Well, a person's view seems to change as relates to their situation. I always laugh about my husband's take on kids.  Before we had children he would get so aggravated in restaurants because people couldn't control their toddlers, crying, pounding silverware on table, etc. He would say "They need to get that noisy kid out of here".  After we had children, and they were the ones acting that way in restaurants, his solution was "if those people don't like it, they can leave!".

  13. Aime F profile image69
    Aime Fposted 9 years ago

    I think it really depends on the advice.

    There are some things that can certainly be learned in textbooks or through formal education that are pretty universal and don't vary too much from child to child (ie. Benefits of breastmilk, stages of physical development, puberty, etc.). There are definitely people who are well-versed in those areas that don't have children of their own, and I don't think advice regarding those things should be considered any less valuable because of that, because they are rather straightforward.

    However, nothing drives me crazier than a non-parent staring at me like I'm an idiot and asking why I didn't just let my 3 week old cry it out if I was so tired. Or "why don't you just put her down so you can go shower/eat/do your makeup?" There are some things that you really don't know about babies/children until you've experienced having one. My ideas of how I would raise my daughter completely fell apart once she was born and I realized how hard it was.

    So yes, I do get annoyed when non-parents give me "advice" that they think is totally obvious, when in reality it's totally impractical. If it's well-meaning then I just try to shrug it off, but I've also talked to people who were completely patronizing about it and it makes me want to throw things in their general direction.


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