After I had my son, it was like there was a secret newsletter that went out (to everyone but me) saying that I didn’t have a clue and wanted all the advice on raising a child that I could get.
I was told by perfect strangers how to feed, swaddle or not swaddle, and how to even lay the baby in the bed. You read that right. People told me how to put the baby down. Like the thought was that I would chuck him in with a bottle of whiskey and a, “see you in the morning” if not told how to do it properly.
How I dealt with unsolicited parenting advice
I don’t want to say that I have found the solution to dealing with unsolicited parenting advice, however, I have found a way to make it all a little bit more tolerable, and, dare I say, maybe even fun!
There is a recognizable moment when someone starts a conversation for the purpose of giving unsolicited advice. It may start with, “It’s really none of my business but…” or “I couldn’t help but noticing…”.
You listen, or at least pretend to listen. Then, when they seem to have made their point, say these magic words, “I’ll have to look into that.”
This glorious phrase conveys enough commitment to be satisfying but doesn’t actually tie you down to doing anything. It makes this other person feel as though they accomplished their task while giving you an exit to carry on with your day.
There are times when this phrase will not work
In these types of situations, it is not always possible to escape with a simple sentence. You are stuck. This is where you can make it a little bit fun. Give them a new, worse issue to worry about than your parenting, which they have deemed “sub-par.”
“Did you hear about the rat feces they found in diapers? I can’t remember which brand…”
“Have you read that article going around about children’s gums rotting from packaged baby food?”
Put together any two wild and random topics to create the ultimate Google-able story that will send them down a rabbit hole to nowhere.
Making the best of it
We can either feed our anger by lashing out at this person, or we can show our children how to make the best out of a bad situation by choosing to laugh rather than cry.
I have “field tested” these strategies myself with my responses to others regarding my son. Whether it be choosing not to potty train until four years, giving him glass dishware instead of plastic, or ceasing breastfeeding at six months; there was always someone there to tell me that I was a bad mother because of my parenting choices.
I know how you feel
Being on the receiving end of judgment and unwanted advice is not a fun place to be. My hope is that you can do something to make yourself smile, because that is, ultimately, what we truly want to pass on to our children.