Breastfeeding and Parenting…. Two topics that always end up receiving tons of unsolicited questions and advice.
“Wow, you are brave to breastfeed. All of my friends told me it was too painful.”
“I can’t believe you are still breastfeeding your 14 month old child. Isn’t that too old to breastfeed?”
“I just put rice cereal in my son’s bottle and he slept through the night at 4 weeks old. Why don’t you try that?”
Unsolicited advice is just that….unsolicited! No, I don’t need to know your opinion about sleep training and crying it out. No, I don’t really care that you are opposed to nipple shields. I definitely don’t care that you think it is time for me to wean my baby!
I realize that when most people offer unsolicited advice, it usually comes from a place of caring. They think you will be better off knowing their opinion and what worked for them. Not so much!
When a friend at work told me to give my son a pacifier as soon as he was born so that he wouldn’t become a thumb-sucker, I knew that she had my best interest in mind. However, I wanted to make sure breastfeeding was going well before I gave my son a pacifier, so I planned to wait on that one. Also, I was a thumb sucker and I think I turned out just fine.
Then, there are the complete strangers that ridiculed me for not putting a blanket on my 3-week old son (when it was 75 degrees out) because he would probably catch a cold. I wanted to reply, “Do I know you????”
I think what makes unsolicited advice so frustrating is that it usually undermines the recipient of the advice. I mean, becoming a new mom is self-esteem crushing enough, without the judging opinions and passive-aggressive comments. Sure, I may not be able to tell if my child’s fussiness is because he is hungry, tired, or teething, but I don’t need someone else to clear that up for me. It is our job as parents to make mistakes, try things out to see if they work. Right?
So, for all of you mamas out there who are sick of friends, family members, and random weirdos giving you their opinions whenever they want, here is a fun tip. (And if this is unsolicited advice that you don’t want, feel free to stop reading here. I promise, I won't be offended!)
I have a favorite come-back for crappy advice that a client shared with me a while back. It goes something like this….. When someone gives you advice out of the blue, just look him/her straight in the face and say,
“How sweet of you to be worried about me and my child. I think we will be just fine.”
You can say it in whatever sassy tone fits you the best, but it is short, sweet, and to the point. And the underlying message is clear… “Back-off! I’ve got this handled!”
What crappy unsolicited advice have you received since you had kids? Please share your gems so we can laugh right along with you!