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How to deal with unsolicited parenting advice

It seems like the minute you announce your pregnancy, everyone starts jumping in with unsolicited parenting advice. It can be frustrating, especially after you give birth, and your new mom anxiety gets amplified by what may seem like a steady stream of criticism. ‘You’re carrying him too much! You’ll spoil him’ one person will say. Then, if you follow her, another will look at you with horror. ‘You’re ignoring your baby? How could you just let her sit there and cry?’

Here are some ways to deal with the unsolicited parenting advice, so you can gently avoid their interference, avoiding any hurt feelings while raising your child, your way.

Don’t be defensive

People are not giving advice because they think you’re incompetent. Maybe this is their way of showing concern, or are simply eager to pass on their experience as moms. Since every child and every parent is unique, their tips may not work for you. But it won’t hurt to listen, if only to acknowledge their sincere intentions.

In one ear, out the other

If you don’t agree with what they say, don’t pick a fight, just tune them out. Smile, make listening noises, nod, and say something neutral but non-commital, like ‘Oh, that’s interesting.’ Or, ‘I guess that’s one way of doing things.’

Choose your battles

If your mother wants your child to listen to Mozart because she thinks it will make him smarter, go ahead. It won’t make any difference to you either way. But stick to your guns in important issues, like whatever directly affects his health, confidence, or your discipline methods.

Avoid the battles

If your sister-in-law has been hounding you about training your baby to sleep through the night, and you’re not sold on the idea, avoid giving her the opportunity to ‘preach.’ Don’t complain about how you’re never getting sleep, and when she mentions that you’re looking haggard and is about to launch her tirade, quickly change the topic: ‘Hey, did you catch the game last night?’ or ‘Ooops, I have to go to the bathroom.’

Arm yourself with facts

You’ll be less prone to react to comments if you are confident about your choices as a parent. It helps to read parenting magazines or websites, weighing your options and arming yourself with information. You can share this information with other people or just quietly remember it when they try to sway you. Besides, one of the best ways to shut another person up is to say, ‘My doctor said…’ or ‘The American Pediatric Society said…’

Photo from savvysassymoms.com

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