Congrats, you're expecting a little bundle of joy! With that little bundle of joy, comes an unwanted present – endless amounts of pregnancy and parenting advice. Everyone will tell you how long you should nurse for, whether you should co-sleep or not, and anything else they decide is important enough to share.
Magically, everyone who has ever popped out a baby is now an expert and wants to share their “wealth of wisdom.” Sometimes, people who have only babysat kids will wish to contribute as well. This puts you in a predicament where you need to decide how to respond to these “helpful” tidbits of information.
Whether it's your well meaning mother-in-law, an older relative, or a complete stranger, everyone has an opinion on how you can do it better. It doesn't matter if all your doing is wiping away some baby snots, someone has found a transcendental way to remove mucus from a baby's face, and they're going to tell you about it.
You have to watch how you respond to these pieces of advice. Depending on who the person is giving you this advice, you might have to be very careful about how you tell them to leave you alone. You'll need to recognize when you can really just tell the person to mind their own business, in a polite way of course. Communication is mostly in how the message is delivered, there is a proper way to tell people that their "advice" is not needed or welcome.
8 Don't Take It Too Seriously
You seriously have to keep your sense of humor when it comes to unsolicited parenting advice. You can make a remark back without seeming catty or defensive. For instance, if someone tells you to sleep when the baby sleeps – which is pointless information because it doesn't always work out that way and you have a great deal of stuff to do while your little one sleeps – ask if you should also clean when she cleans. Laugh a bit, and then tell the person you're going to try to rest whenever you can.
If the individual says your baby looks overdressed, you could always say she'll be in something cooler once I get to all the laundry, then smile and giggle a bit. Or if they ask about your sex life while co-sleeping, flip it around and ask about their sex life.
There's always going to be that one person that pries a little too much into your private affairs, has an answer for everything, or seems to be an unstoppable life-hacking source of information. The best way to handle this is to laugh it off and turn what they say into a joke when and where you can.
Out of all the ways you can respond, this is the most polite way of engaging the person and letting them know that you are being good natured, but their advice is unwanted. This works best with people who know you well, or older people who feel the need to give you their two cents come hell or high water.
And advice is only worth what you pay for it, so if it cost you nothing, then feel free to leave it behind. You don't have to carry the weight of what someone said to you. And look at the spirit in which the advice was given. As long as it wasn't malicious, the person truly just meant well.
7 Just Nod, Smile and Say Okay
Sometimes it's just not worth it to even respond. Instead of letting it get to you, just nod, smile and say “Okay, I'll keep that in mind.” There should be an acronym or a mnemonic device such as “The NSO.” So you remember it when you need it. Sometimes, it's just easier to accept the advice and never use it. Why make your grandmother mad by telling her you don't care that she thinks your one-year-old is too old to enjoy milk straight from the tap and that you should just switch to two-percent milk in a sippy cup already?
And who cares if your neighbor thinks you're gaining weight too quickly during pregnancy or that you should have lost the baby weight already? Is it really going to make you feel better to make your grandmother cry when you tell her take that whole bottle idea and shove it where the sun don't shine? Or is it worth it to make your neighbor upset with you when you tell her it's funny that she's commenting on your weight when she's not rail thin and isn't even pregnant?
Sometimes the advice you've been given is so absurd or outrageous that smiling and nodding is pretty much all you can do. Face it, some people are whack-a-doo, and so is their advice. You can't fix crazy or crazy advice, nor should you try unless you're a psychiatrist.
Just like you can't relate early 19th century advice to today, so if you have a great grandmother (and wow if you do), who's trying to tell you how it was in her day, let her get it off her chest and just remember that she's probably been giving the same old advice to every pregnant woman she's ever talked to.
6 Tell Them You Appreciate the Advice
Let them know you the appreciate the help. Bonus points if you can pretend to do it sincerely. You don't have to be rude and tell them you don't want their opinion on what to do with YOUR child. You don't have to utilize their advice, but you can thank them and let you know you appreciate it. Then, run for your life before they try to give you more advice. Feel free to write down a list of reasons why you quickly need to leave after you tell them you appreciate their suggestions.
And if you're in the position where the person is constantly bombarding you with advice like an automatic tennis ball thrower, you can innocently ask, "Is there anything else I should know?" And watch as they begin to shower you with more information. If you feel like having fun with this one here's your next step.
Once all the practical advice has given way to complete made-up crap, you can start asking questions you already know the answer to or just make stuff up. For example, ask "What should I do if my baby turns blue, then purple, then green?" Watch as the person becomes mystified by this question, and if they give you an honest answer, you'll have plenty to laugh about later.
And once the person is exhausted of all their baby raising knowledge, then you can give them the old, 'I appreciate your advice' line, even if you don't mean it or are going to laugh at it later. Another comforting thought is that you're not in this alone. Your significant other is probably being pelted with the same garbage information on what it means to be the father of a baby. You can probably compare notes on which advice you have received was the worst yet.
5 Tell Them if You’re Offended
If they say something that genuinely offends you, let them know. You’ll still walk away a nice person if you let them know you didn’t like what they said. It’s one thing to let them give you “useful” tips, but it’s another thing to let someone tell you you’re not doing some part of pregnancy or parenting right.
Don’t let anyone make you feel bad or sad or like you’re not a good parent. Instead, tell them flat out, “I’m very offended by what you just said.” Wait for their response. If they don’t apologize, just walk away from the conversation. You don’t need to deal with negativity when you should be focusing on the positive of your little boy or girl.
Of course, you might find yourself in a situation where you've just told a family member that they've offended you, and they have in turn responded with offence. Pretty ironic huh, in these situations you can explain how their advice makes you feel. Simply express what their advice made you feel, whether it's insignificant, incapable, or stupid, they should know that you're claim of offence is genuine.
If they still won't let it go, then you'll have to walk away and say you can't talk about it right now. If someone is determined not to listen, you can't force them to open their ears and hear what you have to say. Listening is a choice, not just a reflex to sound.
And some people are stubborn, they just want to be right and validated regardless of who they're dealing with. If it's someone in your family or a friend, try not to let the difference of opinion get in the way. And stay clear of advice giving, obviously you will only come to an impasse, so why even go down that road?
4 Prevent Unsolicited Advice by Being Vague
Don’t tell people details about your pregnancy or your infant. Don’t do it with your child when he or she gets older either. The less you tell them, the less they can put down what you want to do or are doing.
For instance, if some asks if you’re planning on co-sleeping, say, “We haven’t really decided yet.” On the contrary, if someone asks you if you’re co-sleeping now, say something along the lines of, “Our angel sleeps just fine. Thanks for asking.” It might not be the most polite thing to say, but it’s better than the alternative of “Eff off. It’s none of your business where our child sleeps!”
Don’t willingly share anything you do. The more information you volunteer, the more the “experts” are going to pick apart your parenting and break your spirits and confidence. Churchill was right, loose lips sink ships, so don't get yours sunk by someone who's a self proclaimed child-raising expert.
If you don't tell people anything about how you raise your children or the things you do with your family, then they have nothing to say, or should have nothing to say anyway. That doesn't mean you're not going to run into that one person who's going to give you advice just because they feel like it and they can. If they just start offering advice or start a conversation with, "You know what you should do..." use one of the previous techniques.
Whether you're in the office or out with friends, if you know someone is nosy, gossipy or has very strong opinions don't give them ammunition by talking about your pregnancy, kids, or husband. Because if you do, you will be hearing their advice till the cows come home. And it's not polite to roll your eyes at these people either. You'll have to again refer to the previous steps.
3 Never Complain
Don’t ever tell someone you’re sleep deprived, having trouble with a child not sleeping, having problems introducing him or her to solids, or anything that could be misconstrued as you reaching out for someone’s assistance.
You may want just to vent to someone, but don’t – I repeat DON’T – do it! People aren’t going to be supportive and tell you your child will eventually sleep through the night or that all infants will one day decide they want to eat solids. They might tell you to let your son or daughter to cry it out, or they may blame you for not introducing solids soon enough.
They're going to run through the list of things you've already tried and that don't work for you and your little one. Not complaining might make you look like parent of the year to the outside, but it will save you the head ache that inevitably follows unsolicited advice. So don't do it, and if you start, cough or pretend to yawn and say it was nothing, that you lost your train of thought.
Not to mention that if you fall in with complainers, all you're going to hear is a vicious circle of complaints followed by advice. You do not want to be there, this is a special circle that Negative Nancy types relish, and if you're not a negative person, you don't want to wind up being the sound board for the complaints department.
Instead of reaching out to strangers with your frustrations, talk about them with your significant other, I'm sure they'll not only understand what you're going through, but they'll be that shoulder to lean on. Sharing your life, the good, the bad and the ugly is a great way to understand each other and be close to one another. Sounds strange doesn't it, but it's true.
Although, this only works as long as you're not complaining about your partner to your partner. Then you might wind up with another thing to be frustrated at. So keep it in the family and you'll never have to hear, 'here's what you should do' again.
2 Dazzle Them with Facts
Facts always prevail over whatever is backing people’s supposed knowledge or opinion. If they’re telling you how you shouldn’t nurse past six months, wow them with the fact that the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends breastfeeding until at least 2.5 years and that they also state the world average for nursing is actually over four years old.
If you smoke or drink occasionally when breastfeeding you'll find a wealth of critical people waiting to criticize you for smoking while breastfeeding or indulging in a glass of wine while nursing, let the person know you’re able to drink one glass of wine per hour without the baby being affected.
For smokers, let them know you can smoke up to a pack a day without harming your breastfeeding infant as long as you nurse before smoking to prevent causing issues with supply. Once you provide the facts, there’s really nothing left to argue. You’re closing the gates to any further questioning or arguing, and letting them know you already have an authoritative opinion on your decision.
Knowing all these facts might seem like you're preparing for Jeopardy, but it can help you dispel the myths and misinformation that surround pregnancy and child rearing. Especially if you're doing something out of the ordinary. Look at Alicia Silverstone, she decided that regurgitating food was best for her baby and the world reacted with opinions and comments.
While I myself wouldn't dream of doing that in a million years, that's her right as a parent to feed her child in that manner. As long as she chews her food really well what could the harm be? So what if someone thinks what you do with your children is odd or disgusting, so is farting in public, but everyone does it sooner or later.
1 Stand By Your Decision
Who cares what anyone has to say besides your pediatrician? If someone is hassling you about what formula you use, just tell them straight out it’s what I chose, and baby and I are happy with the decision. Let the person know you appreciate the help, but you’re fine with what you’re doing.
In the end you know what's best for your child and family. Everyone has a way to be and what's good for one person isn't necessarily going to be better for another person than what they're already doing. You could do everything by the book and end up with mixed results. There's no guarantee that raising your child by a certain set of standards or 'common sense' is going to result in a perfect person.
People are individuals and we should be allowed to express that individuality, even in child raising. So don't let some off handed comment make you second guess your parenting skills, the only person who can live your life is you. Ultimately in your house, you are in charge, and that alone should be empowering.
So let the nay sayers say what they're going to say, I'm not sure you could stop them if you tried, but standing your ground lets them know that you're comfortable with your decisions and confident in the outcome. Besides, it's always easier to be an outside observer than actually live in someone else's shoes any day of the week.