You know you’ve been there. As soon as you announce you’re expecting a bundle of joy, people want to share their two cents with you. Sometimes the advice is useful, but other times their advice isn’t in the slightest bit helpful and may even hurt your feelings. Obviously, you don’t want to blatantly be rude; however, a polite “I’ll keep that in mind” doesn’t always work. Your friends, family, neighbors and even total strangers will offer you their opinions, so you need to know how to be tactful!
1. Consider Their Opinion
In some instances – and it’s usually very rare – someone will offer you a tip that’s useful. I wrote a status about my son never being sick before and being diagnosed with Lyme disease and how I was struggling with giving him medicine. I had a friend – who’s a fellow parent – give me some very welcomed and helpful advice. She told me to fill up the syringe with a substance that looks similar to my son’s medicine and let him give it to me. I thought it was a great idea. My son’s been asking me to take some, and unfortunately I’m highly allergic to amoxicillan.
2. Thank Them
Sometimes a person who is offering advice – whether they’re a parent or not – is trying to be helpful. They might not be aware that their advice is unwanted and that you feel like their belittling your parenting abilities. My own grandmother has given me plenty of advice that hasn’t been wanted and has made me feel bad, despite the fact that she tells my mother what a wonder mother I am. In fact, she’s criticized me for buying my son too many clothes, breastfeeding too long, buying my son too many toys, feeding my son too healthy and giving my son too much attention. I thank her politely and hope she stops. It’s very frustrating when someone tells you, the PARENT, how you should raise your child, as if they know your child better than you. You’ll discover that it’s sometimes best to thank them and move on.
3. Nod in Agreement
You might completely disagree with their opinion, but in some cases, you just have to nod, smile and agree. They may never see your point of view anyways. Even if you know they’re wrong or you don’t agree, you sometimes have to just go with the flow and let them think they won. Remember, you don’t have to use their “helpful” tips. Words and phrases like “That’s interesting” and “I’ve heard that before,” don’t necessarily mean you agree, but they don’t warrant a person to want to start an argument.
4. Change the Conversation
I choose to breastfeed my son past the age of a year. My grandmother asked me every time I talked to her if I weaned him yet. She told me how unhealthy it was and how “normal” people only breastfeed to around six months. I thought to myself how is it affecting you? You never nursed your children, so who are you to tell me when is the right time? Last time I checked, he was my son! I tried thanking her for the advice, but she kept bringing up the issue. Finally, I got smart and started abruptly changing the conversation to something that interested her.
5. Explain Your Opinion
If you were explaining what you’re doing or plan to do and someone decided to tell you what they would do or what you should do, you may need to explain yourself. I let my grandmother know that the American Pediatric Associate (APA) recommends exclusively nursing for the first six months and continuing until at least one year. I also told her the World Health Organization’s recommendation is at least 2.5 years. I also included how healthy my son was compared to many kids his age. You can inform people of why you feel the way you do about your parenting method and why you believe it’s best. Use statistics and information from leading health organizations, quote your pediatrician, provide the person with examples of other people it worked for or how it’s benefiting your child already.
7. Respond Vaguely You don’t have to lie, but you don’t necessarily need to reveal the exact truth either. Let’s say someone asks if your child still co-sleeps, and they keep telling you how it’s becoming a bad habit that you need to break. You might not be planning on ending your co-sleeping tonight, but you don’t have to tell them that. You could always say something along the lines of, “We’re working on it,” “We’re heading in that direction” or “We’re going to when the time is right.”
8. When You Have to Put Your Foot Down
There may come a time when you just can’t take it anymore. You know that time when you’re thinking to yourself, Who the h-e-double hockey sticks asked you? You need to be firm without being down right rude. Tell your mother-in-law, sister, friend or whoever that you know what’s best for your child and that you believe your way is the best for you and your kids. Try saying, “I know you care about my child, and I appreciate that. However, I’m very comfortable with my approach. I feel like this is what’s best for my child and myself.”