Surviving encounters with parenting ‘experts’

The instant you conceive they infiltrate your workplace, social circle, public spaces, and even your home.  They have a superior understanding of your child’s needs and preferences, dish out more medical advice than your family doctor, and seem to lack any form of filter. You know who I’m talking about…parenting ‘experts’.

For me, a major challenge of parenthood has been brushing off unwanted advice and the opinions of others.  I’m typically a pretty easy going person, but I have a really hard time handling unsolicited parenting advice gracefully.  The title of ‘mom’ currently defines so much of who I am, so it stings pretty hard when someone implies that I’m doing it wrong.

Here’s the thing: Parenting is far from ‘one size fits all’.  You can approach it in hundreds of different ways and still raise a healthy, well adjusted, decent human being. Despite this, some people are pretty insistent that their way is the only way.

To be fair, I think changing ‘best practices’ over the past few decades are partially to blame. My parents generation for example, never put their babes to bed on their backs, filled up cribs with cozy blankets and toys, started ‘pablum’ as early as three months, and were much less likely to breastfeed. And despite these differences in logistics, they were merely practicing societal norms and doing their best just like today’s parents. 

Here are the strategies I use to help keep myself calm and sane when under siege by a parenting ‘expert’.  Of course, you could always just let out a primal scream, throat punch them, and run away instead. It’s totally your call 🙂

I remind myself that they mean well

While there are some exceptions to this, the majority of the opinions and advice thrown your way will be well intended.  As annoying as it can feel, they likely just want to show they care and help out any way they can.  People generally don’t intend to be demeaning or offensive.

I simply respond, “Thanks for sharing. We’ll keep that in mind”

Usually, people just want their opinion or perspective to be heard and appreciated. I find once I simply acknowledge the advice, they typically move on to another topic quite quickly. This is the tactic I often employ when the advice is coming from an acquaintance or a complete stranger.  They will have no clue whether or not I actually go on to use their advice and I just made their day by pretending they’ve helped me out. 

I politely defend my family’s lifestyle and decisions

You and your spouse are the only ones who are qualified to make decisions for your family.  If I’m being consistently pushed or questioned about something, I will politely but assertively defend my decision.

I remember that I’m doing my very best

Are you doing your very best, prioritizing your child’s safety and health, and making decisions based on love? Yes? Then you’re most likely an incredible parent. The logistics and other people’s opinions simply don’t matter.

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