How to Deal With Unsolicited Parenting Advice
We're all ears for receiving advice on plenty of subjects revolving around new experiences—accepting a new job, moving to a new city, buying a new house. If your friend in real estate wants to clue you in on some advice while you're navigating the housing market, you're more than happy to hear what they have to say. But there's one area of newness where unsolicited advice is unwelcome, yet so many still insist on dishing it out: parenting.
Whether you're a brand-new mom or a seasoned one still surrounded by nosy onlookers who always have something to say about your parenting decisions, having people tell you how to raise your child is never a positive experience. To help you get through this all-too-regular ordeal, Elizabeth Pantley, author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Newborns, rounded up a list of tricks for diffusing the situation in Working Mother, and we've highlighted our favorites here. Here's how to handle all the parenting advice you never asked for but get regularly:
Understand the advice giver's motivations. Before anything else, try to be understanding of where the other person is coming from. Yes, it's extremely frustrating, and you're right to think they're being downright rude, but make an effort to keep in mind that their unsolicited advice is probably coming from a good place. Even if they're way off base, it's not worth ruining your relationship with your close friends or relatives just for the sake of putting them in their place when they cross the line. Knowing that the advice is well intended may make it easier to tolerate, and you can respond with humor and a quick subject change.
Listen first, then disregard. While your first response may be to become defensive (which is completely understandable), it's suggested you listen to their opinion, then disregard what you don't like and move on. If the person is speaking to give their own insight, rather than criticizing your choices, they may have something valuable to share. Hearing them out doesn't mean you agree, and it doesn't commit you to anything they end up saying. If they do spill a nugget of wisdom, you'll be glad you heard it, and if not, you're allowed to just dismiss it all from your mind.
Agree. If an advice giver does say something that's consistent with your parenting values, communicate your agreement. Bring attention to the subject of accordance, and shift the focus away from other parts of the advice about which you may be less enthused. They'll feel validated and know you're not simply dismissing everything they say, so you'll have more lenience in the future if you need to disagree.
Have some tips of your own on the subject? Share your (solicited) advice for other parents below.