Everyone has something to say when a newborn baby (or a child of any age, if we’re being honest) is involved. So when you give birth to your baby, one thing that you can expect to happen is the endless barrage of parenting advice from family and friends down to strangers.
To some extent, parenting tips are appreciated especially when you’re a new parent. And when you’re in the mood, even unsolicited advice can be welcome — or, at the very least, negligible. But on a bad day, unwanted parenting advice is annoying, irksome, and frustrating.
Unfortunately, bad parenting tips is everywhere. Fortunately, there are ways to cope. Here are 7 things you can remember when dealing with unwanted parenting advice.
1. Embrace your own parenting style.
Different families call for different parenting styles, and you need to be firm and consistent about your own from day 1. For example, if you decide to breastfeed exclusively, then you also need to make the decision to not entertain dubious advice that go against it.
Make the choice to stick to your parenting style even if the advice comes from your own parents and close relatives. It may be difficult, especially at first, but you need to be confident and trust that you are making the right choice for your baby.
2. Stock up on knowledge.
To continue with number 1, in order to fully embrace your own parenting style, you need to be knowledgeable about it. So as early as you can — even months before you give birth to your baby — take note of reliable parenting authors and read their books.
By educating yourself, you can protect your choices and not resort to entertaining any doubts about them. This way, if someone tries to talk you out of, for example, babywearing, you know how to explain the benefits. Plus, you even have a chance to educate someone else!
3. Ignore the unwanted parenting advice.
When you’re a new parent, all the parenting tips — both solicited and unsolicited — can overwhelm you. After you have done number 1 and number 2, you also need to learn the subtle art of filtering messages.
Entertain advice coming from well-meaning people whose interest is genuine. But ignore advice if they come from people who are simply looking for something to discuss or debate about. There’s no way you can convince them, so simply nod and smile and keep doing what you do.
4. Change the subject.
Sometimes, the unwanted parenting advice comes from people that you cannot just ignore (like your mother-in-law or your grandmother). In this case, doing number 3 can cause conflict and hurt feelings, which you may be trying to avoid.
What you can do, instead, is to ignore the advice but not the person. If your mother-in-law asks why you’re co-sleeping, tell them that your 5-month old is already sleeping through the night and is showing interest in eating solid foods.
5. Pick your battles.
Just the same as how there are different kinds of parenting choices, there are also different kinds of parenting advice. Sometimes, when the advice comes from a family member, you can assume that your baby’s best interest is in their heart. Pick your battles and examine whether you need to stress over the advice.
If the advice is something that you don’t do but will not have any negative impact on your baby, then there’s no need to argue. Conversely, if the advice comes from someone who enjoys criticizing other people, go back to number 2.
6. Listen to the advice.
Similar to number 5, when the advice comes from someone who is genuinely interested in your baby’s well-being, there’s no harm in listening. If your mother-in-law tells you to use wearable blankets instead of loose ones, then perhaps it’s something worth looking into.
It’s natural to react and feel defensive about your parenting choices. But before jumping to conclusions, it’s better to try to listen and gain new perspectives. Remember that your parents, in-laws, and grandparents have been doing this parenting thing a lot longer than you have!
7. Be kind to yourself.
At the end of the day, your priority is your child’s health and well-being. Discern the pieces of parenting advice that you receive and learn whether they need to be ignored or listened to. Decide whether you take the advice as criticisms or chances to grow, but they are by no means a sign that you are failing.
Parenting can be frustrating, overwhelming, exhausting, but no one does a better job at parenting your baby than you! So instead of putting yourself down, take every opportunity to learn more and become the best parent that your baby deserves.