As the saying goes, “opinions are like arseholes…” everyone does indeed, have one. Ergo, if someone hasn’t initiated an exchange that involves discussing your arsehole, you can **probably** assume that it’s because your arsehole, unique and essential though it is to you, is not of any consequence in this scenario.
I get it…we’re people. As people, we all just loovvve to talk about ourselves. It’s human nature. Relating our own experiences to those around us is completely normal, and is an important part of building a rapport and forging relationships with others. BUT…(and it’s a big ol’ but…) when it comes to parenting, it’s all too easy to get caught up in the hype of our own wisdom, and instead of relating to others, we cross a very fine line into the territory of becoming a bit of a pain in the aforementioned hole.
Something about pregnancy, babies and children is a trigger for anyone who has ever had a child, known a child or BEEN a child to morph into Jo Frost, compelled to weigh in on what it is they did with their kids, and/or what they think you should be doing with yours. Just when you thought you’d escaped the unrelenting barrage of pregnancy and childbirth stories, suddenly your baby is here, and what they eat, how they sleep, why they cry; it’s all up for public debate. It’s no surprise that some new Mums can end up feeling like they’re the ones sat on the ‘naughty step’.
Some of the truly remarkable tidbits offered to me include “Well, you know why she’s clingy, it’s ‘cause you breastfeed” and “Oh, just let her cry. She won’t remember it”. Thankfully, I’m not easily upset or swayed by these kinds of offerings. Just pretty f***ing irritated.
Of course, in the majority of cases, the intentions of others are probably good. The phenomenon of new life speaks to our compassionate side; people do really want to help. Why wouldn’t we want to share with others, especially those we empathise with, the secrets to our success? There is undeniably a fount of knowledge for all things ‘baby’ if we can only manage to keep our eyes and ears open.
HOWEVER (did you think the rant was over…?!) As new mothers/parents, we are more often than not pretty darn sensitive. We are desperate in our pursuit for confidence, muddling through the best we can in our attempt to master a role that we have limited to no practical experience in. All the while, in a vortex of hormones and functioning on minimal sleep, dealing with all manner of postpartum ailments and unwelcome bodily changes.
Even at the best of times, unsolicited advice is about as well-received as discovering you have poo on your wrist when you haven’t changed a nappy in a while. NEWSFLASH!!! People don’t like it. Even the kindest of counsel can come across as critical or annoying when we feel as though we’re under a microscope during the most vulnerable moments of our life.
As parents, we all want to do our absolute best, and will spend any ‘spare’ moment we have, frantically Googling and researching in books, the answers to our worries, woes and curiosities. And yes, we DO ask for advice from those around us. Folks, THIS is the time to offer up your two pennies worth to the pregnant co-worker, the lady next door who’s just had a baby, the friend with a toddler etc. .No exceptions to the rule…this is the ONLY time you can say something, safe in the knowledge that the parent in question isn’t ceremoniously swinging a bat at an imaginary piñata with your face on it.
Unfortunately, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy that we are subject to unwanted comments and advice, and it’s not going to stop anytime soon. MY only piece of advice would be, when you’re on the receiving end; take a deep breath, smile and reply calmly “Thanks, I’ll keep that in mind”. Save your energy, you’ll need it. Put the bat down.
What are some of the most excruciating pieces of unwanted advice thrust upon you as a parent? How did you deal with them? I’m excited to hear your stories and strategies!