02 Feb Unsolicited Parenting Advice (And How To Deal With It)
Because I'm a normal human being who also happens to be in charge of littles, I delight in unsolicited parenting advice. No, wait, I said that wrong. Silly me. I don’t like it. Very don’t like it, in fact. Dare I say, I… even dislike it. Oh come now, calm down Mary.
But seriously, doesn’t it feel like something we should be able to stop seeping into our lives? Plug up the tide of unsolicited advice (and comments) (and judgments) (and shaming) and get back to a less stabby kind of conversation? First of all, you can’t. It’s unyielding. Also, while being passively aggressively judged in the queue for the bank, you may not feel comfortable telling that little old lady to *f*#k right off*. That's probably a good thing. Without that line of defence though, you may then feel a little unarmed when you find yourself the innocent victim of an unsolicited onslaught of parenting advice.
After finding myself tongue-tied and defenseless, on many (m-a-n-y) such occasions, I’ve curated a guide on five of the top offenders to help you, ahem, me, get through them without losing your sanity / cool / phone.
P.s. You’ve got to stop throwing your phone at people when you get angry!
So here you are...
A Guide On How to Deal With Unsolicited Parenting Advice
(Or, How To Say F*#k Off In Five, Slightly More, Socially Acceptable Ways)
#1, The Unsolicited Parenting Advice
Parenting is a funny old gig. In one way it’s a universal experience that we all share and it’s beautiful. On the other hand, it’s completely different for each of us and ‘thanks for your advice Susan but you have no freakin’ idea what it’s like to be meeeee right now!’. As a new Mama, I’ve grown most being around other parents, seeing what they’re doing and trying it for myself. Basically, if it looks like it might bring some sleep/peace/tidiness into our home, I’m up for giving it a go. As a new Mama, I also carried around a pinch of salt to take with all the unsolicited parenting advice from all the people who were not The Husband and I, about how to raise my children,...
All knowing Child Whisperer: you shouldn't be doing that. You should be doing this (Regardless of whether that is working for you, or if this ever worked for them)
You: *sweet voice* ‘Aww, thanks for taking an interest in how I care for my kids. That's so kind. You know what though, I'm fine with this particular area. What I really haven't gotten the hang of yet though, is shitty nappies. I'm just awful at those. It gets everywhere. Super LOLZ. Could you help out with that? My twins are over there - they have diarrhoea, I'm sure you’ll be fine. Thaaaaaanks!’
What will happen is they’ll either change the atomic diarrhoea nappies (Not bloomin’ likely, but a mega bonus if they do) or they know their wisdom on how they would raise your child is not welcome here. Whatever way it goes, it’s a win.
#2, The Unsolicited Parenting Judgement
Some people have the funniest opinions - like when they think Mamas shouldn’t do something they’re legally entitled to do just because they feel some kind of perverted entitlement over women’s boobs...
Some Fool: you shouldn't be breastfeeding here
You: “oh dear, excuse me, yes, wait, I have a cover up. *hands them the coverup* Pop that over your head and you won't see a thing.
Some Fool: (actually it doesn’t matter what they say after that. You’re not listening)
Aaaaand peacefully return to getting on with life and lunch and completely ignoring this stranger standing there holding your muslin cloth looking like an eejit. Problem solved. Muslin cloth sacrificed to the cause.
#3, The Unsolicited Parenting Comment
Stranger / colleague / friend of a friend: *Looks at your TumTum* “Oh, Are you expecting?”
You: No. But I used to be.
And leave it at that.
I once heard a comedian say that not unless you can literally see the baby’s head crowning do you ask a woman if she’s pregnant. I used to think it just meant that the woman would be offended you were calling her fat. Heaven for-bid. Now that I’ve been through it, I understand the wider spectrum of pain that can encompass pregnancy and childbirth. Loss. Longing. Despair. Guilt. Isolation.
Bringing up the topic of pregnancy willy-nilly (pun intended, sorry) just because a woman’s tum-tum isn’t flat, well that’s just for dumb dumbs. So, when someone congratulates you on the bun in your oven, and it really is just an actual bun (or lots of cupcakes, more like), leave them hanging with this short’n’sweet retort. Let them pick through the many reasons you may no longer be with child as they ride the emotional rollercoaster of the impact of their faux pas.
#4, The Unsolicited Child Shaming
Turns out, the colour pink does not have a vagina. And in a similar twist of fate, tractors do not have penises. Can you believe that science can actually prove that colours are, contrary to all previous theories, just colours, and inanimate objects do not in fact have a gender? I knowwwww! That’s coo-coo, right? Seems some people didn’t get the memo though...
Person who doesn’t understand science and / or nature: “Hey kid, boys don't play with dolls/wear pink/ like butterflies, etc. ad nauseam.
You: *completely ignores that person and talks directly to your lovely normal boy child* “You play with dolls, don't you? And you are a boy, aren't you? Well then, based on our scientific evidence, boys do play with dolls so that person is just wrong (on many levels), aren't they? Yes? Great, glad we cleared that up, it could have gotten confusing! Now, here’s your pink doll with the butterfly dress my little boy child. Yeay. Go have a blast.
(*note - this also works when someone tells your girl child she doesn't like tractors or dinosaurs ‘because girls don't like that kind of stuff’. Honestly, what scientific journals are these people even doing their extensive research in?*)
#5 The Unsolicited Parenting Humble Brag
Let’s face it, parents are basically stalkers. We’re obsessed with our kids and we have zero objectivity. Objective, you say? Me who gushed with pride when baby did a *good* poo? Nah, we can’t manage it. We’re totally bewitched by these small, new, badly behaved humans. And that’s just fine. You’d need to be smothered in love to put up with getting smothered by other people’s poo. It’s like nature’s blindfold, to make sure we don’t all run at the first sight of blood/poo/vom/snot/teenagers.
Which is why the parenting humble brag is a straight up red card offence. We know you think your offspring is tippity-top, so stop trying to shoehorn in another story of how ‘challenging’ it is to have such an ‘overachieving’ child.
Gushing Pride Parent: “We’re #trulyblessed to have a counsellor helping our little Bianca deal with the pressure of having so many kids in school look up to her. It’s tough for her to deal with sometimes, you know? We’re so worried”
You: Would you prefer little Bianca was the quiet awkward one at the back of the class building an unreasonable collection of pencil sharpeners and arguing with imaginary friends?
Gushing: oh no no no. It’s just that...
You: *interrupts with a pronounced silence*
You: That’s what I thought
So there you have it, five slightly more socially acceptable ways to to say f*#k off when you’re faced with the horror of unsolicited advice, comments, judgment and shaming as a parent. Oh and don’t worry, you can still go ahead and just say Fuck Off. It might actually be more effective sometimes. Maybe a little too effective. That’s your prerogative as a parent in the 21st century.