Don’t you love the unsolicited advice?

photo: Alan Levine
photo: Alan Levine

For me, the most annoying part of parenthood has nothing to do with how to raise my children and everything to do with everyone else’s opinion of how to raise my children.

I’d be giving my baby a bottle, and perfect strangers would tell me “You should give breastfeeding a chance.”

I struggled with extremely low milk production caused by a medical issue – people would tell me not to put so much effort into pumping – that formula would be fine.

One person said “They should sleep on the tummy” while the next article insisted back-sleeping for infants.

Time-outs are good. Time-outs are damaging their confidence.

Put them to bed early. Put them to bed late. Add Omega 3, stop adding it…

AAAAAHHHHHRRRRRGGGHHHHHHH

It’s no wonder that we have these poor moms in every mommy group on Facebook (and there are hundreds of these groups) crowdsourcing Every. Single. Thing. Which formula is the purest? Should I put my toddler in Nike or New Balance runners? My baby sneezed, should I go to the emergency?

All of this unsolicited parenting advice is turning all but the most confident people into jittery parents who constantly second guess themselves and don’t have any faith in their own parenting instincts any more.

photo: Michael Coghlan
photo: Michael Coghlan

I was just out with my friend Carol – a mom of three boys and a well-loved mommy blogger, friend, and founder of Plenty, and we were commiserating. It’s not just “boy mom” stuff, because I know that there are some little girls that are a serious handful. It’s not just a “mom-of-2” thing or a “mom-of-3” thing – because there are parents of singletons that have way more than enough to handle with just one, but let’s face it. Two or three rambunctious little boys only two years apart is a much different parenting experience than a quiet, well-behaved singleton.

We shared a laugh at some of the unsolicited advice we’d recently received.

“Put them on a schedule” she chided. “Like ‘OOOHHHHH! I never thought of that!’ Don’t they think that if it worked for my family I’d have done that?” I countered with “Well I just expect my child to listen to me. They know what I will tolerate and what’s not allowed.”

Yes, seriously, we laughed and laughed.

And while whatever works for your family is fine, we, as parents, are all just trying to survive our offspring.

photo: Hey Paul Studios
photo: Hey Paul Studios

Good for you if you have a child that will come, go, listen and obey “because you say so” but that doesn’t fly with my 6 year old son that I’ve always (lovingly) called “The Triplets” because I feel like he’s the effort and has the energy of at least three. Every family is so different. Sure, there are truisms – like “if you don’t want cavities your kid should brush and floss after every meal” but schedules, sleep routines, discipline, feeding issues and other dynamics are very individual.

We’re all special snowflakes.

Carol and I laughed as we compared notes on the things we’d been told by parents, friends – even childless friends – and more.

If you still don’t understand why I don’t like unsolicited advice, think of it this way: Don’t you hate when millionaires say “It’s easy to make it – if I can do it so can you.” If it were so *effing* easy we’d all be millionaires. I also recall this Beck quote about making music being the most fun job in the world and he didn’t understand why everyone didn’t become a rockstar.

Umm…

It’s all in perspective. Sometimes people that have control of a situation seem to feel the need to tell the less-in-control people how easy it is. There’s no empathy. It really just comes across as people not having a clue.

It’s not easy.

It’s not easy to become a millionaire and not everyone can do it. It’s not easy to become a rockstar and not everyone can do it. It’s not easy to manage children and, well, you know…

I know that friends, family members and colleagues only want to help. Perfect strangers trying to put their two cents in honestly baffle me.

I do have one piece of advice I will give unsolicited when someone I know gets pregnant: You know what you’re doing, don’t take any unsolicited advice.

So take my advice here (😊) the only advice you need is the advice you ask for.

Suburban Mommy Michelle adds: The minute I threw away those parenting books and stopped listening to everybody’s two cents, I became a happier person and a better parent. Go with your gut!

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