Handling Parenting Advice from Strangers

parenting advice

I’ll be the first to admit that I was the perfect parent…before children.

I’ll also be the first to admit that nearly everything I’ve said I wouldn’t do as a parent went out the window with the unused baby purees. But somehow, I was fortunate enough to have been taught that unsolicited advice comes across as judgment 99.9% of the time.

Unfortunately, not everyone received that memo. From the second l slid into maternity jeans, I became an easy target for mothers (and some fathers) everywhere to “help” me transition into motherhood.

There is an elderly widow nearby that regularly comments on the weather anytime my children are outside…not casually, but in a “you’re killing your children” way. Whether I’m burning their skin, giving them pneumonia, or setting them up for asthma, I rarely measure up to her impossible standards. With my first child, I always felt a sting with these comments. Now, with my third, I’ve gotten slightly better at fending off the crones.

Here are some of my go-to responses. Adjust accordingly.

  1. That’s not helpful, but thank you. For real. I say this. Usually when someone gives “if… then” doomsday advice. Example: If you don’t stop nursing on demand, that baby will never be independent. Not helpful. Thanks!
  2. This is what works for our family. Thank you! I typically use this for some of the more controversial topics (vaccinations, co-sleeping, educating our children, etc.) This might require repeating until they (hopefully) concede the point.
  3. Thank you for the heads up! This is for the paranoid stranger buzzing about the latest scary kid article circulating on Facebook. Think dry drowning every summer as well as all of the ways not to accidentally leave a child in the car when it’s hot. Choking hazards are a hot topic as well as the latest toy recall. Thanks for the heads up!
  4. I appreciate your concern. Thank you! This one is for the know-it-all espousing safety tips when I’m out on a walk. Never mind that two children are in the stroller and the other in the Ergo. Said passerby likes to remind me that there are safer streets to walk down…you know, with sidewalks… so my children aren’t crushed by a renegade bus!
  5. Simply, “thank you!” No, I’m not at all grateful for their passive-aggressive judgment. But I have to give them the benefit of the doubt that they mean well. They likely think I am the worst mother on the planet and that’s their prerogative. But they want the best for my kids. And someone who advocates for children is someone I can (sort of) get behind.
Kara Garis is a cloth diapering, baby wearing, semi-crunchy mama to two active boys and a baby girl. She lives with her husband in Oklahoma and loves running, cooking, traveling, reading and teaching herself how to braid. She blogs at karagaris.com.

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