As a general rule, people don’t like being told what to do. Advice is isn’t “being told what to do” but it’s a push to do something that you were not previously doing and it’s normally on a personal level. I think that’s why unsolicited advice wears down on people so much.
Everyone has been on both sides of this conversation. Since becoming a parent, I’ve become more aware of when I’m the one guilty of dispensing the advice no one asked for and I’d like to think I’ve stopped doing it as much. The adviser normally isn’t coming from a place of cruel intentions but when it comes to things about your baby the first instinct is to recoil a bit.
You are momma bear. Daddy bear. Guardian bear. It’s almost that we are offended someone would think we’d do something incorrectly with our kid. Which if you think about it, is kind of silly. You will probably do something incorrectly with your kid at some point. It’s a whole new experience and there is definitely a learning curve.
Still, half the time you want to roll your eyes. It starts when you get pregnant. Things you should eat. Exercises you shouldn’t do. And everyone’s favorite thing to tell a woman who is full of hormones and could go off at any moment, “better sleep now!”
I think all of the ones mentioned above falls into the category of advice you should not give unless it is being asked of you. But generations of parents are so eager to give out the wisdom they have learned through the years. I think they forget how much can change in standard baby care in as few as 10 years and what was great for them is now a huge safety no-no or just outdated all together.
As a new parent, you now have to vet all these things people are saying to you and it adds up to quite a pile on your plate. It’s overwhelming. The part that really blows? These people are normally your friends so they don’t even mean to come off that way and genuinely think they are helpful. AND HEY, SOMETIMES IT IS HELPFUL!
If you’re currently pregnant and think it’s bad now then wait till the baby comes. Babies send people into frenzies. Any parental figure will become overprotective in the presence of a new baby. That includes opening their mouth to give whatever two cents is popping into their mind. “You gotta put socks on their feet or they won’t sleep!” “He’s crying because…” “Don’t use that fragrance because my kid had a reaction to it!”
To that I say: In childcare, everything you do you can find someone who says there is something wrong with it.
Okayyy, now we have to talk about why unsolicited advice shouldn’t dismissed altogether. I know, I just spent this whole time complaining about it… but here is the thing. You need it sometimes and those times are going to be a significant enough deal that if someone ever gives you information you should investigate further to see if it’s worth consideration.
Unsolicited advice can be a gift. It can save you from putting you kid’s life at risk or just save you a lot of your sanity.
When it comes to a child’s safety, I definitely approve of speaking up. I think some mom’s, myself included, should make sure to be more open when people chime in with a concern like that. It’s so easy to brush off, “that’s not safe sleep,” or “they need their screen time limited so they don’t have sleeping issues.” etc. But this is the kind of information that’s worth you at least listening enough that you can go fact check.
There have been several times already that I was not looking for advice and was told some gold. Everything from breastfeeding tips to quicker diaper changing methods. My favorites (not sarcastic) are unsolicited product recommendations. Nothing like knowing something already worked really well – or something was a disaster- for someone else first! Top 3 most useful products I bought based off of recommendations from fellow parents are this particular tummy time mat (above photo), a bidet, and magnetic pjs for baby!
So what do we do about the plague of unsolicited advice? It’s only growing as everything thinks they PhD with the internet at their fingertips. Honestly? Not much. It’s necessary. Even the few saves that is has is worth it. One baby saved is worth it. Hell, a good night of sleep could be worth it.
Keep the flow of conversation going, parents! Think about how you’re giving advice before you throw it out, and when it’s your turn to hear someone, just smile and say thank you and you’ll look into it later. *always always always do your own research about things and consult a trusted pediatrician with random baby advice!*
But if the advice is to “sleep when the baby sleeps” you may tell them to F off.