Something about having a new baby makes you public property in the minds of many. You know how people suddenly invade your personal space when you’re pregnant—asking how far along, weighing in on gender, even touching your belly without asking? This doesn’t end after the baby comes. Walk around with a baby or two, and the unsolicited advice just starts coming at you like projectile spit-up. Strangers at the park, coffee shop, or library will tell you what your baby should eat, what will help with sleep, even what might help him or her reach certain milestones not yet achieved, whether you are interested or not (Is she crawling? No? You know what worked for us…). While much of it will be well-intentioned, you may also encounter the occasional drive-by criticism. This is when someone mutters, “that kid should be out of diapers!”, “Give him a pacifier already!” or “She should be wearing a coat!” while not even breaking their stride—making it impossible to respond. And all this is not even factoring in all the unsolicited advice you’ll get from actual friends and relatives, including your own parents—sometimes the hardest to take tips from.
After you’ve been a parent for five or ten years, it’s easier to very quickly take or leave any outside counsel, because you are confident in your choices. But when you’re feeling your way through a day with a new baby, the barrage of unsolicited advice can be information overload at best, and a recipe for second-guessing yourself (or possibly weeping) at worst.
What kind of unsolicited parenting advice have you received?
Was it useful?
How did you respond?