There’s that saying that opinions are like…everybody has one. For some reason when people see a brand new baby, they often want to insert their unwanted opinion on new parents.
Don’t get me wrong, I am all for the village helping out, but when the village is being passive-aggressive and snarky, then not only is their help not wanted, it’s also not needed.
I’m not a newbie to the parenting game. With five kids, I’m definitely a been there done that mom, so when it is assumed that I don’t know to cover my baby when the wind is blowing (thank you, random lady, at Sam’s Club) even though she is wrapped in four blankets, I get pretty annoyed.
I also get annoyed when people make suggestions as to how I should breastfeed my baby.
Not to make this into a co-sleeping debate, but co-sleeping is a big no for me. No one will ever convince me that it is a better or safer option for me as a breastfeeding mother. Also as someone who has immensely struggled with PPD during past pregnancies, I will never co-sleep again, because the lack of sleep that I experienced, only worsened my mood and the PPD during that time (to the point where I was hospitalized). I am perfectly fine getting completely out of bed to feed my baby. You do you, I’ll do me.
I get it, people often see something and want to offer their opinion under the guise of being helpful. But more often than not, they aren’t trying to be helpful, they are just trying to show off.
Yes, show off.
Whether its an air of moral superiority or just being a sanctimonious know-it-all. Of course, there are people out there who are legitimately trying to help.
For instance, my husband *nicely* (meaning without snark) reminded someone of the dangers of heating a bottle in the microwave, stating how hotspots in the milk can burn the baby. Did they listen? No, but he wasn’t condescending about it, nor did he push back when they said: “oh well, the baby will be fine.” He let it go. (Some people you just can’t reach).
That type of interaction is a lot different than this:
Stranger: “Hey are you breastfeeding?”
Stranger: “Uh why not? Don’t you know it’s best for your baby.”
Mom: *blank stare*
At some point, the advice givers should understand that some topics are off limits. I am a huge breastfeeding advocate, but I also recognize that not everyone wants to. Hell, I don’t even want to sometimes.
If you are one the repeated unwarranted advice offenders, I ask you to consider the following three things before doing so.
Why are you saying anything?
Is the baby in imminent danger (car seat safety issue; etc)? Or are you just being nosey (wanting to know if mom breastfeeds)? If it’s the latter, then full stop. Just keep your mouth closed and walk away. This ain’t the hill you want to die on. If it’s a safety issue, such as seeing someone put an infant car seat in the front seat (I see it all of the time), by all means, please say something. Even if it’s not a safety issue if you have information that you just want to share with the parent, do so. But don’t be surprised if it’s not well received.
How did you approach mom (or dad) about the subject? If you did so kindly, then kudos to you. If you did it with snark or any form of condescension, well, I hope you get what you give. Even if you are laughing (like the woman in Sam’s who asked if we were going to cover our baby), please be advised that new parents may take your laugh as being snarky. The sleepless nights means we don’t 100% process things well, and so you will more than likely be met with that same level of snark. Even if you approach the new parents kindly and they don’t respond the way you want them to, don’t be upset. More than likely they are receiving unsolicited advice every time they leave the house. Don’t take offense to it.
Are you sure want to travel down this path?
If you feel that you have good intentions and that you can deliver your message with grace, ask yourself “Am I ready to have this exhausted parent possibly give me the evil eye, walk off without responding or worse…tell me off in public?” If you can handle it, go ahead. If you feel like you will be brought to the brink of tears with a small confrontation, remember more than likely whatever words you will have spouting out of your mouth, can also send the new mom or dad into tears as well (what parent wants to feel like they aren’t doing good enough?), so it’s probably best not to say anything at all.
Do you think they really want your advice?
If you do, you are mistaken. No one wants your advice, period.
We don’t care what you think, how you did it, what you would do differently, or what you think of our choices. If you’ve raised your kids great. Go travel. If you don’t have kids and are offering advice…don’t. If you have been a parent all of five minutes and decide you want to school someone who has been a parent much longer on everything they are doing wrong, well then I hope that conversation works out for you.
Not all advice is bad advice, nor does it warrant anyone being rude or snarky. However, if you approach a parent offering unsolicited advice, be prepared for whatever they give you. More than likely you aren’t the first to throw in an unwanted opinion, so don’t take it personally. Just mind your business.
Love of impromptu dance parties, 80’s cartoons, and horizontal life pauses (aka naps); Natasha Brown is a stay at home mom of 4 kids, and wife to one lucky guy! In her spare time, she is co-editor of Grits & Grace, as well as editor for The Mother Hustler Blog and Creative Director for the Mother Hustler podcast.