5 Ways To Handle Unsolicited Parenting Advice

by Charlene Flanagan

Congratulations! You have a new (or another) baby in your home. With all of the excitement and relief comes quite a bit of advice from doctors, grandparents, great-grandparents, neighbors, and even complete strangers who you may meet when you're out pushing the stroller. Much of this advice is probably unsolicited and can be pretty irksome. It seems like everyone has something to say about raising your son or daughter, how do you keep yourself from feeling totally overwhelmed? 

Caring for your newborn, or adding another bundle of joy to your brood, is overwhelming enough. There's no need to tiptoe around well-meaning, but annoying family members. Here’s what you can do to handle unsolicited parenting advice from your friends and family, with grace.

1. Remain Positive And Open

Okay, so you're new to this. If you're receiving lots of feedback from your mother (or mom-in-law or any other person in your family), you may not like what she has to say. After all, you will eventually find your way with or without her help. 

Before you choose to fight back, just remember that Grandma has good intentions, she is concerned about the baby. It may come across as criticism, but try to hear her out. At the very least, you will develop more parenting techniques to consider as you grow as a Mom.

Also, focus on keeping your relationship strong and positive. Grandma's advice means that she is trying to pitch in and share some of the responsibility, which could be great in the long run.  

2. Be Firm About Your Values

Every family has a certain way of raising the children. You were brought up a certain way, and so was your partner. Yes, you do owe it to your parents for teaching you well. That said, when it comes to your child, remember that how you choose to raise your baby is up to you. Ultimately, you're Mom now, so you can choose to follow the advice or do things your way.

Figure out your values as a mother, and be firm about it. Stick to what you believe no matter how much it may contradict what you have been told. You can even find other parents who share your values at church, a local club, or in a Meetup group.

3. Say Thanks, But No Thanks To Dated Parenting Styles

Now before you fly off the handle at primeval suggestions from your parents or older family members, remember that they were born at a time when medicine wasn't as advanced as it is today. For instance, 50 years ago, nursing was not as accepted as it is today. Similarly, psychological theories of discipline and attachment have evolved over the past century. So, cut your folks some slack. We totally understand how ridiculous they might come across, but you don't need to be rude. 

Simply say, "I appreciate your input, but I don't think that's right for me and I would appreciate if you respect that." You shouldn't feel guilty for not listening to them. Simply learn to say no. And when you're not sure, your baby’s pediatrician will be the best person to consult for medical advice.

4. Shut Out The Negativity

Sometimes your parents or in-laws can be quite hurtful, even if they don't mean to be. Here's one thing you have to remember: your baby is not the same as anyone else's and will invariably grow the way he or she is meant to.

As your family is adjusting to its new dynamic, learn to set boundaries. Relationship counselor Yvonne K. Fulbright Ph.D. advises that you speak to your spouse about challenging in-laws. "Discuss your need for boundaries and come to an agreement on what those boundaries are regarding your in-laws," says Fulbright.

5. Speak Your Mind

It may be a challenge to speak your mind with your family members, especially with a baby in your arms, but you don't want to keep your feelings bottled up. Sooner or later, your feelings will come out, and not the way it should.

So, learn to voice your concerns and let everyone know how you feel. Remember, it's only you who can put an end to the badgering. Nobody can read your mind. 

A great way to speak your mind is by first acknowledging that you hear what they are saying. Repeat their advice verbatim to indicate that you understand. Next, tell them that you appreciate their feedback and will consider their advice. Finally, tell them that you would appreciate space. Ask them to respect your position as the mother. If you say this calmly and clearly, you'll gain respect and will develop a stronger sense of self-confidence.

Have you struggled with challenging in-laws or family members after the birth of a new baby? Share your experience in the comments below.

Image: Shutterstock

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