How to Handle Unsolicited Parenting Advice
As a new parent, you’ll experience the highs of joy and wonder along with the lows of challenges—including coping with unsolicited parenting advice. This comprehensive guide provides pro tips to help you evaluate advice objectively, set clear boundaries, and gain confidence in your parenting instincts. As you embark on this incredible journey of parenthood, it’s essential to remember that you are not alone. The joys of watching your little one grow and discover the world around them will fill your heart with an overwhelming sense of happiness.
At the same time, the challenges that come with parenting can sometimes feel overwhelming. It’s during these moments that unsolicited advice tends to flood in from all angles. While it’s natural for others to offer their opinions, it’s crucial to remember that you have the final say as a parent. This guide aims to equip you with the necessary tools to evaluate and navigate through the plethora of advice that may come your way.
3 Key Questions to Ask When Given Parenting Advice
Unsolicited advice refers to opinions offered without request. Examples include comments on feeding, holding or disciplining your baby. While support from trusted sources is invaluable, unsolicited advice can seem intrusive or judgmental.
Evaluate any advice objectively by asking:
- Is it evidence-based and recommended by experts?
- Does it align with my values and priorities as a parent?
- Will it benefit my child and family?
If the advice doesn’t meet these criteria, thank the advice giver and continue to trust your instincts. As a new parent, you know your situation and baby best. Remember that most people offering advice genuinely want to help and share their experiences. Acknowledge their intent by saying something like, “I appreciate that you’re trying to help, and I know you have a lot of experience in this area.” This helps set a positive tone and shows that you’re not dismissing their input entirely.
Responding to and Setting Boundaries Around Unsolicited Advice
Stay calm and composed when receiving advice, especially in person. Respond politely but assertively, saying “Thank you, I’ll consider your input.” If advice persists or becomes judgmental, communicate your limits clearly, e.g. “I appreciate your concern. However, my partner and I will make this decision.”
Setting boundaries may be difficult, but remain consistent and open to reassessing if needed. Choose which battles to engage in and which to ignore based on your baby’s best interests. Your top priority is supporting your child’s health, safety and well-being.
If you’re dealing with unsolicited advice from your spouse’s family, it’s essential to have your spouse’s support. Encourage them to step in and speak with their parent if the advice becomes too much. This can help alleviate some of the pressure on you and demonstrate that you and your spouse are a united front.
Avoid Responding With Sarcasm
Resist the urge to respond with sarcasm, as this can lead to unnecessary conflict and hurt feelings. Instead, maintain a respectful and calm tone when setting boundaries. If you find the situation escalating, take a step back and try to address it at a later time when emotions have settled.
Gain Confidence by Connecting with Trusted Parenting Resources
Sometimes, unsolicited advice comes from misconceptions or outdated information. Empower yourself by staying informed about current parenting best practices. This way, you can confidently respond to advice with evidence-based information and reassure the advice-giver that you’re taking your parenting role seriously.
Connect with reputable sources like pediatricians, parenting books and evidence-based websites (NSPCC link). Participate in supportive new parent communities, both online and in-person. Share stories and advice with others in the same stage of life to feel empowered in your parenting journey.
However, approach any advice, whether from experts or communities, critically. Consider it objectively before determining what is right for your own situation. These days it is easy to start feeling like a failure by comparing yourself to unrealistic expectations from curated social media images. I was on the beach in Ramsgate one rainy morning, a parent parked up, took their toddler down onto the beach for a photo, then immediately went back to the car. Not all is what it seems on Instagram!
Popular Parenting Advice Books 2023
If you feel comfortable doing so, share your own research and experiences with the person giving unsolicited advice. This can help them understand your perspective and the choices you’re making for your child. For example, you might say, “I’ve been reading about the benefits of positive parenting, and it seems like a good fit for our family.”.
- The Whole-Brain Child by Daniel Siegel and Tina Bryson
- Effective Anger Management for Parents by Richard Bass
- How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber
- The Out of Sync Child by Carol Stock Kranowitz
3 Ways to Build Your Confidence as a New Parent
- Reflect on your wins and how you’ve grown as a parent.
- Learn from setbacks by viewing them as opportunities to strengthen your skills.
- Communicate openly with your parenting partner about feelings and concerns.
Parenting is a journey, not a destination. Be patient and remember that every new parent makes mistakes and has more to learn. Focus on small milestones and embrace each day as a new learning opportunity. It can be really easy to beat yourself up on your failings, losing your temper after an hours sleep for two nights running, giving in to extended screentime (the digital babysitter) because you just need some time to think. We are all human. People giving advice often want to present themselves as perfect, for context I am writing this whilst by 3 year old watches coco-melon eating a chocolate mini-roll.
While support from others is valuable, you know what is right for your child and family. Evaluate any advice objectively, set clear boundaries, and turn to reputable resources and communities for extra guidance. Most importantly, believe in yourself – you’ve got this!
It’s okay to feel overwhelmed or frustrated by unsolicited advice. Practice self-compassion by acknowledging your feelings and reminding yourself that you’re doing the best you can for your child. Give yourself permission to take breaks, seek support, and make mistakes as you navigate parenthood.