Every new parent will be the recipient of advice, whether they want to hear it or not. Usually, that advice falls into one of six entertaining and, yes, at times informative categories listed below. You’ve been warned!
1. The “legally required” advice.
Advice that usually sounds more like a liability disclaimer than actual helpful insights. These are usually given by pediatricians and anyone who asks you to sign a waiver before proceeding with an activity. Example: The doctor advises your child be given all four vaccinations in one appointment. You, the nervous new mom ask if that’s too many at once. The reply comes in the form of technical jargon about the child’s body being able to handle the vaccinations, punctuated with the four words every nervous, exhausted new mother hates: “It’s up to you.”
2. The “please don’t hate me” advice.
My mother is the master of this one. So hesitant to get involved in my parenting, she’ll occasionally come out with, “is that too big a chunk of bread for him?” only to quickly follow up with, “you know, you’re the parent!” These well-meaning observations are generally made out of love, although they can be issued with a judgmental tone depending on whom you’re talking to. Handle accordingly.
3. The “I did it this way so why don’t you” advice.
Grandparents are especially good at this one. “I never had this,” or “you never had that,” or, “we just did it this way and you survived” come from the mouths of new grandparents quite frequently. Treat them as interesting remarks on how parenting worked for a previous generation. Sometimes you’ll pick up on a trick or two, or just thank God for modern parenting science.
4. The “I’m obviously a better parent than you” advice.
Given by strangers in public places who feel the need to tell you how badly you’re parenting, because it’s easier than correcting the results of their own past mistakes. Recently, my son decided to crawl around the public library. An older woman sitting with her phone-obsessed son proceeded to tell me, “Those floors are dirty,” as she grimaced at my happy toddler. When I replied that everything is dirty, she proceeded to admonish, “But this is public.” I simply smiled smartly and ended the conversation with, “Well, he doesn’t stay home all day,” before letting him crawl right past her son, too busy playing on his phone to read a book. In a library. Case closed.
5. The straight-up advice.
This usually comes from fellow mothers who are either in the midst of dealing with, or have just dealt with whatever it is you’re trying to figure out. Food allergies are the best. When my son was diagnosed with potential allergies to a variety of foods, I was able to get a ton of great opinions from different moms who were handling the same thing in different ways. Every wise parent will also back up the advice with, “run it by your doctor.” Why? Because they know that what works for one kid doesn’t always work for the other. They also know that doctors who have five minutes of face time won’t necessarily review your options with you the way an experienced mother can and will.
6. The best kind.
The best advice you receive was summed up in the words of my favorite neighbor, a 70-something mother, grandmother and great-grandmother: “You’ll get all kinds of advice. Just nod and say, ‘oh that’s a good idea,’ and then do whatever you want. In the end you’re the parent, not them.”