When you become a mom, you suddenly realize you’ve been surrounded by parenting experts all along. Well-intentioned family members, online acquaintances, even the elderly stranger you meet in the HyVee checkout line is full of golden nuggets of wisdom you didn’t even ask for (or necessarily want, for that matter)! It can be overwhelming to process all the unsolicited advice and remarks, especially if you’re intent on taking some of it to heart.
Like a cluttered home causing anxiety, a cluttered mind can be troublesome to new moms as well. During this first year of motherhood, I’ve found a way to ease that stress by compartmentalizing the unsolicited advice I seem to receive on a daily basis. By sorting this advice into three categories–grin, gripe, and let go–I can feel better prepared to process, respond to, and apply all sorts of advice that comes my way. Think of it as emotional spring cleaning!
I cannot deny that the adage “It takes a village to raise a child” is true. There is so much wisdom beyond our own capabilities, I would never want to diminish the art of advice giving and receiving. As a society, we can be just as harmfully defensive about advice as we are overly confident to share it; this is problematic to our roots of tribal collaboration. In today’s world we just may need to do more filtering of all the new information that comes our way.
My process for sorting this type of parenting advice is simple: if the suggestions or remarks seem to genuinely be in the best interest of my family, and come from a source of trust, I ‘grin’ and give their advice a shot. I might:
- Try swaddling my newborn at night.
- Read a book about introducing solids that was recommended by a friend.
- Recognize that my mom is right about introducing more toys to his environment.
- Start using a firm ‘no’ when my crawling babe goes near something unsafe.
The gripe category is where I take a stand against advice or rude remarks that *to me* are straight up bad or against my values. It’s where you can be forthcoming about declining the unsolicited comment. Every parent’s gripe category is unique to their areas of passion or sensitivity. Those areas may include unnecessary remarks against or regarding:
- The way you decide to feed your child.
- Your decision to work outside the home/stay home/work from home.
- Behavior and discipline philosophies.
- Your personal style of parenting (attachment, helicopter, free range, etc.).
It helps to recognize the aspects of my mothering that are more sensitive so I can be more reflective as to why those areas are touchy. When I can establish why certain values are more vulnerable or important, I am better prepared to handle perceived or overt criticism.
Ah, recognizing and reflecting on this category has been life changing for this typically over-analyzing mama. It’s purposefully deciding to smile and nod during those moments you know you’ll never use that advice (at least not yet anyways). It’s accepting the unsolicited comment from a stranger, and then promptly releasing it back into the void of don’t-give-a-hoot. To truly compartmentalize into this category you need to also force yourself to not let the remarks make you angry or defensive. That part is crucial…crucial, I tell you! These types of ‘let it go’ moments may or may not include:
- “Do you ever put shoes on him?!”
- “I wouldn’t let him use a pacifier if I was you.” (Well Susan, you aren’t me…but Imma let that one go)
- “Time for a haircut don’t ya think?”
- “Why isn’t he talking/walking/solving algebraic functions yet? Make sure you’re practicing enough!”
You get the picture.
Living in the information and oversharing age can feel overwhelming at times. And yes, I realize this is a blog post giving advice on receiving too much advice, but hopefully this process will save you time and energy in the long run. Sorting through the myriad of parenting advice is more manageable when organized and decluttered. Think of your mind as a home in need of spring cleaning; give some TLC, open those windows, and toss the junk!
What are some examples of advice you would grin, gripe, or let go? Comment below!