I know, everyone has an opinion and everyone has advice. Especially when it comes to motherhood. We all either joke or fume about it when it happens, especially in the public arena. Who hasn’t had a perfect stranger tell them how they are somehow messing up?
For some reason, it bothers us to receive unwarranted advice when it comes to something as personal as parenting. And yet, we know the job is so hard, we kind of should take all the help we can get – even if it’s not from a renown baby expert psychologist Youtube-r, right?
And then people say it’s not what you say, but how you say it. I’m not so sure… There is some advice, no matter how gently it’s put… Um… yep, still pretty hard to hear. Offensive even.
But – maybe I had to hear it…
“Honey, do you realize you tend to act like you have a favorite child?”
That was one tough thing to hear. At first, the walls went up as both shame and fear took a foothold. How could someone accuse me of favoring either one of my precious babies over the other? And then, the fear: what if I do act this way?
I like to think that I do not have it all figured out and that is ok! Because – get this – I really do think that we are all here to help and learn from each other. Even the ones intrusive (or caring) enough to give you advice.
The trick is to discern whether the advice is worth a good listen.
So this is what I do when it comes to advice or commentary that is hard to hear, but might help me grow either as a parent or in general as a person. Along with my moral compass, I go through a mental questionnaire:
- Is there an inkling of doubt that what this person says might ring true?
- Even if this advice or comment is false: Can I think of personal behaviors that might lend credence to the commentary?
- Can it benefit my family that I consider the words or advice this person has to offer?
Notice I don’t really worry if that person cares about me or not. The harshest truths often come from the mouths of our enemies way easier than it does from people who want you to like them.
And that’s ok too – I appreciate any help I can get in this mom life journey. Does it mean I have to question every single thing I do to the point of paralysis? Of course not!
The show must go on!
But this has certainly helped me to see different perspectives and simply appreciate the fact that we can all still learn from one another.
It doesn’t hurt anyone to analyze their parenting a bit closer every so often, even if it is through the eyes of a complete stranger.
Negativity aside, have you ever had a positive encounter where someone gave you unwarranted advice and you learned from it? Do you think it helps to reframe “intrusiveness” as “helpful” even if the other person’s motivations may appear far from benign?