If you look at any ‘what not to say to new parents’ apparently the number one thing NOT to do is offer any advice or opinions. Now call me weird but am I the only person who doesn’t get this?
After Matilda was born, in fact to this very day, I’m grateful for any suggestions/advice/opinions that gets thrown my way. Sure, we’ve received a mixed bag. My husband’s been told to ‘not be afraid to hurt them’ by a middle aged mum of three and ‘in my opinion the most important thing is to let them cry for a good half an hour’ from a father of six. To date we’ve not had the heart to follow either of these suggestions yet, but hey, never say never!
On the flipside we’ve also been on the receiving end of some advice worth it’s weight in gold. In the early days, being told to put a hot water bottle in the crib to help the baby settle after night feeds was a total game changer. My mum’s advice of cutting the feet off babygrows has also helped save a small fortune. And my mother in laws jokey comment ‘if you had two you wouldn’t even notice that whimper’ as I busted a gut to sprint across the room to comfort her for the 15th time that minute helped me gain a sense of perspective and priority.
Granted though all the advice I’ve mentioned above all comes from the older people with many years hard parenting graft under their belt. One young childless upstart tried telling me to introduce a dummy (we’d already tried 6 brands, none worked) and to put her to bed later to get her to sleep in later (already tried that, who knew sleep begets sleep). This I confess was mildly irritating, a bit like a buzzing gnat that won’t go away. I just smiled wryly, all the while thinking ‘just you wait, my dear. Just you wait…’
When it comes to the advice/opinion question in my experience the two particularly divisive areas seem to be weaning and sleep training. I imagine smacking is also up there for slightly older children too. I think these are babydom’s politics and religion, topics to be avoided at all cost. Everyone has their own opinions and everyone believes their way is THE way. I’m sure we’ve all heard family rifts about one too many ‘why don’t you give little Tommy some baby rice. He looks sooo hungry’ or ‘how can you bare to let her WAIL like that’. Even amongst good friends I’ve had to change the subject a couple of times to avoid things getting a bit overheated…
Despite that I don’t think we should stop trying to help each other out. I’m all for offering advice and opinions but I do try to be tactful with it. And equally, if someone does offer unsolicited advice or opinons to you, they’re (probably) only trying to help and not undermine you as a parent. I mean surely that’s the thing about advice and opinion you don’t have to listen, but hell, you might even learn something?! And just think one day our children will try give us their advice. Pah, as if I’ll listen to that!
What’s the best/worst advice you’ve been given?