Author of Gentle Baby Care
I'm getting so frustrated with the endless stream of advice I get
from my mother-in-law and brother! No matter what I do, I'm doing
it wrong. I love them both, but how do I get them to stop dispensing
all this unwanted advice?"
Just as your baby is an important part of your life, he is also
important to others. People who care about your baby are bonded
to you and your child in a special way that invites their counsel.
Knowing this may give you a reason to handle the interference gently,
in a way that leaves everyone's feelings intact.
of the advice, it is your baby, and in the end, you will raise your
child the way that you think best. So it's rarely worth creating
a war over a well-meaning person's comments. You can respond to
unwanted advice in a variety of ways:
It's natural to be defensive if you feel that someone is judging
you; but chances are you are not being criticized; rather, the other
person is sharing what they feel to be valuable insight. Try to
listen - you may just learn something valuable.
If you know that there is no convincing the other person to change
her mind, simply smile, nod, and make a non-committal response,
such as, "Interesting!" Then go about your own business...your way.
You might find one part of the advice that you agree with. If you
can, provide wholehearted agreement on that topic.
If your mother-in-law insists that Baby wear a hat on your walk
to the park, go ahead and pop one on his head. This won't have any
long-term effects except that of placating her. However, don't capitulate
on issues that are important to you or the health or well-being
of your child.
clear of the topic
If your brother is pressuring you to let your baby cry to sleep,
but you would never do that, then don't complain to him about your
baby getting you up five times the night before. If he brings up
the topic, then distraction is definitely in order, such as, "Would
you like a cup of coffee?"
Knowledge is power; protect yourself and your sanity by reading
up on your parenting choices. Rely on the confidence that you are
doing your best for your baby.
Educate the other person
If your "teacher" is imparting information that you know to be outdated
or wrong, share what you've learned on the topic. You may be able
to open the other person's mind. Refer to a study, book, or report
that you have read.
Many people accept a point of view if a professional has validated
it. If your own pediatrician agrees with your position, say, "My
doctor said to wait until she's at least six months before starting
solids." If your own doctor doesn't back your view on that issue,
then refer to another doctor - perhaps the author of a baby care
You can avoid confrontation with an elusive response. For example,
if your sister asks if you've started potty training yet (but you
are many months away from even starting the process), you can answer
with, "We're moving in that direction."
Your friendly counselor is possibly an expert on a few issues that
you can agree on. Search out these points and invite guidance. She'll
be happy that she is helping you, and you'll be happy you have a
way to avoid a showdown about topics that you don't agree on.
Memorize a standard response
Here's a comment that can be said in response to almost any piece
of advice: "This may not be the right way for you, but it's the
right way for me."
Try being honest about your feelings. Pick a time free of distractions
and choose your words carefully, such as, "I know how much you love
Harry, and I'm glad you spend so much time with him. I know you
think you're helping me when you give me advice about this, but
I'm comfortable with my own approach, and I'd really appreciate
if you'd understand that."
If the situation is putting a strain on your relationship with the
advice-giver, you may want to ask another person to step in for
out like-minded friends
Join a support group or on-line
club with people who share your parenting philosophies. Talking
with others who are raising their babies in a way that is similar
to your own can give you the strength to face people who don't understand
article is an excerpt from Gentle
Baby Care by Elizabeth Pantley. (McGraw-Hill, 2003)
Reprinted with permission.