Sunday, September 13, 2009

Unsolicited parenting advice

I'm shocked by the things people say to us. It's like having a baby suddenly makes it OK for people to say all kinds of things to us that would otherwise be inappropriate. You wouldn't go up to a stranger and tell them that you think their clothes are ugly. You would not point at a couple across the street because they look adorable. And, you wouldn't call your mother/father/sibling just to tell them that they need to do the dishes more often. But, you would tell someone to their face that they're not doing the right thing with their baby?

First, let's distinguish between what is appropriate advice and what is inappropriate advice. It is certainly OK for someone to give advice when it is requested, or when it helps solve a problem we are having. It is not OK to give advice that contradicts our current actions or parenting style. So, for example, when Erinne posts a status update on Facebook and asks for suggestions on getting our baby to sleep, the responses that we get are appropriate. When someone points to us and says, "your baby cannot breathe in that wrap," or when a friend says that we should not feed our baby whenever she wants to eat, that is completely inappropriate.

The most offensive thing about these comments is that they presuppose that we are incapable of making good decisions for our child. We researched extensively and came to a conscious decision about how we want to raise our child, and it is not OK to tell us that that is wrong.

OK, I'm done talking about why some things are inappropriate. Next, I want to give some concrete examples of things people have said to us and why these things are incorrect, not just offensive.

"Your baby can't breathe in that wrap! Your baby is too hot in that wrap! Your baby is cold and needs a blanket!" We have had these things shouted at us. We have had a nurse roll her eyes at us because she did not believe us when we said our baby is fine.

I usually try to respond to these comments by providing as much information about the subject as I can, to show that I have educated myself on this and that I know what I am doing. Do people really think I don't know if my child is suffocating? Perhaps if I looked older and dressed better, I would appear more responsible and people would not do this to us?

Then, there's the advice we get from people regarding how to raise our child. If you find yourself giving us parenting advice that you know is in contrast to our chosen method, you might want to stop and ask yourself if your belief actually comes from a rational study of the facts, or if that's just what you believe. Also, don't assume you know more about this than we do; having raised a child yourself does not make you more qualified.

Rather than finish this article with examples of parenting advice that people give us inappropriately, I will follow it up with an article that talks about our particular parenting strategy and the advice that people sometimes give us that contradicts our strategy.

1 comment:

  1. yeah, pretty sure if the baby is still screaming her lungs out, she is probably breathing. Nurse fail.