Ask Our Experts: How to Navigate Well Meaning Parenting Advice
Q: I’m pregnant with my first baby, and I’m feeling overwhelmed by all of the ‘well-meaning advice’ that’s being given. I find it especially hard when it’s coming from my mother-in-law, or grandparents as I believe my parenting style will be quite different to theirs, plus so much has changed since they had babies! I want to be respectful, but don’t know how much of this I can take!
Kyrin: Congratulations on welcoming your first baby, what an exciting and overwhelming time indeed. There are so many well-meaning people out there, strangers on the street will often give you unsolicited advice but it is much easier to walk away from a stranger than it is a MIL. I love that you know how different your parenting style will be, times have changed and with that so have we. Having boundary conversations about parenting with people who have been parents can and will most likely be difficult. When setting boundaries make sure you know what you want to communicate and continue to repeat it.
Here are a few examples below of telling someone you will ask for advice if you need it:
“I’m really excited about this journey, and I will let you know if I have any questions”
“Thanks for the advice, in the future I will ask you if I have any questions”
“Thank you for all your support and encouragement, if I need help I will ask for it”
There may be a time when you need to have a further conversation and put some firm boundaries in place.
“I need you to respect my process, I will ask you if there is something I think you can help me with.”
Identifying yourself can often help others process better rather than the focus being on them.
And finally, if that doesn’t work it will be time to have a very honest conversation with all parties involved:
“At the moment I am getting a lot of well-meaning advice, and I appreciate that you love me and our baby so much. However, I am looking forward to this journey of becoming a parent and want to discover things myself. I’m respectfully asking you to check first before giving me advice on parenting, that way I can let you know where I am at and if I need anything. And please know that if I need to, I will ask you for support.”
Having a consistent message about what it is you need and/or don’t need helps to solidify your point, it may take a few goes (a lot occasionally) but in the end most people get it.
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