Unsolicited Parenting Advice – I’ll Pass

unsolicited parenting adviceBeing a parent is hard enough without throwing in the unsolicited parenting advice.  There are a whole host of things that strangers (sometimes well-meaning, sometimes self-righteous or judgmental) will comment on.  Breastfeeding?  Sure, you’ll get some supportive comments when your baby is still obviously a newborn, but once your baby seems to be even slightly aware of his or her surroundings, you’ll start getting comments about how it’s time for a bottle.

Another fun one for unsolicited parenting advice is discipline.  Don’t spank your child for misbehaving in the store?  You’re clearly raising an entitled brat.  Spank your child for running into traffic?  Someone should call CPS.

I saw a comment on an anti-spanking blog post by Dad Blunders that irritated me today.  Not because of the anti-spanking premise (your kid, you decide on discipline), but because of the lack of understanding about unsolicited parenting advice.  The commenter said “Hitting someone you are supposed to LOVE makes no sense to me, whatsoever. I have had many unpleasant encounters when I speak up for the child who is being mistreated at a store or restaurant. Mostly all I get is hostility and threats of violence to me! And the rest of the public tells me to mind my own business.”

Seriously?  Someone is shocked that people don’t want unsolicited parenting advice?

Look, it’s rough enough trying to cope with the stares and the feelings of judgment.  Regardless of whether I do or don’t agree with what you are doing as a parent, there are times and places for comments.  I’m pretty sure I’d tell her off, too, if she’d decided to give me her 2¢ when I’m clearly struggling.  That’s not helping.  It’s just adding to parenting stress.

She’s lucky she gets told to just mind her own business.   I suspect that if it were not for the presence of children, there would be lots of eff-bombs thrown in there, too.  Hostility is not unreasonable when someone comes up and tries to tell you how to raise your children.  That’s precisely what unsolicited parenting advice often is.

On the spanking front, there’s something else to keep in mind.  Whether one thinks that it is child abuse or not, it’s also pretty wise to keep in mind the laws of the area.  It’s legal to spank with the hand on the bottom in British Columbia.  It is not legal to use any other sort of implement.

I’m not going to tell you that I’m for or against spanking.  That’s just entirely too black and white.  But I’m most definitely opposed to unsolicited parenting advice.

Do you feel that there’s a time and a place for unsolicited parenting advice?

About Suzi

Suzi is an American ex-pat living in British Columbia. She's a cloth diaper addict, wife, mom of three, and President of the Prince George chapter of Cloth for a Cause.

Comments

  1. I’m so with you here!!

  2. Oh I remember when my son was a baby, all the “advice” I would get. They felt I needed it since I was a new mom (but had raised 3 other kids, one from newborn!). So frustrating!

  3. While I HATE “advice” I do think there is a place for it. I am against spanking but I yell..I’m angry. Both do the same amount of emotional damage. I have “distracted” parents who were loosing it and been distracted when I had just reached my limit.

    I was shopping and the kids were just being HORRIBLE. (they were probably normal but I had just had my 10th miscarriage and was on a hair trigger.) I was just yelling at them. An older lady stepped in. Who knows…maybe I would have hit my kids. I was embarrassed and ashamed of myself for treating them that way and I’m grateful for her bravery.

    I’ve stepped in when I saw a mother smacking her child across the face. She hit her like 3 times before I had grabbed her arm. The little girl looked to be about 3. She wasn’t ‘poppin’ her mouth or smackin’ she was raring back and SMACKING her….arm in the arm above shoulder height and swingin’. There were people just standing around watching. The only thing I could think was if she’s this comfortable beating her kid in public then what does she do at home? And, if she had honestly snapped…how horrible is she going to feel hurting her child?

    So, while I hate unsolicited advice (you’ll spoil him for picking him up when he cries, or he’s hungry cause your milk is thin or my fav you’ll make the unborn baby stupid cause you’re nursing your child.)…I do believe there’s a time and a place to give it…and even step in. Your nursing or bottle feeding or smackin on the butt is your choice but sometimes a smack on the butt turns into a physical beating…or a yell turns into a verbal beating. I really am glad that lady stepped in and offered her unsolicited parenting advice to me.

    ~Honey

    • You’re right. It’s that fine line judgment call that one needs to keep in mind. Also, according to the laws of where I live, that mother who was slapping her child across the face like that was committing a crime. That’s considered child abuse in my jurisdiction. And I’m so, so sorry for your loss.

  4. I agree with Honey also – there are levels. When it’s a matter of personal opinion then I say BUTT OUT. If the child is being purposely deprived, physically beaten, verbally abused (name calling and berating), above and beyond the swat on the back side or “HEY KNOCK IT OFF!!! You know better than that”, then the situation changes from unsolicited advice to standing up for someone who can’t stand up for themselves. The woman you mention in the article who gets told to mind her own business sounds like someone who needs to better gauge when it is appropriate to open her mouth – especially if it keeps happening over and over.

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