Parenting Advice? Back Off

Everyone of us will have a time when we need parenting advice.  I’ve reached out to some moms for advice on housebreaking Norton.  Others will reach out for parenting advice on a host of other subjects: vegan feeding, diaper rashes, when to start solids, or whether or not to sleep train.

No matter what we do as parents, someone will think that we’re wrong.  Fine.  You can’t please all of the people all of the time.  (But you sure can make them all mad.)  It seems that when we ask for parenting advice, that’s when it REALLY comes out.

And that’s when it’s the most hurtful.Parenting Advice? Back Off (Cloth Diaper Addicts)

When things are going well, I can handle it if someone tells me that I’m a horrible mother because I didn’t breastfeed.  Whatever.  I know why I didn’t breastfeed.  I don’t need anyone’s validation on the subject.  But when Eudora was having her excessive vomiting that we eventually learned was due to a milk protein intolerance, if someone had said to me, “You know, Suzi, you could have avoided all of this if you’d just breastfed your daughter like nature intended you to,” I would have been crushed.  I would have been angry.

I would have been kicked when I was down.

I don’t need someone to send me links about how breastfeeding is superior because of nutritional value being tailor-made.  I don’t need to be told that my baby will be a fat, ugly moron because I didn’t breastfeed.  That’s not helpful parenting advice.  That’s cruelty.

If someone says that she feels terrible because she tried sleep training (or cry it out) because she was desperate for sleep… and then found that there was a reason why her kid was crying… that’s not the time for a debate.  She might be looking for some helpful parenting advice to sleep train her child, or she might be looking for some encouragement on how maybe she doesn’t need to sleep train.  You know what she doesn’t need?  Eleventy billion links on how she’s going to cause her child to grow up to be a serial killer because she didn’t hug him enough.  That’s not parenting advice.  That’s just pushing one’s own agenda.

There’s only one universal truth of parenting: we’re all going to screw up.  We’re going to say something we shouldn’t when we’re angry or make stupid decisions because we’re tired.  We’re going to get tired of arguing bathtime and just send Junior to bed.  As long as we aren’t abusing our children, the rest will be different.  We’re going to make decisions tailor-made to suit our children and our families.  We’re also going to screw up under those same guidelines.

Just do the best that you can with what you’ve got.

What was the meanest piece of “parenting advice” you’d ever received?  How did you handle it?

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.


  1. Unwarranted parenting advice is one of my top pet peeves. And mostly, it seems to come from either people who aren’t parents, or those who are doing it all wrong.

  2. “You know, Suzi, you could have avoided all of this if you’d just breastfed your daughter like nature intended you to,”

    Technically true. Blah blah blah. But only if you had avoided milk in your diet too, so still not totally helpful “unwanted parenting advice.” Coulda, woulda, shoulda. Hindsight is always 20/20. The solution to the problem is not going back into the past to change things. When I screw up (and I do because we all do), I learn from those mistakes. You know your child best, so screw the unwanted advice. Take what you want and leave the rest.

    • I hope my comment makes sense. I’m not commenting on the formula/breastfeeding thing but rather the “yes, I could have prevented X problem by doing things differently, but, unless you have a time machine, that’s not a feasible solution.”

      • Nah, I get it. 🙂 Technically true, but a little late to go back, and particularly unfeasible with my own psychological hangups.

  3. Such a very true statement. We are ALL going to screw up. 6 kids here and not one has been a carbon copy of the other. It’s all trial and error and holding tight to what you know works.

  4. Michelle B says:

    I can agree so much with this post. I’ve learned a lot from the first time I became a mother to now being pregnant with #4. While we all look for advice, people shouldn’t kick us when we’re down and already feeling terrible anyway. While I’ve been told I’m a terrible parent (from my father out of anger) my husband and I know that the choices we make are best for us and our family

  5. Absolutely. I think we’re too concerned as parents about “getting it right” or “being right.” Once a decision is made, it doesn’t help to reflect on “should haves,” anyway. The best thing we can do is support each other going forward.

  6. Great post. I too didn’t breastfeed. It happens. The best thing to do is keep being YOU. 🙂 You know what’s right for your kiddo!

  7. Rachel R. says:

    I’m pregnant with my first but the unsolicited advice is already coming. My hopes for natural childbirth came up in a conversation with a coworker yesterday, who proceeded to tell me that because I have small hands/bone structure I may need a C-section. First of all, that’s totally unfounded since our bodies adapt during labor (and has she seen the size of my hips?? haha) and secondly, why try to scare me?

    I think most of the time when someone brings up a problem, they just want validation of their feelings, NOT a lecture!

  8. Dominique Goh says:

    Mine was ..why did you breastfeed for so long etc.. each kid is different and their needs are also different so who are they to know what works best for our kids..most of the time.. I just brush them off with quirky retorts.. especially if that person has an acid tongue I would tell them.. you didn’t breastfeed that long that’s why yours ….

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