Before my first child was born and all the cute little onesies and footie pajamas were being gifted to me, one of my most favorite onesies was one given to me by my sister. It was brown and had bright colored writing on it and it said “My Mom Doesn’t Want Your Advice.” I thought this was the funniest thing because even when my daughter was still about the size of a kiwi in my stomach, people were already giving me their input which ranged from what to register for to whether I needed a wipe warmer. So this onesie soon became my favorite, and was an inside joke between my sister and me.
Before having children of my own, I had so many ideas about how I was going to do things as a parent.
I laugh about it now. Oh, I had big plans for how much screen time I was going to allow my kids to have, how I was going to discipline them, what their diet would consist of, and so much more. But as soon as they put that tiny, squirming newborn in my arms, every idea and plan I had made prior to her being there, went out the window. As it was, the arrival of the baby into this world hadn’t gone as planned, so I was already off to a great start. And then, don’t get me started on my experience with feeding my newborn. That’s a whole other article. But there were still so many ways of caring for my baby that were important to me that I knew I was going to attempt to carry them out no matter what.
Enter everyone and their opinions.
And I do mean EVERYONE. From family, to friends, to complete strangers in the grocery store — everybody had advice or suggestions for the new mom, whether it was solicited or not. And many of these people were very well-meaning, I understand that now. But unfortunately, not only as a new mom, but even now as a seasoned mom with older children, when we as mothers do not ask for advice or help when it comes to raising our own children, even the most well-meaning suggestions can cause aggravation or frustration.
What it boils down to for moms is that someone thinks they can do it better with our own children when we are the ones that should know best. Is this necessarily true? Probably not. It is probably the most innocent, best-intentioned person’s advice that is only trying to help a fellow mom with what worked for them. But we have to remember, especially with new moms, that all they need in those early, difficult days is someone to let them know they get the struggle and just be there to help them adjust, without offering their opinions on their choice of diaper brand or whether they are breast or bottle.
Same goes with experienced mamas too. A friend of mine recently told me she attended a training where she heard the phrase “Listen to hear, not to answer.” I think we all need a dose of this in our day-to-day interactions sometimes. It’s what we all want. To feel seen and heard. New moms, old moms, etc. Each stage of motherhood comes with a new set of challenges and even the best laid plans will sometimes go out the window, so when this is the case, advice and opinions from unwanted sources does not help the situation. As fellow moms, let’s be there for each other every step of the way, and build each other up instead of making each other feel like we aren’t doing something the right way. Offer suggestions and help in a constructive way if necessary or let that person know you feel their frustration if something isn’t working out for a friend who is trying to raise their family in a way that doesn’t necessarily match with your parenting style, rather than offer your advice.
In other words, the lesson I learned from my experience is that I try very hard to bite my tongue when I find myself wanting to offer unsolicited advice or opinions to someone that has not asked for it. As I said, every stage comes with new territory and we all have our thoughts and opinions on how we want to parent our own children, and that is perfectly ok! I try to remember how I have felt when people do it to me and instead, I make sure I am being the person I have wished people were for me! And when I want suggestions and help, I ask, because I am not perfect, I do not know everything, and I definitely need the input from my fellow mom friends and family members. But I sure as heck am going to try it the way I want to first!