19th July 2019

How to fend off unwanted parenting advice

There’s something about being pregnant and having a baby which makes you a prime target for unsolicited advice from everyone and anyone, about any number of things from whether you should exercise during pregnancy to how to settle your baby. It can be annoying, frustrating and down-right despairing. Especially when you’re a self-doubting new mum who is already questioning your own judgement.  But don’t panic, Rachel Tompkins has got some failsafe ways to fend it off…

Unveil your RBF

If you’ve been fortunate enough to have been born with a resting bitch face, then use it to your advantage when unwanted parenting advice is hurled at you. If not, essentially, by developing the moodiest face imaginable which can be utilised within a second’s notice you’ll see the unwanted advice begin to peter out.

Give nosy strangers what they want

Whether it’s old ladies on the bus, other mums at a playgroup or randoms at the supermarket, some people just can’t help but give their ‘two-penneth worth’ as our grandma would say. You’ll never be able to completely stop people like this, so you just have to give as good as you get. So, when a stranger notices a tiny bump on your baby’s head caused by face-planting some Lego, and unhelpfully says “oh no, did you drop him on the floor?”, bite back with “no, I threw him out of the window”. The trouble is, sometimes these responses don’t occur to you until the stranger has smugly slunk off, and instead you just laugh nervously. The solution? Prep some canned responses in advance!

‘Eff off’ family members

For all those family members that are helpful, there will always be that one who is just a bit too forceful, and plentiful, with their parenting advice. ‘Use a dummy.’ ‘Leave him to cry.’ ‘She’s ready for solids.’ ‘Give them a bottle.’ You get it, we’ve all been there. And whether or not the advice is intended to actually help, it can feel relentless and suffocating at the best of times. Especially when you’re constantly questioning yourself and trying not to Google absolutely everything.

An ideal response would be to tell them where to go. But in the interest of maintaining family relations there are a couple of alternative strategies to disarm and empower the offending advisors.

One is to smile sweetly as if you’re taking it all on board and then totally ignore. If that doesn’t work, making out that your GP or health visitor has told you otherwise is extremely effective. Who would challenge someone with such authority? Failing that, say you’ve tried it and it didn’t work. It’s particularly effective to do this while saying the words ‘Fu*k off’ in your head at the time. A small win, but a win nonetheless!

Laugh a lot

Not manically, because that could cause concern! But when used properly laughing can be the best way to fend off unwanted parenting advice while also not offending, but slightly baffling, the perpetrator.

Take for example the friend whose baby sleeps through the night, and she’s so keen to impart her wisdom about how she did it. When she starts blathering on about how she achieved this holy grail of parenting begin by smiling, and then start laughing. She’ll be so taken aback and bewildered that she’ll probably swiftly move onto the next topic with a slightly confused look on her face. And probably (correctly) put your bonkersness down to sleep deprivation…

Pick a tribe

The saying goes that your tribe attracts your vibe, and so it makes sense that the opposite can be true when necessary too.

So if someone is trying to impart advice about, for instance, what nappies you should buy or what feeding technique you should use, your response could be to place yourself firmly in the opposing camp ie. “Thanks but we don’t want to add to landfill so we use washable ones!”. Even if it’s not true, in one foul swoop you’ve silenced their unwanted advice.

Block them

Social media is a wonderful way of connecting with the world but one of the drawbacks is that it can be a means for your ‘friends’ ‘followers’ and complete strangers to offer their advice. And the best and most efficient way of dealing with it is to ignore or block them. Possibly the most satisfying thing you can do in one click! If only it worked in real life…

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