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Dealing With Naysayers & Unwanted Advice

>> Monday, December 13, 2010

If you're pregnant or have children, most likely you have been here. From the unsolicited advice to the criticisms on anything you decide to do with your child. There are so many opinions on things from breastfeeding, diapering, recycling, child care, type of crib, co-sleeping, etc, that often people loose sight of what's important.
For me this very topic came up at Thanksgiving. My husband and I decided to unveil our baby's name. Our first boy! We are so excited! I hadn't really wanted to share his name due to what happened last time [a whole different story]. I was worried, but figured it didn't matter because we had officially chosen his name. Well....long story short, some people were less than thrilled with our choice. And were quite VOCAL about it. It must be pregnancy hormones because I wanted to flip out, pull my hair out and set something on fire. Not really. But I was irritated to say the least.
You may come across this, "Well, when I was pregnant," [back in 1952], "____ was considered totally safe. If your uncle survived then it's got to be ok." REALLY? It seems most people just can't help themselves. It like people feel the need to unload all of their wisdom on you whether or not you care to hear it. Some of it might be good, so it's always good to hear someone out. But remember that it's OK to have your own opinion, and to voice that opinion too.

Responses to Unwanted Advice:
* This may not be the way you would do it, but it's working for us.
* Quote a Doctor. For example: My doctor said to wait until he/she is six months old before starting solids.
* Smile and Nod. I know. Not the best but it can work to end the discussion if the person thinks you're going to try said advice.
* Deflect. Change the subject.
* Actually listen. Put it in your back pocket, who knows there could be some truth to it.

Responses to Criticism:
Criticism is different in that it tends to be more than unwanted advice. Criticism would be the response I got for our baby name choice: a RUDE remark that undermines you as a person, making you feel less, stupid or horrible. Obviously something that wouldn't fall into the constructive criticism column. I found this list of responses from ACTUAL parents who have had this issue:
* That's interesting. What makes you think that?
* I respect your opinion and value your advice, but I have thought this out carefully and done a lot of research, and my mind is made up. I will be happy to respect your opinion and listen to what you have to say, but you have to respect my decision--and it is MY decision.
* This is what works for our family. Unless it becomes a problem, we're not going to change things.

The hardest part is going to be trying to not respond in an overly defensive manner. Try responding with a smile [even if you're gritting your teeth]. Also, try to remember how you feel and avoid being the person annoying someone else. The best idea is to wait until someone asks and then respond with a, "This is what works for us. It might not work for you but ____."

Feel free to share a time when you were given some less than helpful advice or some tough criticism about your choices.

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Alden December 13, 2010 at 3:27 PM  

ugh thanks I needed this today... I have been DRILLED today on why I want an epidural and why I'm being induced... I really just wanted to say "oh really and when did YOU become a doctor?" grr lol

Lil' Miss Sunshine December 13, 2010 at 3:44 PM  

Haha! I totally get that! I get drilled about having my repeat c-section. I got it with the last baby too. How about, "Mind your own BUSINESS" DER.
I hope people step back off of your case and enjoy what's really happening: the birth of a new baby!

-blog poster [natasha]

Troy and Lisa December 13, 2010 at 4:00 PM  

Thank you! I've had lots of criticism for having my baby sleep in my room, or picking her up when she cries, etc. I waited 27 years to have this baby and I'm going to spoil her all I want while she is still a baby because it only lasts a little while. She's 3 months old now and growing so fast. She's in her own crib and happy and I'm so glad I got that precious time with her in my room. It really helped our bonding and I'm glad I didn't listen to the many people who told me to take her out.

Lil' Miss Sunshine December 13, 2010 at 4:06 PM  

Oh I'm so glad you stuck to your guns! That time does go by soooo fast. Too fast! I dislike that some people act like decisions like these are life threatening. It's not like you were putting your child in danger...then and only then would an opinion be warranted.

-blog poster [natasha]

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