Monday, December 15

everyone's an expert

It happens to all us parents. I know it happened to you, right?

Some time along the road of parenting, when your child is between the ages of zero and 3 yrs, you will get the best advice ever known to humankind. There will be no other advice that compares. Not before and never again. This advice is pure gold. It is backed by intensive research and experience. The kind where, 'my mother did it, and my mother's mother before, and her mother's mother's mother'.

Perhaps you are lucky enough to have a mother or mother-in-law that will begin handing out this advice right from the moment you give birth. You might be so fortunate as to have it dished out whilst you're dishevelled, groggy, recovering from labour or surgery, and trying desperately to understand if your new baby is latching on correctly. Oh, you are the luckiest of us all!

Perhaps you were fortunate enough to get it during those newborn days. You were instructed on how to bathe, change, and feed your baby, because you just weren't doing it the way her mother did it. And if you were especially fortunate, you were shown how you should be holding her. Silly you, thinking you could hold your baby.

Oh how I envy the parents who had colicky babies! For you are the ones who receive advice by the truckload. And the best part? You usually receive it from someone over the phone whilst the baby is screaming blue murder in your ears.

Perhaps like me, you had to wait a little longer. My moments of advice joy came when my baby was around 7 months old. I was smart enough to do just the thing that brings on advice - I listened to my intuition and my baby. Perfect. And so it started and now, lucky me, at almost 8 months of age, it's in full swing.

Like all this advice that we so desperately want as new parents it comes in handy concise morsels of wisdom.

'You should be feeding her solids'.

I love that word! It just makes everything so crystal clear. There is no room for error or my losing my way. I should. That is all. Thank you!

That's right folks. I'm not talking about ordinary tidbits from friends and family. No, this is the GOOD stuff. This is the 'advice' that really says, 'you're doing it all wrong'. This is the stuff that us parents thrive on. It's the stuff that truly makes us better parents, like no reassurence ever could.

Haven't you started her on solids yet? She really should be having solids by now. I think she looks hungry. She'll probably sleep better if she ate solids. I think she sounds hungry for solids. Please feed her solids. Just a bit or banana, so little! I bet that's why she isn't sleeping well. My baby started solids at x months. Try to feed her some please. She isn't on solids yet?!

I love that last one too. It's the indirect-yet-not-so-subtle approach. The person is shocked but refrains from giving direct advice. Your methods are so extraordinary, it has invited actual shock. Too kind, really.

So parents, if you are sadly missing out on all this expert advice out there, then go ahead, use your intuition and read your baby's cues. You will surely invite it into your life, to be enriched thereafter.

Oh, and if your child is out of the baby stage, don't be sad. New advice will soon follow when you start disciplining all wrong.


  1. We all do it, and inadvertently we all give it too. I'm not sure why, since the child's own parents likely do know best.

  2. I have to say this cracked me up! The best is when the advice comes from someone with NO experience with children at all or the stranger in line at the store who thinks I MUST get help for my shy three year old because he will not talk to her!!!!

    A great day to you!

  3. I like your post. Somehow, my mom raised me to be pretty dog gone immune to advice. Most of the time, I'm so completely *naive* that I don't realize people are trying to tell me what to do at all. Though, last night, my MIL said if I did not cut my son's hair he will go cross-eyed and have vision problems. That was pretty blatant. hahahaha..

  4. I *advise* (yes, I know!) my friends not to listen to anyone offering advice. My mantra is, "You have to do what works for your family." Obviously, there are some caveats to that, but it is helpful to think of it that way. I do things I never imagined doing, and it's different for each child. When someone so generously offers me parenting tips, I respond with, "Thank you. I'll take that into consideration." Of course, that's only when I'm having a *good* day (wink).

  5. Lisa _ I don't know why we do it either. I think many people just feel smug when it's working for them (probably from luck! lol) or it just they just feel so strongly on a topic.

    Amy - chuckle, yes! strangers, they're priceless.

    CC - funny, I remember my best friend's mother telling to cut my own hair or I'll forever be cross-eued. I didn't, and I wasn't.

    barelyknittogether - welcome.
    Yes, i often do the smile and nod thing too, lol.

  6. Unwanted advice can be frustrating. I have come to realize that most people that give advice are only trying to help, but there are a few who just want the satisfaction of being right. I try to hold off on giving advice until I am asked. Mamas should always go with their own insticts first.

  7. Oh yes indeedy! Isn't it wonderful? And what would we do without it?

    I'm eternally grateful to the middle-aged man in the silly hat, who (looking as though he'd never had a thing to do with children in his life) 'advised' me that I should not be putting my 2 year old child in her push chair because she's far too old for it. Ahhh...the kindness of complete bloody strangers.

    He probably would have dropped that little pearl even if he'd know that I don't drive a car and had to walk to the shops and generally get around on foot with my (barely 2 yr old) child. It would have taken 3 hours if my toddler had gotten out of her pushchair and walked with me all the way.

    I did note that the woman he was with at the time rolled her eyes at him. But I appreciated his input enormously.

  8. Oh, yes. And you'd think the older the boys get the less that happens??? Haaahahahhaha. Not. We have always been out of the mainstream from co-sleeping to extended breastfeeding, from non-coercive "discipline" to now unschooling. Gasp! I am sure we are in for a lifetime of comments from complete strangers.

    I'm a pretty strong personality, so they don't get to me, but I am indeed amazed that complete strangers have the (round objects here) to comment on those things. I have a hard time not giggling when people go off the deep end though, so it is usually best if I smile, nod, say thanks, and exit quickly.

    What I do NOT like is that the boys are getting older, are perfectly capable of hearing and processing comments, and I don't think certain questions or comments are appropriate from strangers when it affects the thoughts and perceptions of the kids. Not cool...

  9. Hmmm...feeling strongly about this? :-)

    I think that kind of unwanted advice comes from that old way of parenting: by tradition. Of course, traditions also change.

    I learned immediately that children will develop on their own schedules, and that parents need to modify their "plans" accordingly, when my son cut his first tooth at 3 1/2 months! And he was clearly ready for solids at 9 months, right when I was ready to wean him. Which followed the traditional anthroposophical "schedule", but was just a coincidence.

    I've been blessed with mothers and in-laws who more or less keep their advice to themselves, or are very gentle with it.

  10. This post was a great reminder about non-judgment for me. I try and have a strict non-judgment policy with other mothers, because early on in my own parenting I would get so anxious when other moms dropped little comments about this or that. But I see now that it does creep into my thinking sometimes (and even my posts...oh horrors.) I think parenting brings out insecurities in even the most confident women, and that is why we sometimes overcompensate by judging others - to validate our own views.

  11. I *especially* love the advice and judgement from people that don't have kids and don't even like kids.

    Sometime last year people finally realized I'm just crazy, er ...uh, unorthodox and stopped giving me advice. Now I think they just pray for us. ;) Only took about 8 years. Hang in there.

  12. Very amusing post but as we all know there is a very serious side to it. When I was launched into motherhood totally unprepared 12 years ago I was bombarded with lots of helpful imformation. Luckily I listened to most of it and my first born was put onto formula at five days, slept (and this breaks my heart to think back) in her own room, wore disposable nappies, started eating wallpaper paste (baby rice) at 12 weeks, was bombarded with stimuli from birth (so she wouldn't get bored and would grow up clever) oh the list could go on. I was young and apparently impressionable but now I look back (having had three more babies and done it my way) and I am angry at myself for listening to them but also so glad that by my second pregnancy they'd backed off and allowed my instincts to kick in.
    When I'm asked for words of wisdom by newly pregnant friends I have one simple piece of advice. "Listen to no one but your baby and your own heart"!

  13. Hey Anon. :)
    We can't be angry at ourselves, we do what we know, and when we know better we do better. There's something no one canever come betwee, and that's the love of mother and child.
    Thanks for visiting!


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