Finally I Get the Chance to Tell the "Unsolicited Advice Fairies" to Shut Up

Today's Momversation is about unsolicited advice and how we should all just focus on our own damn families instead of concerning ourselves with situations that aren't our own.

Momversating with Heather, Alice and Daphne. All of whom know a thing or two about the Advice Gestapo. (As I'm sure we a ll do, right?)



What do you think of unsolicited advice? What do you do when someone stops you in the street, or on your blog and tells you (in so many words) that you're doing it wrong?

.....................................................

**This really happened to my friend, Barbara. Swear.
***I love you.

GGC

46 comments:

thewhites | 11:18 AM

rebecca- may i just say that you look absolutely kick ass hot today on momversation?! i can't look anymore, you're just too damn cute and it makes me mad because i want to be friends and go get coffee and we're on opposite coasts. killer coat! killer lipstick! you do not look like you just had a baby 7 wks ago. bravo little lady!

Anonymous | 11:34 AM

Serioulsy here is MY question to you - how do you manage to look so AWESOME. How is your skin flawless, how to manage to put on make up!!! and BRUSH your hair. You seriuolsy look like a college kid that is babysitter a baby in her dorm. Please tell me your secrets. When my daughter was born I kid you not, I did not shower daily, I can't tell you how often I brushed my hair and chapstick was the only thing I wore for MONTHS. Tell me your secrets because I am pregnant now and would love a pick me upper. You are all bright eyed and bushy tailed.

Okay so how do I deal with the unwanted advice. TO BE HONEST - I don't deal with it. I come from a family that never ever shuts the eff up with. They give you pointers on everthing even things they don't know about but they just happen to have read an article or saw it on the news. So once people start to tell me ( a 30 year old mother and wife) what to do I kindly smile and STOP listening. That is normally when my ADD kicks in and I just day dream. I look at it as them (the enemy) just trying to be helpful in their own twisted way. They think that by them giving me their two cents my life will magically just be easier.

So that is it in a nutshell - I smile and daydream:)

K

Anonymous | 11:36 AM

I guess that was not right - I don't deal with it by just dealing with it. I wish I can say I don't deal with it and I give everyone the finger and tell everyone to eff off. NO I just deal.
K

Sarah | 11:52 AM

I want to tell the people who give me unsolicited advice to STFU! It gets old so quickly, especially when my MIL does it!

Existential Waitress | 12:03 PM

I'm usually pretty chill about most things, but it comes to my kids, I've been known to fly into a rage. Most people I know have stopped giving me unsolicited advice for this reason. As for strangers, I try to be civil (which means I usually just come off as snippy). I wish I could be more graceful in these situations.

Prasti | 12:37 PM

"advice gestapo"-LOL! i like that. i don't think i get much unsolicited advice, thank goodness. i do get those random ones from old ladies (or old men), and in that case i just smile, nod, take my daughter and run the other way.

Kate | 12:51 PM

I have never felt as judged in my life as I do now being a mom and I was once an actress so that's saying something. It's not just strangers, in fact, most keep to themselves which I appreciate. What really bothers me are my friends who have children of their own, because of all people they should be the ones who understand. Even my friends without kids, when they judge I can just chock it up to their ignorance on the subject but I find it harder to forgive those with kids. And it's not so much what these friends say to me about me but what they say about other moms. I always sit back and wonder what they are saying behind my back and then try to get them to put themselves in the other person's shoes. It's my gentle way of saying, "Lay off. We're all doing the best we can." In fact I use that last line quite a bit. They aren't usually convinced.

I realize much of this is my own paranoia. When a friend keeps her house clean I wonder what she must think of me whose house is in perpetual chaos. Normally I wouldn't give an S because I'm not the type of person to care about such things but when my friend tells me she's told another friend who is coming over for the first time not to expect a clean house because we're not like that (this is her way of telling me she sympathizes while still being embarrassed by me) I wanted to smack her with the flat of my palm on her forehead and tell her she can never come over again, thank you for much. Anybody else feel this way? I just want to hide in my house sometimes. Seems so much easier.
The hypocrite in me would also like to say that there are times when I need to vent about another mom. So this is what I do...I bitch to my gay bestie. He doesn't have children and he laughs at me. We, all of us, need this. Thank you for letting me get this off my chest!

Olivia | 1:42 PM

Advice from people on the street? Wrong.
But if you blog about your life & your kids and open up comments, you have to expect that people are going to give you advice, whether you want it or not. You've opened yourself up to the criticism.
It's like celebrities complaining about being photographed by the paps, but whore themselves out when they want publicity. It comes with the territory.

toyfoto | 1:51 PM

I generally tell people:

"Hold your hand firmly on your buttocks and go away."

the botticelli babe | 1:59 PM

I tilt my head to the side, smile faintly, and say, "thank you, I hadn't thought of that."

And then, I put them out of my mind and do whatever the hell I know/feel/hope/pray is right for my family.

Lulu | 2:29 PM

Unsolicited advice is just that.. unsolicited.
I think it starts off before motherhood. I, myself, have no children, I'm 21, although for the last month my mum has been overseas and I've had to look after my 2 brothers (22 and 23).

Anytime any aunty or friends of my mother come past and I'm cooking or cleaning, they just HAVE to comment and suggest a better way I could be doing it.

My brothers love my cooking and I'll be damned if I'm going to change what I do now to suit other people! It's funny though how the daughter of the one friend of my mother who commented on my cooking, always wants to come over for dinner. =)

Anonymous | 2:49 PM

Why not disable the comment option on your blog if you don't want comments/advice?
Or add a note asking that comments be limited to praise.

Kate | 2:57 PM

@Olivia - I have to disagree. Sure, people are free to give their advice if you blog about your family life and allow comments but that doesn't mean it's not rude. Just because you can doesn't mean you should and because people can remain anonomous on the internet they tend to do what they would never do in person. It's ridiculous and shameful how uncivil people can be. As far as the analogy to celebrities and the paps, it doesn't hold weight with me because I happen to think the pap should be outlawed. Just because someone acts for a living doesn't mean their personal life is anyone's business. I think it should be protected under the right to privacy.

Baby in Broad | 3:17 PM

"I'll keep that in mind." This is my go-to phrase for unsolicited advice. It usually stops the conversation pretty quickly when the person is a stranger in public. Of course, I've never had anyone shout something at me. I think I might have a few choice four-letter words for anyone who felt the need to YELL at me over my parenting choices.

Mommynightowl | 3:26 PM

When I get unsolicited advice I always just smile, say thank you and walk away. I used to defend myself, like once someone told my daughter to take her hair out of her mouth and I responded, no it's fine thats how she comforts herself. But of course they just scoff and tell you more of what you are doing "wrong". So I find its best to just walk away.

fearsarah@aol.com | 3:52 PM

Seriously,
I don't know if its just me having this problem but it takes this momversation thing like 5 mins to load, and I have a really fast computer.
Eventually it does play...
xoxo

Kimberly | 3:56 PM

I had a "friend" who kept telling me what I should do in different situations after my daughter was born. She finally let it slip that she didn't think I was a good mother. (Yes, she actually said those words.) My response to her was, "Well, it's nice to know there's someone out there who thinks they have all their sh!t together and is a perfect enough parent that they can actually say that to another woman." Needless to say, we're no longer friends.

Blue | 4:05 PM

A friend of mine was recently in a playground near where he lives (BC) with his two kids (4 and 20 months) and saw one of the moms pick her 3 or 4 year old up off the floor by the front of his coat and shake him while screaming in his face. My friend was on his way over to them to separate the kid from the mom until she could calm down when ANOTHER mom (who was closer to the screaming mom than he had been) got in his way to tell him she thought the way his partner was holding their daughter was 'inappropriate'.. His partner had their 20 month old sitting on his lap with his coat wrapped around them both.

Inappropriate? Really? More so than grabbing your kid from the floor and shaking them?

He just pushed right past her and ignored what she said.

Him and his partner tend to get a lot of 'looks' or comments right in front of their kids about their 'lifestyle choices' (their favourite, which i have actually witnessed being said to them is, 'do you really think it's SAFE for a same-sex couple to raise kids?!') and they've told their kids that when someone makes a rude comment or gives them a funny look it's because the person is scared or unhappy and their son has taken to smiling at the people who give them the looks to 'make them feel better'. He's adorable.

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 4:33 PM

By opening up comments I am absolutely giving those who disagree with my philosophies and parenting decisions an opportunity to say so. Disagreeing with me is one thing I can respect. Unsolicited advice is very different than being disagreeable. I will not and cannot respect someone who gives me advice unsolicited. It's tacky. Unless its coming from my mother. She's the only one allowed.

Amber | 4:56 PM

amen. fabulous, as always, rebecca.

bmccanthandlethetraffic!jesusbec. | 5:11 PM

i love how you dedicated a momversation to me without even mentioning my name or that i am the greatest source of unwelcome advice in your life. then you added a link just to kill me double dead. thanks, baby. i can always count on you. now come over here and give mama a kiss.

Anonymous | 5:53 PM

Oftentimes the advice repeats itself so I try to keep standard answers at hand. For instance, why don't I breastfeed? I don't have nipples. Should she be wearing gloves? Probably, she lost her right pinky just last week.

kittenpie | 6:04 PM

Honestly, I haven't had this problem all that much. The odd time I have, I suggest that the person try to remedy the "problem" themselves, ie. trying to get wee Pumpkinpie to wear a hat when she was tiny.

EdenSky | 6:17 PM

I'm actually relieved to hear that this happens to all mothers and not just me. I was thinking maybe it was just because I was a teen mom that everybody and their sister could tell that I was clearly an idiot and, therefor, in need of parenting advice.
I'm all for pepole helping people, but DO NOT give advice unless someone asks. Of course if they DO ask I have no shortage of opinions to share.
Also- What the hell is it with old ladies? I can understand friends and family having an interest in my kids, but why (oh why?) do random old ladies feel the need to tell me that: I should not have my baby outdoors at less than 2 months old...I should be staying home with my 4 year old instead of sending her to school...I should make sure my daughter dries her hands properly in public restrooms rather than letting her rub her hands on her pants...I should have brought snacks, but no don't let her eat THAT!...I should make my kid sit still and be quiet at a CHILDRENS movie....blah blah blah.
My original polite smile and nod approach has evolved under strain into assuming the biggest grin I can and nodding like a possessed bobble head doll until people begin to look frightened and back away.

Sam | 6:46 PM

I need to know about the brand and color of that pink lipstick...

radiolariat | 7:46 PM

I have to tell you, my boyfriend gets alarmed at how I habitually read Mommy-blogs considering I don't have kids. My baby-crazy ways are a running gag around here, but tonight when he heard that Momversation music he put his book down and came to watch.

When pressed, he admitted to thinking the Mommers were kind of cute.

Also, a story about pushy old ladies. I live in a VERY SMALL town, and the woman who runs the health food store was the first (and only) woman I ever saw wearing her baby. We were walking the same direction and chatting, and when we parted ways I soon felt a tap on my shoulder. I turn around to see this tiny Irish woman, and she was glaring at the departing baby-wearer.

"Have you ever seen the like of it?! She's going to drop that baby!" She hissed at me. I told her I was pretty sure everything was under control, and LOOK she gave me, I thought I was going to drop dead right there.

cassieb | 9:24 PM

I laughed all the way through this video! as a single mother I feel your pain!

Anonymous | 1:50 AM

OMG! I know EXACTLY what ur going thru!!!! These rude women come up to me all the time and tell me I'm doing something wrong w/my baby, Lil' Lil' Kim.
Isn't that like the best name ever???? I LOVE :Lil' Kim so when me and my boyfriend found out we were pregnant I'm all like "I'm naming her Lil' Lil' Kim!" It's a tribute to my favorite performer and because she's like so LITTLE she's lil' lil', you know?
So anyway, we're like at the mall and this old hag who had to be, like TWENTY-EIGHT years old starts in on me how my baby is too little to be eating pizza and drinking soda and I'm like, go away!
She's obviously jealous that I'm still young (and hawt) and she's ancient with all this black goop around her eyes to hide the wrinkles and these gay bangs covering up her forehead wrinkles and she's trying to dress all young and stuff and she just looks pathetic.
So yeah, I know what you mean.

barbara | 7:10 AM

When people used to look at my less than substantial chest and then ask me if I was breastfeeding with that tone they got, I would just answer "just my husband." That usually shut them up.

btw, I am honored to be a link!

xo

Miss Britt | 8:13 AM

Can we add ALL of these sentiments to unsolicited advice on marriage, relationships, decorating, weight loss - etc. etc. etc.?

Style Police | 8:37 AM

Hmmm. I love GGC & all that, but i'll be honest, I think that if you open your family life to the world (as you have done) then you are going to attract unsolicited advice. Remember when you didn't want Archer to have speech therapy & how upset you got with people for suggesting that you embrace it? Well, that was unsolicited advice, & it actually turned out okay for all of you.

I think comments like this: I will not and cannot respect someone who gives me advice unsolicited. It's tacky.

Are not really 'you' - that doesn't sound like your style to be honest. It sounds like someone who is just getting a bit fed up of the whole world knowing an awful lot about them. See what I just did there... was that unsolicited? Sometimes we can confuse advice with disagreement & vice-versa, but it doesn't always make it wrong.

Keep up the fab blog!

Kira | 10:11 AM

I think the reason people are so eager to offer advice on childrearing is because of two things: first of all, kids are just so important. Especially once you've had one, the world looks different and you realize how much of what matters is going on at or below elbow level. And secondly, haven't we all, as parents, FINALLY figured out some small detail that made our lives easier, or realized too late that we should have been doing X instead of Y? The urge to share that "wisdom" is strong. Now, whatever the motive, people have different levels of...skill at sharing their insight. Some people just suck at it, and are rude. I try to believe that their intentions are good, and not take it personally. There ARE mean-spirited people out there, but most people really just want to help. No reason to let that ruin my day.

Amy | 10:20 AM

When I was 22, and had my first baby, a woman came up to me to tell me that there was too much sun on my baby. I looked at her and replied, "I am only 15, and doing the best I can," she didn't know how to respond, I just walked away.

Jen | 10:47 AM

Unsolicited advice from strangers is unacceptable. No matter if you blog about it or not. Just because somebody blogs about their experiences with their children does not mean that they should be more open to criticism. We use blogs as a way to vent, bond, share...etc.
It is one thing to share advice that worked for us and another to tell someone what they are doing with their children is wrong.

Backpacking Dad | 12:36 PM

I blog about it, and people laugh. That's me getting the universe to avenge the indignity to my person.

kate | 1:12 PM

Unsolicited advice should be met with the phrase "duly noted". If they aren't looking at you (phone, back turned, etc) then you accompany phrase with jerk off motion.

Anonymous | 3:28 PM

But what if the unsolicited advice really helps?

Mirinda | 6:11 PM

I don't understand where people get the nerve to do this and would never offer it up to another mom! My comment is always that if I remember correctly I'm the one who carried each of my kids through months of pregnancy hell, pushed a total of 25 pounds out of MY cooch in under 3.5 years and therefore I will do whatever the frick I want with them as long as it's not breaking the law. Period, the end :)

pamela | 6:45 PM

wow. i don't usually read all the comments, but someone anonymously left a comment... mother of lil' lil' kim... and i'm wondering/hoping this is a friend just being weird. cause i'm chuckling to myself over here. anyway, i tend to let things build overtime and have major breakdown. something i need to work on.

foodiemama | 7:49 AM

oh god, do we have our fair share of unwanted advice. 1. we didn't circumcise. it was something we felt strongly about and it is cruel and wrong to us. -people didn't like that and the weird thing is i never once stated my opinion on it cause theirs was always right, ha!
2. we co-sleep and continue too after 4 years. wow, are people nosy about this one.
3. the kid has long beautiful hair and people feel its their place to say he needs a haircut all the time. rude and ignorant people mostly. just yesterday someone behind my back on the street said how sad it was that that poor kid's mother lets him have long hair.... like its my head and i have say about it. fuck off is what i said when they passed, haha!
4. not sending the kid to preschool and homeschooling- here is where the ignorant comments are astounding. always the what about socialization. really? i get angry. think people, read a book and open your eyes. there are many different ways to educate and each one is individual. we know we can do a better job at home than at public school and we want different things rather than standardization and herding. someone once told me after i told her i will be homeschooling she replied with a nice,"all homeschool parents are dumber than their own kids... its stupid." awesome. i love when people can't control themselves.

but again, i am uber polite and never state my reasons for doing things. mostly cause people think i am getting all high and mighty when really, i am doing what is natural to me and really putting all my effort into the decisions i make. it makes people nervous and therefore feel totally entitled to say the shittiest things to me.

mommymae | 9:03 AM

when my girls were in their biting each other phase (on the face especially, whee!!) my grandma told me to bite them. um. no. i love you grandma, but not gonna happen.

we blog for many different reasons. if we ask for help, we expect advice. if we just put something out there without asking for help, no one should try to help. sometimes we flail, and that's our right as parents.

Kimberley | 1:42 PM

Rebecca give them the universal sign that everyone recognizes and neither Fable or Archer can hear.... A BIG middle finger to you!

I am so sorry, people are rude. I can't stand it so I usually make some smart ass comment back to them.

Eva | 7:37 PM

I agree with Olivia's post. We come to these mommy blogs for many reasons, not the least of which is to get perspective and advice. I like to think that the blogging forum encourages the free exchange of opinions and advice, even unsolicited, as long as it's in good faith . . . .

Also, what's the big deal with strangers giving their unsolicited advice? It's part of life, funny as hell sometimes, and occasionally unexpectedly eye-opening. When my 18-month old was throwing a tantrum one day in the grocery store checkout line because she couldn't have a princess balloon, and I was just stoically unloading my merchandise, an elderly woman opined to me that my daughter was acting like a spoiled brat and needed a good spanking. It's interesting that if I'd actually taken her advice (and I was tempted), another observer might have called social services on me. I wondered if the woman was criticizing me or sympathizing with me, because it certainly wasn't clear to me that she thought I was the problem, as opposed to my child.

The incident really made me wonder about the generational differences in childrearing styles and in the way women view their role as a parent. Have moms always felt that parenting their children is such a "personal" matter, and something that necessarily reflects on them as individuals? Didn't we once seek out the advice of, and defer to, other, more experienced women in the business of mothering? Not that that's necessarily desirable, when taken to the extreme, but I really think it's in the nature of mothers to reach out to other mothers, and perhaps that often entails giving unsolicited advice.

But it's like anything else: if we're doing our best, we don't like others to suggest in an offhand way, that we've got it wrong. And it occurs to me that moms might get these inconsiderate comments more than people in other "professions" or walks of life, simply because so many people still don't see mothering as a skilled pursuit. Rather, it's seen as a natural or instinctive function, or worse, as a menial task -- something anyone can do. So people won't always understand that they're encroaching on a mother's sense of accomplishment and pride when they throw out comments or advice in a public situation. Of course, sometimes they're just downright rude and insensitive.

I grew up in a household and in an extended family that viewed children as pests 99.9% of the time. It's not that we kids weren't, in theory, overwhelmingly precious; it was just that the adults rarely let us know that, and, I suspect, they rarely felt it. So, being nuisances, we were handled like nuisances -- that is, very methodically, efficiently, and unceremoniously. I don't want to perpetuate that style of parenting for many reasons, but I do recognize in myself the tendency toward dealing with my children in that way, and sometimes I think it's okay, on both sides of the equation.

Listening to this momversation made me think that there is a tendency in moms to invest a little too much significance in the small day to day choices that they make for their children. Who cares if someone doesn't agree with you, and why not let them say so? As mothers relating to our children, is it really advisable for us to be hostile or inaccessible to the views of the real world around us?

Becca Reigh | 12:29 AM

My Mom (God rest her soul) told me years before I even had a kid not to take unsolicited advice (from anyone but her god bless her)when I had a kid and warned it would come from everywhere I can still hear her "I got so much advice with you from people and let me tell ya only one thing that Sally Crawford told me ever worked with you and that was to take your bottle away replace them with tippies and never turn back I did that night that you never wanted a bottle again" because of hearing that story so many many times and having been warned I just let it roll off me If i needed advice I whent to my mom tell she passed when Jareth was 6 months But I'm a Child Development Major and if people start telling me what to do with Jareth I have no shame in telling them "I'm a Child Development Major thanks but I'm going to school for this I KNOW what I'm doing science is on my side" moral of the story .... people don't argue with you mothering if your working on a degree involving children so tell them your a Pediatrician or a Child Development Researcher?

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 12:33 PM

Pamela -- That anon comment? Someone talking shit. Funny shit, though. I like that I "hide all my wrinkles under my gay bangs".

DAMN! SHE CAUGHT ME! Oh... you.

Re: lipstick? It's Burts Bees Tinted Chapstick in Watermelon.

alperen | 7:44 PM

thnks