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How to Deal with Unsolicited Parenting Advice from Friends and Family

dad and baby

It seems like everyone wants to give you advice after you become a parent: your friends with kids, your own parents, the freaking Internet … wait, strike that last one.

Parenting advice is worst when it’s unsolicited (whew). But instead of freaking out about what awful busybodies people can be, check out some ways to deal with it. Nicely.

They aren’t bad people

You’re initial reaction to unsolicited advice might just be, “Holy crap, what an idiot!” But it’s important to remember some of these people aren’t really trying to be idiots (though a few absolutely are).

Most people offer the advice to be helpful, however misguided that help is. Some might even have real concerns about the safety of your kid. Keeping this in mind could help keep you from going cuckoo for cocoa puffs right to their stupid, smug faces.

Of course, some of those stupid faces could belong to your relatives. Their unsolicited advice probably comes from a place of love. So take a deep breath before proceeding to the next steps. The last thing you want is a festering divide between you. You know, aside from the political, spiritual and professional sports ones that are already festering.

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Have a canned response

You know how fighter planes and space shuttles have a way to get the hell out of trouble super quick? What you’re going to do is build the verbal equivalent. It’ll be something you practice in the mirror so that it sounds pretty damn unemotional and genuine. Here are some guidelines:

  • Make it short and simple. One sentence. At Most. Unlike this bullet point. Which has five.
  • Make it nice-ish
  • Make it final

So something like, “Thanks, I’ll take it into consideration,” is totally fine. And then get the hell out of there, Maverick!

Distract

The problem with the canned response is that it will not work with your parents who you might see every day, week, or month (if only!). That’s when you have to add a layer of distraction. Like a magician. Or a politician. Or a political magician.

Go ahead and follow your canned response up with something like, “Oh! You want to hear the funniest thing little so and so did the other day?” Except use your kid’s actual name. And be ready to back it up with an interesting story, which you hopefully didn’t make up.

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Just disregard

There is no shame in a lazy, stupid smile, followed by a complete disregard for the advice that was just offered to you. It’s worked for Miley Cyrus for years.

Be truthful

Sometimes the truth is the best option. Particularly with people you have a long-standing relationship with. Consider thanking them for their advice and then explaining matter-of-factly why it’s not going to work for you.

Listen (maybe)

There are a lot of people in the world with a ton of parenting experiences. There is a chance — a teeny, tiny chance — that if you shut them out you’ll miss out on something that could really help.

Or at the very least, if they’re wrong, you could tell them to update their information by checking out your favorite father-centric website. Just a thought.

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