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Inside: An honest letter about unsolicited parenting advice and the reasons why parents really don’t need it
I never really liked unsolicited parenting advice. If I really want to find something out I ask, so if I’m not asking it’s probably because I don’t need someone else’s advice. Still, I have received a lot of advice that I didn’t ask for. (so many, that if I would have received a dollar for every of those “recommendations” I would be a very rich person now)
I somehow got used to it and learned how to ignore it without getting annoyed, so in time things got better. With one exception: those unsolicited opinions from persons who don’t have kids but seem to know very well how I should raise mine! I’m still surprised every time it happens: people without kids having such strong opinions about parenting and feeling the need to “guide” us as if they certainly know better.
My “favorite” opinions are those beginning with “When I will have kids…”; they really annoy me the most.
For example, when Bogdan was a baby and had difficult times getting asleep and I was carrying him in my arms while he cried, I heard those same unnecessary remarks over and over again: “When I will have kids I will never let them get used to staying in my arms all day. They need to learn to stay in their crib”.
Later on, when I told people that Bogdan was sleeping in our bed I heard those “When I’ll have kids they will only sleep in their rooms and never in our bedroom”.
By the time Bogdan became a toddler and had his first tantrums I felt amused when I heard people without kids telling me that their kids will never do something like this because they will know about discipline and will never misbehave.
My second favorite pieces of advice are the ones starting with “You shouldn’t…”; I’m sure you heard them too! “You shouldn’t let him jump on the couch”, “You shouldn’t let him get to sleep so late”, “You shouldn’t dress him so lightly when it rains” and so on.
They seem to know everything better although they were never in that situation! The fact that they saw someone else raise a child or that they read an article about parenting in a magazine means nothing compared to the actual experience of raising kids!
Maybe their kids will be perfect. Maybe they will never misbehave, they will never scream, they will never make a scene in a store. Maybe they will sleep all night and eat all those healthy foods. But the truth is that they cannot know how things will go and they certainly shouldn’t speak about things they don’t know.
I’m amazed how people without kids can pretend they know so well how we should raise our children and sometimes it even seems that they are some sort of parenting experts we should learn from.
They seem to know everything: from how much time mothers should breastfeed their babies to how parents should handle difficult times with teenagers. And while us, the real parents, struggle with making good decisions, finding kind solutions, learning to be better for our kids, we really DON’T need to hear any unsolicited advice from people without kids.
Even when I try to be understanding and to presume they only want to guide us because they care about us, it’s still difficult to understand how some people could have such strong opinions about things they never experienced! And I will say it again and again: if you don’t have kids, you probably have no clue about what you are talking when you give parenting advice.
There is nothing wrong with not having a clue, it’s perfectly normal and this is the way we all were before becoming parents, but there is something totally wrong with still giving parenting advice over and over again when you actually don’t have kids. I’m sure things will change significantly when you’ll see how it really is to raise a child!
So, please, if you don’t have kids, let me raise mine my way and stop giving me advice! You will have your turn when you will become a parent and you’ll have then the chance to do things how you think they are right.
photo credit: Alliance / shutterstock.com