We had a situation last week featuring unwanted parenting advice that has been on my mind constantly for the past seven days. I keep replaying it over and over in my head trying to understand how someone could be so forward and nosy.
We were at a fast food restaurant and Hudson was playing with a basketball. There were lots of little kids around and I was trying to keep an eye on him and Ella. I noticed that he was trying to get all of the basketballs when another little girl had taken interest in one. I kept saying “Hudson, you already have a ball. You don’t need another one.” “Hudson you need to let her have one.”
Just a few moments later, I hear a woman from behind say, “Hudson, you already have a ball, you don’t need to take hers.”
Silence. I’m thinking “What did she say???“
I turned around to see if it was someone I knew and it wasn’t. Just a random older woman who I assume was with her granddaughter. I could not believe that she had just called my son by his name and told him what to do. Unwanted parenting advice from strangers feels like such a violation!
I very straightforwardly told her that I was his mother and I was handling the situation, as she knew very well because she heard me call him by his name and tell him he didn’t need another ball. She said, “Well that one’s mine and I want to make sure she’s OK.”
Um…I’m sorry, but Hudson wasn’t pushing, or hitting, or doing anything to harm that little girl in anyway. He just wanted the other ball and I was trying to correct him and teach him how to share.
This time I was upset and I just said something like, “Well I’m his parent and I’ll tell him what to do.” I turned around and Hudson was playing with just one ball now and never bothered that little girl again.
But I’m getting upset again just typing this out.
If you want to know my biggest pet peeve now that I’m a mother it’s this: when other people tell my child what to do.
It doesn’t happen too often, but it’s happened enough that it’s starting to drive me crazy.
Unwanted Advice From Family
I’ve had family members tell Hudson what to do in my own house; they’ve taken toys away from him when I was standing right there; I’ve had people tell me that he’s too hyper and needs to stop eating red and yellow dye (which there is some truth to, but still).
I’m the parent. I am handling it. I know what he’s doing. I’M RIGHT THERE. I SEE WHAT’S GOING ON.
And honestly, why would you want to be in charge of another child??? I have two and that is a full time job right there. To add another kid in is crazy. Just worry about your own kid.
I totally get that when another kid starts being mean to yours, the mama bear vibe comes out and you want to do all you can to protect them.
I get it too when other people tell my child what to do…
But instead of just jumping in right away, I’d wait and see if the parent tries to handle the situation. In my experience, 9 times out of 10 they do. And if they don’t, I always remove my child to keep him from getting pushed around anymore. It stinks, but I think taking them out of the situation is better than telling another parent how to deal with their child.
I’m in no way trying to excuse my son’s behavior. In fact, it’s the absolute opposite. I’m very actively trying to teach him how to play nice. But I think it’s confusing for children when they hear multiple instructions from different adults, especially ones they don’t know. In a way, unsolicited advice is criticism. And there’s no way that these strangers or any other parent knows how I’m trying to teach my children. We may have totally different parenting styles and when they butt in and tell my child what to do, it could confuse them and mess up the progress we’ve made.
Now there are some situations when I think it’s 100% OK to tell my child what to do. Here are some positive unsolicited advice examples:
1. If they’re in danger. Yes. If I’m not around (which 99% of the time I will be), please tell my child not to jump off of the playground onto the cement.
2. If they’re breaking something or being disruptive in the store. Again, if I’m not around which I most likely will be, please tell my child to stop breaking things.
3. If you’re their teacher or I’ve left them in your care. I think that goes without saying that you can tell them what to do.
Besides that, I don’t see any situation when it’s ever OK to tell another child what to do.
So if you’re one who wants to jump in any time your child isn’t getting their way or even if they are getting pushed, just please wait to see if the parent responds. If they do, great! You only have to worry about 1 child today. And if they don’t, then maybe say something if they’re hitting, but otherwise just take your kiddo out of there.
How to Handle Unwanted Parenting Advice?
And if you’ve received unwanted parenting advice, I’m so sorry. It’s frustrating when people don’t trust your parenting ability. Just know that some people are rude and next time stick up for yourself! Let them know that you’ve got this, mama.
This whole situation has just reminded me of this video I saw a few years ago when I was a brand new mom. It brought me to tears because we have no idea what another mom is going through. You have no idea how embarrassed I am every time my child acts up when we’re with other kids. So please, instead of telling him what to do and making me feel worse, just think for a second how you would feel if that were your child and someone else tried to parent them with you standing right there.
And maybe that will help us all judge a little less.
How to Give Parenting Advice?
As a general rule, don’t! But, if you see a mom who’s struggling, you can let her know that you’ve been there, too. You can share a tough experience you had with one of your children. Then, if she asks for your advice, you can give it in a non-judgmental way. We need so much more of this and way less of the shaming!
Final Thoughts on Unwanted Parenting Advice
Whether you’re receiving unsolicited parenting advice from grandparents, unsolicited advice from parents or are even getting unwanted parenting advice while pregnant, it can be so frustrating. New parents are already dealing with so much. Just know, that you’ve got this! You know your child better than anyone. Find the people that encourage and uplift you and don’t be afraid to politely put others in their place!
Have you ever experienced unwanted parenting advice? Let me know in the comments your stories and how you deal with unwanted advice!
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