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My Controversial Experience With Unwanted Parenting Advice

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???

Mom and two kids, contemplating unwanted parenting advice.

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.

Mom kisses son and shrugs off unwanted advice.


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).

Just stop!

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. 

Mom walking down path with her two children, forgetting unwanted parenting advice.


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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Shalini

Thursday 4th of October 2018

I have recently had the unfortunate situation of another 10 year old boy being left in my care. My son is 7 and he refused to go out with his parents. I agreed for him to stay. He was mean to my kid in our home. He pushed and hit, he is much tougher so I politely said we don't hit, we don't fight. If we can't play nice we don't play. It happened again and infront of his parents they did absolutely nothing. I firmly said stop hitting my child it's mean. It's also scary how some parents don't ever step in, oh he just plays rough, yes boys will be boys but don't pick on a smaller kid especially with the intent to hurt. My pet peeve is cause I'm a single mum, everyone loves jumping on the wagon to offer their unsolicited advice. I'm alone in this yes but I'm not an idiot and if ever I need your advice I will be sure to ask someone I respect and admire.

jessicalyne

Saturday 6th of October 2018

Thank you for sharing Shalini! I do agree that if the parent isn't stepping in and another child is causing harm to your child then you have to be proactive! Good for you for standing up for yourself and your son. We're all just doing the best we can :)

Natalia

Thursday 17th of May 2018

I have a toddler and since he was 3 months old I have listened any number of strangers tell me what to do and how to raise my child. It used to bother me but no anymore. A lot of mothers (and fathers, but mainly moms) don’t pay attention to their kids and I feel that is not fair, I understand having a kid is not easy and as a mom sometimes you are very tired, but is your job to be around! You wanted to have a baby, you choose that job. When I have been in situations of parents not paying attention I do parent other kids; sorry and I don’t like to do it, but I AM THERE for my son, if the other parent is not around they can’t complaint about it. If the parent is there I never ever tell other kid what to do. Loved your post and totally agree :)

jessicalyne

Friday 18th of May 2018

Thank you so much for your wise words Natalia! I agree with your comment 100%. It is true that parents should be more involved and aware of what their children are doing. I can say that because I definitely haven't been present 100% of the time. It's a fine line to walk when the parents aren't there and you see the children misbehaving. I'm glad to know that you let the parent step in when they are around. Thanks again for taking the time to comment and read! It means so much!

Jen

Thursday 19th of April 2018

Unfortunately, I've often been in a situation where my son was being pushed and hit and the parent of the other child didn't respond or wasn't immediately available. I was enraged when two different - older children at a birthday party pushed my barely walking son to the ground while their parents were no where to be seen. At that time, I was that other parent. I'm a teacher, so maybe it's just my nature. However, I don't think it's fair that my son has to suffer, by removing him from the fun, because other parents can't be bothered to watch their children. In the end I DID end up leaving the party because one child, who was 4 or 5 yrs old, continually targeted my not yet one year old son while his mom socialized, not paying him any attention. That party scarred me, as now I don't like events where I have to deal with strangers children. I avoid crowded playgrounds and other public places where I feel like I'm put in an uncomfortable situation having to parent someone else's child, because the parent isn't doing it. And yes, I do give the parent a chance to handle it, many times. In my experience, they don't.

jessicalyne

Wednesday 25th of April 2018

Oh Jen that is absolutely terrible! I would be truly embarrassed if my child was targeting a much smaller, younger child and causing them harm. I'm so sorry that happened to you. I agree with everything that you said. I think parenting requires being alert and in the moment so we can readily and easily jump in to correct behavior before these situations happen. Maybe that's why the grandmother jumped in because she was used to parent's not handling the situation before. Who knows. But thank you for sharing your insight and for reading!

Shaunna

Tuesday 20th of March 2018

Oh I think it’s Wonderful that, as moms, we can have an open discussion about these things here. It’s good to see. This thread is a great example of how we can grow through our differences. Very refreshing to see. Love your blog!!

jessicalyne

Tuesday 20th of March 2018

Thank you so much Shaunna! I love having discussions too and I'm grateful that the internet provides opportunities to connect with so many new moms!

Jessica Ashcroft

Thursday 8th of March 2018

Hi Ranita!

Thank you so much for your comment! It really made me think!

I'm sure I could have put a positive spin on this situation. I guess it was her delivery that really threw me off. I just didn't see a need to tell my son what to do when I was already telling him. But I can see how maybe that would have given more clout to my instructions to hear it from another adult.

These are great points of view and I'm not sure I know the answer! This was just my experience and how I handled it. Hopefully if this happens again, I'll be able to remember the whole "it takes a village" mindset.

Good luck with your little one! And thank you again for commenting!