During a session last week with a client a mum was getting really upset because she felt continuously judged by others, especially her extended family because they, in her words “always sticking their noses” into her and her husbands business. It was a problem for her because having the constant advice was creating feelings of frustration towards her family and she was beginning to doubt herself and her choices as a mum.
The key to being able to fend of unwanted parenting advice is knowing the exact type of mum that you want to be, and what your parenting values and beliefs are. If you know and are certain about this then letting the unwanted advice wash over you is quite straight forward.
It’s fine to sit back later and digest what happened and rationalise why someone gave you the advice and have a rant to a friend or a partner about how it upset you. But what do you say in the moment? When you’re face to face with someone giving you unwanted parenting advice.
There are 4 key’s to dealing with unwanted advice
1. Smile And Nod
Sometimes it is just easier to smile and nod, especially when faced with parenting advice from strangers who you’ll never see again. The key is to pick your battles. Is getting into an argument or long discussion or debate something that you want to do right now?
When we are called to defend our actions it causes activation of the stress response – you feel attacked. You may not be in any physical danger but your brain believes you are. Your sympathetic nervous system is activated, your adrenal glands start shooting out adrenaline and you get ready to fight.
Getting yourself worked up will only cause you to end up feeling cranky, giving away your precious energy to someone who may not deserve it.
Instead take a breath, smile and nod and then let it go.
2. Be Gracious And Then Re-direct
This is my favourite technique to be able to manage unwanted parenting advice from family, its concise, to the point and polite. Here is where knowing the type of mum you want to be is crucial.
All you have to do is say… “Thank you. We’ve decided to do…. with our child.” and then change the subject. You can instantly see how effective saying this will be. It’s short and sweet, to the point and doesn’t allow for further discussion.
There are times when you do want to have the discussion or correct misinformation. Again it’s about being tactful. Before you have the discussion just pre-frame it and say “Thanks for that. I believe that …..” and so on.
Whenever you do have a discussion about parenting with speak about your beliefs and your opinion – don’t attack another – it’s not nice and it’s not respectful.
4. Make A Joke Or Use Sarcasm
This is heavily dependent upon who you are around, and whether they’ll get the joke or take you seriously – that might lead you to a complicated outcome! Basically the idea is to distract from the advice with humour. It depends on the moment and your creativity.
So the next time you are on the receiving end of some unwanted parenting advice is to use these 4 keys.
So I’d be interested to know… What is the craziest or unhelpful unwanted parenting advice that you have been given throughout your journey as a mum?
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