Some days it seems like everywhere you turn there’s someone eager to give you advice on how to do your job as a parent better, turn on morning TV and there’s bound to be a segment by some reporter or celebrity telling you how to do your job as a mom.
Sometimes we go looking for this advice, I mean if you’ve never Googled a parenting issue I’m not sure we can be friends, but most of the time these people are completely full of crap!
Here’s my officially unofficial list of people who should not allowed to give me (and shouldn’t be allowed to give anyone else) parenting advice:
Celebrities: I don’t know about you but I’m pretty sure my life is as unglamorous as possible. Kim Kardashian, Gwyneth Paltrow, or Kate Gosselin’s lives have absolutely nothing in common with my own. I am not raising my children to become celebrities, and I don’t have a personal assistant, trainer, stylist, nanny or any of the other employees they have therefore their advice is pointless. This not only applies to parenting advice, but also all the articles and “news stories” about how they stay in shape, keep their glamorous appearance, appear to be ageless, etc.
People who do not have children: I have several childless friends, most of which are childless by choice and I applaud them for that! If you don’t want children then by all means do not have them. I realize that most of us thought we knew exactly how we would parent before we had children, but the reality is when we’re up to our neck in vomit, poop, or temper tantrums we have the prerogative to change our minds. Repeatedly. Daily. Do not tell me how to handle my child’s behavior issue, how to medicate them when they are ill, or how to get them to eat their vegetables (are you listening Rachel Ray?) You have no practical experience therefore your advice is pointless to me.
People who have fewer children: I have two children, I absolutely love (sarcasm) when someone who only has one child tells me how I should juggle schedules, prioritize, handle things, etc. Each child that you add to your family multiplies, well frankly everything. Bills, laundry, illness, stress, etc. The only things that decreases with more children is the amount of sleep you will get, and the amount of money in your bank account. There are almost 5 years between my two children, I guarantee you there are things my second child has done that I let slide that would not have gone unnoticed by my first child. I’d like to say that they were raised identically, but I do try not to lie.
Random strangers on the street, in the supermarket, etc: There seems to be some sort of phenomenon in the world where strangers feel completely justified coming up to parents, especially those with small children, and, offer advice. Your baby isn’t bundled up enough in the cold, your child should be sleeping through the night–and would if you would just do this, that, and the other. You should hide vegetables inside foods he or she likes to get them to eat better.
In-Laws: Enough said, right? I asked my Facebook friends & family to share their most annoying parenting advice stories and there were numerous in-law (usually mother-in-law) stories, including one MIL who tried to sneak feed an infant behind the mother’s back and against her wishes! We realize that you successfully raised children including one we thought was awesome enough to marry, but unless we specifically ask “What do you think I should do?” Keep your opinions, and your sneaky ways, to yourself.
Anyone who hasn’t dealt with the exact same family structure: If you haven’t been a step-mom, don’t tell someone else how to be one. If your child doesn’t have ADHD, or Autism, or Oppositional Defiant Disorder, don’t give someone whose child does advice on how to handle it. We don’t care if you think we should be more strict, less strict, attempt more therapy sessions, cut back on therapy sessions, medicate more, medicate less, try a holistic approach, consider home school, stop doing home school and enroll in charter schools.
We. Don’t. Care. What. You. Think.
It’s as simple as that.
Look, here is the real deal on this whole parenting situation…most of us moms know that at any given moment in time we’re screwing up at least half of whatever we are doing as a mom, so we don’t actually need anyone pretending to give us advice when what they’re really doing is just making us feel even worse about the crappy job we’re doing at that moment. Trust me when I say that I judge myself more harshly than anyone else could ever do it. We are all our own worst critics!
Flip Side of the Coin
Now, the flip side of all that stuff above is that the real amazing part of being a mom, and part of a mom network of any sort, is finding another mom who has been through exactly what you’re dealing with and having her say, “I’ve been there, we did this….and it got better”. You truly have no idea the power those words can have on a mom who is at the end of her rope.
If you’ve dealt with a situation firsthand, and learned a lesson that another mom will find valuable, by all means offer to share it with her! She may welcome your input because she may feel like she’s tried everything and is failing at every turn, that my friends is a miserable feeling! She may not be ready to hear you right then, don’t take offense if she snaps at you, or disregards your advice, or even says she tried it already and it didn’t work for them. Sometimes, we just need to vent. We just need to spew our bitchiness all over the people around us and get it out so we can go back to being a mom.
If you’ve never felt like this, congratulations, you are clearly the best mom in the entire world and we applaud you (also, we can’t be friends anymore). The rest of us, we fall down, we get dirty, we screw crap up, and we are doing the very best we can at any given moment. We love our kids, they love us, and at the end of the day that is more than enough.