Getting Unwanted Parental Advice from a Know-It-All? We Can Help!
Working in the field of marketing – like I do – can leave a bitter taste in your mouth if you let it.
So often people like to offer their two cents on marketing issues. They mean well, but despite having no background or training in public relations, communications, advertising, graphic design, or social media, many still want to chime in with their unsolicited advice anyway. Engineering and accounting, for example, never get this treatment – others don’t understand what they do, but somehow everyone knows about marketing. Everyone’s a critic.
As a parent, you can magnify that plight by at least one million. Everybody around you, it seems, is also in the parenting club, and they’ve all got some take on what they think is best.
There are certain people around me from whom I’ll welcome their words of wisdom. People who I’ll always respect and admire. Mostly though, I’d prefer people mind their own business.
Once I was in a quiet, public place where our first newborn and I were not seeing eye-to-eye. She wanted to cry, and I wanted her to be quiet. A tug-of-war battle ensued. Meanwhile, a sweet, elderly, grandmotherly type was watching this unfold and decided to intervene. It will never be clear to me if she didn’t think I was doing it right, or profiled me by way of being a dad, or simply insisted on helping. But she reached in and took the baby from my arms.
I was stunned. As it turned out, she knew who I was by way of my parents, which looking back makes the scene seem less bizarre. But it doesn’t erase the fact that I never called upon her for reinforcements, advice, or any kind of assistance.
Offering unwanted parental advice will always seem a bit brazen. Whenever I see someone mowing their lawn, I don’t pull the car over and share my wisdom for achieving perfectly straight cut lines. I don’t barge onto basketball courts and tell kids they’re using bad form. I don’t interrupt speakers at assemblies and point out their misspelled slides.
So when this happened in the past, the nice guy in me used to smile at such people and simply offer a word of thanks. After all, this is our child, and we’ll raise it in the way we think is best, thank you very much.
But that only goes so far. Usually, wiseacres press on and don’t quit until they’ve been acknowledged, so you have to be ready with some sort of response.
When confronted with unwanted parental advice, you have a lot of options to consider. You could try intent listening, ignoring, or even agreeing. But having tried some of these in the past, I now know that there’s only one choice that works the best, and it involves no verbal reaction whatsoever.
I wish it didn’t have to always come to this, but sometimes the best response means you may have to get more physical.
Like, develop thick skin.