Declaring Your Parenting Independence
Are you bothered by unsolicited parenting advice? The world is ever-changing and it’s logical if you want to raise your child differently than those surrounding you. We know that babies arrive without custom-made instruction manuals; and if you have raised multiple children, I am sure your wisdom increased with every new addition (especially if one of them was your spouse). However, no two parents will parent the same way. So, how do you disregard unwanted parenting advice without hurting or offending your family members, friends, and that occasional stranger? I’ve listed some tips below to help you keep your dignity and declare your parental decisions as your own.
- Make a decision. Trust your instincts, do your research, and talk with your friends. Do whatever it takes to decide and commit on your approach for the parenting issue at hand. Do you want to use a pacifier? When do you want to take it away? Do yo¬u want to bottle-feed, or breastfeed? How much juice do you feel is appropriate? The choices will never disappear and there is no right or wrong answer. So, decide and “stick to your guns.” I’ve found that if I feel good about my decision, I’m less likely to feel guilty, or be swayed, by another opinion.
- Get on the same page with your spouse or partner. It’s true, in my opinion, that two heads are better than one; a united front is typically a stronger front. For example: if your spouse and mother-in-law agree that bottles should be taken away on your child’s first birthday, then it will be much harder to stand your ground if you disagree. However, if you and your spouse are on the same page, your mother-in-law (or whoever else is pushing a personal parenting agenda) should recognize your collective resolve and respect that decision.
- Have a prepared response. We’ve all found ourselves in a situation that leaves us speechless; and I think being the recipient of unwanted parenting advice is definitely one of them. Most of us think of the perfect response a few hours later as we are relaying the ordeal to someone else. Why didn’t I think of that sooner! To prevent a tongue-tied misfortune in the future, I suggest practicing various responses in advance. No matter what your style or tone of communication turns out to be, you’ll be better prepared to deliver it if you’ve practiced beforehand.
Being a parent is a difficult job; but as soon as you become one, you’ll probably know how to do it. Isn’t it funny how nature works? You’ll most likely have strong feelings about how to raise your child, and there will inevitability be those who feel just as strongly about sharing their “pearls of wisdom.” How you deal with these situations is up to you. Whatever you decide, remember that this is your child. You (and your spouse/partner) are responsible for the way your child turns out. Feel free to declare your independence as a parent and leave those know-it-alls behind.