Have you ever been somewhere with your child, minding your own business, when suddenly you are approached by someone? They approach you to give you unsolicited advice. It may be regarding how you’re interacting with your child. Or what you’re feeding your kid. Or maybe they just want to tell you how you should raise your child.
Perhaps you’re in the grocery store with your toddler sitting in the shopping cart. A mother comes up to you and says, “you know, there are these great new cart covers. You can buy it and bring it with you to the store. Then your child doesn’t have to come in contact with all of the germs on the cart”.
Maybe you are pregnant and simply enjoying your day. A woman decides that you need to know every product she used when she was pregnant. And of course, she continues to tell you everything she is now using with her newborn.
It’s almost as if, as a parent, you walk around with a large sticker on your forehead saying, “give me any and all of your advice on raising a child”.
Why do people do this?
We can walk around all day wondering why on earth people feel the need to give unsolicited advice. The fact is, there really isn’t one reason in particular. Perhaps an individual just experienced something that they felt was unexpected and wished someone had warned them about.
Maybe they feel that they just found the best solution to a problem they were having. Seeing you with your child they think you must be experiencing or about to experience the same thing.
Maybe they feel the need to connect with someone. They see you with a kid, they have a kid, so they use that as a way to socially engage.
What to do when it happens
There are obviously numerous ways to deal with this unsolicited advice. Hopefully you aren’t being caught at a rough moment. You know that moment when all you want to do is tell them to mind their own fucking business. If they have and you did…it’s ok. It happens. We’ve all been there. We’ve all snapped.
Maybe you think the advice is great and consider trying it.
Most likely, you’re not interested, you’re doing your own thing, you don’t want to hear it and you’re just annoyed by the interaction.
If you’ve been cornered and feel like you can’t instantly remove yourself from the situation, maybe try to change the subject away from parenting.
The easiest and probably most polite way to address the situation would be to simply smile, nod, say thank you and be on your way.
What do I do?
As a pediatric occupational therapist and psychotherapist, I have spent my entire career studying child development and the way things “should” be. When I am out in public I see things, many things that I could comment on. But I don’t. You know why? Because no one asked me to.
The mother I see at the park who has not put her 8-month-old down on the grass? She never asked my opinion about sensory exploration or social interactions. The father of the 2-year-old crying and throwing a tantrum at the grocery store isn’t asking for my help in regulating his child’s behaviors.
Don’t get me wrong. There are many times when I would like to offer a piece of advice or assist with a situation. But just because I have an opinion on how a situation should be handled does not always mean that it is the right opinion or only way to do things.
I have no idea what is going on with these families. Catching a 10-minute sliver of their daily lives does not make me an expert on how their family functions.
Do what works for you
I believe that there are many ways for a child to develop and many theories and ideas of how things should or could be. When I am working with a family, I try to understand what is happening in their family system before I make recommendations. Because I know that unless what I am recommending ‘fits’ with their family lifestyle and is FUNCTIONAL for them, I am simply wasting my breath.
It is important to understand that not every child is the same and not every family functions the same way. There is never one and only one way to do things. As long as a child is not at a disadvantage or being harmed, parents need to do what works best for their family.
I created Functional Parenting to help you gain a better understanding of what is functional for you and your family. It’s not a one stop shop of parenting nor is it a simple one-size-fits-all model that will instantaneously turn you in to the ideal parent or your child into the most well-behaved child. What Functional Parenting will do is help you find the most practical and useful parenting strategies that work for YOU.
I am here to support you in helping your child develop in a way that works for you and your family, to provide suggestions and recommendations to help your family thrive and be the best it can be.
It is your decision on what you choose to do with my recommendations. Try them, don’t try them. All I really want to do is get you to think about these things, perhaps in a way that you may not have thought of them before. Remember, I am here to normalize parenting because we’re all going through it.
If you have questions for me, leave a comment. I’m here for you and your family