When you’re expecting, you expect the best. You expect the best happiness from becoming a new mother, and somehow you expect the best from others too. Doors are held open for you more often, passersby in the park give you a friendly smile as they admire your glow, and strangers pick up things you drop just as not to see you waddle and struggle to bend over your enormous belly. After nine months of being treated with such respect, you naturally expect to be treated this way once you’re officially wearing your Mommy crown.
Well, you were wrong.
One of the things that threw me most as a new mother was the instant shift in people’s concern for pregnant-you vs. post-partum-you. And it is something that continues to baffle me to this day. I could not believe how quickly people shifted their focus from me and my feelings to my baby.
One of the most insensitive things for me was the instant deluge of unsolicited advice. Everyone and their mother felt my bringing a human into the world warranted the reading of a handbook of rules they saw fit for me. I couldn’t understand how all the people who showed the pregnant-me such respect now disrespected my abilities and decisions.
Unless a mom is asking for advice or endangering her child, I just don’t see the need for unsolicited advice. Unsolicited advice is insensitive because it insults the intelligence and disregards the choices of the recipient. If I believe in cosleeping and you don’t, just bite your tongue. If I want to spend extra money on organic first foods for my baby, that’s my choice. Just because it’s my first rodeo doesn’t mean you’re entitled to educate me on all your experiences.
Does any of this sound familiar? If you’re dealing with a lot of unsolicited advice, here are some tips that helped me:
- Quote the expert when responding. Since you clearly don’t know anything about your child to these folks, blame it on your doctor. For example, tell the unsolicited advisor something like, “Our pediatrician told us to use this brand of such-and-such because all the research from the American Academy of Pediatrics found it’s the best.” Boo-yah.
- Change the subject. Totally dismiss your unsolicited advisor by smiling and switching gears. Pretend you didn’t even absorb that jab about your diaper changing ability and smile and ask, “Hey did you see The Bachelor last night?!”
- Ask for backup. If you know you’ll be in a sticky spot, ask your husband or friend or sister ahead of time to have your back. Sometimes having an ally around can help you deflect the negative voices new moms often deal with.
- Agree to disagree. Sometimes you can politely but firmly tell an unsolicited advisor, “I understand that may have worked for you but this is how I choose to do it with my baby.”
New moms have so much on their plate and beat themselves up enough as it is. There’s no room for more self-doubt or negativity unsolicited advisors bring. So I hope these ideas help you to dismiss the noise and keep momming on confidently! Because as long as kids are safe, loved, and healthy, there’s no need to compare the “way” we get there.
And oh yeah, my son really wore this onesie. 😀