I know most parents who offer parenting advice do so with the best of intentions. Honestly, I appreciate the goodwill behind these kind gestures, like someone is thinking, “Surely I can swoop in like a superhero to help you fix your problem, if you'll just allow me three minutes of your time.” That said, I’m at the point (and I suspect other moms are, too) where I know the pieces of “advice” that every toddler mom dreads hearing are coming my way, and instead of being grateful for the "help," I am mentally preparing myself to handle that "advice" accordingly.
Of course, sometimes unsolicited advice can be a good thing, in the same way that a broken clock still tells you the correct time twice a day. For the most part, though, I find myself just trying to grin and bear any interaction with another parent that involves them, essentially, telling me how to care for my toddler. As smart and as insightful as some of the advice might be, the fact remains is that no one else knows my kid the same way his dad and I do. As well-intentioned though they may be, the people offering their "help" don't know the full extent of our parenting efforts so far, or our preferred parenting techniques and styles, so it's all just lacking.
So, with that in mind and because even the best intentions fall short sometimes, there are some particular types of advice that are tougher to swallow than others:
Any Advice Regarding Potty Training Tips
For example, I know the mom I met yesterday meant well when she told me about how she potty trained by letting her kids roam diaper-free in her house. I know this option won't work for us since we have carpet. Either way, I had to wait a surprisingly long time before there was a break in the conversation long enough to (kindly) say this method wouldn't work for us. Friends, don't be that mom.
Any Advice For Life Past Kindergarten
I know middle school and high school are going to bring their own sets of challenges, and I’m not trying to dismiss those inevitable challenges in any way. However, we have about 10 years until those days are upon us, and I’m assuming that a lot will change between now and then. Whenever another parent tries to imply I should be thinking ahead with more precision than I currently am, I try to gently bring up the fact that I’d like to get through preschool first.
Any "Enjoy It, It Goes So Fast" Advice
Hey, have you heard that your kids grow up so fast? As the parent of a young child, I’ve been hearing this since I announced my pregnancy. And yes, while I can personally attest that everyone who’s told me the time will fly by is indeed correct, I really don’t need to hear it again.
Any “That Stage Only Lasts Another 18 Or So Years” Advice
What a knee-slapper! OK, technically this one’s not advice, but hearing it feels almost exactly the same. Like, I know you’re kind of joking, but you’re also kind of saying that I’ve got almost two decades of difficulty ahead of me, and I’m really not sure how to respond to that. (Or at least, how I can politely respond.)
Any Advice Regarding Public Tantrum Tips
I’m offering this up prematurely because, although this one is rare for us (my son is only beginning to explore the power of tantrum-throwing), I assume it’s only a matter of time. If people are willing to comment on behaviors they’re not seeing (like potty training), I’m sure they’ll interject when they notice the obvious. I'm already dreading it.
Any Passive-Aggressive Comments Disguised As "Advice"
I, too, would prefer it if my son sat still and buckled into the front seat of the grocery cart. And, yes, I realize this is the safest option out of pretty much all other ways you can get a toddler through a grocery store. However, he doesn’t agree to it all the time, and I’m not about to force him when it’s not necessary, so subtle comments and tips for managing his “energy level” aren’t really helping.
Any Advice Centered Around Dated Information Or Expired Technology
Just because something was thought to be acceptable five or 10 or 20 years ago, doesn’t mean it’s still the best choice for today. Just ask anyone who provided me and my middle school friends with Jolt Cola at our sleepovers back in the day. I mean, I’m not sure about everyone else, but for the record, I’m really glad that (most) playgrounds aren’t on cement anymore. Times have changed, and now we know better.
Any Advice From Someone Who Doesn't Know Me Or My Child (Not Including Experts)
Unless my son is on fire or within arm's length of something poisonous, I'd rather not be interrupted by strangers when I'm out with him. Of course, there are exceptions (the playground comes to mind, where polite chit-chat is the norm), but for the most part, it's a pretty safe rule for me.