When I got pregnant with my first child, I was so #blessed to have a sister to show me the ropes. Every time we spoke I realized she knew absolutely everything there was to know about pregnancy and parenting, even though she was childless at the time. She had read numerous articles on the subject, and had friends with kids, so that's the same as being a seasoned parent, right? Wrong. Consequently, there were quite a few things that I wanted my kid's child-free aunt to know. Mostly, that her opinions and advice about parenting were not necessary. Or helpful. Or necessary. Did I mention, they weren't necessary?
I know she was probably just trying to be involved and was sharing her wealth of knowledge because she cared about me and her niece, but it was so infuriating. We actually got into a huge fight right before my baby was born, and all because I was so damn tired of her unsolicited pregnancy and parenting advice. And once my daughter arrived, we barely spoke for months. Every time we did manage to speak to one another, she shamed the hell out of me for not doing things her way. So, I mean, what new mom needs that in her life? The answer: no one. Not a single damn one.
Now, I think a lot of us child-free people truly believe we will be the "perfect" parents once we have kids. I know I did. But it wasn’t until my sister shared her views on things like what I ate or drank during pregnancy, my use of pain medication during labor, breastfeeding, sleep-training, and the ideal diet to feed my child, that I understood how unbelievably annoying I probably was when I said similar things to my mom friends before I was a mom myself.
So, listen up child-free aunts of the world, and please stop with the unsolicited advice. While you probably mean well, there are things every mom wants you to know, including the following:
We Don’t Want Your Advice
If it’s not your body, your baby, or your kid that’s up for discussion, it’s none of your business. Unless I ask you, you can just assume I don’t want your advice.
You Have No Idea What "Tired" Is
There's nothing quite like hearing your child-free sister claim she's so tired because she decided to stay out late, go for a run, work late, drink too much, or because her "furbaby" woke her up in the middle of the night.
Life isn't a contest, but if it were, the person with children would totally win the gold medal in the "Sleep Deprivation Olympics," no damn questions asked.
Aunts Don't Get A Vote
I understand that as a caring human being you love your sister or sister-in-law and your nieces and nephews, and you just want what’s best for them, but stop. Aunts don’t get a vote. Even if you think you know better than we do, or you think the decisions we're making are "wrong," at the end of the day you're not the parent. It is not, and never will be, up to you.
Our Kids Are Fine
And by the way, our kids are totally fine. Yes, even if they don’t eat organic, or get what you have for-whatever-reason decided to be way too much screen time. They will thrive even if they didn’t breastfeed, or if they refuse to eat anything other than grilled cheese. I promise, they're fine.
Stop Being Passive Aggressive
Don't think I haven't noticed the 100 breastfeeding-related articles you've decided to share on Facebook. I mean, how could I? You tagged me.
For what it's worth, those articles aren't necessary. Oh, and they make me feel horrible.
Your Criticism Hurts
It hurts to hear your criticism, not only because as an actual parent I know you're wrong, but because you have no idea how hard being a mom really is. And hey, I don't blame you. I had no idea how difficult motherhood was until I was knee-deep in it, either.
But when I struggle, the last thing I need is to be criticized by someone who doesn't have experience. It's like watching the Olympics and wondering why the skater didn't attempt a triple axel so you yell at the television. The only difference, of course, is that we can hear your criticism.
Being A Mom Is Harder Than You Think
Being a mom is hard. So much harder than I thought it would be, especially before I had kids. If you want to offer something, offer to babysit or help in some other way, rather than offering your opinions or advice about something you literally know nothing about. If, someday, you become a mom please know that I've got your back. But until then, have a seat.
We’re Probably A Little Jealous
I have to admit that I was more than a little bit jealous of my child-free sister's ability to go out, sleep through the night, and drink too much wine. I know that envy played a part in how annoyed I found myself every time she decided to share her advice or interfere in my parenting after my baby was born. Honestly, though, I wouldn't trade my kids for all the date nights and wine in the world. My priorities are so different now, and that's OK, too.
Your advice is unwelcome, often untrue, unkind, and unnecessary. Even my preschooler knows it's unwise to dish out advice on a topic you have no experience or knowledge in. So while I am sure yo have the best of intentions, please trust us moms when we say that we are OK. We know what we're doing, and if we don't, we will figure it out as we go.
We got this.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.