My wife and I have three kids (six months, five and seven). People regularly give me unsolicited advice on parenting, both in person and online. And you know what, I get it.
You think you've figured something out and you want to share your great revelation. Or perhaps you don't have kids, so that makes you an outside observer with a fresh perspective. But really... I'd rather you just shut the hell up.
Below are a few examples of unsolicited advice I've been given and how I would like to respond... if I wasn't such a nice guy.
1. Shouldn't he be wearing a jacket?
Yup, he probably should be wearing a jacket. And you know what, I don't know when he last changed his underwear or socks, either.
But here's the deal. I told him to put on a jacket, but he's seven and he listens about as well as a goldfish. Once an evening I wrestle him into the bathtub. I don't have energy for much more, so I'm letting him figure out a few things the hard way, through goosebumps and rashes. Can you live with that? Because I can.
2. You know, breastfeeding is better for babies
I heard this a lot with our first baby. No shit, doctor. But let me tell you about real life.
My wife had every intention of breastfeeding, and she did for the first month, but then she had to go back to work because her employer only gave her a one month maternity leave and doesn't provide a place to pump outside of the communal break room and the public bathroom.
Sadly most people think breastfeeding is about as socially acceptable as public urination. Hooking up to a breast pump while her coworkers enjoy a tuna sandwich would definitely be unwelcome. So Mel decided it would be better to use formula. Can we still be friends?
3. If you really loved your kids you wouldn't let them eat at McDonald's.
If you had kids, you'd understand that your statement is bullshit. Here's the thing, McDonald's is going to happen. It's just too powerful. I hate the place. I hate the food. I hate the way the toys seem to be breeding in my backseat. But kids love going to McDonald's just like you love going to Starbucks. It's expensive and unhealthy, but sometimes it just makes the day a lot easier.
4. Even with kids keeping a house clean isn't that hard. The secret is to deep clean it once, and just maintain it.
When you say maintain it, you mean put the kids outside with a water dish and a bowl of food until they're 18... right?
Or you mean my wife quitting school, and me quitting my two jobs, so we can both stay home and pick up crap... right?
What exactly does 'maintaining it' look like to you? Because I don't want to speak for your children, but mine are little tornadoes of boogers, poop and toys. Last week I found two pairs of underwear in my freezer. Between my sofa cushions is Silly Putty. It's been there for over a year now. Very resilient stain. How does that stuff fit into your advice?
5. Your baby would sleep through the night if you let her cry it out.
You may be right, but the thing is, I just can't. I can't be that hard on her. I can't stand to do it.
So I will suffer the extra few months of sleepless nights until she figures it out. Basically what I'm saying here is the next time I tell you that I'm tired from being up all night, don't give me advice. Just shut your stupid face and let me bitch.
6. Keeping your children from throwing fits in public begins in the home.
I'm going to assume that when you raised children it was socially okay to beat them. Because here is the thing, I work really hard to teach my kids how to act appropriately in public. But then we get out there, and they turn into screaming, needing, wanting, maniacs. It's like showing a werewolf the moon.
And honestly, most of the time they are fine. Most of the time they are sweet and wonderful. So please realise that the fit you witnessed is not the norm.
But what I can say is taking my kids out into public, telling them no, letting them throw a fit, and then telling them no again, really is the only way they are going to figure out how to be a quiet and reserved person.
You know... an understanding person. The kind of person who doesn't give unsolicited advice in a supermarket.
Clint Edwards blogs at No Idea What I'm Doing: A Daddy Blog. Follow him on Facebook. He tweets @byClintEdwards.
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