Monday, June 29, 2009

Mythbuster Monday: advice = judgement


Parenting advice.

UNSOLICITED parenting advice.

We all got it and hardly anyone wants it.


Because we see it as judgement on our parenting.

But for the most part, it's not.

Usually advice given is completely sincere, coming from the best heart possible and often completely, hilariously, unsuited to my situation.

Since I had Anna I have heard:

Just take a nap whenever the baby does won't you?
(often a piece of advice given in mock stern tones)

Ehhem, let me just go and wet myself laughing. Not hard after 4 kids (ewww, tmi). What am I meant to do with all the others while I am napping? And my newborns have all slept an average of 14 hours a day. Even I don't sleep that much. A doze in the armchair will see me through until night time with a newborn. Compared to those last few weeks of pregnancy, I have OODLES of energy.

Just do one load of washing every day and you'll stay on top of it.

HA, hahahaha, HA. 6 PEOPLE + CLOTH NAPPIES + TOILET TRAINING + BED WETTING = more than one a day.

Just forget about housework, go and hold your babies.

That's fine. Until the Cholera and Dysentery start and the UN confiscate my house as a bio-weapon of mass destruction. There is a minimum and I am looking for any excuse to get out of that, don't give it to me PLEASE!

Just do a quick whip around and clean up after they're all in bed.

And I am meant to talk to my husband/sleep/read a book/sit down/blog when?

Make your hubby cook/clean/do odd jobs for you/rub your feet....

I make my kids do stuff all day and I want a lover not another child. Beloved is a big boy, he can make his own decisions. If he chooses to do those things, great, if not, honestly, it's less work for me to just do it myself.

Breast feeding is just natural and instinctive, just let yourself go with it and it will all fall into place.

Four kids, one still feeding and three fed 'till between 13 and 16 months and I only weaned because THEY wanted to. Yet, for me, it has never been "instinctive" in the first few weeks. Baby and I always need a bit of a learning curve to get going!

I could go on, but I won't.

It would be easy to snap back sassy replies, beat people down and put them back in their place. It can be affronting to get these snippets of advice out of no where. It is easy to believe that these people are judging me as inadequate as a mother. It is easy to believe the myth that everyone who offers advice thinks that I am failing.


I have found that, as with most things, it isn't actually about me.

When someone pops out a bit of advice it is out of a genuine desire to help at least 70% of the time. While the advice often doesn't fit me, it may have fit them or someone they know quite well, so they just want to pass on their wisdom! The other times, it is still usually about them, their own insecurities and desire to judge others.

Whatever the reason, when the advice comes, just take the meat and spit out the bones. Be secure enough in your own parenting to be able to relax and listen, every now and then you may learn something. If you don't, no biggie. If you have made someone feel heard and useful, you probably made their day! The art of the smile-and-nod is drastically underrated.

Just try not to wet yourself laughing when they tell you to nap when the baby does, it doesn't go down well.


Anonymous said...

Hi Jess,
Oops, sorry! I didn't mean to be judgemental or to sound crass. I just found that it worked well for me, but I only have two children.

Perhaps I should just learn to keep my big mouth shut (and my size nine feet out of it), and remember that people who have had more children than me also have more experience at this sort of thing.

Have a wonderful week.

Jess said...

No No, don't take offense! Honestly, I have heard that piece of advice so many times I forgot that you said it! And as the post said, I took it in the spirit intended. I realise people are wanting to be helpful when they hand out advice and it gives me warm fuzzies (most of the time!) even if their advice isn't applicable to my personal situation. Please don't have hurt feelings :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Jess,
No hurt feelings, thank you. =D