1.4.15

The Don't Beat Yourself Up Guide to (Unwanted) Advice

Recently I was out with my children and a lady said to me "Ahhh how old is you son?" "Two" I replied". Silence followed by "Oh two? He's rather small for his age isn't he?". Mmmm OK stranger lady thanks for your input. Followed by visiting my Nan just two hours later who exclaimed "Oh he's a big lad Emma". So either in the space of two hours my son had grown courtesy of whatever E numbers are in fruit shoots or? People just LOVE giving their two pennies worth when it comes to offering advice or opinions about other people's kids.

It starts off when you become pregnant and all of a sudden people you barely know give you a variety of little tit bits to "help" stop morning sickness. Ranging from ginger nuts to the gem of "count yourself lucky I was puking 15 hours a day solidly for 8 months". Which is pretty much the last thing you want to hear as you are wiping sick from your mouth and ramming another arrowroot biscuit (as recommended by your local shop keeper you never spoke to before) down your gob.

It continues when it comes to what your babies should wear (DO NOT get me started on the 'mitten' debate I have had with several older relatives). And is still ploughing on with offerings on when your child should be sleeping through the night to how many colours your toddler should know (my son at two says every colour is green. This is evidently a crime).

This boy believes all three of these Smarties are green. Call the Police!

Advice is great. When you ask for it. I am the first one to admit I am pretty crap. And if I have a problem I will have no issue in turning to someone I love like my Mum, or trust like a good friend or admire, like a lady at my work who used to be a health visitor. People I don't want to turn to include strangers in soft play, shop assistants in H&M or random smuggos who want to make themselves feel validated by offering advice that is not requested. Nor is helpful.

Apologies if I sound a total ungrateful cow bag but the world is full of enough sources to fill us with self doubt. From social media to images of celebrities rocking a baby like a brand new handbag. With our hormones raging (can I still use this excuse two years on from last giving birth? F*ck it! I am), what we don't want is any more 'advice' to make us doubt ourselves. To undermine what we have been taught at a baby class, or read in a recommended self help book or worst what our gut instinct tells us about our child.

Advice should only be given with love and good intent. It should be useful and it should not be a game of one upmanship with a "my kids cleverer than your kid" or a "I had it worst than you". Unfortunately? You cannot stop the barrage of advice that is going to be thrown your way when you become a parent. It seems to go along with the territory and is as integral to raising a child as never sleeping properly again (COUNT YOURSELF LUCKY I HAVEN'T SLEEP FOR FOUR YEARS! Joke).

PUT A COAT ON HER! SHE WILL FREEZE TO DEATH!* *she won't.

So here is my advice. Much like Robert De Niro in Meet the Fockers have an 'inner circle'. A group of friends, colleagues or family who you look up to. Who have raised their kids with kindness, love and grace. Who can admit their downfalls and have no problems with listening to your moans. And the rest of the people? F*ck 'em. Listen to their advice with a lovely big smile on your face, mentally pairing socks from your sock drawer in your head or considering the plot of Real Housewives of New Jersey. Say "Thank you random stranger for informing me that my child really should be wearing a coat". Then walk away and ignore them. Nobs.

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