Dear Dr. Bill,
We recently had our first child, a little girl who is now two months old. I’m asking this question on behalf of my wife. She’s been feeling overwhelmed by all the parenting advice we’ve been getting from our friends and family. Sometimes these well-meaning people even contradict each other! My wife and I are learning as we go—but I feel like telling these people to mind their own business! Is that wrong?
You’re not alone. A lot of new parents are bombarded with advice from friends, co-workers, and family members. Like you and your wife, many of those couples feel like telling the advice-givers to put a lid on it.
It’s important to remember that most people who offer advice are simply well-meaning folks who want to help. They’ve raised their own kids, and have “been there, done that.” They genuinely care about you and your wife and are trying their best to share what they’ve learned.
On the other hand, there will always be a few know-it-alls who take pleasure in pointing out your mistakes and telling you “the right way” to parent your child. Dealing with these individuals can be frustrating, and it sounds like you’ve just about had it.
When responding to the know-it-all variety, I’ve found it helpful to say something like this, ”Thank you so much for your helpful advice, we will certainly consider it.” This phrase can be particularly useful if the unwanted advice is coming from a relative such as a parent or in-law.
Another helpful technique is to thank the advice-giver and let them know that you are basing your parenting on the advice of respected child-development experts.
A great place to find that advice is Focus on the Family’s Complete Book of Baby and Child Care written by twenty-six family physicians and pediatricians.
Thanks for writing Brian.
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