From the very moment you see that positive result in the test window, you’ll be inundated with parenting advice. Most of this advice will be unsolicited, unwanted and unhelpful.
Strangers will stop you in the street to share their parenting wisdom with you, and you’ll waddle away as quickly as you can (not very), muttering expletives under your breath.
It won’t stop once the baby arrives. In fact, you’ll find the amount of unwanted advice increases once you have your gorgeous baby with you. Friends, family members, old colleagues, shop cashiers, and total strangers will all have advice they so desperately want to share.
Never let the baby fall asleep on you, let the baby sleep on you, let your baby cry sometimes, never let your baby cry, breastfeed whenever your baby needs it, breastfeed to a strict schedule… the endless amount of contradicting advice goes on and on.
We live in the information age, and that’s never more noticeable than when you become a parent for the first time. All of a sudden, information is flying at you from all directions.
You have a pregnancy app, a few pregnancy and parenting books, a website you check obsessively, a number of Facebook groups, and all your new mama friends who share all of their information with you. It’s mentally exhausting to have to sift through all of that information.
To make things a little easier for you, here are five bits of parenting advice you can (and probably should) ignore:
#1: When It's Been Said By A Person Who Doesn’t Have Children
Oh, we’ve all been there. Parenting is so easy when you don’t actually have to do it. Before you become a parent, you are the self crowned world’s best parent. You know exactly what it takes to create polite, well-rounded, happy children. You can easily determine what other parents are doing wrong. That child has too much freedom, another one eats too much sugar, another one is spoiled. You can identify where parents have gone wrong, and that’s great, until you become a parent and realise you had no freaking idea what you were talking about.
The very moment you become a parent, you suddenly realise you are just as clueless as everyone else, and there is no magic formula to being the perfect parent. Until your sister or friend has that lightbulb moment, however, she’ll continue doling out unwanted parenting advice.
Remember, she isn’t a parent, so she really isn’t qualified to hand out advice. Ignore.
#2: When It's Anything That Just Sounds Wrong
Sometimes, all it takes to decipher the good advice from the bad is a simple dose of common sense. Listen to what people are telling you, but if it sounds wrong, it probably is. There's all kinds of crazy advice flying around, so the important thing to do is listen to and carefully consider all of the advice you’re given. Examples of plain wrong parenting advice include biting your kid back to teach them not to bite. Yep, you read that right, Biting Your Kid. It couldn’t sound more wrong, could it? And that’s because it is.
Of course a parent shouldn’t bite their child, no matter what the circumstance. There is never a situation where it’s okay to bite your child. End of it. There are plenty of other excuses of parenting advice that shouldn’t be handed out. If the advice you’re receiving makes you shudder, don’t do it, it’s bad advice.
#3: When It Ends In “… You’re Making A Rod For Your Own Back!”
You will probably receive a lot of warnings about spoiling your baby. Some people think that showing too much love and affection to a baby can lead to a lifetime of problems. It’s not true, of course, and research actually shows the exact opposite. Some people seem to think that carrying your baby, sleeping close to your baby, and soothing your baby’s upsets are pointless tasks that will only make life more difficult. They’re not pointless, of course. In fact, these actions have many associated benefits including reduced crying and more contented babies.
How you parent is up to you and you alone. You should listen to your heart, look for inspiration around you, and research the latest science into parenting. Your decisions should be based on how you feel and the latest research, not what a stranger told you in the supermarket. Especially if that advice was criticising something you do for your child, such as wearing her in a baby carrier.
#4: When It Ends In “… Never Did Me Any Harm!”
This is the parenting equivalent of “I’m not racist, but…”
These words should set off a warning bell in your mind. They’re most commonly uttered when a person is advising you to do something violent, cruel, outdated or without any evidence to support it… quickly backed up with the words, “It never did me any harm.” Well, except growing up to become the type of person who advocates such advice or violence towards children, some would argue that is actually quite a bit of harm.
Many parents would agree the worst type of unsolicited advice is discipline related. Nobody wants to hear that other people (especially friends and family members) think their child is in need of a good smack on the backside. Feel free to smack the person who suggests this to you, they will totally be on board with this way of changing undesirable advice giving behaviour.
#5: When It Goes Against Your Intuition
Intuition is a funny thing. It’s not something we give much credit to, especially during the pre-parenting days. You might have made decisions based on a feeling, but probably wouldn’t say that aloud for fear of sounding crazy. Once you become a parent, however, your intuition really kicks in. Some people feel they instinctively know how to best care for their baby, simply by following their gut feeling.
Controlled crying is pretty awful for babies, but it’s not pleasant for parents either. Many parents report sitting outside their baby’s room, crying and feeling sick, as they listened to their baby’s sobs. This is going against your parenting intuition. If it was the right thing to do, you wouldn’t feel so terrible about it. Now is the time to trust yourself. You are the expert when it comes to your baby. You made her from scratch, grew her for nine long months and then gave birth to her. You are the world’s leading expert in your baby, so trust yourself and listen to what your gut is telling you. Even if you didn't grow your baby in your womb, you did so in your heart, and that too will trigger your parenting intuition.
It can be a difficult task to navigate the loads of unsolicited parenting advice. When in doubt, repeat the advice to yourself and if it sounds wrong to you then it's probably wrong for you and your baby. In time you will learn whom to trust for sound parenting advice and what parenting resources align with how you desire to parent. Until then, take the unsolicited advice with a grain a salt and know that its okay to ignore it.