How Not to Give Parenting Advice


Parenting advice is a tricky, touchy road to navigate. While it is, I’m sure, always delivered with the best of intentions, the road to – well, you know the road and what it’s paved with. Certain advice will inevitably cause the recipient at least some degree of aggravation.

The most aggravation-inducing advice comes from the following well-intended, dearly loved friends and family members, in no particular order:

1) Doomsday heralds: These peaches are the same ones that greet a newly pregnant friend with a cheerful, “Well, your life is over now!” They say things to parents of a newborn such as, “You think you’re tired now, wait until he’s up and running around; two years old; a teenager… then you’ll really be tired!” Okay. This is not helpful. In. Any. Way. At. All. And givers of such advice have clearly blocked out the sleep-deprived, near torture level conditions of having to respond to a newborn with no real internal clock. No one is ever this tired again.

2) Our mothers: Sorry mom! Your advice will be disregarded based on your genetic make-up. Don’t even try. After all, you threw us in the car all willy nilly with no car seats; you let us eat lead paint right off the walls; and you may have even – God forbid – eaten unpasteurized cheese while pregnant. What could you possibly know about parenting?

3) Our mothers-in-law: See above, and yet I think even more so, because while I can be my bratty self and talk back to my mother (see? I just did it right up there in #2), I still feel the need to behave graciously with my mother-in-law.

4) Parents whose children have not yet turned two: These progenitors are still enjoying the halcyon days of the perfect, sunny-tempered child, and think this has something to do with their stellar parenting. Just wait until their child too is body-snatched and replaced by a tantrum-wielding despot who will eat nothing that’s not a waffle.

5) Parents whose children are much older than your own: Who when you bewail being up all night with your eight-month-old, or carrying your kidney-kicking ear-splitting wailing two-year-old out of the grocery store (without the groceries you came for), smile fondly and offer up these golden words, “Oh how I miss those days, you must treasure each moment, it goes so quickly…” Please, feel free to come over and treasure these moments for me while I go to the spa.

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