Moms and Dads

We Hate Unsolicited Parenting Advice! So Why Do It?

Although most of the time well-intended, a lot of parenting advice tends to be unsolicited.

When we see someone sad, depressed, or, in a bad mood, we often try to comfort them in the form of advice. While we have good intentions, it may not always come off that way. Sometimes, it makes people feel worse! We, moms and dads, also get irritable when people give us all these unsolicited parenting or life advice especially when trying to handle our kids’ tantrums. But many of us are guilty of doing so. So why still do it and how can we deal with it without coming off as rude?

Why do people always give advice even if it’s unsolicited?

At a young age, we were taught that people cry because they don’t know what to do. It then appears to us as a “cognitive” or a “knowledge” problem more than an emotional one. Thus, many of us would give advice in hopes of stopping the tears and frustration, not realizing it’s an unsolicited or unneeded one at the moment. And therefore, it’s no surprise if the ones receiving the advice explode. We don’t like being told what to do or what not to do either—especially when emotions are running high or are non-existent. A lot of times, it makes us feel more lacking than ever.

But how do we tell them that’s the wrong kind of help?

Empathy is not just understanding what they feel. It’s keeping communication lines open on what they need. The same applies to us when our emotions are running high. Although it’ll be difficult, communicating what we need despite the exploding emotions is what will solve the problem a lot faster. Here’s what we can do:

1. Have a code question that is answerable by “yes” or “no”.

When kids or we ourselves are bawling our eyes out, making a coherent and intelligible sentence is impossible. Instead, have a code question that can be answered with a nod or shake of the head. It can be as simple as “do you want coffee?” or “do you need a break?” Creating a code question with a simple “yes” or “no” answer helps your mind restore some sense of control and reality in a situation where everything just seems to be a splattered mess. “Yes” can mean you need comfort and “no” can mean “I need advice. Tell me what to do.” It highly depends on what you want the result to be.

Make sure your partners and kids are aware of the question. It’ll help them, too!

2. “Thanks, I’ll consider it.”

We know that the people giving advice are only trying to offer help, even if it’s unsolicited. Sometimes, we just have to wear a horseshoe in our mouths and simply say, “Thanks, I’ll consider it.” It’s a lot better than saying “no”.

3. Remind yourself that taking the advice doesn’t make you any less of a parent.

A lot of times, unsolicited advice can feel like an attack on our values and view of ourselves as parents. But before we explode and scream at the one who gave it, take a few steps back to remind yourself that parenting isn’t something you perfect in an instant or at one time. Like they say, “It takes a village to raise a child.”

4. If you find yourself about to give it, check if the person needs that right now.

Sometimes, we’re guilty too of offering parenting advice to grieving or frustrated parents. But we need to read the room. There are certain mannerisms that show they’re not willing to hear advice at the moment. Sometimes, it can be in the form of a blank stare or an annoyed one. Or, the famous “mom” look that usually scares the kids into submission.

5. Before you comfort someone, ask: do you need a willing ear or a solution?

There’s no shame in asking if a fellow frustrated mom just needs a willing ear or a solution. Every mom needs a friend to rant to. Sometimes, these rants are best dealt with in a small, quiet corner of the house with a bottle of Pelissero Moscato d’Asti.

Make sure your parenting advice doesn’t feel unsolicited by asking if they need anything.

We kind of jump the gun and offer advice immediately because we’re taught to deal with the source of the stress right away. But we can’t deal with problems when emotions are running high and when all we can do is cry or go on an impulse shopping trip. So if there’s any advice we’d like to give our fellow parents, make sure they’re ready to process it. Helping them means offering the right kind of help.

More about parenting? Here are some stories!

John Lloyd Cruz on Derek Ramsay: “He Has a Good Parenting Approach.”
Narcissistic Parenting: What It Is And How To Avoid It
Unlearning Traditional Parenting: “It’s Hard But Worth It.”

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