In that very moment of wishing you were in a dream, someone approaches you with just a simple suggestion on how to handle Susie's fit. Ugh. And you so desperately attempt to hold back the tears and smile and thank them for their "word of advice." Or out of that same desperation, you have no words and stare blankly back at them while you rush out of the store as quickly as possible.
I'm sure you and I could sit down over a cup of coffee and tell all the stories of unwarranted parenting advice we've been issued. One of my never-forget stories from years ago is the one where a lady parked her shopping cart one inch away from mine with her beautiful loaf of bread lying right on top.
Not only did she park it so close, but it was right beside my little one, who, as you can imagine, promptly reached over and pushed down on that beautiful loaf of bread, squishing it to dough-like status. This dear lady glared at my child and says "Don't you ever squish my bread again." While I managed to squeak out a "I'm so sorry," in my mind I was thinking that if the woman hadn't parked her cart so close to my baby girl, she wouldn't have squished her bread. I went on to think that I wanted to squish more than her bread. Not the best thought, I agree.
She then proceeded to tell me how if I would teach my child to keep her hands to herself this would have never happened. And I could start by giving her something to hold so that she wouldn't be tempted to grab other things off the shelves etc. I'm going to be honest with you- at this point I had to briskly walk away from that woman. And pray. Fervently.
We've all encountered the times when someone, whether family, friend, or stranger, has offered parenting advice in poor timing or tough circumstances. At this point, we have to choose how to handle the overload. Here are 5 tips on how to handle unwanted parenting advice: PAUSE
1. Pause and pray.
Breathe deeply, ask God for grace, swallow any warring words, and smile.
2. Ask yourself what desired outcome you want to see at the end of this encounter.
Do I truly need this person to understand the difficulty of the situation? Do I want my child to discontinue this behavior? What would be the best possible ending to this scenario?
3. Understand that people are individuals and therefore will have individual opinions.
Even Godly people will disagree and you are not accountable to others for your parenting actions. We are accountable to God for our parenting decisions and actions.
4. Stop the comparison before it starts.
Collaborating ideas with other parents is great as long as the collaboration doesn't lead to comparison. Johnny may not respond to a certain teaching method the same way as Susie.
5. Expect to encounter unwanted parenting advice and prepare your response.
If you have a mental plan in place for handling unwarranted parenting advice, then this will enable you to deal with unsolicited advice graciously. Maybe it could be a simple 3 step process: Pause.Pray.Smile. Or you could have a phrase that reminds you not to react harshly but to process the situation. Mine is Think.Blink.Wink. I think about the issue, especially how it is simply a "blink" in time and I wink my eye, recognizing the brevity of the situation.
We'd love to hear from you today!
What is your best tip for how to handle unsolicited parenting advice?