As I was gearing up for fatherhood, my friend Josh (who blogs over at The True Chew) warned me about two things:
“You’re going to get tons of parenting advice,” and “You’re gonna hate it.”
Wait, what? Hate parenting advice? At first I laughed, figuring “it’s just part of the experience; I’m glad people want to help.”
But no. I was quite wrong. It’s like sand. Sand is great in its own time and place. Great for beaches. Great for sandboxes. But not for gas tanks. Not for diapers.
In light of the above, there are only two things you need to know about giving parenting advice to others:
“You put SAND in my diaper?”
- Give unsolicited parenting advice
- Not give unsolicited parenting advice
Easy, eh? The key word is unsolicited, or in layman’s terms: “My child’s cry is not your invitation to offer advice.” If they can repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” then they should do the same to “Didn’t Ask? Do Tell!”
I know, you may have the experience, the fatherly/motherly wisdom, the history of mistake-making that you don’t want to see people repeat, etc., but set those aside for one moment and hear me out: You may mean well, but it’s far better to do well.
Here are two ways how:
1. Give solicited advice
Parenting is a journey. For me, I reserve the right to make dumb mistakes and grow along the way. I’m still learning when to persevere and when to pause and ask for help. Lemme get my learnin’ on, k?
2. Give some space
What a great favor to do for parents in taking “entertain/prep for company/be presentable” off their plate. No effort required. There’s a time and place for company too (of course!), but trust me, if you’re letting me have time and space, you’re giving me a gift that money cannot buy.
Thanks in advance. Really.
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