17 Feb Who knows best: New parents and unsolicited advice
So you’ve had your new baby and you’re home now. Before you left the hospital the nurses gave you some important guidelines, like: “the baby has to sleep on her back, not her tummy” and “you should avoid giving her a bottle until breastfeeding is well-established.” But at home, aunt Susie, mom-in-law Christine or good old neighbor Sarah are telling you different things, like: “I raised 4 kids and they all slept on their tummy” or “listen to me, I worked at the nursery when I was younger and we always did xyz and the babies were fine.” Many new parents complain about unsolicited advice they get from family and friend. Advice that, many time, is contradictory to what they were told by hospital staff. The question is how to do what you believe you have to do or what you want to do without hurting well-meaning people’s feelings? How to tell mother-in-law off without putting her off? One thing is clear: you both have to be on the same page regarding who you listen to. Once you’ve established that, it’s time to practice your assertiveness skills. It may be difficult as a new parents to gather the energy to stand up to people who provide unsolicited advice. It may seem easier to just ignore them. But then they may get offended anyway. So what’s the best way? Saying something quite clear in a respectful way, like: “Thanks for the advice, I’m sure it makes a lot of sense to you but we have decided to follow the current guidelines and, so, the baby is going to sleep on her back.” If the person insists on offering their opinion again, just repeat what you said in the first place, in a calm and respectful tone. Do it until they get the message and don’t forget t o back each other up. Happy new parenthood!