When writing a blog entry for the category ‘Parenting’, I am always well aware that I am not giving the usual ‘parenting advice’ that you can read in other places. I just provide my own opinion and experience and whoever likes it can see whether he would like to apply my ideas in his life, too. To be honest, I am not fond of reading parenting advice at all – the main reason for that is probably that a lot of that advice seems to have the claim in itself that there is only one correct way. That is something that I just cannot accept in a world that has so much variety! Unfortunately you can get lots of such extremely limiting parenting advice not only in books or online but also by people around you – those who are close to you and even complete strangers!
I know that this happens all over the world, so I guess most parents have experienced it already in one way or another: you are out with your children, let’s say in a supermarket. It is always a challenging task to have an eye on them while simultaneously making sure you have everything that you wanted to buy. The children are running around, asking you ‘Can I have this?’ and ‘Please let me have that!’ While your mind is busy with the question whether you need toothpaste or not, you grant them each a lollipop and get into the queue at the counter in order to pay. The lady in front of you has been watching your children and turns around ‘You know that lollipops are bad for their teeth? You could give them fruit instead!’
If a mother is already stressed at this point, this could be the last straw and she might say something nasty to the advice-giver which she would normally never say to a complete stranger. Not to anybody actually but there are sometimes people who provoke such a response by giving unnecessary advice! That can be strangers like in the example above, it can be your friends, it can be acquaintances and it can be relatives. You may have witnessed your mother-in-law asking your husband whether he didn’t think that you should give the child more milk to drink. Other mothers like to compare, which is just natural, but then tell you what they do to achieve what they believe is your child’s weakness!
Advice comes for every possible field of parenting – breastfeeding, weaning, food, diapers, rashes, fever, colds, clothes, shoes, teething, hygiene, accessories, bedtime, sleeping routines, learning processes and which toys are good or not good for your child. It is no surprise that first mothers are overwhelmed by the advice they get! They feel impressed and maybe even a little bit inferior when they see the sheer amount of knowledge and wisdom that other women seem to have!
After some time and a few experiences with their own child however they see that all that knowledge usually comes from individual experiences, things that others ‘have heard’ and maybe a few things that are commonly known to be true. The reality however is that most of the advice does not apply to your child – or at least not to 100%. People just thing that they are the experts of something once they have made an experience. But even if you have put five children into this world and have raised them all, you are not the expert for other people’s children! You may have experience and give suggestions when asked – but you should refrain from giving unnecessary and unasked-for advice which would stress out any new mother!
Mothers, you are the best expert for your own children. Every child has his or her own character and the reactions of your children depend on the environment that they are growing up in. No other man or woman can tell you more about your child than you who have carried it in your belly, have spent countless hours soothing, caring, cuddling, feeding, holding and caressing it. Listen to what your belly says, take advice whenever you need it and don’t get upset about advice when it is not needed. They mean it well – thank them, smile and do your own thing!