Q&A: Overwhelming advice for first-time parents


As first-time parents, we’ve been overwhelmed by all the advice we’ve received from people. Though well-meaning, I feel like telling them to mind their own business. Is that wrong?

Answer: Most veteran parents who share their hard-won wisdom are simply trying to help. They’ve already raised their own children, and don’t see why you shouldn’t benefit from the invaluable knowledge they’ve acquired through trial and error. So try to be gracious when they offer their tips and helpful hints. For the most part, they’re acting out of genuine concern and are on your side.

Of course, there are some whose motives are different — individuals who take pleasure in boosting their own sense of superiority by pointing out your mistakes and telling you the “right way” to parent your child. Dealing with these folks is frustrating.

When responding to them, you might try saying something like this: “Thank you so much for your helpful advice. We will certainly consider it.” This phrase can be particularly useful if the unwanted counsel is coming from a close relative such as a parent or an in-law. Remember to say it with a smile.

Another technique is to thank and let them know that you are basing your parenting methods on your moral values along with the advice of respected child-development experts. One place to find that expert advice is Focus on the Family’s Complete Guide to Baby and Child Care, an extensive volume written by twenty-six family physicians and paediatricians associated with the Physicians Resource Council. You can purchase a copy by visiting our Resources.

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