Our friend came to visit yesterday with her 6 weeks old baby girl. Our friend is a new mom with a tendency to "crunchiness", mid-thirties, free spirit, lived all around the world, did some crazy things in her days, a sort of an avantgarde performance artist and a totally cool person in all respects.
And she's driven insane by her mom and her advices.
"The baby isn't dressed warm enough", "Why does she sleep in your bed?" "Why don't you have a regular feeding schedule? It's not good for her to eat whenever." You get the picture, I'm sure.
Funny thing, advice. We need it – as new parents, we crave it. We go to baby manuals and baby sites and mommy blogs and look for support and wisdom. But when it comes unsolicited, or maybe even just in a tone or manner we don't feel comfortable with, it hurts us. It insults us. It's perceived as criticism of our parenting.
Sometime it is criticisms, but not as often I think. I think the problem lies with the inherent vulnerability of new parenthood. Here you are, endowed with this enormous responsibility you're not necessarily prepared for, and you can be pretty lost. Still, it's something that you need to do, it's your thing, and you want to do it your way, even thought you don't always know exactly what it is.
When Ulysses was born I was as much of a novice as anybody else. I was receiving advice from EVERYBODY. Heck, my MIL and mom spent about two hours discussing the exact qualities my baby dresser should have. At some point, when it started to get to me, I decided to take a stand and simply… ignore it.
I had a line I used to deliver whenever some unsolicited advice came my way: "This baby is not a democratic regime. It's a dictatorship and we [meaning, me and A.] are the sole rulers." And it really helped me both in making sense in my mind about things and in calmly accepting the advices that were less than welcomed.
My point is, (yes, there is, surprisingly enough, a point), most if not all advice-givers are well-meaning. The one good advice you need in order to make it easier to either receive advice or ignore it is to remember one simple truth: you are a good parent.