…….Until they want to give us unwanted advice. You know what I’m talking, mommas.
This is when your well-meaning Aunt or non-so-well-meaning Cousin decides to impart all of their “wisdom of experience” or sometimes, complete lack of experience, onto you. Some hot topics of advice: feeding, sleeping and discipling of YOUR children.
But here’s the inside scoop: they usually just want to be heard. Sometimes they want to feel like they’ve helped us. We can affirm their “suggestions” and let them know we do appreciate their concern (unwanted advice) without leaving them feeling ignored or rejected. I promise.
Here’s where living as a Southerner most of my life comes in handy. Feel free to adopt these following responses and sprinkle liberally over relatives that decide to slap you upside the head with unwarranted advice:
“How nice!” Yes, this will work — especially when repeated with a couple of different speech inflections. And a few, “Hmmm”s.”
“You don’t say?” “That’s interesting. Thanks for sharing that with me.” These loving folks in our lives need to feel heard. The worst thing you can do is ignore them or try to come back with a witty comeback. Just let it hang in the air after it’s shot out of your mouth……..then, it will fall to the ground. It won’t hurt anyone there.
“Indeed!” “Wow!” “Amazing!” It’s my personal favorite for people who just want to share their success in a place that you feel like you’re failing. The sister-in-law who bounced their newborn for exactly 22 times, swaddled the baby and played white noise and their child slept for 14 hours straight — that’s who gets this exclamatory affirmation. They may truly think it will work for you. So, tell them you’ll try it.
It might. It might not.
They just want to be heard, remember. And congratulated. Oh, and ask them to get you a white noise machine for Christmas.
What do you do when you know that whatever they are suggesting is just hogwash? “It’s just a little trip around the corner. I’ll just hold the baby in the back seat. Just drive slow.”
Or, “Well, I’m going to just do whatever I want with your kids when they’re at my house and you’re not here.”
Or, “You just need to lighten up, get a grip, relax about this.”
Believe it or not, politeness still reigns. We have to be careful not to confuse aggressiveness with assertiveness. The first one will get you nothing but an argument. The second will earn you respect.
Here’s one statement that works well as a vote to leave the conversation.
“I am his/her mother. Just so we are clear — I am his/her mother.”
If you think you’ll have a hard time saying that to certain people, practice saying it 10 times in the mirror at home. It will generally stop most folks in their tracks. Call a friend and get encouragement. Do whatever it takes to muster up enough courage to show your momma bear fangs….
without digging into anyone’s shoulder for lunch.
When have you received unsolicited advice from folks?
What has worked for you when you realize that they mean well, but you want stop the conversation?
When have you had to show your momma bear fangs?