September 21, 2014 by theresiugoes
“Your milk is too watery.”
“You’re going to give her a sugar addiction.”
“Well, you’re just going to have to tell her ‘no’.”
“She’ll never go to sleep like that.”
“All babies cry before they sleep. You just have to leave her a few minutes.”
“And that’s exactly how fatal accidents happen.”
I get a lot of unsolicited parenting advice. And I know I’m not the only one. The Internets and my social media feeds are full of angry, tired and frustrated mums who have HAD IT with unwanted advice from friends, family and strangers. They have angry tshirts, memes and slogans.
Why am I ashamed to admit it? Because I’m so aware that it takes a village to raise a child. And I want my village to help me raise my child.
But sometimes, even the most well-intentioned advice can sting like a smack across the face. It feels like a personal attack, a resounding judgment on who I am as a person. It feels like a criticism on the immense effort, thought and focus I apply to my most important job I’ve ever had.
But I think this says more about me, and our culture of individualism, than it does about the people offering advice.
It exposes us as a culture that rejects the wisdom and experience of our elders.
It paints a picture of an ugly, self righteous people who only want to be told they are right. Who only want positive reinforcement instead of constructive criticism.
I don’t want to be that person. I want to be open to rebuke and advice and encouragement.
If I’m going to be angry, I don’t want it to be about well-intentioned advice, but to be about injustice or oppression of the vulnerable.
I want to be open minded, to try new ideas. I don’t want to be so precious that no one can give input to how I live.
I want to be strong enough in my person to know that I’m doing my best, and no one can take that away from me – in fact they can only add to it.
I want my LittleGirl to grow up valuing community, investing in community, and cherishing the role others play in her life.
I want my village to help me raise my child.