Being a mother is tough, plain and simple. Every waking day is a challenge and finding a balance requires a lot of effort. There are good days and bad days and days that make you question your entire existence.
As if this wasn’t enough, you have to deal with judgement from family and friends, or even strangers who always seem so eager to give unsolicited advice/ input. They can be useful and sometimes condescending mixed with a flavour of rude and a hint of sarcasm.
Parenting styles vary from person to person be it authoritarian or authoritative, what is perceived to be okay to one is unorthodox to another. Being a new parent, it’s important for you to develop thick skin to deal with it all but your approach is the determining factor.
What do you do with unsolicited advice?
i) Listen. Take your time to listen to what is being said. You don’t have to act on it, but while listening you could learn something new. Some parents always seem to have a ‘know it all’ attitude when it comes to the children.
ii) Be polite when replying to statements made towards you. Being impulsive often leads to arguments and words might be exchanged that may be regretted later.
iii) Appreciation. That the person took their time to approach you with their thoughts whether you deem it useful or not. Their advice is harmless.
iv) Be assertive. Being a push over doesn’t do anyone any good. Trust in yourself and your ability as a good parent.
v) Take time to educate yourself on parenting i.e. pregnancy, birth and child upbringing. Always check your sources for credible information.
vi) Maintain an open mind. People will always have something to say. Let them, that is how the world works and there’s little you could do about it.
Its true everyone needs an Olivia Pope, but that doesn’t mean that it has to be someone else.
You can be your own gladiator in the fight that is motherhood. Remaining focused and goal oriented is important because it always gives you vision of the bigger picture and therefore removing meaning from sub contexts. Surround yourself with people the genuinely care and learn to cut off negative energy i.e. those who want to anchor you down. It’s hard at the beginning but it gets easier with time.
Your attitude is your weapon. Don’t be unavailable from the world that it makes it difficult for communication to take place. Most new parents create a bubble for themselves with the aim of being exceptional parents but parenting is not perfect and there is always room for improvement.
Its important to understand that not everyone is out to get you and some people do genuinely have your best interest at heart. Stay positive and welcome the holiday season with joy.
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Yvonne is a teacher, childcare advisor and a millennial mum.