How To Keep La Fiesta En Paz When Other Moms Want to Tell You How Things Are Done
Motherhood is arguably the most magical time in your life. It is a moment when welcome a new child into the world and start to learn what kind of parent you will be. However, it’s also the most stressful time in your life.
Motherhood is when literally every other mother you meet feels the need to tell you how parenting is done. It’s incredible how bringing a child into your family can instantly trigger a flood of unwanted advice. Especially from other mothers who have no business telling you what to do. But how do you keep la fiesta en paz when other moms want to tell you how to be a mother?
This is the road many mothers have to navigate from the moment their milk comes in until the moment they grow the confidence to tell other parents to back off.
The good news is you’re not alone.
You’re not alone if motherhood is stressful, and you’re not alone if you feel constantly judged as a mother
Research supports the fact that mothers, in particular, bear the brunt of the stress in a family. A recent Pew Research Report found that “mothers were more likely than fathers to say that being a parent is stressful and tiring all or most of the time.”
Furthermore, this survey of more than 3,700 American parents by the Pew Research Center noted that “mothers were more likely than fathers to report feeling judged by people other than their spouses or partners for the way they parent their children — including by relatives, friends, and other parents in their communities.”
So, not only is motherhood hard enough as it is. But it’s even harder because we’re being overwhelmed by judgment and outside (read unsolicited) opinions of others. This often makes us question our instincts and choices. That self-doubt leads to more stress about making the wrong parenting choices. And round and round we go.
Bottom line: as a mom, you, without a doubt, will be inundated with unwanted and unnecessary advice. And it is up to you to set boundaries to protect your mental health and your parenting.
But how can you keep the peace when what you really want to do is tell other parents to F off?
Managing pushy parents is an art form, and it takes practice
Understand that learning how to respond to other parents offering judgment/advice takes time to master. “Responding to unsolicited (and bad) advice can be a bit of an art form. If you sound semi-interested, you may open the door to more bad advice. But if you shut the person down too aggressively, you can damage your relationship with them,” explains Amy Morin, a licensed clinical social worker, psychotherapist, and author of 13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don’t Do. “The key is to reply in a manner that doesn’t give away your personal power,” she said in Psychology Today.
Be polite (and know it’s okay to politely ignore their input)
It is totally okay not to want another parent’s advice. It’s also okay to be annoyed by their need to offer input when you never asked for it. But it’s also OK to respond politely and not burn any bridges. Remember, you never know when you might actually need their guidance or support. Thank them for thinking of you; show gratitude that they have your best interests and needs at heart, and then move on without an ounce of guilt over not taking their advice.
Promise to give it some thought
First, respond to the other parent’s advice with a simple “thank you, I’ll give it some thought,” and walk away or change the subject. That usually ends the conversation or pivots to a new topic.
Once you have some time to yourself, actually give their advice some consideration. This way, you’ll have some time to reflect and respond in a way that is less reactive and more reflective. It may not be what works for you and your family, but there are some nuggets of wisdom in there that can be filed away for future use. Remember that it is entirely possible to appreciate someone else’s good intentions while also realizing that their needs and tactics might not align with your own.
Be very clear about your personal value system
It is not only allowed but extremely powerful to tell another mom that what works for them is not aligned with your perspective on parenting. Say firmly, “That’s not actually in line with my values.” Don’t apologize for the value system you honor in your family, and don’t expect them to understand your position. But you absolutely must make it clear when someone else’s advice goes against what you believe in, Morin shares.
Stay strong, trust your gut, and don’t be afraid to set boundaries
If the unsolicited advice is from a total stranger, you’ll probably never see them again, so feel free to smile, nod, and walk away. If it’s coming from a friend, coworker, or *gasp* your mother-in-law, you’ll have to set some boundaries.
Be clear that there is no one-size-fits-all rulebook on parenting, and every child (and every mother) is different. Trust that you know what’s best for your family and that if it doesn’t feel right, it’s probably not suitable for you. And say that out loud for anyone challenging your judgment.
But don’t forget also to keep an open mind
Then again, make sure you don’t reject all the advice you are given. Even when you’re not looking for help, or you don’t think you need to make a change, we can all learn to be better parents and better people. And advice from other moms who have been there can be helpful from time to time.