By: Em Cruz
I just gave birth and now I feel like everyone has a say about what I’m doing with my baby and that I’m always wrong whatever I do. Help!
Relate? It seems like that once a baby is born, the new mom is met with a barrage of advice. From how to properly pick him up, care for his belly button, give him a bath, feed him, get him to sleep, and so much more. This is especially true for close family and relatives because they are bonded to both you and your child, so their counsel, no matter if it’s unwanted, are mostly done with good intentions. So it’s best to remember this when you’re getting frustrated over everything you’re hearing.
But aside from keeping in mind the intentions behind the advice, here are a few tips on how to deal with the comments while also keeping your sanity and relationships intact:
Listen. Unwanted advice might come off as criticism. And since as moms we only want what’s best for our child, we might feel that we’re unsuccessful at it if we always get comments about everything we’re doing. However, you can adjust your perception and instead of hearing the comments as criticisms, rather, try to see it as that person sharing valuable insight — especially if he/she is a parent as well. So try to just listen and you might even learn something helpful.
Agree or disregard. Once you’ve listened to his/her advice, discern if its something useful for you and your baby or not. If it is, then thank him/her and say that you can try it out soon. If it’s not, then you can simply nod and make a non-committal response. Then go about caring for and raising your child — your own way.
Educate yourself. Knowledge is power and the same holds true for parenting. Read up on different parenting tips, advocacies, and even parenting types then decide what you feel is best for you and your baby. Arming yourself with the right knowledge will give you the confidence that you are doing what’s best for your child.
Be confident about your choices. Whether you are a breastfeeding, co-sleeping, baby-wearing, and chill kind of parent or not, chances are you will be questioned or confronted over it. Sooner or later, someone will tell you, “You’re still breastfeeding?!” The proper knowledge and confidence will help you out in such confrontations, allowing you to answer with a yes and a big smile without a hitch.
Educate the other person. If you received an advice that’s “outdated” or even outright wrong, you can share what you have learned about the topic. You can even refer to a study or an article you have read, or a show that you’ve watched.
Quote your doctor. If you’re having a hard time dismissing an advice, then use your doctor as a shield. A lot of people consider professional opinions as valid, including that of your Pediatrician when it comes to caring for your baby. So if your mother-in-law is insisting that you feed your baby as early as 4 months, you can say that your Pediatrician advice for you to wait until the 6th month.
Choose your confidantes and topics wisely. Us moms love to share stories of our babies or even lovingly complain about them. But it’s also best to choose your confidantes and topics wisely. If your sister-in-law is encouraging you to mix feed and yet you want to exclusively breastfeed, then don’t complain to her about your sore nipples. If she brings up the topic on her own by asking how your breastfeeding is going, then you can try to be vague about it and say that it’s fine.
Pick your battles. Not every parenting issue is worth fighting for, such as if your mother is insisting that your baby wears a hat every time she goes out, then throw one on. Doing so will not have long-term effects on your baby and just think of it as an opportunity to dress her up. Plus, it would also placate your mom and not make her feel that her opinions are unimportant to you especially once you disagree with her over the bigger issues.
Find your tribe. Look for like-minded moms or online support groups that share the same parenting philosophies like yours. Talking with other moms who are in one way or another raising their children in a similar way as you are can give you the confidence and strength to handle people who might not understand your parenting style.
Chances are, you will get millions of advice from the day your baby is born until he’s well into his teen years. But always remember that he is your child and that you are raising him in the best way you know how.
Em is MomCenter’s editor and a doting mom to a decisive yet sweet daughter. When she doesn’t have her hands full of motherhood, she moonlights as a geek and bibliophile. Follow her mom-adventures via her Instagram.