Opinion: Unsolicited advice is best unspoken
Commentary by Danielle Wilson
A few days ago, my neighbor shared that someone — some awful, mean-spirited woman — criticized her parenting … to her face! How dare you, ma’am! And so I am forced to remind us all of the seldom-discussed but no less critical rules of mom-to-mom communication. Please take note.
- Never express your true feelings about another parent’s choices directly to that person. Vent it out with your spouse or best gal pal, but keep that schtick locked down until you’re back at the house. Unless she solicits advice, I promise she does not want a lecture on why “breast is best” or any of that other Nazi-lactation stuff while she’s barely hanging on thanks to Similac (Mom Tip: Ask your pediatrician for formula coupons … those savings can purchase a lovely Pinot!). What’s good for your family may not be good for hers.
- Before you speak, put yourself in her position. Remember the days of no sleep and endless diapers and 24/7 anxiety over going back to work vs. staying home? None of us can think rationally when we’re hopped up on caffeine and internet tales of “How Working Moms Produce Serial Killers.” Let Rule No. 1 be your mantra, and then ask if there’s anything you can do to help. New mothers are friends, not food for your ego.
- Recognize that all families have different needs that must be met for them to function even a tad bit normally. For some, it’s ensuring only organic food hits the table, while for others, canned spaghetti makes a perfectly nice sit-down dinner (Mom Tip: Rinse any Chef Boyardee product before serving … your angels won’t know the mess they’re missing!). As long as the kids are eating something, the sun will rise tomorrow!
Bottom line? Homeschooling, helicoptering parenting, Harvard-tracking in preschool … these are decisions every mom has the right to make without your consent! Or even your opinion. Unless a choice directly harms you or your kid (like a playdate at the local handgun range or snake-charming pit), zip it.