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parents panel

Parents Panel: How do you handle unsolicited parenting advice?

“All MY lot were toilet trained by that age…”

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AS PART OF’s weekly Family Magazine, we wanted to create a space for parents to share their views. A place where mums and dads could share their experiences, lessons learned, and even mistakes along the way. 

This week, we asked our panel

How do you handle unsolicited parenting advice?

Here’s what they had to say…

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Top L-R: Olly Keegan, Alan Dooley, Denise, Ken Hyland. Middle L-R: Ríona Flood, Ross Boxshall, Marta Lisiecka, Denise Cumiskey. Bottom L-R: Kait Quinn, Susannah O’Brien, Derek McInerney, Suzie Kelly

It’s not as bad here as in Poland, believe me
I have to say that in comparison to Polish people, Irish are pretty considerate. If I do get advice that differs to my own feelings, I just say, “Thank you, that’s not the way we do things.”  In Poland you’ll get advice on the street from strangers. There’s a national obsession with hats and if your baby is not wearing one, even when it’s 20 degrees outside, you will be approached on the street and asked why not!

- Marta Lisiecka

I tune out the unwanted stuff
I sort of assumed to begin with that everyone must know more than me, a first time parent. So for the most part I just listened. It’s hard at the beginning to shrug off all the advice you’re getting from so many different people. I’ve been very luck in that I’ve gotten mostly good advice but I’ve also learned to tune out or discard unwanted advice or things that don’t seem to be right for us.

- Kait Strickland

I grit my teeth and try not to scream
I let them impart their pearls of wisdom to me, thank them and move on. I have been given loads of well-meaning and unwanted advice, mainly around Ellie Mae’s sleeping habits, as she is three years old and still has yet to sleep a full night. I am so fed up the “Have you not tried this?” or “Well I would just…” or “Why don’t you…” Sometimes I just want to scream, “Do you think that after three years I haven’t exhausted every avenue?” I just try to smile through gritted teeth and nod my head.

- Denise Cumiskey

It’s nice to be nice, so I say thanks
I deal with unsolicited parenting advice by being polite and saying thank you. Everyone always has advice for you, it very rarely comes from a bad place, just another parent trying to pass on a bit of knowledge. The older generations have a lot to offer us younger parents, and it’s nice to be nice. However if someone asks “When are you going to toilet train that child? All mine were trained at this age,” that’s not really advice, it’s more of an attempt at one-upmanship. In those instances I think it’s ok to tell someone to back off.

- Susannah O’Brien

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It once led to a huge argument
Unsolicited parenting advice is a pain, in my opinion. Especially if it comes from someone who doesn’t have kids. One such offering of advice led to a huge argument and a falling out, so I’ve now learnt to politely nod and smile. It is so easy for the advice-giver to cross the line.

- Ken Hyland

A nod and a non-committal answer
We have heard things like “Oh, you should get his hair cut, so he looks like a boy.” It’s not worth getting into a discussion on that. Someone has their opinion on how kids should look and it just doesn’t match with ours. A smile and nod with a non-committal answer saves hassle in the long run!

- Olly Keegan

We don’t get annoyed – well, unless it comes from Granny
In the early days, we lapped up the advice from anyone wishing to give it out. As time went on, we realised that advice was always subjective and what worked for their little Johnny didn’t necessarily work for our little Adam. These days, we don’t let ourselves get annoyed over it – unless it comes from Granny with a tone of authority, injecting a sense of “aaaargh” into the situation!

- Alan Dooley

“That’s nice, but what I find works best is…”
I have to admit that I have never been offered any unsolicited parental advice, but my wife got a lot of it. She was frequently told how to feed our children and how to get them to sleep. Now she usually says something like, “Thanks, that’s nice. With my children what I find best for them is…” Now with four kids we usually the ones getting requests for advice, rather than the ones receiving it.

- Ross Boxshall

More Parents Panel: What’s one rule your kids know they can never break?>

More Parents Panel: What one parenting worry just isn’t worth the effort?>

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