The world is full of unique people. Mothers are all different. Families are all different. What works for one family may not work for another family even if we are totally sure it would. If we all did the same thing then it would all be pretty boring really. Adults are a product of their childhood and different parenting styles produce different types of adults. This is all common sense.
Are you a Type A? One day I will do a survey here and find out just how many readers are Type A and how many aren’t. I’m going to bet that at least 75% are. And so if you are like me – and I hope you’re at least not too much like me for your own sake – then you find it hard to sit still and listen to other mothers complain about what’s happening in their home when you think you have a way to “fix” it. I know I do. But, people don’t actually like to be advised unless they ask for it either. Sometimes people just want to complain but carry on doing what they’re doing. Women!
When you were pregnant how many mothers gave you advice on about a million things. Do this. Don’t do that. You have to do this before you can do the other. So much advice, so many people who want to help. How do we work through it all? We will inevitably be given advice from others who have gone before us and have done it better, but can we take advice from others?
(1) Follow your own gut. I am a firm believer that we should do what we feel deep down we should do. As in, if you feel super sure about one way then it’s usually better to go with your conviction no matter what. I’ve always felt that I’d regret much more not doing what I really wanted to do than I would regret being wrong. If your methods of discipline, sleep training or family management are different than your family or friends and they make a big deal about it, carry on. If you change to suit others (who aren’t the primary carers of your children in the first place) you will always regret not following your own gut. I’m not always right, but I tell you something, I’ve never felt worse than I do when I take others’ advice against my better judgment. Trust yourself.
(2) Acknowledge what works and what doesn’t work. There are times when we want to go one way, but quite honestly that way is just baloney. You will have friends who are dead set on their parenting methods and their methods obviously don’t work. The results they want they are not getting. Now, that doesn’t mean it’s our responsibility to tell everyone the error of their ways (or our perception, thereof) but it does mean that there will be times when what we truly want to do just isn’t effective. Let’s face it, who actually wants to discipline their children or take away privileges? If we attempt to bring about good behavior without ever firmly confronting bad behavior we will fail. While we are to go with our gut, we are to examine the results too. The ultimate goal is to firmly believe in our own ways and for our ways to be effective.
(3) Advise when asked. I have a really really hard time keeping my mouth shut. Always have. I love all the quotes about listen more, talk less, less is more, etc. I know they are true but, dadgummit, just because something is true doesn’t make it easy. I love reading and finding out good methods for things. When I use them and they work, I somehow think that everyone should do them. Of course I know that everyone is free and happy to do whatever they see fit, but if they are floundering and asking advice, I love giving it! I’ve learned that mothers get very defensive if your tone of voice and words indicate you doubt their mothering abilities. Most of us would never actually be thinking someone wasn’t a good mother, but we are so sensitive about our roles since they are so important. We have to be careful to be supportive and encouraging towards other mothers whether or not they do what we do.
(4) Try to keep your mouth shut otherwise. Sometimes the best thing we can do is keep our mouths shut. Friends will do exactly the opposite of what we do and ultimately it’s none of our business. If you do sleep training or something like Babywise your babies will sleep through the night early. You’ll inevitably have friends who have children over the age of 1 still not sleeping through the night. Every fiber of your being will want to show them the “better way.” But you know what? They may not agree with your ways for their families and if they don’t care what you have to say about it then sharing your opinion will only hurt the relationship.
If my way isn’t working and someone else is doing something that is, I am so quick to change. That means that I assume others are the same. I’ve learned they are not. Sharing unsolicited advice too cheerily gets you resentment. Being too opinionated makes you a know it all. What most of us mothers want is friendship. We want to know that in the down and dirty days when are we are begging for bedtime and at the end of our rope, that it doesn’t make us bad mothers. It doesn’t mean we’re doing things wrong, it means we’re human. It means we’re are using our resources for the task in front of us.
Do you find it hard to keep your opinions and advice to yourself or is it just me?