As if becoming a parent wasn’t enough of an adjustment, who knew you’d also have to deal with an onslaught of parenting advice from all sides? Even from complete strangers.

You’ve got your baby swaddled up against you in a wrap while grocery shopping and someone comes up to “politely” inform you that you are suffocating your child. Someone says too much attention is coddling, another says that putting them in a swing is neglect. Yet another lectures you that you shouldn’t vaccinate because that stuff is poison. The next person tells you that it’s irresponsible to not vaccinate… what’s a parent to do?

Luckily, there are a few different ways to handle unsolicited advice and opinions from others. Depending on the circumstances, one may work more effectively than the others. But hopefully each will at least give you a point of reference the next time someone approaches with their “words of wisdom.”

Photo: Creative Commons/Clio CJS

Politely Acknowledge

Sometimes, the quickest and easiest way to deal with unsolicited parenting advice is to smile, nod your head, and move on. You can move forward by using the noncommittal response, “You may be right” and changing the subject or politely making an exit. This response allows you to appease the advice-giver without saying the advice is correct, or that you will act on it.

Photo: Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms

Stay Calm

Try to remember that this person likely thinks they are being helpful to you and is not necessarily criticizing. Don’t take it personally. But if and when misguided, unsolicited attention dips into the realm of offending your intelligence, it’s a good idea to calmly speak up. “I understand you’re trying to help, but I’m comfortable with the way I’ve chosen to do things.” Or a simple, “Thanks, but I’m not looking for advice right now.”

Set Boundaries

If a friend, family member, or even a coworker keeps coming back to you with unwanted advice, set some clear boundaries. Do your best to respond firmly, kindly, and without sarcasm. “I appreciate that you want to help, but I’m doing what I believe is best for my family. Let’s not talk about other options again.”

Photo: Peakpx

When delivered with a bit of good humor, another helpful response to those more incessant advisors may be, “You know, thanks for the interest, but it’s just not your turn. It’s my turn.” Again, you’ll have to be careful of how you deliver this one, but it can be a useful response to remind someone that they’re crossing a line.

Photo: Creative Commons/cordeauphotos

Consider The Source

Not all unsolicited advice is bad. Are they qualified to give this advice? Is it factual, or just their opinion? And what are the consequences or taking or not taking this advice? These questions can help you gauge if the advice is good. But the most important thing to remember is that you don’t have to follow someone’s advice unless you want to. You got this.