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Musings/thoughts, Parenthood

Parenting Bugbear: Why I hate advice

24 Nov , 2014  

As a first time mom, there are already many other mothers with established track records and years of experience behind them, ready to guide me in my virgin foray and journey into motherhood. Look at our own moms and our mom-in-laws and you would have the prime example of two very seasoned mothers, ready to teach you how to navigate this strange and amazing world, little things like how to care and bathe that little newborn clothed in that soft, fragile body, that seems as if it would break if you held him with just a tad more strength than necessary.

Though it is great to have support and advice, truth be told, it irks me when I am told repeatedly in many small and disguised ways that my way of parenting is wrong. I believe that there is no wrong for most parenting methods, unless it results in harm unto the kids (abuse etc). Is drinking formula milk wrong compared to breastfeeding? Is attending to a baby’s cries wrong? You think it will lead to a bratty, dependent baby, but if your husband or your mother was crying, wouldn’t you try ways to soothe them too?

I guess what I am trying to say is, the paths we choose and the decisions we make are choices, with no wrong or right attached to them. Being a first-time mom does not mean I am inadequate. Yes, it means I am inexperienced, a greenhorn who fumbles and tumbles, that is an undeniable fact. But it also means I learn through my experience, a journey that necessitates growth. It does not mean I am any less prepared than a seasoned mother with years of experience behind her, or that I am lesser than her. It does not mean that because I am a newer mother that I should do things the way an ‘established mother’ does it, because it has ‘been done’ before.

I am my own person, a thinking individual with independent thought and a strong-willed (ok fine, stubborn) lady who will probably grow to be a stubborn old hag (hopefully, not nag!). Yes, I welcome all advice, and I will listen, but listening does not equate to following. It means I’ve heard you, assessed what you’ve got to say, and if applicable to me, I will heed your advice but if it doesn’t make sense, then sorry, no means no.

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By all means, dish out advice. I love dishing out advice on all matters from relationship tussles to family issues. But don’t expect someone else to follow what you advise. The advice is there for them to listen, and the path is theirs to choose. For who are we at the end of the day? The self-appointed moral police? The end goal is a more informed society, and not to shame someone else into feeling they are inadequate just because thou thinks so.

That’s one of my biggest bugbears about parenting, and I am glad I got it out, albeit in a rambling sorta way. I am fairly certain that many others think like me when it comes to parenting advice, especially stubborn, strong-willed characters like me who really go all-the-way when I want something, to the extent where Pips tells me that I gotta be less harsh with myself and what I want to achieve for Ray.

How do you parents deal with unwarranted advice, or people questioning your parenting ways? I am still learning how to deal with it, especially when it involves advice stemming from a good place from elders, but ultimately, ain’t advice that works for me. Most times, Pips tells me to smile and adopt the “one ear in, one ear out” method for harmony, which is so difficult for me to do, cuz I believe in my views and like to rationalise them to others. Unfortunately, this does not always work with the older generation because their era of bringing up kids are so different from ours, and it’s hard to change mindsets that are fixed and closed. Regarding this, I really should listen more to my hubby and Robert Downey Jr, because I can really start seeing the merits after a few practical sessions in real life:

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Anway, I’m heading to Taiwan with the Pips’ clan! Oooh… Can’t wait for a real holiday for this year. I reckon I should be more excited than Ray. More updates on Taiwan soon 🙂 If you have advice to share regarding how to handle advice from elders tactfully without stepping on their toes, please feel free to share!

Lotsa love

Jas

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