Obviously I have nothing better to do with my mind than to mull over topics of little or no importance, because I’ve been thinking about receiving unsolicited parenting advice. Since Nina brought up the topic in Friday’s Spotlight, I thought we should discuss it.
I have the kind of face that causes people to talk. I’ve had women in Wal-Mart tell me about their failing marriages, I’ve listened with tears in my eyes as a family in Kohl’s recounted the recent death of their mother, and I’ve been given parenting advice.
When my son was approximately seven months months old, my cousin and her boyfriend came up to Maine for the weekend. We spent a day on the coast, had dinner, and we were walking along a path on the ocean’s front called the Marginal Way. Stopping at a bench for a few minutes, we took some pictures and enjoyed the sunset. It was then that I was assaulted by the baby police. I had no idea that I was ruining my child’s life, ensuring he’d never potty train, and thwarting his chances of getting into graduate school. All because he wasn’t settled snug in his crib by 7pm.
She scolded me as well as any nun had in my kindergarten class and left me with the title of book written by some baby whisperer type expert. Since I was afraid she might show up at my house the next week and inspect my bedtime rituals, I purchased the book and even read it. FringeMan and I lost two week’s sleep attempting to follow the baby soothing rituals.
My first-born didn’t not sleep through the night once until he was well over one year-old. He still doesn’t always sleep through the night, but I do.
My second memorable bit of advice came from a well-meaning mom’s group leader. Our young family left our home and friends in order for my husband to attend Bible school. We moved from Maine to Florida and our three-year old did not acclimate himself quickly.
During this mom’s group a nursery was provided in an adjacent room, and each week I’d schlep my children along in hopes that they would make friends, steal cheerios, and bite our neighbor’s kid. Each week, I peeled my three-year old off my body attempting in vain to keep my shirt securely in place. The nursery worker knew two things about me – I wore a white bra and my son was psychotic.
Since he’d never had separation anxiety before, I welcomed advice and tried many tactics to no avail. Moving had a bigger impact on this young child than I thought possible.
As we sat eating, talking, and listening to wail of my son through the uninsulated walls, the mom’s group leader pulled me aside and suggested I have my son screened for autism.
Believe me, you cannot diagnose my kids with any disease, disorder, or syndrome that I haven’t already tried to have the doctor’s diagnose. As a new mom, I was well-read and paranoid.
Over the years, I’ve realized that offering to babysit for two hours is much more helpful than any advice I could give or receive.
So, what about you? What kind of memorable parenting advice have you received? Or, perhaps you give parenting advice with the same frequency hospitals dispense Tylenol. Tell us about it!