“No one is doing it perfectly. You love your kids with your whole heart and do the best you possibly can.”
– Resse Witherspoon
There’s so much parenting advice out there! How do we figure out what’s good advice and what’s junk?
Young parents these days, especially moms, are bombarded with parenting advice from all sides. Mother-in-laws, Instagram, blogs, friends, church groups, online courses…you can find parenting advice on every channel, newsfeed and parenting book around.
Not only will you hear a ton of advice but a lot of it is conflicting! Cry-it-out or nurse to sleep, cellphones or no, tv is okay or is the worst thing ever for kids, Montessori vs. Waldorf…just like many things in our world right now, parenting advice can be very polarized.
So how can you tell what’s good advice and what needs to be tossed out the window? And how do we handle parenting advice overload?
First, we need to recognize that every parent and child is a unique person. So what worked for your best friend, mother-in-law and neighbor may not work for your family. And that’s okay.
The thing is though, the issues we have in parenting are not unique. Sleep issues, discipline struggles and relentless requests for snacks are nearly universal things parents encounter. So, you’re not alone.
But also, every parent finds a solution, a way to cope with or solve the problem. Throwing all suggestions out the window in an attempt to handle parenting advice isn’t a great strategy. It might relieve your mental load (and that’s a good thing!) but you might be throwing the baby out with the bath water, as they say.
So what can we do instead?
When you’re looking into ideas and strategies to support your parenting, look for resources that are backed by research and experience. Lots of things claim to have that backing, so you want to look for people you trust and who have the experience to support their message.
Then, get reading! And we’re not just talking about social media posts. If something you see online intrigues you, find a book or research article on the topic. Read into the subject and ask yourself if it resonates with you.
The next thing is to do a temp check on yourself. Do you feel shamed by what you’re learning? Do you feel guilty that you haven’t been parenting a certain way?
Shame is never okay. If you’re feeling shamed by the way an author, etc. is presenting something, toss it! They have no right to shame you and you don’t have to follow their advice.
Feeling guilty isn’t necessarily a bad thing – it can cause real change in your life! We’re not talking about overwhelming guilt here, but the kind that prompts you to change and move on. So if you find yourself feeling a little guilty about something you learn, assess it and decide if that strategy is a good one for your family to try.
Remember, you don’t have to use something that doesn’t work for your family. So if you try something and it doesn’t work for your child, that’s okay! Just move on.
And if your social media accounts are full of parenting advice and you feel overwhelmed, it might be time for a break. Again, relieving that mental load is a good thing!
So we’ve talked about parenting advice we seek out but what happens when we receive unsolicited parenting advice? How do we handle parenting advice when we aren’t looking for it?
A simple “Thank you, but…” works wonders and may even reduce the amount of advice you get in the future!
This works with everyone from the cranky lady in the grocery store to well-meaning family members.
Acknowledge their attempt to help and state that you do things a different way because it works for your family. You don’t have to explain yourself or your journey to where you are. Just hold your boundary! People will get the message pretty clearly.
In the end, your children need well-adjusted, rested and loving parents. If you’re frustrated, consistently over-tired and irritable or lacking regular time with your spouse, your ability to parent will be affected!
Finding a balance between the ideal strategies (no tv time for example) and a calm, happy parent will allow you to give your best to your spouse and children. And only you really know what that will look like.
If you’d like to hear more about this topic, check out our latest podcast episode here.
Need help discerning your marriage and/or parenting priorities? Check out our upcoming course, The Family Board Meeting.