If you are welcoming your firstborn, you may find your family members, friends or even acquaintances doling out advice even when you did not ask for it. From what you must avoid during pregnancy, to what you must get for your baby, this advice can range from helping control. No matter how experienced someone is at being a mother, remember that everyone’s body and baby are different. If people around you keep giving you unwanted advice that is stressing you out, remember to set healthy boundaries to protect your emotional wellbeing.
Firstly, if it does not stress you out too much, you can choose to listen – you might learn something valuable which you can agree on, or at least make a well-intentioned person feel listened to. Or, if someone becomes too much, just diplomatically smile, say, “ Thanks! We’ll think about it” and then go about your way. Keep it short and sweet, as though you are not open to further discussion. Or tell them that you will check with your doctor about it because most people dare not question medical professionals.
Sometimes you can also steer clear of the topic with distractions or deflections, or simply with silence or by walking away if a piece of advice is given by someone that does not matter to you or you never even initiated the conversation, to begin with.
Dealing with advice from family members or relatives is trickier, because you need to set healthy boundaries, or else their unwanted behaviour will persist. Sometimes you have to choose between ignoring or following the advice, and risk damaging your relationship with the advising one (such as your mother-in-law). If it is not something harmful that will have long-term effects, consider placating them by obliging – but you never have to compromise on issues that are important to you or your child’s wellbeing.
The best action is if you can be honest. Of course, you have to choose your words carefully, to avoid hurting feelings and creating resentment. Let the advising person know how you feel, and gently remind them about where you are coming from.
Social etiquette in dealing with new parents
If you know a family member, relative, friend or coworker becoming a new parent, remember not to give unsolicited advice, no matter how much you think you are an expert at this or you have had the experience of being a mother. Every pregnancy is different, and not everyone needs your advice- sometimes, it can just be adding stress or annoyance. Of course, if they confide in you and ask your opinion, feel free to share your advice – gently and thoughtfully, but never stress or guilt-trip them into a decision.
Never give advice that you have not thoroughly researched and proven, and even then, remember there are no absolute rules that apply to every pregnancy. Refrain from asking invasive questions or making inappropriate comments, especially criticism or negative remarks.