Dear Amy: I am a first-time mom with a 10-month-old daughter.
Beginning in my pregnancy, I discovered that anyone and everyone loves to give unsolicited advice about how to care for and raise my child.
I understand that people are well-intentioned and want to save me from some unsavory experience, so I try to accept their tips graciously and say thank you. However, this is beginning to grate on my nerves.
I don’t always agree with the advice, and I am also just trying to navigate motherhood like everyone else, as my husband and I decide what is best for our family.
The worst offenders are: co-workers I barely know, my best friend who seems to think that her one extra year of parenting makes her an expert, and my mother-in-law, who passes on advice that is either contrary to our pediatrician’s recommendations or comes from her friend’s daughter (who I have never met). How should I continue to deal with so much unsolicited advice?
Can you please ask your readers to stop acting like they know how every new mom should care for their children? — New-ish Mom
Dear Mom: Well, through the magic of this column, you have asked people to back off so ... problem solved!
Except, it isn’t solved.
One way to head off unsolicited advice is not to share personal details with people who are likely to offer it. For instance, your child is teething. Unless your co-workers or mother-in-law personally witness a teething crisis, they will only know that you have been up half the night with a fussy baby if you tell them. So given this behavior and the way it affects you, maybe you should be more circumspect.
You could also communicate — respectfully and candidly — about her behavior: “I realize that you are trying to be helpful, but we’re receiving a lot of conflicting advice. Please understand that we are proud of how we are figuring things out. We’ll definitely ask you if we need help, but otherwise I hope you’ll just enjoy your grandchild and not worry too much about choices we are making.”
Be equally honest with your best friend: “I know you have more experience here, but all of the unsolicited advice is driving me crazy. I’ll definitely ask you if I believe I need help.”
This is a perennial frustration for many parents. You will have to accept that many people simply can’t stop themselves. They may have been helped by advice they received and are trying to pass along some wisdom. Your job as a parent is to use your own best judgment, and that includes occasionally accepting outside information.
Dear Amy: During the winter, it is very dark during my commute in both the morning and the evening.
I am grateful that joggers and cyclists generally protect themselves with reflective strips on their clothing or gear, but for some reason, dog walkers are much less careful.
Amy, please remind your fellow dog lovers to take precautions when they are out and about in the dark. — Concerned
Dear Concerned: I am running your letter as a PSA, inspired in part by a near-miss I had last night, as a hard-working UPS delivery man dashed across the road to deliver a package. Yikes! Both his brown uniform and brown van completely disappeared into the nighttime void.
In northern states, this is the deepest, darkest time of year. Everyone walking along a roadway should wear reflective strips and/or carry a flashlight.
Dear Amy: I’m responding to the letter from “Upset Friend,” whose drunken male friend grabbed her crotch.
You are feeding into the national ridiculousness of suing someone over every single infraction.
The grabbing of the women’s crotch can be handled personally, without a lawyer. It seems you are becoming one of those who can’t use their own power to settle things without resorting to a court to decide.
The woman has her own power and her own voice. Her crotch being grabbed isn’t going to ruin her whole life. She can get over that and handle her friend herself. The courts are now being overloaded with such petty infractions because everybody is offended by something and you added to the ridiculousness of it.
I believe you did this woman wrong by taking away her power. — Disappointed
Dear Disappointed: Maybe you were too enraged to read my response to this question, where I encouraged “Upset” to start by communicating with the friend who did this.
Yes, legal action is an option, as I pointed out.
You can contact Amy Dickinson via email: email@example.com. Readers may send postal mail to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or “like” her on Facebook.