Advice on Advice

So often parents, especially new and expectant mothers, get bombarded with advice from resources near and downright bizarre. Thanks for the intel on how to cope with nipple biting, middle-aged single dude at Starbucks! This bounty of insights leads some guardians to universally rebuke all outsider commentary. How foolish! How short-sighted!

“Enough with the unsolicited advice!” “Unless you’re advising me on which wine goes with Cheez-Its, keep your advice to yourself!” “Why does my mother-in-law bother giving me baby-rearing tips… it’s MY baby?!” Some mothers vent.

I counter: accept the advice, every nugget you can scrounge. Ask present mothers in all stages of life for their learnings. They are your greatest resource. Then, dig through the mound. Sift out the out-dated, the unsavory, the inapplicable, and the ridiculous. What you’re left with is a priceless tool box with which to address your greatest life challenge yet: parenthood.

When strangers and loved ones are offering you advice, they are selflessly giving you free insights — lessons learned the hard way — so that you needn’t suffer. How beautiful is that?! What a gift (and you don’t even need to return it to Macy’s if it’s not to your liking!) The advisors are not implying you’re incapable or unfit by sharing their knowledge; they’re simply lending you a hand. They’re reaching out. Accept that donation with open arms!

Just because you listen to the advice from an elderly woman in line at Target, doesn’t mean you must follow her parental algorithm. Just because a co-worker emails you a list of her baby must-haves, doesn’t mean you are destined to purchase her recommendations precisely. Just because a neighbor chats you up about bottle vs. breast doesn’t mean you are contractually obligated to ammend your feeding choices. Instead, it means you are humble enough to know you are not omniscient, that you are aware your journey has only just begun, that you properly honor the knowledge of those who’ve gone before you. Basically, it means you’re wise enough to learn from others.

So, drop the ego. Holster the defensiveness. Ditch the dramatic tendency toward offense. And accept advice for what it is: a free gift that you may do with as you please. You may just learn something! I know I do.