Are you the recipient of much unwanted advice? Parenting in general seems to bring out everyone’s need to tell you how to do things better. Become a single parent and that advice giving is kicked up a notch.
“Do you really think she should spend so much time at daycare?”
“Dating? Don’t you think it’s a little soon?”
“When my kids were that age I made them sleep in their own beds, you’re spoiling her.”
And on and on and on, until I wanted to scream. Everyone, it seemed, knew how to raise my daughter better than I did. Everyone knew what was best for Hailey. Obviously I couldn’t keep my marriage together so they needed to guide me to keep my daughter out of prison.
It’s not that I didn’t appreciate their advice, I knew they were trying to be helpful and not picking on me. Sometimes it still felt like they were beating me up. I wanted them to stop. I wanted people to acknowledge that I was doing a pretty good job on my own.
So what did I do? I called my Mom. I know that grandmas are notorious for giving lots of unsolicited advice. My mom never did. She listened sympathetically to all the things my child did to drive me out of my mind, made the appropriate noises and said, “You’ll figure it out,” before changing the subject.
Not only did she not give me advice, she didn’t let me wallow in self pity about what was going on in my life. For that reason, she was my rock.
Having someone that I could go to and not get a lecture, someone who would just listen, was a lifesaver at times. I wondered how my mother knew what I needed and then I remembered she was a single mother when they were a rarity. She knew what to say because it’s what she needed when she was raising us alone.
So the next time your single friends children are behaving badly, instead of telling her how to fix them, let her know that you sympathize but you know she can do it, and then talk about something else. It will be a refreshing change.