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An Open Letter To Strangers Who Give Unsolicited Parenting Advice

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Dear Stranger,

How are you? Good? That’s great. I was feeling good as well until I ran into you at the grocery store. That’s when you decided to give me ‘a little friendly advice’ on how to handle my child. My 3 year old son was sucking his thumb in the checkout line and you decided it was appropriate to tell me that I shouldn’t let him suck his thumb because it would ruin his teeth and give him a speech impediment. I’m sorry, but did I black out? Because I don’t remember asking you for your two cents on the matter. If I did, then I am sorry for the contents of this letter, but I’m pretty sure you just decided to butt into my life for your own enjoyment. Anyway, I have a few pointers for you to use next time you feel the urge to dole out unsolicited advice to an unwilling stranger. And yes, I see the irony here. I’m giving you the advice now. But you started it! So here goes:

1. Just don’t do it

 Just don’t! It’s as easy as that! Your advice is not wanted! Ever! Period. If for some reason you still feel the need to voice your ‘words of wisdom’, then read on, please.

2. Take a look at yourself

Don’t choose the moment you are in the checkout line buying ONLY a large bottle of cheap vodka and pack of cigarettes to dish out one of your pearls of wisdom. Surprisingly enough, at that moment in time you are not coming across as a responsible adult who knows a thing or two about child rearing. Shocking, I know!

3. Ask yourself this simple question

Am I an expert on this matter? You know what, that’s a bad question because clearly you think you are an expert. Let me make it easier for you. If you don’t have a license to practice pediatric medicine with your name on it, YOU ARE NOT AN EXPERT. If you are not an expert, which I’m pretty sure you aren’t, then STOP TALKING.

4. Nobody asked

Always remember, if you haven’t been asked, there’s no need to offer anything up. This goes for any situation, even when a kid is tantruming in a public place and you don’t like how the mom is handling it. Going up to her and telling her what she SHOULD be doing is not going to fix the situation and make you feel like a hero who saved the planet.

5. Walk away

This leads me to my last piece of advice, and this might very well be the most important one to really take to heart and try implementing– if and when you feel the urge to give out advice in the future, and you just can’t help yourself and no matter what, you can’t walk away quietly, try saying this instead: “You are doing a great job.” If you really want to make a helpful difference in a mom’s life, make her feel good, that’s all you have to do.

So that’s it, my advice to you. If you don’t like it, well, tough. I can’t force you to change your ways, and you can’t force me to change mine. So let’s agree to disagree and learn to live in harmony in this crazy world. I’ll end this now because I have to get back to my two kids (yes I’ve had another baby since our chance meeting and he’s already sucking his thumb!) And you know what? I’m doing a great job.

Courtesy of Awkward Family Photos