MYOB: 6 responses to people who interfere with your parenting

Whether it’s a sticky situation on the playground, an unexpected scene in the grocery store, or a distant relative at a family event who’s eager to share wisdom about all things ‘baby,’ there’s a good chance you’ve come across someone who thinks he or she knows more about how to parent Baby than you do. Whether they just offer advice you aren’t asking for or are actually trying to actively parent Baby, it gets frustrating quickly. When this comes up, it can be helpful to already have a response in mind, so you aren’t caught off-guard.

  1. The classic ‘smile, nod, agree,’
    …and then do exactly what you were planning on doing to begin with. It’s a classic for a reason, especially when you know that the advice is both well-meaning and wrong, and is given from someone with enough distance that they’ll never know the difference. It won’t discourage this person’s involvement again, though, so you may just be putting off dealing with it for a while.
  2. “That’s interesting, because I read that…”
    If you’ve got an authority source on your side to back up a difference of opinion, don’t hesitate to throw it out there. Sure, you’ll still have the occasional doubter who doesn’t trust doctors, or who thinks anything to do with herbs is wannabe witchcraft, but you’ll have made your point and backed it up, which should be enough to get a lot of people to back down.
  3. “Excuse me, this is a private conversation.”
    Children are people, too, and conversations with children are still conversations. If whoever has such a strong opinion they just have to share wouldn’t interrupt you and your partner when you’re, say, settling a disagreement, they don’t get to step in when you’re communicating something important to Baby. Period.
  4. “I’d appreciate it if you’d respect my parenting style.”
    It’s not the easiest thing to say, but it’s also hard to argue with it, even and maybe especially for the people closest to you.
  5. “Back off.”
    Sometimes, directness is what you need. This is especially true for more aggressive or direct interference, or anything you think is upsetting Baby. When people are out-of-line enough to try to interfere with your parenting, you don’t always owe them an explanation.
  6. “Thanks.”
    It might not happen often, but once in a very great while, someone offering parenting advice you didn’t ask for, or talking to your child, can actually be helpful. No parent is perfect, and there’s nothing wrong with accepting that and learning from an unexpected experience occasionally.
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