Every time I turn around, it seems that someone is giving me a piece of (unsolicited) advice about how to raise my daughter. It can make a person feel exhausted. I know that I am not the only Mom who experiences this. It seems that everyone wants to offer their two cents. I acknowledge that this comes from a good place and that most people are actually trying to be helpful. I choose to believe that they are not criticizing my parenting. I choose to believe that they are giving me a useful nugget of information that worked for them. Sometimes, however, the "advice" clearly comes from a judgmental place.
Can we agree on something? The majority of parents are working hard to raise their children in the best way they can. The majority of parents love their children. This is the most important thing a parent can do: Love their children.
Can we also agree on something else? Children are individuals and families are unique. What works for someone else's family may not work for yours. And vice versa. It is also true that children are individual people so what works for one child, may not work for another one. This can be true even within the same family. For example, when I asked my Mother if I could go to a party, she would ask me, "Do you think that's a good idea?". To which I would reply, "No". End of discussion. 3 years later, when my brother asked to go to a party she gave him the same question. To which he replied, "Yup". She gave him a curfew and off he went. I sat there dumbfounded. I told my Mom, "I didn't know I could say yes!"
I think that many parents, especially Moms, can feel discouraged, especially when someone else's advice contradicts what we are doing. Even worse, when someone insinuates (or flat out tells us) that we are parenting "wrong". So listen closely (or read closely?): you are doing a good job. If what you are doing is working for you and your family, then keep up the good work! Trust yourself. We also needs to recognize that someone with a different parenting style is just parenting in a different way. It isn't a personal attack on your parenting style. It isn't the "wrong" way to parent.
I try to keep an open mind when people offer unsolicited advice. Most of the time it truly is meant to be helpful. I ultimately get to decide what I use and what I don't. So do you. Let's be supportive of one another. This parenting gig can be challenging! Surround yourself with friends who support you, even when their parenting choices are different than yours.