The early days of parenting are intense. I love the word intense because in using one word you can include the wonderful, amazing, overwhelming experience of having a new baby at home.
Often, as our friends and family adjust to our new role, they want to offer us advice and information. This advice may fall short of being helpful because we are all unique individuals.
Let's use the topic of sleep as an example. This is a top concern for expecting parents. I understand. I felt the same way when I was expecting my first baby! It felt like everyone who noticed I was pregnant would warn me about how awful sleep would be after I had my baby.
We could have this conversation about pretty much anything that has to do with your baby. When our favorite people, or even strangers, give us well meaning advice it usually makes us feel worse instead of better. What a bummer!
Picture this - You are outside with your 5 year old and teaching her how to ride a bike. Your awesome kiddo almost has this bike riding thing figured out! You see improvements from the day before, you are excited to keep working on these new skills. Then, a neighbor walks up and tells you how she taught her child. The neighbor explains that her child knew how to ride his bike at 3! So you try it her way, and both you and your child are uncomfortable. You've lost the momentum you had earlier in the day. You start to wonder if maybe you are teaching your child the wrong way? Now you have doubts, maybe you google "teaching your child how to ride a bike," all this when before you were interrupted you were feeling pretty good about your child's progress.
BOOM! I call what your neighbor did an Advice Bomb. The advice, although offered to help, actually undermines your own parenting. Hearing that someone else did something differently when you are figuring it out often adds to your own insecurities and worries.
A great strategy I share with clients is to imagine a Rainbow Shield. This Rainbow Shield comes to your rescue when an Advice Bomb drops. Use this imaginary shield and instead of advice all you hear is "I love you!"
Let's put the Rainbow Shield into action...
A mom in a mother's group tell you how her week old twins were sleeping through the night. Ta da! Rainbow Shield to the rescue! Now you can smile and think of how much you are loved!
Your mother in law shares that when she was a new mom she just put her babies in bed and they slept like hibernating bears. Boom! Rainbow Shield to the rescue! Your mother in law thinks you are an awesome mom!
All of us reach milestones at different times. There are norms for learning how to crawl, learning to read, riding a bike, and many other milestones. Sleep is the same.
Since we are using sleep as an example of how the Rainbow Shield works to destroy Advice Bombs I'd like to note that most people aren't around newborns much. Our well meaning friends, family, and strangers most likely don't remember what the early days of sleep were really like for their babies. I have four kids and if I'm honest, it's hard to remember much of anything from those early days of parenting. It's all a blur.
As a postpartum doula, I offer information, strategies, and evidence based information to parents. Not advice. If you have a questions for me I want to help you figure out how to answer it yourself. I will help you gain confidence in your intuition, and your parenting skills. After all, this is your baby, and you know your baby best.
Read about how I offered support to a new family in Clinton Twp, Michigan, in my recent post - Clinton Twp Parents recommend Postpartum Doula Services.
Share the unwanted advice you've received in the comments so other parents don't feel alone in their experience.
Jill Reiter CPD, Author
A mother, wife and Postpartum Doula's blog.
The After Baby Lady
Shelby Township MIPhone: 586-604-1446