Help! I Can’t Stop Telling New Moms How To Parent

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Last week one of my husband’s very good childhood friends had a beautiful baby boy. He and his wife and are in their mid 30s and this is their first child. The first photos of the babe reached my husband through a private messenger chat page quite early. There’s a shot of him being cleaned up, an adorable shot of him stretching and crying, plus pictures of a relaxed, smiling mommy and a joyful daddy. And then there was a shot of the babe with a soother in his mouth.

“Already?!” I gasped, hovering over the photo with hawk-like precision. “He’s like a minute old, why would they put that thing in his mouth so soon?” My husband said nothing and went back to whatever he was doing. I walked away, only to grab my computer and tweet:

i haven’t had a newborn since 3 years ago, but is it common practice to give a day-old newborn a soother? [i never gave one to my girls]

TWITTER FRIEND: They give them in hospitals here, which make me gag. A lot.

ME: for sure it’s one of those personal parenting decisions that we must respect. still i find it a bit unsettling. what abt a boob!

TWITTER FRIEND: Exactly! If a newborn wants to suck, that’s what it should be sucking!

ME: i have an overwhelming desire 2 tell my huzza’s very good friend 2 tell his wife what *i* think, but i won’t. it’s so not my place.

TWITTER FRIEND: Yeah, it’s a bite your tongue and look away situation.

ME: very much so. plus, i’m sure she’s getting all kinds of unsolicited *advice* right now. and i just wanna smell new baby! woot!

The irony, of course, is that if there’s one thing that we moms often promise ourselves that we won’t do, but inevitably end up doing, it’s giving unsolicited advice to moms – new or otherwise. Don’t lie, you’ve done it. And often against your better judgment (“judgment” being the operative word here)

Advice, even though well-meaning, is often self-serving judgment in the guise of good intentions. Which is often based on a formula of how we personally live our lives or how we personally do certain things. The option to take the advice or leave it, of course, is up to the person who is the recipient of said information, but when it comes to mothering and babies, boy do we suck at cordially walking away when we’ve been told, “Thank you, I’ve got this.”

When I had the first of my two beautiful daughters six years ago, I recall a visit from my two sisters – both mothers – in the hospital. Mere hours after my c-section, they kept insisting that I breastfeed my baby. I couldn’t tell you if I was supremely overwhelmed, overly-confident or oblivious to hearing what I “should do” with my baby, but I wasn’t hearing it.

“Are you going to feed her?” they casually asked.

“No, she’s fine,” I replied.

They exchanged knowing glances. “Okay,” came the response, and they gently backed off.

And then, moments later, “Do you think she might be hungry, now?”

“No,” I said, “she’s fine.”

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