Enough with the Advice Already!

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There’s something about becoming a parent that seems to make even perfect strangers think you need their help. Whether it’s family members, that lady in line next to you at the grocery store, or even other moms, the deluge of advice and commentary can be overwhelming. In our current culture, the onslaught of suggestions doesn’t even stop in the privacy of our own homes! Thanks to a steady stream of advertisements and influencers on social media, we now have an unending number of “hacks,” “must-have” products, and “tips” to make us more successful parents.

To this I say, “enough already!”

Now don’t get me wrong; I’m NOT saying parents don’t need help or that great products can’t be a lifesaver. On the contrary. Raising children really does require a village. We need wisdom from trusted friends, support from family members, and helping hands wherever we can get them! I also recognize that most people who offer unsolicited advice or suggestions mean well. They want to connect with you and be helpful, which is a good thing. What parents (and people in general) most need, however, isn’t unsolicited tips or critique. We need acknowledgement and encouragement

If you’ve ever supervised others in the workplace, you’ve likely heard that what employees need to thrive is recognition of their work and affirmation. Constructive feedback has its place, but it isn’t the most important factor. When people feel appreciated and empowered, they perform better. The same goes for parents. We simply want others to recognize the effort we are putting in and to encourage us. Most of us are doing the best we can and will do even better if we feel like others believe in us.

We also want to be seen as more than “mom” or “dad.”

We love our children, but we have our own identities too. It encourages me so much when a friend or family member asks about my work, personal interests, or how I’m doing. Asking thoughtful questions and listening can mean a lot to a parent and reminds us that our identity isn’t tied to our parenting performance. 

As I write this, I’m 34 weeks pregnant with our second child. We are excited and nervous all over again! I know I’ll be texting friends for help when I can’t figure something out, as well as looking to other trusted sources for advice to guide me through the ups and downs of life with a newborn and a toddler. When the unsolicited advice comes my way, I’ll remind myself that people usually mean well and not put pressure on myself to do as everyone says. Most of all, I’ll be appreciative of any encouragement, I-see-you’s, and friendly smiles anyone wants to send my way!

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Elaine is originally from Mobile, Alabama, but Birmingham has always had a special place in her heart. She made frequent trips to the Magic City as a child to visit relatives and envisioned living here one day. She is 8 years in and loves it! Elaine and her husband Kyle got married in 2019 and welcomed their son David at the beginning of 2021. She is a proud graduate of The University of Alabama and holds a bachelor's degree in Public Relations. She has worked in the nonprofit and corporate sector doing ministry, volunteer coordinating, marketing, and recruiting to name a few! She is currently a stay-at-home-mom navigating the new waters of parenthood. Her favorite things include running, hiking, baking, and eating her way through Birmingham's amazing food scene!

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