Getting Too Much Parenting Advice?
How to Respond With Grace
How to Respond With Grace
We’ve all heard the phrase, “It takes a village to raise a child.” But sometimes the “village” can offer more advice than we know what to do with. Knowing how to prayerfully and positively accept and process parenting advice requires some grace and finesse.
Keep an open heart:
Advice is usually offered because someone loves you and your child. People genuinely want to help because they know that raising children is among life’s most difficult and most important tasks.
As a parent, God entrusted you as the keeper and defender of his child. With that gift comes his belief in you and his grace to do this work. Just because someone offers advice doesn’t mean they think you are doing something wrong. When you receive unsolicited advice, remind yourself that you were chosen by the Father to do this work and don’t be overly sensitive or take it as a personal attack.
I learned quickly that parenting is a humbling vocation. Even if the older woman in the pew behind me in church wasn’t up on the latest child-rearing trends, her words were steeped in wisdom and experience. I often reminded myself that I truly didn’t know everything, and life is full of teachers and lessons if we are listening.
Approach it like a buffet:
When we step up to a delicious buffet, we realize we can’t possibly eat everything there, so we pick and choose what we like and what we need. We don’t have to defend our choices, and nobody is offended if we take more of one thing than another. Processing advice is much the same. Listen, sift and sort. Use what’s helpful, and leave behind what isn’t.
Take the long view:
Being humble and gracious in the face of unsolicited advice is more important in the long run. If we snap and become defensive, we could drive a wedge in relationships that are important to us and to our children. Humor, confidence and diversion are much better responses. When that advice comes rolling your way, deflect it with a question such as, “Is that what you did with your child when they were this age?” That will shift the conversation to someone else’s parenting experience and not your own.
You know your child more intimately than anyone else, so share that truth if needed. Don’t be afraid to say something such as, “Thank you for those ideas, I’ll give them some thought,” or “Thanks for sharing your thoughts, it’s good to hear a different perspective because kids all need such different things.”
What you need most:
The one thing we need more than even the best advice is prayer. The next time you feel bombarded with advice, go ahead and ask for what you need most. God entrusted us with this work and it’s only by his grace that we can accomplish the task of raising saints, so let’s really let the village help us and say, “Thank you for your advice and what I really need most is your prayers.” Be specific in your request, too: Ask for the grace of patience, wisdom or the intercession of the Blessed Mother or St. Joseph. Lovingly tell the advice-giver how grateful you would be if they would pray for you as you work to raise a saint in a crazy world.
Sheri Wohlfert is a Catholic school teacher, speaker, writer and founder of Joyful Words Ministries. Sheri blogs at www.joyfulwords.org.