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Parenting: Dealing with unwanted advice and interference

When you're a new parent, chances are you will welcome the support of relatives and friends. But, in some cases, there may be people in your life who don't know when to stop, or they have opinions you just don't agree with. Too much advice, or advice you can't accept, can be very frustrating, annoying and even undermining. If this is happening, it's up to you to decide when someone crosses the line.

Understand that, in most cases, the advice-giver is trying to help. Thank her for her advice, but be firm that it's your right and responsibility to deal with your baby, as you think best. You could talk to her about your personal family's values in gentle matter-of-fact words.

When the advice is something that doesn't really matter to you, but the person giving it is important in your life or the life of your child, you can offer to "think about it." This will help strengthen your relationship with the advice-giver and keep the lines of communication open. Remember, there will be times when you may be glad to have his advice and goodwill.

Most importantly, if the advice is something you can not follow, try not to let the situation get too emotionally heated. Stay calm and gently firm in your response.

You may not feel sure of yourself at every moment - none of us do - but you are the expert on your child. Find other resources, like books, magazine articles and other parents to back you up and help build your confidence. A great thing for you and your partner to do is read about your child's Ages and Stages on this website, or go to a parenting class. Finding out what children are doing developmentally, and what their needs are will make parenting decisions easier. It's like getting a job description for your child – whether he's 6-weeks old or 16-years old - it's always a good idea.

If the advice-giver refuses to back off and there are strains or disruptions in your relationship with him, it's probably wise to get some help. If you are in Canada, and you wish to speak to a counsellor about this, contact Parent Help Line, 1-888-603-9100.

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