This week I spoke of opinion/criticism and I spoke about family.  Today, we’re going to sort of combine the two subjects and talk about advice.  Specifically, parenting advice.

I do not like to receive unsolicited  parenting advice.  There you have it.  I don’t like when anyone tells me what to do with regards to the child that I am raising.  If I want an opinion, I will ask.

Also, I do not offer unsolicited parenting advice to people.  If someone asks my opinion, I will gladly give it, but…  Sometimes I do talk about parenting when I am blogging.  Though I may be giving advice, I am not aiming it towards any specific person, I’m merely sharing my thoughts on a subject.  I think writing about parenting in the abstract is not really advice (my blog, my rules)

I have a rough plan when it comes to how I want to parent my child.  If something is not working, I figure out how to change course.  So far, this method has worked for me.  The rules that I have thought about and put into practice work FOR ME.  They are great in our specific family dynamic.  They might not be great in someone else’s. (my house, my rules)

I have had people scoff at my parenting notions.  I have people that make very passive aggressive comments about how I choose to raise my child.  To say I get annoyed by this is an understatement.  It’s not that I don’t value other opinions, but let’s just say that I don’t like certain things about their children, so why would I want to repeat their mistakes?  This most closely applies to my Mother, because I see which of her actions caused my bad behavior patterns.  Behavior patterns that I find so abhorrent that I refuse to have my child ever thing the same way.  But enough of my emotional baggage for today.

(On a side note, if you do not have children- please don’t ever tell someone how to parent.  Just remember, everyone is the best parent in the world until they have children)

Now we come to the crux of my problem that I am writing about today.  I think my Sister is making a huge parenting mistake with my niece.  Notice how I used the word think.  I don’t know for sure if it is actually a mistake.  I have no actual psychological training with which to base my thoughts on, I’m going off of instinct.

I know that I don’t know everything (seriously- I know it often appears as if I think I know everything, but I really don’t think it or know everything).  But… My logic meter is telling me that my sisters actions don’t compute.  My emotional meter is telling me that my sisters actions don’t compute. Yet, I remain silent.  Because I don’t like to give parenting advice.

Should I break my rule?

When breaking a rule, you have to ask what the benefit will be.  I run the risk of my sister not ever speaking to me again. (she runs a little hot and holds grudges and is a blamer)  I run the risk of her giving me unsolicited advice.  But…is telling her my feelings going to be beneficial to my niece?  See, that’s the unknowable thing- I have no idea if I’m right and my sister is wrong.  I have no idea if my way of doing something is actually better.  Because there are no definitive rights and no definitive wrongs when it comes to parenting.  Different things work for different people in different situations.  Parenting doesn’t come with a rule book.

I’ve actually talked around the specific subject with my sister.  I know her feelings on the issue and I’ve tried to hypothetically point out things to her, so I know her stance.  To delve more into it would be pushing the boundaries.  I know I don’t like when my personal boundaries are pushed:  shouldn’t I respect the boundaries of others?  The issue is also one that would never specifically affect my child.  I have no personal knowledge of the issues faced, so it makes my opinion less valuable.  Do I have the right to comment on something I really know nothing about?

So here I sit- wondering what the best course of action is.  Because I just don’t know what to do.

 

 

65 thoughts on “Advice: Should You?

  1. Follow your own advice I say, unless the niece is in some sort of probable danger at this moment related to your sister’s style of parenting. I don’t think that there’s much more you can do. I try desperately to do this with my oldest daughter as she raises her two girls. Some days it is beyond belief hard.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Since you’re asking, my vote is to stay quiet. My brother’s kids each have their own issues. When he begins to tell me about them, I listen quietly. If he asks me, then I tell him, but when he’s asked and I’ve told, he’s then gone back to tell me that I don’t know what I’m saying because I don’t have these issues with my kids. And guess what, he’s right. My kids may come from the proverbial broken home, but they have been loved and parented properly whereas he and his wife can’t be bothered to be in their kids’ lives. Oh, I’m so sorry for the rant. Bottom line, since we don’t know what you’re talking about, I would stay quiet. I’m sorry. I know you want to help, but sometimes, people twist it. Whatever you decide, I wish you the best and I wish the best for your niece.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Is there ever a time when someone without kids can give parenting advice? I really need to know this (lol) because I am a Social Worker specializing in the area of children and families (and more specifically mental health). So, a big part of my job is helping the parents learn about their child’s diagnosis and how to manage their symptoms and behaviors. But again, I do not have kids. No one so far has felt I was less credible because I didn’t have kids because my job requires me to interact with the most difficult of behaviors on a daily basis. I absolutely agree with what you said about people thinking their good parents until they actually have kids lol. My job has definitely taught me that parenting is hard. So, do you think it’s ok for me to give advice? I think I’m going to follow your rule of not saying anything ESPECIALLY if it’s unsolicited. This post really made me think.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Honestly, you know a lot of the book knowledge, which is great. You know things based on long term research and how things should be dealt with in optimum conditions. You have credentials to give advice based on years of study, so yes, you can do it. But…actual day to day parenting sucks, and just cause we know what we’re supposed to do doesn’t make it easy. Parenting is really really hard, and I don’t know how many people realize that. Pretty much everything we do effects our kids. And don’t give advice to family or friends😉

      Liked by 1 person

    2. My son too is a Social Worker in home therapist and there are times when his clients push back because one he is a man and two he has no children, but he remind them that he was called in to help. So essentially they asked for his advice. As long as the child is not in danger and advice has not been solicited, stay silent. I know it takes a village, but that village shouldn’t be there 24/7 unasked.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I always enjoy your thought patterns. My best guess would be to say… if you’ve already had a somewhat similar discussion with her, and your path is normally against unsolicited parental advice, then let this one go unless it is something dangerous and life-threatening. Never easy.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Parenting IS hard! I recall unsolicited advice my mother gave me a long time ago. I didn’t want to believe maybe I had made a mistake. But I slowly watched and tried to change things. As an outsider, she could see what I didn’t. Even though I was defensive at the time, I did hear what she said. So maybe you’ve planted a seed of thought in your sister’s mind.

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  6. A really thought provoking post. My sister and I are very different. We are close but have had our differences. I have learned to say, “Would you like my thoughts on such an such.” We have both gotten better in communicating over the years. She will say, “I just need to vent, but I don’t want to hear your opinion on a solution.” And I have to be explicit when explaining things since she can’t understand anything she hasn’t lived through. I’m a widow. She forgets that I live alone and doesn’t really get all that entails. I have to remind her about certain points of view since she is clueless. So we have learned to ASK if the other wants to hear what we are trying to say. The fact is, that sometimes the other person doesn’t want our input. And that’s difficult . So perhaps ask. Just be prepared for her to say no thanks. It’s painful to watch a sister do something you feel is wrong. I know first hand. Family dynamics can be tricky. And sister fights are hurtful. Good luck with this. Tread easily.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s so hard to say because I think she’s doing something stupid, but I don’t have hard quantifiable evidence. I don’t want to lead her down the wrong path. I’m just going on instinct

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Yes, probably a smart idea. My sister is 3 and a half years younger than I and when she gets to a point where 3 years later she gets what I tried to tell her she finally understands. But 7 years is a big gap. My own children are almost 16 years apart and my son in his 40’s gets frustrated with his younger brother and I have to remind him that in his 20’s he too would have been clueless about being a parent and a husband. The age difference and personal experiences make a huge difference.

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      1. I like your reference as being patented differently. That’s a brilliant way to look at it. In essence it’s pretty true. The older children are a bit like experiments and after a few years of trial and error results they find new strategies. LA I am going to quote the patent comment at some point. That’s a great line. In fact you must use it in one of your stories. It’s really Wonderful! A perfect description that sums up exactly and succinctly the situation.

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  8. I loved it when you said, “Everyone is a good parent, until they have children.” I have a new grandchild, and I’ll stay quiet about how she’s raised, because both of her parents are good people, and love her dearly. I think half the battle in raising a child is won with those two things. Personally, I would keep quiet, but stay involved in her life. Be there if she needs you, and give her love and support. Great post. Thanks, and take care.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. “Feelingmyway”, I think if abuse is involved you have to speak up. It’s actually the law. As teachers if we don’t report neglect or suspected abuse we are breaking the law. IF that is the case one can always enlighten the other party by saying, “You may not be aware, but doing such ad such is actually breaking the law and your child could be taken away from you if authorities were to be informed. That usually works well to open eyes.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Very true, but educators are trained to spot things, and have a somewhat better understanding. The case with my sister is questionable because I can’t guarantee you that her way is wrong. I just think she’s wrong…which is why it’s hard

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m much like you and truly cannot stand getting advice that I haven’t asked for, especially when it comes to my kids. Sometimes, though, it feels way easier to say things than to follow them. For me, when it comes to kids and parenting and giving advice, I kind of have something of a rule (that I’m not always great at following myself). If I truly believe that a child is going to be harmed some way, then I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I didn’t say something. It ties into those rules you talked about the other day, too. If the situation pings my rules, then I might need to say something. Otherwise, unless I’ve been asked, it really isn’t my place. As much as I may disagree with a situation, I have to recognize the right of other parents to raise their kids as they want. Again, that isn’t always easy, especially if I see someone going through something similar to myself and have personal experience. Sometimes just wanting to share your experience of a situation can come across as giving advice. I’ve learned, and try very hard, to just not say anything.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Completely agree. I just have trouble giving advice, because I know how much I resent it. It’s hard to give advice without coming across as preachy, or making the other person appear stupid. And with parent8ng, you really don’t know the entire situation.

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  10. I’ve been thinking over your post all day and I’ve come to the conclusion that it would be better to stay quiet. Parenting is so personal and we all have our own views on the best way to bring up our children. You may believe your sister is making a mistake but she might have the same opinion about you. And if your relationship with your sister is already under stress, it would be a bad idea to interfere. It will only cause you grief.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am going to stay quiet, because I don’t think there’s any upside to telling her my opinion. Because at the end of the day, it’s only my opinion, so who is to say whether or not I’m right?

      Liked by 1 person

  11. You wrote so thoughtfully about the problem. It’s so hard to know what to do.

    I always kept my mouth shut when it came to advice about child-raising. I’m glad I did. I ached for a neighbor’s child. I felt I would not have been as harsh on her as her parents were. We stayed in contact and still have a lovely relationship. She is not very close to her parents.

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  12. I don’t have children, but when I see a child, or any person being hurt, bullied or treated badly in a relation within my social sphere, I speak up. With parents I start with disclaimers like: “I do not have children, so what I am going to say next might not go down very well because of that. But I am going to say this because I think X is hurting/in trouble. And again, I do not have children, and I do not know the history and I tend to look upon relations differently than a lot of other people. BUT… it looks like niece X is hurting because of A and B and I interpreted that as Y or Z.” En end with: “What do you think of my observation?”
    Giving unsolicited advice at least once saved a 12 year old girl whom I did not know and had never met in my life, of being sexually and physically abused at a boarding school in another country. FYI: not any of the surrounding parents had noticed anything while it took me 3 minutes to read the whole situation. I sniffed it out through 1 single comment my niece made about her friend and then asked the right questions. Non of the involved parents had done so for 6 months of obvious trouble (!) After my urgent request to take action on the situation, 3 sets of parents argued over ‘giving unsollicited advice’ with eachother for another 3 weeks. The parents never saw eachother again. But in the end the girl was saved from the dangerous situation at boarding school. And now I come to think of it, nobody ever thanked me because they were all caught up in their arguments about interfering. I guess you can read I am emotional about this. I am because nobody ever spoke up when I was in trouble while years later a lot of people knew “but did not want to interfere”. I guess it has to sides. But with all this in mind, I would go for the ‘it takes a village’. 😉 And yes, sometimes people explain and I understand I am totally wrong with the unsolicited ‘advice’/ ask questions and then I realise it was my own anxiety speaking. That happens. 😦
    I am thinking that people who do not have kids (like I) might have a different look upon the dynamics of a family and can sometimes spot things which are otherwise lost in these same dynamics.
    Also, I will gladly lose friends or family who do not believe my serious intent when speaking up for somebody in their family. If I am not allowed to speak, to speak up, or to mention my concerns about somebodies emotional or physical well being, child or adult, why would I want to be with those people anyway? 😦 To that: why would you want to be close friends with no-kids people who dismiss or trivialize your issues as a parent?
    I’m guessing this is a Totally Different Approach 🙂 but I do hope you find something of value in it. 🙂
    xx, Feeling

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your thoughtful comments. Actually, I’m not friends with that many people who have no children. The commonality is lost, because both sides have no trouble understanding one another. With my sister, this is more a way she’s choosing to handle something vs my niece being in actual danger. Personally, I think my sister is just doing something that is stupid, but I can’t tell you for sure if I’m right or wrong. That’s really the problem…giving advice that may not help

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      1. Ghegheghg ‘doing something that is stupid’…. I’m thinking that if you undo yourself from family-ties and issues your heart will know wether to speak or not. Or maybe speak with another parent in your surroundings about it? (After your post about your visit you your mom I, ghegheghe, am not sure I could propose to speak with her – if I may make a tiny joke about that. ) However, I happen to notice that people in all English spoken countries are way more private than people in my country.
        And yeah, the loss of commonality…. I have the same here. I did inform all friends with kids that I would be explicit about wanting to meet with them or wanting to meet with the kids too. Sometimes my mind is not set for te latter. It might sound rude to somebody who is not familiar with this but it does actually keep relations good when people are clear about this. Several mothers in my surroundings started giving invites to others ‘with or without kids’ as well.
        For me, mother-friends are those who can help me get a feel for good family life again – see that it is not all destructive. And for them I am the evening/afternoon/day of freedom they hardly ever experience anymore. With other friends they tend to speak about the kids. Meetings with me are more about themselves. It is like when my mother died: I slumped into non-existence but had time to grieve while one of my best friends (SIL) had little kids who got her out of bed and focus on Life. But also left her little time to grieve. Pros and cons. 🙂
        Wishing you peace of mind on the issue with your niece. Not sure if I am out of line here but if you found yourself noticing your sisters behaviour towards her daughter at your mothers house…. it is my thougth that possibly the atmosphere there enlarged the negative aspects in a bad way. Families are good, in general, but if there is something non-constructive happening in a family culture than this can really mess things up when everybody is together. 😦 Maybe worsen the issues. Or, possibly: point them out exactly as they are. Difficult it is. Your heart will know.
        xx, Feeling

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It’s not my sisters behavior towards my niece. It’s more like a path she’s choosing not to take regarding schooling, and I think she’s not giving it the right thought pattern, but I don’t know if my thoughts are right. So how do I give her advice when I’m not sure it’s right? Thank you for awesome thoughts and commentary!!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Look, I don’t have kids, and I think I do get offended when somebody says something about my cat. 😀 But what about just being honest? What about saying: “I do not know if I am right, and even if I am, this might be awkward because there is a social rule not to give advice about kids… But A and B made me think that X and Z. I have doubt about my thinking but I would really hate to find out later that I was wrong. Not only for me, but for niece and you too. If I’m off base and out of line please say so, but well, these are my thoughts.” If this comes from the heart I do not see what would go wrong. But ha! Then I don’t have a family and maybe….. that is because I say such things. 😉
        xx, Feeling

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      4. As a parent, I don’t like anyone giving me advice. I might not think their kids are so great, so why should I listen? Nor do most people. Everyone has specific parenting methods. I know when my mil gives me advice it pisses me off, to the point where my relationship with her is horrible. It’s not an easy call.

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      5. Ghegheghe…… Well, I normally do not listen to my own advice very well but I do know that if things can not come straight from an open and vulnerable heart, they go terribly wrong. 😀 They turn into advice layered with criticism or criticism dressed up as advice which then turns into manipulative family business. Nasty nasty. The dynamics in a family where the ‘what we do here is right’ rule is above criticism is one that is very ‘bio-logical’. It seems to be very important for both kids and parents to be able to blindly depend on what the family teaches, be it in words or in actions. It is my experience that criticising any of that seems to immediately turn a whole family into a state of stress. Which is bio-logicially sound because of the required unchallenged blind trust – but not constructive when it comes to change or growth.

        I would assume if you have difficulty accepting advice because of that same bio-logical state of ‘what we do here is right’ these prerequisites for an open, heart to heart conversation are most likely not met. :-/ Advice is a lot about intention. I did/do that wrong a lot of times. Tread carefully. Or: do as I say, not as I do (?????) Ghegheghe….

        What would a woman who loves herself do?

        xx, Feeling

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      6. I think most people have trouble accepting parenting advice. Just look at the other comments. As a parent, you have a way you want to do things. Who has the ability to say that you’re wrong? You can’t definitively prove that your advice is better

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  13. Every parent has a unique way of raising a kid – and by kid, each kid is raised differently.Each parent believes he/she is doing the right thing, or want to do the right thing, to have his child be raised in the utmost best. Not all are right, or right to someone else’s standards.
    Before i had my own, i used to give advice to my friends on what they should, or shouldn’t, do for their child. when these same advices started being thrown my way, i realized that i didn’t like them, so i stopped distributing them around, though one or two slipped in the beginning – habits die hard.
    and yet, an outsider can see someone else’s mistakes with more clarity, and and if a kid isnt being hurt (short run or long run), the probability that the parent will eventually see the mistake is pretty high.
    Have you ever gone to bed at night and regretted doing or treating your kid in a way or another?

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    1. Of course. We all beat ourselves up as parents. Parenting is so hard and there’s really no right way to do anything. Just certain things may have long term effects, but who really knows what method is right

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  14. Oh honey, this is so hard. I just want to share with you a little story: my mother and my aunt (her sister) were very close. Then my parents adopted three children into our family of four kids. My aunt shared her opinions of my mom’s parenting techniques with these children, unasked, and, although some of the things she said were true, it forever changed their relationship. FOREVER. They are still civil to each other but it will never be the same. If you are asking my advice, which you may not be, I would say pray for your sister (if you are a pray-er). If there is no danger of physical harm to your niece, and unless your sister asks for your thoughts, I would be silent. She may realize on her own, or by the Lord’s revealing, what she she needs to do differently. ❤️

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  15. In the past I have given advice to my brother and sister in law about things concerning their kids. They don’t care. So, now when I hear about problems (their kids are a lot older than mine) I look at my husband and say “not my kid.” Because I have enough to worry about with my own daughters. I don’t need to meddle.

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  16. Do you stay in touch with your niece? Is it possible to watch the problem from her end and if you see the situation is getting worse then talk to your sister. Just trying to think of a way you can help without confronting your sister. I love that you want to go out on a limb to help your neice. ❤❤❤

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    1. My niece is 6, and this is a parental decision my sister needs to make. My problem is I don’t know if I’m right….I just think I’m right….but I have empirical evidence….

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  17. I can honestly say I have no idea if you should say something or not since I have a similar situation in the way my sister parents my 31-yr. old nephew. I also talk around what I’d like to say, but since my sister can be belligerent and self-righteous at times, I don’t directly tell her what she might consider doing. But I do try to talk to my nephew because he respects me and listens to my opinions. I think it works better going that route in my situation. I wish you the best. ( ;

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