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Awkward Responses to Unsolicited Parenting Advice

confused

Witty, well thought out responses to unsolicited parenting advice are all well and good – if you have the alertness and sassy personality to pull it off.

I do not.

I think part of the problem is that I’m nice. I’m so nice that when confronted with rudeness I don’t even know how to process it. It’s like there’s a missing piece in my brain that can interpret and respond to people being inappropriate.

I’ve wasted enough time beating myself up, or thinking “oh I should have said…..!” Because I accept that this is just who I am. And maybe – just maybe – my totally confused and awkward response to their unsolicited advice or judgement highlights to them how much of a dick they’re being, far better than a snappy retort.

So, here’s how to awkwardly respond to rudeness, based on actual conversations that really took place.

Agree and Thank Them

This move got me through so many potentially confrontational conversations. It was my default response to all manner of horrendous advice when my first was little. Especially when there’s just so much to disagree with that by just smoothing it over you’ve saved yourself at least an hour of dissecting all the reasons you absolutely won’t be doing the thing they’ve suggested

For example:

“Just put him in his room, shut the door, and no matter what happens, don’t go back in until 7am.”

“Oh. Okay. Thanks.”

Answer As Honestly As Possible

This is ideal for strangers that you’ll never see again, because if you blurt to people you actually know they may want to follow it up with asking questions, or they might take it as an invitation to offer you solutions or advice. So, once you’ve answered, either quickly change the subject or walk away.

Example:

“Is she a good baby?”

“HA, no. No. Not at all.”

Mumble and Run

I used this approach a number of times, especially while out and about, because it’s much easier to pretend you’re suddenly in a hurry and need to be elsewhere than to stand around to discuss what’s been said.

Example:

“You can’t carry your baby in that baby carrier!  It’s dangerous and will do irreparable damage to her brain.”

“… I… umm….and… well… umm…. “ RUN!!!!

Laugh Like They Were Joking

Admittedly this is probably my most favourite involuntary response to rudeness, because it could be interpreted as being a witty comeback, but really I am honestly assuming they’re making a joke. Because they can’t possibly be serious.

Example:

“Did the nurses tell you that you were making a rod for your own back?”

“Hahaha, no. Actually they were really nice.”

….Awkward silence….

Possum in Headlights

This is reserved for the worst advice of all, given at the worst possible times. I do actually hope that my silent terror makes these people go home and have a good long think about what they’ve done – but somehow I doubt it.

Example:

“Your toddler only breastfeeds because you offer it. It’s all you. If you just stopped offering it, then she wouldn’t actually want it.”

“Uhhhh”

 

So, there you have it. How to awkwardly respond to inappropriate advice. I hope you enjoyed it.

Please share your own experience with awkwardly responding to unsolicited parenting advice.

 

About Rachel Stewart

Rachel is the founder of Parenting Central Australia. She is raising two children, boy and girl, with her partner.

She has a background in early childhood education, but right now is content to be a stay at home mum.

She is passionate about birthing rights, breastfeeding and mental health. She enjoys crafting, drinking coffee (sometimes wine) and spending a little too much time on Facebook.

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18 comments

  1. BAHHAHHAHAHAHHA! Love this! I can so see you in those situations. LOL.

  2. Lmao! This is great! I have done all of those responses and I’m sure I’ll do them again!

  3. I am hopeless at witty come backs. I smile and nod, like an idiot. Geez I have the “is she a good baby” question, gets on my goat every time.

  4. Christine Knight Thomas

    Haha perfect image 😉 I never think of anything witty either, only about an hour afterwards when its too late.

  5. Angela Henderson

    Snorted out loud! Soooo funny. x

  6. Cristin Kelly Jovicic

    Ha! I personally like to go with the sideways slanted smile and slow nod, like it’s possible we don’t both speak the same language. 😉

  7. I’ve always done well with the polite thanks. “Thanks for that,” and then I move along. Occasionally I say something like, “Well, as much as I’d like to take your advice, I’m actually trying to ruin my child, so I’ll just stick with what I’m doing.”

  8. Bron Maxabella

    LOL. Any of these works. I love saying something that results in an awkward silence. There is nothing better than leaving a sanctimummy wondering if you are actually insane, not just a terribly inefficient mother.

    • Parenting Central

      I don’t think I’ve ever done that on purpose. Accidentally blurting things that make people think I’m actually a terrible mother – yes. Like all the times I tried to make a clever remark and it came out word vomit.

  9. Joy Enriquez Adan

    Hahahaha I like the comebacks that make them feel totally awkward. But I’m just too damn slow to come up with them on the spot!

  10. Hahahaha I like the comebacks that make them feel totally awkward. But I’m just too damn slow to come up with them on the spot!

  11. Ha, ha! My response is so often to respond to a completely different question (not in a ‘politician avoiding the question way,’ but more in a ”I can’t comprehend you said that – my brain’s saying you must have said something else and that’s what I’ll respond to). Confusion all around!

  12. Helen King

    Funny (as I said, I’m terrible with bad advice because I don’t get it, misunderstand what they are trying to say, and then I go off on a completely different tangent – which leaves all of us confused.). Ah well!

  13. Natasha Ferguson

    Smile and nod. Then change the topic- or run!

  14. Amy Ahearn

    That is the best image!!! I like the laughing response. Or, I have done the lean in and quiet voiced “hey…are you ok?” When the advice is truly heinous.

  15. Emily Hawker

    I can actually picture your wide-eyed gaze, which makes these suggestions even better!

  16. Jess Peachy

    The other day I was told to “Stop feeding your baby with those (points to my chest) and give the baby a bottle (formula) so that she’ll sleep better at night .”
    Does my baby look like she’s starving?? “Sorry I can’t hear you over my baby’s delicious fat rolls… F*ck off!!”
    That what I should have said…

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