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
“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.
“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.
“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.
“Did the nurses tell you that you were making a rod for your own back?”
“Hahaha, no. Actually they were really nice.”
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.
“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.”
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.