The Confident Mama: How to handle unsolicited advice

confident mama

by Melissa Suffield |

Well, hi there!

Welcome to my column for Mother & Baby, The Confident Mama! I want to help every mum feel empowered and confident in the way she looks, how she dresses, her parenting decisions, and speaking up for herself.

So a little more about me – my name is Melissa and I have a 2 year old son named River. I’m an advocate for all things confidence, body neutrality and self love. This time I'm talking unsolicited advice, how to handle it and keep your cool at the same time...

Such a hot topic of conversation as a parent – unsolicited advice. We don’t want it, we don’t need it, the people that offer it are the ‘mum police’, it’s disrespectful, the list goes on. I actually don’t mind unsolicited advice, it’s been super helpful to me at times! But I didn’t always feel that way. Whether you’re for it or against it, there are ways to help us handle it – here’s how I do it.

1) Firstly, remember that it is up to you what advice you listen to

Just because someone offers the advice, it doesn’t mean you have to take it on board! You’re in charge of how you parent, and you will always know your child best. But you’re also in charge of how you react. I used to get wound up when I was offered advice during my pregnancy about what was coming, and now looking back I realise it was just totally unnecessary. I’ve encouraged myself to keep an open mind, but ultimately, it’s up to me what I do with the information.

2) They’re probably trying to offer support and connect

We’re really quick to snap to defensive, especially if the advice feels like a criticism on the paths we’ve chosen. And that’s understandable, it’s tough to hear that. But it helped me to remember that it’s probably just another mum trying to connect. As soon as I shifted to that line of thinking, it became a lot easier to stomach the advice, which in turn, reminded me of my first point! There are absolutely times when it isn’t that, and it becomes competitive or mean-spirited and in those instances, you can find some helpful phrases you can use in my final tip!

3) Sometimes, the advice is good…keep an open mind

I don’t drive, and it hadn’t even occurred to me that the guidelines on carseats might have changed since my little sister was born years ago, it was a total blindspot in my research, car travel was so rare for us. I bought a similar seat that my sister had had, from a trusted brand, that said it was suitable for my child, and I had no reason not to believe it. So when a follower reached out and responded to an Instagram story telling me my son should be rear facing still at 21 months, I was mortified. Firstly, I felt that instinct to snap back rise up: he’s my child, I know what’s best, mum police, etc. But actually, that was the point. I *didn’t* know what was best there. So I thanked her for letting me know, and made the necessary changes. Without that unsolicited advice, who knows how long it would have been until I found that out? Since then, I’m always at least open to hearing it. Sometimes, the advice is absolutely golden, and I don’t want my ego to let me miss out!

4) Do your research so you have confidence in your methods

I realise now that I reacted so badly to advice, because I wasn’t actually feeling totally secure in my own knowledge, or my lack of experience meant I was going to be a bad mother. So I got some books, I read some blogs and, get this, I asked other mums for advice! Feeling more confident in my own methods and choices gave me a clarity in my thinking and helped me to feel prepared. It also helped me feel less rigid on what I thought was ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, and actually helped me consider their stories and opinions more carefully. It also allowed me to filter out the information that was outdated, potentially harmful, or not recommended. Knowledge is power, and it comes in all forms, the more willing you are to hear it, the better you’ll become at sorting out what you need and what you don’t.

5) Have some phrases ready to roll

Sometimes, you need to shut it down. Whether it’s not in alignment with your personal views, or it isn’t something you’re open to, you’re still in control of what you take on. But asserting yourself can still be friendly if you want it to be. Some of my favourites are (depending on how comfortable you are with the potential of confrontation):

‘Interesting, I’ll give that a try!’

‘Oh, I didn’t know that- thanks, I’ll look into it’

‘I think I’m going to stick with the way we’re doing things, but I’ll bear that in mind!’

‘Thanks, we’ve got it covered’

And then, change the subject. Let them know the discussion on that matter, is over.

Much like we control how we react to the advice, we also *don’t* control how they might react to our response. So choosing your response based on whether this is a friend, family member, acquaintance, or stranger is a good thing to keep in mind.

Ultimately, you want the best for your child, and often, that’s all the other person wants too.

What I'm wearing

These trousers from Peacocks are the ultimate summer mum wardrobe- not least because they have FOUR POCKETS! They come in a range of colours, go up to size 24, have an elasticated waist, breathable fabric that isn’t see through, and can be easily dressed up or down. Oh, and they’re only £22!

1. Womens Tan Tie Waist Cotton Trousers

peacocks tan trousers

In the pool

Wrapsody by Curvy Kate is a viral sensation, and with good reason, there are endless ways to tie and style it! A wired cup up to a J, it’s supportive and sexy, and comes in black, red, leopard, and also bikini form. An absolute staple for feeling confident on the beach!

2. Wrapsody Bandeau Swimsuit Red

curvy kate swimming costume

What I'm using

I have very sensitive skin that is prone to redness, and I noticed a real improvement when I added collagen to my daily routine- so I thought, why not try increasing collagen production in other ways? The Sensilift by Sensica is primarily an anti-aging device, that uses radiowaves and massage to penetrate the skin, and improve circulation and collagen production. However, I’ve noticed a real difference in my redness, and instead boast a more ‘glowy’ complexion in the process!

What we're playing with

Garden season is upon us, and my son is loving his new water tray from Vertbaudet, it’s shaped like a Pirate ship! It comes with lots of accessories and mechanisms for endless fun, his favourite is the built in catapult! Really sturdy design and nicely weatherproof too. And anything that keeps him independently entertained for that long is a win in my book.

3. Pirate Boat Water Table

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