I think I need to set the record straight: I don’t hate advice. I am just not crazy about overzealous givers of advice, especially when said advice-givers don’t know much about the subject on which they are offering advice (as in the case of my poker buddy) . Basically, I like advice that is well-researched. As someone who has spent a decade and a half in academia, I love information. I enjoy hearing about people’s lived experiences and the lessons they have learned. I love it when someone shares a new book or an article with me, even if it might challenge some of my previously held parenting theories. I am a researcher at heart, and the more material I can find to help me arrive at a decision, the better.
But because I’m a persnickity academic, I want sound information from credible sources. When I mentioned the author of the Baby Wise book, I did so to make a point: this guy is a hack. He’s someone who is working to forward a religious agenda through his baby training guides, and he is someone who doesn’t have a lick of education that is relevant to child-rearing, and he is someone who rabidly promotes CIO. When I mentioned our friend, once again, I was referring to someone who isn’t a reliable source when it comes to infant care because she lacks both experience and basic knowledge, and once again, she was advocating a parenting method I’m not fond of.
Honestly, I think a lot of new parents have a difficult time with the overabundance of unsolicited advice we are offered simply because it’s a lot to process, and it can be challenging to find any sort of happy marriage of that advice and our own values. Because others have experience with this mysterious ride that is parenting, they want to share it. I know I want to share what I’ve learned, but I want the people I share it with to want to hear it. I think, however, that we as parents and aspiring parents and members of the greater community have a responsibility to assess the situation, to determine whether or not the person is seeking advice or simply a sympathetic ear.
I suppose some would say that blogging about problems with one’s baby is an invitation to any and all advice, but I’m not sure that’s what all of us are looking for. There are those occasions when I just want to vent my frustrations with having a baby who won’t nap or a relationship that is struggling , and I know many other bloggers out there have the same experience. On the other hand, there are those desperate times when we want nothing more than to benefit from the experience and wisdom of our community. There are even times when we specifically ask for it.
I love the wealth of wisdom that is present in our community. I drew from it throughout my TTC experience and my pregnancy, and I hope to continue drawing from it as a new parent. I think when it comes in the form of anecdotes and experiences, it holds a great deal of value. And when it comes in the form of “This is the one and only way to raise your child,” it may as well be an infomercial for a chia pet in my mind.
So I’m curious, how do you like advice to be packaged? When you write about problems on your blog (or on Facebook or elsewhere), do you expect advice to follow? Do you welcome it? How do you think members of our community could more effectively share their wisdom and experience?