Sunday, June 24, 2007

Poor/Needs Improvement

That used to be a grade category on our early elementary report cards. The only P/NI I ever received was for penmanship in third grade. I still have bad handwriting, but luckily the laptop has since taken over the world and I am a Very fast typer.

Today I would receive a P/NI in listening to advice. I suck at it. I like to be the expert and I hate looking like I don't know what I'm doing. In almost everything in my life I appear quite competent- it's somewhat strange to be on the receiving end of advice at all. I don't get outwardly mad or argumentative, but I usually get irritated on the inside and I don't know how to respond properly. Do I just nod silently? If I disagree but have no basis for it (like on all parenting advice since I'm not actually a parent yet and all my ideals are based on things I've read, gut instinct, and hope), should I keep quiet? Even though I know I don't know anything, I hate being spoken to like I don't know anything.

I actually really like the practical advice and tricks of the trade, it's the parenting philosophy type of advice that irritates me. I may not have my son yet, but I already have some basic ideas about how we want to raise him. Regardless, pretty much everyone talking to me just wants to share their mothering experience and I need to stop getting all internally worked up about it. I managed to get my penmanship grade up to an "S" for satisfactory, perhaps I can do that with taking advice. It's not like it's going to go away and if I listen, I'll probably find some of it quite useful.


  1. Interesting post. You seem to seek advice generally (I remember your saying that you were obsessively checking blogs for info on being a pregnant law student before you decided to starty trying) - so it's the in-your-face aspect of it you don't like?

  2. It's hard not to feel defensive when people suggest things - like perhaps whatever you chose on your own isn't good enough. My advice (ha, ha) is to take it all with a grain of salt. Listen, take it in, and discard the things that truly rub you the wrong way. It doesn't hurt to try things once or twice if you aren't sure what you want to do. And the reality is that every baby is different - just because you may have an idea of what you want to do, your baby may not go with that. For example, showering. Some babies are content to sit in their bouncy chair next to the shower. Others will scream and scream and scream, so there goes your showering plan. ;) (((HUGS))) It will all work out.

  3. Anonymous makes an excellent point- I seek advice on here all the time! I think it must be the face-to-face aspect. Even when I like the parenting tips from a particular person it's an awkward part of a conversation to be a part of because it's really just 1-way.

    For example, at my Texas baby shower the hostress asked the moms to go around the room and give me advice. A lot of it was great, but it was awkward (to me) to sit and nod for 30 minutes. I'm usually the expert (my previous work experience includes orientation advisor, academic counselor, and swim coach) and I have a hard time not getting defensive and irritated when someone else knows more than me.

    Like I said, I get a P/NI.

  4. my thoughts, for what it's worth: it's one thing to give someone your opinion, or to tell a funny story based on your experiences, but it is always annoying to get unsolicited "advice" (pushy, here's what you should do kind of stuff) from people, and it's most irritating to get these words of wisdom about something as personal as pregnancy from those who seem to think they are experts.

    when will people learn that every pregnancy/child/parenting strategy is different and that there is really only one appropriate time to give advice on any personal subject--when someone asks for it...

  5. this is off topic, but do you know where i would be able to find a nice, dressy maternity evening gown (for a wedding)?

  6. You have the smile-and-nod technique down pat, and that's important.

    I thought a lot of people were full of shit when I was raising my kids, but once in a while someone would say something actually helpful, like when I was complaining to my grandmother about one of the kids throwing food on the floor and she said something like, "I took that as a sign they weren't hungry any more and took the food away until their next meal." Bingo--worked like a charm.

    Heh. That was a sneaky way of getting in advice you won't need for a long time.

    It may be the face to face aspect that bothers you. It also may be that unlike websites or books, you can't skim through a conversation. You have to wait for the other person to say things at their own pace. And you have to do the smile and nod thing.

    I was never a big fan of advice either. Every once in a while I got a gem, but most of the time it was in one ear and out the other. What I did find helpful was to watch people I thought did a great job, and try to figure out what they were doing and why, and sometimes talk to them about it. But then I was choosing the source, eh?

    Anyway, if you think it's bad when you're pregnant, just wait until you have a newborn. Ho boy.