2 weeks ago · lizzie · 0 comments
Parenting Support Doesn’t Have to Come With A Dollop of ‘Expert Advice’
After many years working as a professional therapist, I’ve come to the realization that people often provide advice and recommendations based on what THEY THINK you need, or believe your SHOULD do, rather than on what you actually want or need. Parents often come to me for parenting supporting to help deal with this issue which often becomes pronounced once you have a baby.
As a parent, it is common to complain about how stressful, exhausted or upset you feel today. However, this often results in those close you wondering how they can help you, even if you have not asked for help! It also occurs out of judgement. For example, someone offers you help with your parenting, based on how well they think their parenting is going. they start to play the martyr. They may think “if only you would act like me, or do as I do. I have to take over or intervene, your life would be so much better.” I hear this a lot when it comes to children sleeping. Often when you have children that go to sleep easily, you assume your sleep methods will work for every child, but this simply is NOT the case.
This has really bothered many parents for years. It is quite stressful when people close to you decide to give you unsolicited advice. It is not always easy to say “NO THANK-YOU”, without offending those who believe they are helping you.
Parenting Support From Unwelcome ‘Experts’ Can Lead to Resentment
Whilst it is easy to get angry and resentful when receiving unsolicited advice, I have come to realise that we need to take some of the blame. Personally, I know I have complained about things I didn’t want advice on, just needing to vent, especially when I’ve been tired. I have also agreed or gone overboard putting myself down or talked about my own misfortunes in an attempt to make someone else feel better.
Have you ever heard yourself saying things like “I get it, this also happened to me and it was even worse”. It is very common to say things like this to try to convey deeper empathy, but in the process of doing this, you can also portray a very negative perspective of yourself – as if your life is full of negativity and drama. You then by default tend to imply that these stories only portray a very small part of my life.
I have left conversations feeling frustrated and annoyed with myself for doing this, because I know this opens me up to receiving advice I am NOT searching for! But…sometimes we need to learn the hard way…
People LOVE To Be Problem Solvers When Providing Parenting Support
People love to be problem-solvers. The problem with this, is that often people are giving advice, when really all you want is someone to just listen. In the busy world we live in, you are often seeing people in spurts. During these spurts you are likely to be having a few issues, but this is NOT a reflection of your life overall. These same people are not likely to see you straight after the millions of wonderful experiences you have had in your life. You are also unlikely to talk about all the great things in your life, for fear you might be seen as boasting.
Your friends are unlikely to hear about the moment you:
- receive a promotion at work
- are surprised by your child cuddling you or saying “I love you”
- receive a bunch of flowers from your partner or a close friend
- are told your parents are proud of you
- complete a challenging course
- break your Personal Best record playing sport
- prepare a delicious meal for the first time from your new recipe book
- sort things out with the person you were upset with this morning
Are You Engaging In Bad Conversational Habits That May Be Confused For A Request For Parenting Support?
It is very easy to get into bad habits with close friends. You may naturally fall into the trap of complaining with them or avoiding telling them about your personal wins (especially if they are going through a hard time).
Whilst you don’t want to boast, there is a real downside to doing this. You WILL provide a very skewed and often negative picture of yourself. You will also get frustrated when you receive advice you didn’t ask for. For example, if you are a tired parent who is co-sleeping with your child, you are likely to receive advice over and over again about why you should STOP co-sleeping, when all you really want is someone to just give you a hug, listen or tell you it won’t last forever. You may also just want someone to ask “is there anything you need to help get through this tired time?”
Choose your support network
We all need to vent from time to time, so chose who you vent to wisely. Choose friends who can just listen without passing judgement and without trying to fix things. At the very least make a point of saying you are not looking for solutions, you just need to vent.
Balance your conversations
Make sure you are also telling others of your ‘wins’. This is where your friends get to know the ‘real’ you and can see that whilst things may be difficult in one area, life is pretty great in other areas. Before you meet people to have a chat, think about the person you want to project. By all means get support from others, but just be mindful of letting others know when you really want their help.
If you have deeper issues to discuss, it would be best to save these conversations for a professional therapist who is trained in helping you resolve this issues without judgement.
Parenting Support – Your Personal Reminder
Place a big reminder of your wall at home, or in your phone that says DON’T COMPLAIN TO EVERYONE & SHARE POSITIVE STORIES TOO. Focussing on the times in your life when things are going well, is also a personal reminder that life is balanced. Ask for help when you need it and don’t be afraid to start a conversation by saying “I’m not looking for advice, just an ear today”
Author: Lizzie O’Halloran, Counsellor/Life Coach, Author & Motivational Speaker
Categories: Happy Living Tips and Support