Monday, May 13, 2013

How Do You Respond to Unasked-for Advice?


Ah, the joys of unasked-for advice. I love it when people tell me things I don’t want to know, for my own good. In one recent case, for the good of some ducks.

When I shared on Facebook my plan to picnic at a park and feed ducks on Mother’s Day, a friend advised, “Take WHOLE GRAIN crackers for the ducks.” Oh, of course. I wouldn’t dream of giving wild ducks anything less than the finest crackers, especially since some of them might be mothers!

That experience reminded me of some other bits of unsolicited wisdom, which I freely share with you. I’m sure you enjoy people advising you as much as I do.

When I was a mother-to-be: “If you have a girl, you should name her Kevina, after her daddy (my husband’s name is Kevin). And if I’d married Brad, would you tell me to name my baby Bradina? Aha.
 


As a writer: “If your husband doesn’t support your writing, divorce him.” Oh, I see—this way I can support myself financially as well as emotionally. How clever. From the same writing guru: “Don’t read books on how to improve your writing skills. They’ll only confuse you.” All righty, then, I’ll stay a mediocre writer, and confuse all the editors I send my stories to. That’ll show ‘em!

When I had a cold: “Tie a bunch of garlic around your neck.”
Yippee. Then I can have the entire universe to myself, and rest all I want!
 
I know, I know. People who give unasked-for advice are striving to obey God’s command to love one another, and only wish to help. I sincerely appreciate that. As I’m sure the ducks will, too, when they munch down their whole grain crackers.
 
How do you respond to Unasked-for Advice?

17 comments:

  1. Oooooh boy. lol This one's a hot-button for me, because as a young mom with two VERY strong-willed kids... I got a LOT of advice, most of it concerning discipline.

    "A good swift swat will settle them down"
    "A spanking only hurts for a moment, disobedience hurts for a lifetime"
    "You need to be more firm"

    What all these well-meaning people didn't know is... I have been dealing with PTSD for over 20 years. I wasn't stable. Even though I'd done daycare for 7 years when my daughter was born, I was completely unprepared for the disruption in my self-care routines and schedule that having a baby brought on. A lack of sleep is bad for someone like me, and I was already stretched like a rubber band to my snapping point.

    Thankfully, parenting classes and counseling brought us a long way, and we all survived my kids' toddler and childhoods. I'm very blessed today with two amazing teens.

    I'm pretty careful these days, about how I give advice to other young moms. It's so easy to give canned, one-size-fits-all advice, but so important to understand the pond you're tossing your pebbles into. You never know how far those ripples will go.

    Much love, Jeanette... See you in a couple months! :) I think the Ducks at Montrose prefer chocolate to crackers, though... ;)

    -Mary

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    1. I'm sorry people are so insensitive with young mothers, Mary. But it does my duckie heart good to know that you got some wise counsel, and your teens are remarkable!

      I'll bring chocolate for sure. . .

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  2. I like Mary's advice to the advisers..."understand the pond you're tossing your pebbles into"

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  3. When I'm given unsolicited advice, I try to stop and think about who is giving me this advice. If it is someone who knows my situation and what I've been going through, I am more likely to follow the advice. If is someone I don't know well, I try not to take it too personal. That being said, I often fail.

    Case in point: I have a toddler who is a clean freak. He hates to get messy, and as a result we are having great difficulty convincing him to try and feed himself. There have been tears of frustration on both sides because of this. My toddler, in defiance began throwing the spoon any time he got his hands on it (whether we were eating or not). When my grandmother heard of this battle through the grapevine (because she rarely talks to us) she called me immediately and told me exactly what I was doing wrong, and how I should stop trying to make my baby do things he didn't want to do. Her reasoning, because I used to drop my spoon on the floor as well. I bristled and stormed and fumed, and then I sat back a moment and realized that though my grandmother didn't really understand the dynamics of what was happening, she really was trying to be helpful - I think.

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    1. I think so, too, Christina, although I'd fume if it were me and that was my grandmother! I believe the Lord will help you find a solution for this diliemna.

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  4. Hi Jen -

    I wish I could say my reactions were always sweet. They weren't. Most of the time, I smiled and then ignored the advice.

    Blessings,
    Susan :)

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    1. Susan:

      I do fine with strangers; it's relatives, especially women ones, who get under my skin!

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  5. This can be a hot topic for me. I had someone who used to be in my life who thought it her calling to tell me things that I wanted to hear. One time I listened to her and made a matter worse.

    When I worked for the Army, I heard a phrase that, in later years, when I was debating an issue came in handy. "They didn't ask me." The problem seemed to disappear.

    When I believe someone oversteps his or her bounds and offers
    unsolicited advise, I mentally say, "I didn't ask for that advise."

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    1. Quiet: This is an excellent way to manage it! Thanks!

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  6. I, too, dealt with very high-maintenance kids, and the "advice" was more often self-serving than well meaning. I know that sounds harsh, but so is a lot of parenting advice given to people who are having a hard enough time whose shoes the advice givers have never walked in. Definitely, listen and consider if there may be something to take away from someone you respect offering advice. But we don't have to own and accept into our hearts every piece of criticism disguised as advice. Yes, I do a mental "I don't have to accept that" and move on. More women need to, I believe. Plus, I'll bet your daughter is very happy not to be Kevina.

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    1. Jill: You are so right! Our daughter is Esther, but even that didn't sit right--she changed her name to Marie. So Kevina would not have worked at all!

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  7. I try to be as gracious as possible - but it isn't always easy, depending on who's delivering the advice. I am a great big work in progress. Just so you know. :)

    Hope you had a great Mother's Day weekend!

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    1. We all are works in progress, Karen. That's why we need Jesus. He fills in the gaps.

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  8. Just smile, and say thanks.

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  9. Jeanette, this is such a cute story. Well, I smile, say "thank you" sometimes...or maybe just, "oh"... or maybe "you think?" Take what's good, and leave the rest. It's like shifting the wheat I suppose. Blessings!

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Oh, it's YOU! I'm so happy to see you here today, and look forward to reading your comments.