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Thumbs-Down on Unsolicited Parenting Advice

Susan Koeppen
CBS

Susan Koeppen
CBS
By SUSAN KOEPPEN

NEW YORK (CBS) When you have a new baby, you expect comments...like "oh, he's so cute" and "he looks just like you" and "you are so blessed." But then, the other comments start to roll in. Yup. The unsolicited parenting advice that can chop you off at the knee caps. We all know we aren't perfect, but do we really need family, friends and perfect strangers weighing in on our parenting skills?

Like the time a stranger in the elevator told me to cut my baby's nails because he was going to scratch his face off. Really? His whole face off? She was right, the nails needed to be trimmed -- but was it her place to tell me? Maybe I was on my way to buy nail clippers at that very moment! (I wasn't, but that's not the point.)

Only once in my five years of being a parent has anyone ever given me great unsolicited advice. It was a guy on an airplane. He told me if your baby cries on the plane, blow on his face, it will help him swallow and clear his ears. I tried it. It worked. Thanks, guy in seat 12B.

But most of the advice I get is, frankly, just stuff I can do without. Like the time my third child fell from a high chair and smashed his head on the floor. (Disclaimer: If you are questioning my parenting skills...my husband was feeding the baby at the time). Rightly so, I was very upset and rushed to my child's side. I grabbed him, held him and rushed to get some ice. That's when I heard it: the unsolicited parenting advice from a family member. I don't remember the exact words but it was something along the lines of "He's fine, don't worry, kids hit their heads all the time, just put him down, don't be so dramatic." Hmmm...last time I checked, he was my baby. And as a mother, I certainly have the right to react anyway I want.

But there you go -- everyone has an opinion and feels like they need to share it. I'm not quite sure why other parents feel the need to step in and say something. It's weird -- like a bug to a light. They just can't help it. But here's my take: the next time you want to share your unsolicited parenting advice: DON'T!