Advice…Welcome or Unwelcome?
I’m going to bring up a subject that seems to be a little taboo these days. First though, can I get honest with you? I’m nervous about the negative comments that might flood in or coming across as judgmental. Let me clear– I struggle with this too!! Please know that I’m writing this from my heart because there is a direction I’m seeing so many of us young moms going that I fear is dangerous–our resistance to advice.
The internet is full of advice for mothers. Everything from what to pack in your hospital bag to tips for encouraging your college kids. There has never been a time before us when there was SO much advice available right at our fingertips. So chances are, if we feel that we need advice, we will go in search of it and try to come up with a solution on our own.
So what happens when an older woman drops us a hint?
Don’t tell me how to raise my child.
What happens when our mom or mother-in-law tells us how they handled toddler tantrums?
Don’t tell me how to raise my child.
What happens when another young mom tells us what’s working for her?
That’s great for you, but don’t tell me how to raise my child.
We might not actually say that out loud, but many of us at least think it. Just about any parenting related article I find on Facebook contains at least several comments of: Don’t tell me how to raise my child and I won’t tell you how to raise yours. To each their own.
Barely Hanging On
As young moms we are often living on little sleep and feel like we are just barely hanging on. Depending on the day we might feel frail and insecure. Our laundry is stacked up, the refrigerator desperately needs to be cleaned out, our diaper genie can’t hold one more diaper, and we can’t remember the last time our showers were wiped down. Oh yes, and we have no idea what the family will eat for dinner. Our toddler’s nose has been running non-stop foreeeeever, our baby won’t nap unless they are in their swing with baby bum playing in the background, and we keep reading that our eighteen-month-old really should be off the bottle but yet it’s all they want. (I’m speaking from my own personal life here, friends!)
We are just doing what we have to do to get through the day. We are doing the best we can. So when we hear a comment that suggests maybe we should approach things differently we tense up. We block it out. What do you know? You’re not here with us every day.
This isn’t how God intended us to survive, though.
Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slandered or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.
God designed us to need the advice of older women. It’s part of his plan. Sometimes advice isn’t given in a respectful way and we are offended. As hard as it is, I truly believe we should still accept it with grace. Sometimes advice feels irrelevant to our actual individual situations, we should still accept it with grace. Other times, we are given advice that we’ve heard before and are maybe already practicing, we should still accept it with grace. Occasionally, we are given advice we don’t agree with, and that too, we should accept with grace.
Accepting Advice with Grace
What does it mean to accept advice with grace? To me, it means that we respectfully respond to those who offer us advice. Rather than putting up our defensive walls or assuming judgment, we might take a moment to examine our current efforts and think about what we’ve been told. We don’t have to apply it, but I think we owe it to our Lord to be respectful to those who offer us advice, even if we don’t like it. Giving others the benefit of the doubt will help us be much happier as well. We can consider that they are sharing with us from their heart based on their experiences and we can be grateful that they care enough to share.
This is not my natural approach. When I’m offered advice I usually start into long remarks as to why that hasn’t worked for me or something I read or learned about that before. If there is anything I’ve learned though in my short two and a half years of parenting, it’s that things change fast. Things that used to not be effective (time out, for instance) are now actually effective. Problems that I once thought I’d never deal with have poked their head up. Things change! So even if we feel that advice is irrelevant, it doesn’t mean that it will never apply. It actually might someday!
A Blessing to Survive the Chaos
Look, friends. I hear you, and I’m with you. It’s hard to accept advice with grace, but we were not meant to live this life on our own. Parenting is hard. While there are millions of blogs, articles, and e-books out there telling us the best way to approach child-rearing, let us not forget the people God has put in our life. They are there to help us. They are a part of God’s design for getting through the chaos. They are a blessing.
So let’s vow to open our minds and our hearts to what they share, and to accept their advice with grace.