After getting some comments that I’ve taken offense to, I’ve been thinking about unsolicited advice, and the whole heap of it I’m going to get when the baby arrives.
I was raised to be independent and make decisions for myself. If I had a choice to make, my parents were happy to let me make my own mistakes and learn from them. I never heard “I think you shouldn’t do that” or “I told you so.” In fact, when faced with a tricky situation on the farm, my parents often involved us in the decision-making process. My dad called it “Yankee Ingenuity:” the ability to figure out a good working solution to a problem. This served to give us confidence in our own intelligence.
Since I was raised to make choices, I didn’t have a paralyzing fear of being wrong that I’ve seen in some people. When it came time to make big decisions about my life as I got older, my parents still allowed me to choose for myself. There was never a pressure to go to college, or where to go, or what to major in. When I decided to change my major from nursing to education, my parents were happy for me. When Ed and I announced that we were engaged when I was a senior in college, again my parents were happy for us. There was never a heady discussion about whether it was the right thing to do. My parents gave me the freedom to blaze my own path in life.
The same is true with having a child. I never felt any pressure from my parents to start a family, even as Ed and I had been married longer and as I got older. The knew that we would decide to start a family when the time was right for us. When we announced that I was pregnant, I never got unsolicited advice from them. Sure, I have plenty of questions and am happy to listen to my mom’s experience, but she never pressures me to do things her way. And my dad has made it clear that the way we want to raise our children is our decision.
For the most part, family and friends have been the same way. They know we’re competent people and we’ll be able to make wise choices for our child. We’re happy to listen to their experiences and ask questions, but nobody’s pushy about their opinions.
So imagine my surprise when, here and on my other blog, people who I’ve never spoken with before felt the need to jump in and give advice. They don’t have any understanding of who we are or our values. They don’t know me or my husband, and they certainly don’t know what’s right for our family. I think most of them have their own agendas. Pushing home birth when I’ve already decided that our hospital is the best place to have our baby–How can anyone tell me what’s best for my baby, and did you have your baby at this same hospital? Telling me that my doctor will try to trick me into medical interventions– Have you met my doctor? (This is not about my internet friends… I know that you offer your opinions in the spirit of sharing your own experience, not in forcing me to think your way.) Those are just a few examples, but I take this type of unsolicited advice as an attack on my own intelligence and decision-making skills. And I don’t like it.
I can only imagine how much unsolicited internet advice I’ll get as I start to raise my family, from people who have no right to give that advice. So, as a result, I’m going to scale back what I share here about my personal choices for our family. I don’t need the attacks on my intelligence, and this blog was never intended to be a parenting blog anyway. I’m going to go back to sharing photos, stories, recipes, and gardening. Nobody’s ever had anything negative to say about one of my pie recipes.