I got very little warning about what it was going to be like as a stay-at-home dad, but one thing almost everyone warned me about was the
Attack of the Unsolicited Advice!
Over and over I heard that dads in the playground are targets for moms who “know better” and have all the inside scoop on parenting that the second X chromosome carries.
“No problem,” I thought. “Bring it on!”
Well, there is one problem. No one gives me unsolicited advice.
Last night, I got together with someone I used to do volunteer work with. She had a kid, I had a kid, we don’t live nearby, one thing and another, and we’d not seen each other in about three years. Here’s her deal: she’s still putting her two-year old to sleep, not leaving the room, not “letting him cry it out,” not “sleep training,” just staying with him until he’s down.
In telling me about this, she mentioned that she’s getting all sorts of grief from family and friends, warning her how she’s building a dependent little momma’s boy.
I have a lot of opinions on the whole topic of giving advice to your friends, but basically it boils down to a very conservative approach. I find that most advice is not given in the spirit of true charitable helpfulness, but because people really just want to feel that they are smarter than you. Maybe I’m just overly sensitive because I so often have worked with teenagers, but I would just never tell another person (let alone a parent) that I knew what was best for them. To do that would be second-guessing their knowledge of their own kids and their parenting choices.
Just about the only bit of general advice I ever give is variety and moderation: when one parenting strategy isn’t working, try something else. Don’t beat a dead horse, as they say.
Still, not getting advice from random mothers at the playground… it’s like I don’t exist! Oooph, that hurts!