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Why Do Babies Attract Unsolicited Advice?

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Guest blogger Jessica Katz: Ever since I had a baby, I have received my share of unsolicited advice. People approach me to tell me what to do and what not to do. It's amazing how unabashed they are. "You use one of those?" (in regards to a pacifier). "You shouldn't drink caffeine while you breastfeed" (while I drank an iced tea -- and was no longer breastfeeding). "You shouldn't paint your nails while pregnant. You're using bumpers. Your baby's wearing orange, and girls wear pink." I have heard it all.

baby smiling
Similarly, everyone feels like they can approach you and your baby and physically touch you both. It is like they forget your baby is a person. Would you want some stranger randomly pinching your cheeks (the ones on your face, or the other ones)?

And so of course I felt bad when I saw a woman who was 36 weeks pregnant at the OB office. She was there because her baby was already eight pounds and she might have to deliver early via C-section. Two other woman in the waiting room immediately told her to avoid a C-section at all costs. One continued, "I had a nine-pounder naturally. It's easy." This poor woman was terrified enough at the idea of having her first child before these women felt the need to impose their views. And she hadn't asked their opinion. They just felt they had the right to tell her how to have her baby, because they'd had babies of their own.

It's such an odd phenomenon. Would you go up to a fat person eating an ice cream sundae and tell them they should diet, explaining the dangers of obesity and high cholesterol? Or go up to a smoker and tell them to quit smoking? Probably not -- and if you did, they would tell you it was none of your business.

It's not really appropriate to butt in. But for some reason, a baby is like a license that gives strangers the right to judge and advise. As if it isn't hard enough to be a mom without someone telling you how to do it!

next: Newsflash: I'm Not a 'Christian Hypocrite'
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H December 29, 2010, 12:33 AM

This’ll probably be eaten by spambots, but what can one do?

A story from my mother: she got her fair share of unsolicited advice, a lot of it stemming from her having trouble gaining weight during the pregnancy (she’s a very tiny lady with a metabolism I was not blessed with). Someone told her “what her problem was” and “exactly what to do to fix it” while she was in the waiting room of a (regular) doctor’s office. Naturally, my mother hadn’t even spoken to this particular person before said “advice” was given. Her reply? “You know, I was really wondering what your expert opinion on this is, but I was too scared to ask. Are you psychic?” I had a fun childhood :)

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kdrobb February 16, 2011, 2:46 PM

Listen, converse and spend REAL time with your kids. Read to them and have them read to you. It worked for my successful children.

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