It’s that time of year. The time when we all gather and celebrate the holidays and, oftentimes, that means we get lots of feedback from our families about our children. While celebrating the holidays and new year with our extended family can be great, receiving unwanted and unsolicited advice about our parenting is NOT.
No one needs to hear your tips on disciplining our “unruly child,” especially when you see her maybe times a year and you have no idea what goes on behind the scenes and all the hard work she has put in to work on her struggles. No one needs feedback on sleep schedules or how long to breastfeed or how to get their picky kid to eat more than a roll for dinner.
Yet, somehow, family members still like to dispense all their parenting wisdom and we are often stuck trying to navigate all this unsolicited advice.
No matter how well-meaning this advice is, when it’s unsolicited, it’s just not needed. So here’s my best advice on navigating unwanted family feedback.
Change the subject.
I always have at least one to two neutral topics to shift the conversation. “How about those Bengals this year?” “What about this weather?” Something safe that you can steer the convo to and politely avoid the parenting critique.
Thank them for their input, and then do what you want.
No one said you have to listen to a word they say. You can thank them for their input and then continue to parent how you deem fit. Just because you listen doesn’t mean you have to adhere to a thing they say.
Set a boundary.
If the advice or comments are too much, harmful or cross the line, you have every right to set a boundary and stick to it for your peace during the holidays. An easy line to remember is, “I appreciate your feedback but I prefer to parent my way and am not taking input at this time,” or, “I would appreciate it if you would refrain from interfering with my parenting, we have it under control.” While these may sound a bit clinical, it’s the most direct way to get your point across and shut down any additional comments.
Know your limits.
Set your own boundaries in your head. What line is too far for you? Know it and stick to it with family members! If a toxic family member cannot stay within your boundaries, you can walk away. Walk away from the conversation or, if needed, leave the gathering. Gift yourself permission to have peace, even if that means leaving and starting your own family traditions that do not include these family members.
Ultimately, these are your celebrations, too, and only you know your own boundaries, the baggage that comes with certain relationships, and the dysfunction that can create. If you choose to attend a family gathering in the new year, I hope these tips help you navigate the sometimes tricky world that families can create. When all else fails, remember that you are the only one that knows what’s best for YOUR CHILD(REN) and feel confident enough to express that when needed.