"ALL I KNOW IS (THAT) I KNOW NOTHING." (SOCRATES)
Whenever anyone attempts to give me unsolicited advice about raising MY child, I immediately make 3 jerk reaction judgements about that person: 1) Who the hell do they think they are? 2) What the hell is their motivation? And, 3) What is their most interesting flaw? Now, you might have other criterion for how you judge those who think they know better than you about YOUR child, but this is my blog so just enjoy the ride...
1). Who The Hell Do They Think They Are?
Before I even contemplate taking the advice of someone who obviously thinks I'm an idiot (and THEY know better), I like to create a character sketch in my mind of who this person is and what makes them think they are God's gift to parenting. Certainly, there are people I tend to give a free pass, or at least the benefit of the doubt, such as anyone one with an M.D. or a P.H.D. after their name. But even then I don't lend much credence to what they have to say until they prove themselves worthy. After all, the term "expert" merely creates the illusion that some one has something of value to say. As anyone who has done as much research on the subject as I have will be happy to point out to you, the term "expert" merely refers to a person with a popular opinion (that they will never give up on, even long after its validity has been refuted) and a soapbox- and frankly, those kind of credentials don't give me much comfort.
Sure, I give credit where credit is due, but just because you spent 12 years in school learning technical terms and parenting jargon to baffle brains doesn't mean I'm going to let you regurgitate your dissertation in my ear. I treat all unsolicited advice the same... based on how annoying your are. So if you're only mildly irritating, I might humor you (or subtly mock you, depending on my mood). But if you're just outright obnoxious, be prepared to have to defend each and every inane anecdote your mouth can spout because I will take you to task and you better be prepared for it. If you're just trying to relate, I'll let it go... we can all use someone who knows our pain. But, keep it brief. Everybody always seems to have some pearl of wisdom to pass on to a new parent, but guess what, if we want advice, WE'LL ASK FOR IT!!!
2) What the Hell is Your Motivation?
Let's face it: there's no true altruism. Everybody does what they do merely to get some sort of satisfaction from it. If someone is giving you advice, they are under some misguided impression that (from the "looks" of it) you need THEIR help. Your baby is crying?... must be only one of the two things this person knows, not one of 12 other causes that might occur at anytime? Your child is sucking her thumb? Well that's just an excuse to tell you the horrors of what can happen ("yeah? let me tell you the horrors of what can happen when I remove it from her mouth"). But again, I take motivation under consideration when receiving parenting advice from unsolicited sources...
If someone means well and wants to help, I politely stop them before they embarrass themselves. If someone thinks they mean well but all they really want to do is hear their own voice, I remind them that new dads aren't stupid, we're just a little too busy parenting our kids to read the latest journal entry from Parenting Tips for Annoying People Who Can't Mind Their Own Business. And if someone just really wants to make it known that they are an authority on all things child related (see Momzillas, various parenting philosophy discipline disciples, and experts of all kinds), I just hand them my kid and say: "Here. If you want to parent her so badly, why don't you change her diaper while you're at it... or SHUT UP!!!!!" Or, in other words... "SHUT THE HELL UP!!!"
3) What is Their Most Interesting Flaw?
Why is this important? Well, at first I thought the "death stare" was enough to keep the parenting parrots (those who read a lot of books and just regurgitate the the findings of studies that haven't been relevant in over 10 years) at bay, but sadly it only works in select situations (like when you're holding your screaming kid and your whole body language screams "don't f--k with me right now"). For all other occasions I suggest something far more subtle: e.g. when someone is giving you advice, and you really don't care to hear a single word they have to say, just start staring at their most interesting flaw. No eye contact- just stare at the flaw.
Find the persons' weak spot and just burrow your eyes through it with a questioning glance on your face. Wait a few minutes and say "Does that hurt?" "What?" they stop sputtering b.s. to ask. "That mole with the spider leg like hairs growing out of it?," you reply. Then see if they still want to keep talking after THAT. It's just a nice (well, nice for me) way of saying you don't want to discuss parenting with a stranger any more than they want you to point out all of their flaws.
It works every time.
In summary, people make unfair judgements of new parents (especially dads) all the time. So don't be afraid to make some of your own the next time some dispshit decide to give you his two cents.
One good turn deserves another, I say. Everyone is entitled to have their opinion- what they are not entitled to do is close-talk you in to parenting paralysis (an induced catatonic state from having to listen to all the horsesh@# that comes out of their mouths). As the bible says, "do not judge lest ye be judged (yes, its been paraphrased)." So feel free to f--k with every person who feels the need to parent your parenting skills. After all, it's only fair...