The Winter Holiday Season is just about to get started! The love, the laughter, gratitude and the perfect opportunity for others to weigh in on…parenting skills.
Advice on how to best use time out, tips for dealing with tantrums, how to get baby to sleep through the night, getting kids to listen and everything in between… Nothing like the holiday season and family get-togethers to bring about questions, tips, advice and possibly conflict surrounding parenting advice.
How to cope with annoying questions? How to deal with parenting advice that just isn’t a match for your family? Wondering how to keep your inner peace and not lose your cool at family gathering and festive occasions? Here are some ideas:
1. Know your triggers: Just knowing which topics or behaviors can have a way of knocking you off balance is already a great step towards keeping your inner peace. When the topics come up, or behaviors surface, breathe and relax in your own inner confidence.
2. Keep yourself grounded: Should anyone start asking, commenting or criticizing on your parenting choices focus your thoughts on you and your family. Think of your wonderful children and all the sweet things they do.
3. Think positively: Remember the reasons you have made your parenting decisions and think of a time when your choices worked so well for you. Maybe there was a time when baby wearing made playing with your toddler so easy or maybe it was that smile from your child when he helped you clean up spilled juice. Try focusing on those positive moments.
4. Stay in neutral: When you are receiving unsolicited advice or worse even admonishment, instead of jumping into an argument, try to say something neutral. For example “I will think about that” does not imply acceptance but can help the other party feel acknowledged. Conflicts can lead to learning and growth so it’s not that we should avoid conflicts all together or ignore our feelings, but adding stress to festive events seldom results in positive feelings.
5. Be Authentic: Don’t try to change your parenting style to please others. If Johnny Jr. spits out hot gravy, it is probably not going to do any good to try using a time out for the first time ever just because you think everyone else expects you to. You and your children will probably be happiest and calmest if you stick with “your normal” regardless of how “un-normal” it may seem to others.
6. Take care: Joy is not going to easily surface in a moment when you feel defensive or attacked. If you feel the need to step away, take a moment to yourself, find another room, breathe and return to yourself fully. Try to get enough rest and eat well, even if you are away from home too.
7. Seek perspective: Try to weigh the words that are bothering you, perhaps the intention is truly genuine or the information of that generation is simply different from your own. Maybe asking if your baby is sleeping through the night is really just curiosity, maybe asking if you are *still* breastfeeding is coming from a point of admiration for your commitment.
The holiday season is a fantastic time to build relationships and connection. Staying positive and learning to manage conflict can help keep the peace. The idea is not to ignore our feelings but to acknowledge our state of being, when we receive unwanted advice or difficult questions, when faced with conflict, to stop and feel the warm fuzzy anger riling inside, feel the defensive stance of our feet and then breathe. Instead of jumping into winded explanations, find your center; be in that moment fully grounded in your parenting principles. Trust in yourself to be authentically you.
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So, what was the worst or best parenting advice you ever got at a party or holiday event?