Heather C Heather C is a married, mom of three: big sis Lily and identical twins Natalie and Sophia. She has been guest blogging for Mumbling Mommy since February of 2012 and began working as a Social Media Editor in 2014. After nearly a decade in banking, she now works part time at a doctor's office specializing in breastfeeding medicine and spends the rest of her days in her Midwest home as zookeeper/stay-at-home-mom. Heather C is also a runner, hiker, yogi, bike rider and more. She reads when she finds more than a few minutes to herself and she hosts a lot of pajama dance parties in her kitchen. In her spare time, she's the co-leader for her daughter's Girl Scout troop and an active member of the school's Parent-Teacher Committee as well as a certified postpartum doula.

How much unsolicited parenting advice can we take?

In the age of mom shaming, when parents are forever doing everything “wrong,” it’s time we talk about unsolicited parenting advice.

We’ve all been there. Your future mother-in law takes you aside out of nowhere and tries to tell you how to make your marriage work. Your aunt whispers that just a little sugar will be okay to convince you to let your 8-month-old have a little icing from a birthday party cupcake. Advice is free flowing from everyone, all the time. It may simply be in our nature as humans to always want to help the ones we love. Maybe a survival thing?

But the combination of unsolicited advice and social media take the concept to an all new level, and we need to do something about it.

Unsolicited Parenting Advice 101

Here are some clues that someone may be posting a status or picture online in which they’d like to receive your opinion on the matter. He or she says the words:

  • “What do you think?”
  • “Does anyone know … ?
  • “How can I do …?”
  • “Should I? Or shouldn’t I?”
  • “Yes? No? Maybe?”
  • And other various forms of QUESTIONS

If the poster did not ask a question, chances are he or she will appreciate comments like:

  • “That looks awesome.”
  • “You are so beautiful.”
  • “Great job, momma.”
  • “I love what you did there.”
  • “That’s one of my favorite places to go.”
  • “I’ve been there/done that before. What did you think?”

Did you notice the responses keep the focus on the original poster?

So when Jessica shares a photo of the gluten-free, nut-free, dairy-free cookies she just made for the bake sale, the comment, “Ugh, they sucked you in? You don’t have to do that if you don’t want to!” is not appropriate, supportive, or even nice.

When Emily posts a selfie with the caption, “Loving this new necklace!” the appropriate response is NOT, “I don’t really think it suits you.” Or even worse, posting a link to an article deeming selfies the worst trend of the new millennium.

When new mom, Chrissy Teigen went out 10 days postpartum to enjoy a dinner with her husband, comments like, “That is way too early!” are not only a form of mom shaming, but guess what? Chrissy never asked for our advice!

If I post a selfie and get comments like, “You should wear makeup more often. So pretty!” it is disguised as a compliment, but basically, it’s just advice I didn’t ask for.

My point? No matter what the situation, rather than assuming that someone posting a picture is knowingly opening herself up to any and all comments, treat that person with the same respect and kindness you would if she handed you a 4 x 6 photo in person and told you a story about it. After all, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all, right? Surely you can find at least one way to compliment anyone or anything without passive aggressively (or even obviously) giving advice they didn’t ask for.

Social media has its benefits, but keep in mind that if you find yourself constantly questioning your parenting skills or, worse yet, your self worth, it may be because of the interactions you are having online. Social media gives many people courage to say things they’d never say in person, and it eliminates tone of voice and facial expressions. If you’re worried you may be an unsolicited parenting advice offender, consider this simple tip: if you wouldn’t say the words in person, face-to-face, don’t type them either.

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