New moms often find themselves in a vulnerable state – physically and emotionally.
Unfortunately, many people don’t see the vulnerability of a new mom’s spirit and inadvertently do things to harm it. Offering unsolicited advice, judging a new mom’s parenting choices, or making her feel incapable in any way can all do damage to a mother’s mental and emotional health.
Jess shares some of her experiences as a new mom, feeling judged and made to second guess her choices. She talks about how dangerous it can be to do anything but support a new mom. New moms don’t need us to tell them what to do, because we all figure it out eventually. What they do need is a community of people who they trust and can go to for advice when they need it.
So the next time you see a new mom struggling, don’t give her unsolicited advice.
It really isn’t that hard to not judge other moms. Whatever your excuse might be, it does not matter. Whether you are from the older generation where you did things differently, or maybe it’s because the way you opted to do things worked for you, you assume it’s the only way.
But when you give unsolicited advice to a new mom, the only thing that she will take away from your statement is that she is not doing a good job.
When I had my first child, I felt so prepared. I was ready. I read the books. I went to the classes. My husband and I had talked endlessly on how we wanted to raise our children. We talked about what was important to us, our family values and the importance we placed on everything from Montessori toys to how we felt about screen time. I knew we were in for a huge adventure as we became parents, and as scary as it was, I felt like “yes, I can do this!”
And then you came along. Someone who obviously knew more than either my husband or I when it came to raising our own child. Everything I did received criticism or was questioned. Maybe you felt entitled to say it because you are older than me, or you had raised a child of your own.
I honestly don’t know what triggered it, but I started to hate you. I had a newborn baby and I was exhausted. Sure, I didn’t know what I was doing, but I 100% knew better than you did when it came to the well-being of MY baby.
This was not just one person, it was several people. Maybe I was just overly sensitive, but you don’t know how the words you said to me affected me. I would cry in the car on the drive home because your unsolicited advice made me feel inadequate. I cringed at the thought of seeing you and even avoided gatherings that I knew you would be at.
That unhelpful, toxic energy was not good for my soul.
I was so new into motherhood and I was not prepared for the unsolicited advice that was being thrown at me left and right. I did not know then, as I do now, how much I would have to protect my spirit so I would not be broken.
Motherhood is heavy, oh so heavy, and the weight of it can crush you.
People feel as if they have the right to give you unsolicited advice because you NEED it. I was fortunate that I never went through the darkness of postpartum depression. But having someone question or belittle me when it came to making decisions about this perfect little human that I shared a bond with, was one of the most frustrating things I have experienced as a mother.
As a practice of self-care, I developed a circle of support. I now surround myself with people I love and trust and can turn to at any minute of the day when I need my spirits lifted. I could also feel my “motherly intuition” grow stronger as my baby grew. I knew when she was hungry or tired. I could sense her emotions and I grew confident in my abilities.
Now, fast forward five years down the road and another baby later, I do not let what other people say get to me when it comes to parenting. Yes, I let my kids watch YouTube Kids and occasionally have a lollipop with their breakfast. But I know I am a good mom to my kids and I have stopped comparing myself, or my kids, to anyone else.
So while the same people might still make the same sly comments every now and then and offer their unsolicited advice, I have learned to just smile, nod and hum Backstreet Boys songs in my head until they stop talking.
Here is my advice to all the new moms out there.
No one knows how to take care of your baby better than you. It will be hard to remember at first, but eventually you will find that mama bear spirit lying deep within.
And to all the well meaning people out there who have so many words of wisdom or “helpful” comments, here is some advice for you: unless you are directly asked for advice about something, all you need to say is… repeat after me…