When I got engaged, it seemed everyone felt the need to share their opinions on how to be a wife. While it sometimes made me feel as if I had no idea what I was doing, in all actuality, not one of the unsolicited advice donors knew my husband or what he wanted in a wife more than I do.
Now that I’m pregnant, it seems like I’m having deja vu. Only at 33 weeks, my unborn child has become much more obvious than an engagement ring, meaning even strangers feel the need to offer their advice. While I try to keep my cool, it gets old hearing that I should give up my vegan lifestyle and shouldn’t teach my child why we live the lifestyle that we do. That being said, here are 5 tips I’ve found to help prevent a pregnancy rage blackout on someone I don’t know well enough to experience that moment with:
- Keep in mind that they mean well. I recently went through a long lecture against teaching my chid why we’re vegan from an acquaintance that just so happens to be one of the nicest people I know. Everything she said was the opposite of what I plan on doing, but I had to keep telling myself that she legitimately wanted what she thought was best for my baby regardless of what I wanted and how it made me feel. While I’m still a little bitter, I appreciate that she clearly genuinely cares about my child.
- Be as nice as you can. Even in the first weeks of your pregnancy, you are officially a momma bear. If anyone gets near your baby with negative energy, it’s instinctual to go into attack mode. While you and I know that our hormones are raging and we’re learning how to protect our young, others may have no idea how we’re feeling, or that they’re offending us. Acting on instinct could lead to the loss (or at least awkward silence) of a friend, so breathe deeply and think before you react. While I can’t say this with certainty yet since I still have a few weeks to go in my pregnancy, I have a feeling this will be great practice for raising a child as well!
- Stand strong in your beliefs. I grew up in a very unhealthy southern family in which you showed your love with food. I was severely overweight as a child and suffered a lot for it, both mentally and physically. Despite that, my family still cannot get a handle on the fact that we will not be giving our baby fast food. A few weeks ago, while on an IKEA trip, my grandpa seemed genuinely offended when he asked what I would say if my child asked to go to McDonalds and my answer was simply “no.” After explaining that veganism aside, I would never knowingly put something so dangerous in my child’s body and that if he wanted to play a role in the baby’s life, he would have to respect that, something seemed to click.
- Don’t be pushed past your limit. It’s easier for me to tell my family that they’re stepping over the line than it is a stranger. However, stress is not good for you or your growing baby, so sometimes you have to put your foot down. I’ve found that the easiest way to diffuse a rant of unsolicited advice is to express that you appreciate their advice, but you have it under control. You may have to interrupt them mid sentence and if that doesn’t work, just walk away and say absolutely nothing. If it’s a friend, they’ll eventually appreciate the argument prevention and if it’s a stranger, you’re not to likely to run into them again. And if you do, I highly doubt they’ll go for round 2!
- Take it all in…with a grain of salt. Sometimes unsolicited advice can actually be good, but we often have our guard up so high from all of the bad advice that we shut it all out completely. Try to give the advice donor the benefit of the doubt, take what you want and leave what you don’t. In the end, you may learn more than you realize.
While I’m writing this in week 33 of my very first pregnancy, I have a feeling I may still feel the same way throughout my little nugget’s life. I hear the unsolicited advice never stops and I know that my mamma bear instincts aren’t going to diminish over time either. The bottom line though? No one knows your baby better than you do. And as long as you’re giving the little lady or gentleman lot’s of love and the necessities of life, there’s no better momma bear out there for your little cub.