When I was pregnant, I worked with immune-comprised and very frail seniors. As a recreation therapist, I worked closely with my clients before my pregnancy. However, once I was pregnant, I had to be extra careful for exposure to shingles or pneumonia. Just when I thought I was getting the hang of it, the whole H1N1 scare of 2009 happened. When my OB recommended that I get the H1N1 vaccine because I was pregnant and because of the population I worked with, I came home to talk it over with my husband. While we were making dinner, we were talking about it casually in between chopping peppers and mincing garlic. We trusted our OB immensely and decided that I should go ahead and have the vaccine, just to be safe. Decision made, all done. Well, almost. The phone happened to ring, and it was my mother-in-law just calling to say hi.

My husband happened to casually mention to her what we were talking about it and all hell broke loose. Apparently, she had quite a strong opinion about me getting the vaccine and didn’t mince too many words when giving her opinion (that we hadn’t asked for). That brief interaction damaged our relationship for some time, and my husband and I learned our first major parenthood lesson: everyone has an opinion, and will give it to you even if you don’t ask for it.

Now, I find myself easily shrugging off random comments or advice that I get. Some days it is easier than others. However, if (when) you find yourself inundated with opinions on everything from pregnancy vaccinations to breastfeeding, naptimes to weaning, you can feel more confident by remembering just a few things.

Make the decision, and then let it go.

My husband and I make a conscious effort to work as a team. We make decisions together, with the best information we have, and then we let it go. Second guessing our decisions just stresses us out and we have found that we are not good parents when we are stressed and afraid to make a simple, or hard, decision. So even if the well-intentioned lady at Target mentions to me that the organic bananas are healthier for my baby, I know that my husband and I already committed to regular bananas. Thank you for your opinion, random lady at Target, but I know where I stand on bananas.

In one ear, and out the other.

You will be amazed at how brazen people approach you with their thoughts and dissertations on your parenting choices. In-laws to strangers – they will find you and let you know what they think about how your child is behaving, how your child should no longer be using a bottle, and how your child isn’t sleeping through the night because you baby him. It’s enough to make you crazy, but I simply no longer give them the power to do so. I’m good at making myself crazy about plenty of other things, so I certainly do not need additional help. Smile, tell the in-law/crazy stranger/other mom at playgroup that you will take that tidbit of information into consideration, and then let it fly right out of your brain. You have too much other important stuff to worry about than if your neighbor thinks you should not be running around the block so close to giving birth.
It’s not just you.

I thought that all the unsolicited advice and opinions were just happening to me because I must be the absolute worst mother on earth and everyone could see it. However, when my best girlfriends started telling me that they also got opinions from anyone and everyone, I started to feel better. You’re not the only one who is being told that you should vaccinate/not vaccinate or buy organic/not buy organic. I bet there are at least 10 moms being accosted in Target right now about the type of wipe they are buying. You are in good company.

Here’s what it comes down to, Mama. You are the Mama, and you know best. You have the gut feeling that leads your parenting decisions and you know your child much better than a stranger or than your in-laws. And you are doing a good job. Carry on.

About This Blogger: Haley Burress

haley-burressHaley Burress is the proud Mama of Jackson, a 4 year old who was conceived after 4 years of injections, procedures, and more early morning internal ultrasounds than she cares to count. She spends her time writing for parents and educators while her son is at preschool or napping. Haley lives in the northwest Chicago suburbs with her (handsome) Principal husband, son, and a fish named Blue that somehow has not died in the past year. She’s a Christian, an introvert, and a wanna-be yogi. You can usually find her reading a good book, dancing in the kitchen while cooking dinner, falling on her face while attempting crow pose on her yoga mat, and hiding in the bathroom eating a brownie so she doesn’t have to share.