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To think that being a parent doesn't necessarily make your parenting advice/opinions good, and not being a parent doesn't necessarily make it bad?

(41 Posts)
HeathcliffMoorland Sat 04-Dec-10 21:18:04

More a what do you think than an AIBU, but...

I have three children. I was having tea the other day with a friend who has two. She was having trouble with her DD's behaviour, and asked me for any ideas I might have.

I suggested something, and she said that she might try it, and that it had already been suggested to her before, but she didn't even consider it, as the person who suggested it has no children. (I wouldn't mind, but friend also asked this person for the advice... hmm)

I thought about this attitude after, and realised that most views I held before parenthood are still the same.

Much of the terrible advice I have received has come from my MIL, and my sister (who, after TTC for years finally is pregnant!!) has had many pearls of wisdom.

treetrunkthighs Sat 04-Dec-10 21:24:16

ALL advice should be taken with a pinch of salt.

If you asked me for advice on travelling on the Eurostar for example, which I have never done, I might offer some pearls of wisdom that I have heard from others, picked up from telly etc but you would be more than entitled to ignore anything I said.

I guess I would tend to agree with your friend.

MsKalo Sat 04-Dec-10 21:25:26

I can understand what you are saying but I do think that as someone who has kids, I may, in a lot of Instances think - if someone without kids gave me advice - well, what do you know?!
Although I have a lot of the same views I had before I had kids, things do change and I don't think that someone without kids can really feel or know how it is with kids... Sorry, a bit rambly, but you get my drift...

Firawla Sat 04-Dec-10 21:26:07

I think yanbu, some people without children have excellent advice and know children very well, especially if they work with children, and as for people who have children well most people do and the advice can vary hugely from great to crap, so best not to generalise. Why did she ask them for advice if she wasnt interested, or wouldnt accept cos she doesnt have dc? but i do think unsolicited advice from people without children is annoying, especially if its clueless advice and along the lines of "oh my child would never do that, my child would never be naughty or watch tv" type of unrealistic bragging type thing. then again unsolicited advice from other parents is not too great either

HeathcliffMoorland Sat 04-Dec-10 21:27:35

How true about the unsolicited advice! grin

fluffles Sat 04-Dec-10 21:31:03

i think a lot of parenting problems come from the emotional guilt that all parents seem to be injected with on conception smile

some advice from non-parents isn't so useful because it doesn't take account of this, on the other hand, sometimes it is better to listen to somebody who has experience with children without the attached emotional guilt (teachers, nannies, youth workers).

AgentZigzag Sat 04-Dec-10 21:31:51

I had no idea about anything to do with children before I had them, I just wasn't interested at all.

It must be different depending on who it is, but there's so much you can only understand by knowing how it feels.

The pressure of a demanding toddler, endless sleepless nights and still having to be on the ball to see to the DC, how you feel when your DC are laying on the floor screaming in the supermarket are all things I don't think you can advise on until you've experienced them.

Anyone can say whatever advice they like, but it's up to the person as to whether they take it or not.

So I have to say, in a nice way, that YABU.

MrsTittleMouse Sat 04-Dec-10 21:33:35

Well, yes... but... have you not read all the threads on here about "stuff I thought I'd never do as a parent"?

I was going to exercise all throughout my pregnancies, eat healthily to nourish the baby, and never use television as a babysitter.

But of course what actually happened was that I had morning sickness so I ate what I could actually stomach (a fortnight surviving on rice krispy squares, anyone?), I had SPD and could barely walk, and I felt so awful that I was grateful to park my toddler in front of cbeebies so that I could lie down on the sofa for an hour (or two).

MrsTittleMouse Sat 04-Dec-10 21:38:00

Whoops, hit send too fast.

So I would take advice from a non-parent with a pinch of salt, because they don't have any way of knowing how they would actually do it until they are there.

In fact, that's one of the lessons that DH and I have learned in life, you never know what you'll do in someone else's situation. Even other parents have never parented our children. Which is why we had a good friend look at us bemused when we told her that we had a firmly established routine for DD1. But DD1 still wouldn't sleep. Now we have DD2, we look at each other and comment that this is what all the bedtime-routine people have been talking about. The child is comforted by the routine and goes to sleep easily. Not bloody DD1 though!

Mumwithadragontattoo Sat 04-Dec-10 22:41:16

Advice from non-parents is less likely to be tried and tested. I would take the advice of a non-parent who has experience with children seriously. But otherwise I would probably disregard it.

nameymcnamechange Sat 04-Dec-10 22:43:51


I have seen some (what I consider to be) appalling parenting advice on this very forum.

TrillianAstra Sat 04-Dec-10 22:48:21

I have read lots and lots of Mumsnet so of course my non-parent advice is wonderful! grin

popelle Sat 04-Dec-10 22:50:20

YANBU I don't get how some people think that people suddenly go from knowing nothing about parenting to being fountains of knowledge just by having a child

BluTac Sat 04-Dec-10 22:55:13

Advice from non-parents (imo) seems to be along the lines of "well I would put a stop to that", "she wouldn't get away with that if she was mine" etc. Which is all easy to say if you haven't got children of your own.

Maisiethemorningsidecat Sat 04-Dec-10 22:55:40

I guess it depends on the individual giving the advice. SIL, for example, is the RL equivalent of Karen's sister in the TV show Outnumbered, and I've learned to take her advice with a shovel full of salt whilst nodding and smiling. One of her more memorable nuggets for example, is that brothers and sisters really shouldn't share a room because "incest is far more common than you think - and don't laugh, Maisie, it's true". We were talking about children btw.

Otoh I have friends who have experience of working with children and young people, and I tend to listen very carefully to them.

YankNCock Sat 04-Dec-10 22:56:20

Now that I actually have DS, it's just the tip of the iceberg in realising all the things I don't know/never thought about.

I had a pregnancy much like MrsTittleMouse and that taught me very quickly not to assume anything would EVER go the way I thought. Anything I do right is probably luck (if you are smug about it, it comes back to bite you in the arse).

I can't decide if YABU or not.

AgentZigzag Sat 04-Dec-10 22:56:22

Some things have a 'formula' to solving them, but other things you just want to hear that you're not on your own, there is an end to the torture, and how the other person dealt with it.

I'm not a parenting fountain of knowledge, but I can sympathise with another parent and give them a hug when they're about to spontaneously combust.

ReindeerBollocks Sat 04-Dec-10 22:58:18

Some people without children can see the situation more clearly as they don't carry the emotional guilt of parenthood, so I wouldn't rule out advice from a childless friend.

But, if it's a specific issue, I'd want opinions from both sets of friends, childless and parent friends, just to get as many ideas as possible. Plus, people who have been in similar situations have often got good advice or suggestions as they've probably tried them all.

This site is a perfect example of both types. It has amazing childless people, who offer clear practical parenting advice, and parents who have equally good suggestions.

TattytinsellooksDevine Sat 04-Dec-10 22:59:26

Advice about anything you dont either have first hand experience of or a qualification in has to be worded carefully, I think, to sound evidence based (in fact ideally it would be evidence based if its not anecdotal!) and that goes for anything, not just parenting stuff.

However, what annoyed me as a childless person back when I was one, (I now have 2 children) was that friends who were parents would actively engage me in conversation about children (to the extent of being boring sometimes - certainly one set of friends anyway) yet if you dared to give your preference or aspiration or view on it, you got scorn poured on you because you didn't have children.

A lot of my aspirations, philosophies, ideas, preferences, etc on children, child raring, baby care etc were done exactly as I said they would be done when asked before having kids. I was never one of those "i'll never give a dummy" type parents, mind - it was all pretty realistic, so it used to really give me the irates.

As for the OP and the situation you describe - just goes to show, people do close of their mind, but if the actual bit of advice regardless of who delivered it really "rang true" or grabbed her as a feasible solution, she probably would have tried it anyway. As it turns out its one that doesn't so much, but now she keeps hearing it she's gettingn round to considering it more.

ontariomama Sat 04-Dec-10 23:02:36

A few things popped to mind here... I think it is best to ask advice from someone who handles their problems skillfully, regardless of their kid/no kid status. There are plenty of parents doing a great job, and just as many raising little shits. And they all seem ready to hand out advice : ) Also careful when someone asks for advice, as often they are asking for a ear, some sympathy, and a confirmation that they are not bad people, which is fine, but they are not really looking to be advised.

saffy85 Sun 05-Dec-10 00:03:42

YANBU. DP'S aunt has 8 kids. Would I take advice from her about child rearing due to her masses of experience? Not if my life depended on it! Only one of her DC (ages 33 to 14) has turned into a happy and functional person. That DC was raised by DP's granny hmm the rest? God where do I start?

On the flip side, SIL has no DC as of yet and while she doesn't dole out advice as such she talks sense as opposed to the utter cobblers her aunty comes out with.

colditz Sun 05-Dec-10 00:10:07

When it comes to toddlers, you cannot go wrong by listening to a dog trainer.

colditz Sun 05-Dec-10 00:11:17

Generally, I take parenting advice from people whose children are better behaved and happier than mine.

edam Sun 05-Dec-10 00:16:46

Colditz, you do have a point, but I think the NSPCC might object if I tried a choke chain on ds. Or put him in a crate. grin

Advice from people who have a lot of experience of working with children but none of their own can be a little, um, unrealistic. Generations of mothers were right when they said 'it's different when it's your own'. As my sister, formerly a gold-winning medallist in the sensible, efficient, fun nanny stakes would admit. Her dd has her outfoxed three times before breakfast most days...

edam Sun 05-Dec-10 00:19:22

Btw, my sister's last nanny job was sole charge of four children, a 6yo, a 4yo with SNs, and 18 month old twins. For a long haul air hostess who was regularly away for three to four nights. My sister made this look like very straightforward indeed - yet give her just ONE child of her own and she's just as bewildered as the rest of us.

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