Because people will definitely offer it up. And most of it will suck.
I was at a baby shower this weekend where the poor, naive pregnant lady asked guests to provide a piece of advice with their gifts. Thankfully, most of the older, experienced women in the room stuck to solid, sweet advice like making sure to take the time to appreciate your children because they grow so quickly. And, inevitably someone offered up the nice-but-useless cliche of sleeping when your baby sleeps (right, because the laundry is going to do itself?). One woman said it was important as the mother of a daughter to recognize that it's your main job to raise a strong, confident girl. Which is actually a rare bit of good advice.
And then someone went on an anti-co-sleeping rant.* Because you know that the minute you let one of those nefarious, bed-stealing midgets sleep with you once, they'll be hogging your blankets and ruining your sex-life until they move out. One weak moment of sleep-deprived, baby-smell-drunken laziness that you'll regret for the rest of your life.
When my turn came, I dredged my brain for something decent to say and came up pretty dry. Especially for something that was acceptable to say in polite company. I tend to think that most of my best parenting advice necessarily involves swearing and/or off-colour humour. Two things that have generally defined parenting-survival for me. Bon mots such as:
- Breastfeeding: when in doubt, haul it out. If the boobs don't fix the problem, then start looking for other solutions.
- If you're happy/healthy and your kid is happy/healthy then stick with whatever is working. Ignore any asshole (even the well-intentioned ones) who tries to tell you that you're doing it wrong. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
- If what you're doing isn't working, try something else until you find something that does work.
- Kids are ever-changing weirdos, what works one week may not work the next. It's not you - it's them.
- If someone is trying to make you feel bad about doing what's working for you/your kid, tell them to fuck off and get their self-esteem from sources other than putting you down.
- If someone tries to tell you that if you do X now, you'll be forced to do X forever and ever, they're a fucking liar. As a parent, you never have to do anything - you're in charge. Do something if/when it works for both of you; stop when it no longer does. This applies to breastfeeding, weaning, co-sleeping, baby-wearing, sleep-training, potty-training etc, etc.
I may have gotten a little teary.
It stopped when the next person mentioned the importance of getting kids on a schedule early.
*The best part of her rant, which I only later realized, was the fact that I don't think that this woman had any kids. She was apparently just commenting on her experience as a child whose parents apparently never bothered to kick her out of their bed. Maybe all this time we've been missing out on critical research involving the perspectives of children who regret that their parents let them co-sleep. I want to see someone get funding for that.