Tip for anyone planning to offer some well-meaning parenting advice to a stranger: Just don't

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August 17, 2018 03:32 PM

With such a wide range of parenting methods being touted in studies and in the media, new parents often welcome the advice of trusted friends or family members when it comes to caring for their baby. But unless it’s sought out, even the most well-intentioned suggestions (i.e., “I think your baby’s hungry!”) can be exasperating and feel like an attack on your parenting. This is particularly true when it’s not your overindulgent mother-in-law but a stranger on the bus, or in line at the grocery store, who suddenly believes — and is determined to let you know — that they are an expert on your child’s needs. 

And where better to fume over these bizarre and frustrating encounters than to other strangers on the Internet? From Reddit threads to Instagram comments to discussion forums on the UK site Mumsnet, real parents reveal the worst or most ridiculous parenting advice they’ve ever received from a stranger.

“I’ve been told not to hold my baby or tend to his needs when he is crying. I asked if they just meant when he got kind of fussy when he gets tired, and they said no. They meant anytime he cries about anything, let him cry it out. They said this would make the baby realize that we had to work around my schedule and it would make him less needy. “

“You shouldn’t put your daughter in [insert any color that isn’t head-to-toe pink], how will people know she’s a girl?”

“When my son was little he had some crazy mystery eye issues (think swollen shut, pus-filled lumps, etc.). We tried so many different medications/drops/creams/etc. The amount of people that said ‘Have you taken him to the doctors’ was insane! I felt like saying, No, is that a thing I should do?”

“If you cut the crust off their sandwiches, they’ll never function in the real world.”

“I got yelled at — yelled at! — because my daughter’s hair was in her eyes. Some guy said to me, ‘She is going to be blind in that eye!!!’ Dude! It was only in her face because she wouldn’t let me put a barrette in it. Calm down.”

“Being told by a woman serving in a fish and chips food truck that I was ‘damaging my children’s career prospects by home schooling them.'”

“I can’t post a f—— photo of my kid without someone giving me some [advice]. Baby in the kiddie pool? ‘Make sure her head stays above water!’ Baby petting the cat while obviously supervised? ‘Don’t let the cat scratch her!’ Baby playing with some ribbon? ‘Don’t let her wrap that around her neck!’ I didn’t just wander into a hospital and get the surprise of my life when a baby came out of me. I’m not an idiot.”

“‘Sleep when the baby sleeps.’ I literally can’t sleep during the day unless I’m sick. And when do I do everything else? Shower when the baby showers? Cook when the baby cooks?”

“I was told my son might be transgendered because he likes the way his sister’s dress feels when he wears it. The advice I got was that I should start him on hormones immediately. He’s 7.”

“‘You shouldn’t speak to him in your native language. He will get confused.’ I get so much advice from monolingual English speakers about raising a multilingual child and… no.”

“To not reproduce because the child could not consent to being put into this world.”

“You should only give your kids coloring books, never blank sheets of paper, because deciding what to draw is too overwhelming for children.”

“Don’t let them read storybooks, because they can’t distinguish between fiction and reality.”

“Put a bunch of empty boxes under the Christmas tree and when the kid acts up, just throw a box into the fire.”

“A woman raised her voice and said that it was hot outside and I should be giving my infant WATER in a baby bottle. I tried to explain that water can kill an infant. She kept insisting that when it’s hot, babies needed water instead of breastmilk.”
“When I was complaining about my newly teething, still-nursing baby chomping down on my nips, someone suggested I ‘just bite him back. Grab his hand and give him a bite, enough to scare him. It’s the only way he’ll learn that biting hurts.’ Baby was 6 months old.”

“My frustrations were mostly with this [visiting nurse] who would trot out advice without using her brain. She’d say things like, ‘When are you planning on putting the baby in her own room? 6 months is a good time’ while standing in our one bedroom apartment.”

“It’s okay to drive without a car seat. It’s only a few blocks down the road. They’ll be fine.”

“Conditioning kids is often similar to training pets.”

“When you’re super pregnant and nearing your due date, people say, ‘Oh, get all the sleep you can now, because you won’t get any later.’ It’s annoying because it’s true and I’m cranky about it because I’m sleep deprived!”

“When I was pregnant with my son, a lady who was checking me out at Goodwill said that I should let him cry for at least 20 minutes every time he cried so he would learn not to be demanding immediately. She also said I shouldn’t hold him very much or give him any cuddles so he could be more independent for comfort.”

“I was at the doctor’s office and had to bring my 15-month-old twins with me. In preparation for having to wait a while and wanting to be considerate of others, I packed the diaper bag full of endless snacks and sippy cups. Sure enough five minutes in the twins lose their minds, so I instantly start giving them snacks and also walking back and forth in the back area of the very large waiting room… Eventually a cranky old lady decides to weigh in on my parenting. ‘Oh my God, you have got to stop walking up and down, you’re making me dizzy,’ she said. ‘Also you really shouldn’t be feeding them that much, just SIT DOWN and they will relax too. Watching toddlers really shouldn’t be that hard, hon.’ I take her advice and sit down. Right next to her. Tons of empty seats everywhere by the way. Instantly they start screaming their heads off and what do I do? I pull out my book and start reading. Within five minutes she is looking like she is about to snap and suggests they might want a snack. To which I calmly respond, ‘Nah, I really shouldn’t be feeding them that much’ and turn the page of my book.”

Stories have been edited for length and clarity.

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