We're first time parents to a wonderful healthy boy, who has just turned one. We're blessed to have four awesome Grandparents for him and for that we are very grateful.

However, from time to time, we will get persistent and unsolicited (although well-meaning) advice on how to raise how our son. Typically, these will involve things that were big for parents of the 70s (when my wife and I were being raised!), but for whatever reason isn't so popular now.

As an example for the past few days, my mother has been offering to bring over some custard for our son, because he hasn't been eating so well. (for some background, he has a slight cold, ironically probably contracted FROM my mother!) When we raised objections to store bought custard, the suggestion was switched to home-made custard, to rice based milk puddings, etc etc. None of which we have any particular problem with, it's just the principle of the thing!

So today I phoned my mother, and in the politest possible way, tried to decline the offer, which resulted in a stressful conversation where I had to defend why we we are anti-custard! We're not, I assure you.

Should we have just buckled and given in on the offer? How have you approached these situations?

asked 16 Oct '09, 00:15

Scott%20Ferguson's gravatar image

Scott Ferguson
accept rate: 0%

edited 07 Jun '10, 12:50

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Tammy ♦♦

I love all of the approaches on this page so far (to date, that's: mkcoehoorn, dreamerisme, and mouviciel) and I'll be stealing many of these ideas for future use :)

For us, we've opted for the smile and nod approach. We've gotten gifts and help that we didn't want but we tried to act grateful through gritted teeth. Still, no one can make insignificant stuff so infuriating like family can.

For the most part our family is ok but we have friends who are full of extreme advice that they are all too willing to dispense. All is well meaning but a great deal is entirely without basis. We try hard (with varying degrees of success) to smile and nod even though we roll our eyes behind closed doors.

However, one important thing I have to remind myself of: the people who are often wrong are sometimes right, even if by accident. The custard experience may not merit an introspective pride-swallowing look into the other person's point of view but some advice is. For instance, recently our friends had certain extreme medical advise that sounded totally off. We looked into it and found that even though they were off and the reasons were all wrong, there coincidentally happened to be some truth to the advice about what one should do. We never would have discovered this if we had discounted the possibility just because these people were wrong about their reasons.


answered 16 Oct '09, 15:13

Dinah's gravatar image

accept rate: 15%


I agree. All great answers. I accepted yours because it's important to remember that we should be grateful to have other peoples input and viewpoints, and that we shouldn't just discount other peoples point of view just because it's different to our own. Knowledge is power. :)

(17 Oct '09, 03:04) Scott Ferguson

For the most part, we smile and nod and then say we'll keep the suggestion in mind, but we are going to try another method first. My mother-in-law was adamant that we needed to do something about my daughter's cradle cap - to the point that my daughter would come home from her grandparents' house with baby oil in her hair because that is what grandma insisted was the best way to deal with it. When she talked to me about it, I just said that the doctor told me not to worry about it because she would grow out of it. Over time, grandma backed off.

Pick your battles. What topics are you firm on and which can you give a little on? If it's something not as important, maybe you could give a little so that when you do stand your ground, grandma doesn't feel like you are always opposing her. If you have a medical reason for not doing something, say that your doctor suggested such-and-such and stand your ground.


answered 16 Oct '09, 02:30

mkcoehoorn's gravatar image

accept rate: 8%

We anticipated this question by having a conversation before our first baby was born. We explained that we are the parents and only we decide how our children are raised. Both education and medicine have progressed since they were young parents and the world has changed as well.

As a counterpart we also made clear that though we decide when children are at home, they get full freedom when children are in their house. We appreciate that our children are exposed to various educational models.


answered 16 Oct '09, 08:39

mouviciel's gravatar image

accept rate: 7%

We got a lot of advice when ours was first born, a lot of which is what parents were told 25 years ago that has been changed, reversed, switched, etc.

What helped me was a moment when grandad mentioned something he recognised as silly from when my wife and I were kids, and I pounced on the opportunity to joke about those 'crazy, savage times' over 'a quarter of a century ago'. We had a good laugh at making them feel old (luckily, they are amenable to a good ribbing) and we found the advice was a lot easier to refuse after that... and usually prefaced with "I don't know about now, but when you were young..." It made things much easier to cherry pick and say "oh, we might try that" or "that's not really advised now."


answered 17 Oct '09, 17:13

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pete the pagan-gerbil
accept rate: 5%


I'm intrigued... what was the silly advice?

(17 Oct '09, 17:39) Scott ♦♦

I don't actually remember... It may have been that doctors used to suggest pregnant women drink Guinness for the iron!

(17 Oct '09, 19:44) pete the pagan-gerbil

You can always blame your doctor, thats usually the easiest way. The die-hard advice givers will normally back down when presented with your doctors countering opinion. I have often resorted to using the (sometimes fictious) advice of doctors, nutritionists/dieticians, etc when faced with that problem. It helps keep the peace too as you don't appear as negative when its not coming from you.


answered 16 Oct '09, 04:00

dreamerisme's gravatar image

accept rate: 8%


I wonder if you said, "Jon Skeet on Moms4Mom says...", would that convince them? :)

(16 Oct '09, 10:34) Scott ♦♦

"Jon Skeet says..." should be a valid argument for ANYTHING. No citation needed, no argument, case closed :)

(16 Oct '09, 15:05) Dinah

I was not aware of the Jon Skeet cult following - is he not mortal like the rest of us?

(16 Oct '09, 23:37) dreamerisme

@dreamerisme: Yes, he does have a slightly cult-ish following. For instance: http://meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/9134/jon-skeet-facts (forwarded to me by Scott). :-)

(17 Oct '09, 01:50) Tammy ♦♦

My mother is a nurse... I think if I tried to play the medical card I'd be fighting a losing battle! Thanks for the suggestion though, I'm sure it would be useful for someone else in a similar situation. :)

(17 Oct '09, 03:00) Scott Ferguson

Yeah, and I'd have a difficult time keeping a straight face while explaining that my doctor had forbidden custard!

(07 Jan '10, 11:21) Benjol
showing 5 of 6 show 1 more comments

I think it depends on the grandparent in question. With my mom, I will take the time to explain why I make certain decisions, because I know she respects my parenting approach and is genuinely interested in why we make the decisions we do. With my husband's family, we typically smile, nod, and either give away whatever item they gave to us or ignore whatever advice they give. We've also tried the "our child, our parenting approach, please respect that" approach, but I'm not sure it made much difference.

All that to say - it really depends on who you're talking to.


answered 12 Nov '09, 14:31

Fun2Dream's gravatar image

accept rate: 10%

Perhaps the custard incident is a direct result of her giving your boy the cold? Guilt maybe set in and she went over the top.

We take the quiet approach, smile and nod as mentioned already. You could also say that your doctor/midwife suggested x. They should then be understanding that current medical advice is probably better than that of 20+ years ago.

At the end of the day, it's advice - and it's up to you as parents to follow it or not :)

EDIT: the 20+ isn't to suggest under 20's don't have children!


answered 08 Jan '10, 20:43

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Asked: 16 Oct '09, 00:15

Seen: 8,890 times

Last updated: 07 Jun '10, 12:50