How To Handle Unwanted Parenting Advice

Ahhhhh, the burden of catering to others’ needs when all you really want is to be with your kids! It’s bad enough that your ex gets to weigh in on what you’re doing, now you’re getting unwanted child-rearing opinions from complete strangers, or your friends, or even a new lover! How’s a guy to handle unwanted parenting advice when guys - yes, you guys - know exactly how to take care of kids!?!

It’s like this… easy as getting the ingredients together to make a pie (ok, maybe I’m getting ahead of myself): 

1)  The more confidence you ooze while being with your kids (no matter what age), the more charming and charismatic you’ll be to other women. Including those women who want to give you advice. Ask yourself, “Are they really giving me advice or merely wanting to be around my manly competence with wrangling this diaper change on a park bench?” 

Confident men can, not only play ball with the kids, manage the grocery shopping, and prepare dinner, they get the kids’ homework done on time and have a full-time career. These men are a good woman’s version of a wet dream.

2)  The more attention you give your kids instead of, you know, ignoring them, the less unwanted glares you’ll get from others. This is what we, on the outside of your relationship see (and don’t like): we see a Dad who’s supposed to be playing with his kids, or overseeing their homework, or taking them out to dinner but who is staring at his cell phone, talking on his cell phone or texting instead of doing what he’s supposed to be doing. 

This teaches your children that they’re not important. And we hate that. The biggest gift anyone of us can give to another human being (Okay, this is me on a soapbox but it’s truly a biggie!) is the gift of generosity. Generosity looks like listening to others, really seeing another human being and being present when we’re with each other. If we, on the outside, see you, Super Dad as being generous… not on the cell phone, not texting but talking and laughing and listening to your family and friends, we won’t have anything to say!

But you’re thinking, “My kids are on their phones all the time! They don’t want to talk with me.” Well, hello… who did they learn that from? Which brings me to the third ingredient.

3)  Figuring out what’s really going on inside that little being. When the energy between a parent and a child is safe, a child is less likely to act out or jostle for attention. So pay attention to your child, not the cute woman down the street! You see, your children are exactly like you with less life experience - they’re trying to make sense out this new life circumstance they didn’t ask for, they’re working through all their bodily changes and hormones and their attraction to the other sex, they’re trying to master Algebra and apply for summer jobs or college. They’re working through the best way to swing a bat or do an Arabesque. Just because they’re small in size or less experienced doesn’t mean, there’s not a whole lot going on on the inside!

When a child feels as if they’re the most important thing in their father’s eyes in that moment, they will be able to relax and learn to trust you. We live in a hostile world (at least to a little person) your role is to provide safety and security to your offspring, and during a divorce, no one feels safe! So for those times, you’re with your children, let them be your everything! They will relish your attention and want to show up well to win your approval and appreciation!

(And here’s a little secret… we notice!) Especially women. There’s nothing more appealing than a beautiful man ignoring a beautiful woman and focusing on his offspring. It taps into all our primal attraction stuff. So, if you want a beautiful woman to notice you in a restaurant or on the street or in the park, simply go against your cultural norm of making eye contact and flirting, and instead focus on your kids! She will love it and figure out a way to give you her number. 

So, basically, I’m using my kids to attract a woman? Yep, that’s what’s happening anyway so let’s stop fooling ourselves, and more importantly for this article, you’re avoiding unwanted parental advice!

There’s a balancing act that must be mastered while being a solo parent (or any parent really - doesn’t all this apply to those who are married? Maybe even more so!): How do you manage your marketplace responsibilities with good old fashioned family values without becoming a fanatic totally afraid to color outside the lines!?! 

The rules are not black and white. There will be times you get on your phone having to deal with a crisis at work. Sometimes you can’t help but notice that woman over there and you’re drawn to speak with her, to get her phone number. It happens. You’re human! So how do you ride out those moments and return to homeostasis when that happens?

4) You put your attention back onto your core values. Usually, (at least with my clients) the number #1 core value is being a great parent. So, disengage from this distracting person in a polite and civilized manner. It’s really that simple! You see, we on the outside LOVE seeing good old fashioned manners. We love it when you say things like, “It was great to meet you, but I’m here with my kids” or “Thanks so much for noticing, have a great day!” or to a colleague, “I know you can handle this. Let’s touch base later.” We love it when you treat us the way you would like to be treated in return. We will ooze praise and gush about what a great person you are and how lucky your kids are to have you as a Dad! Seriously.

All of us admire the parent who puts their kids first. This is what we all wanted growing up. It’s what we all strive to do in our own lives. When we see someone else able to demonstrate undivided attention toward children, we’re inspired and in awe. We don’t know how to do it without you showing us (which is why we criticize and give our opinion). It’s that important and on a deep level, you know it too. 

By following these steps basically, you win! You will win the hearts and minds of everyone with whom you come into contact. If you learn these few, simple ingredients for handling unwanted parenting advice, you and your children will grow closer, more trusting and loving toward one another. No one will have to say anything but good things about you, and you won’t have to defend yourself! It’s truly that simple. Doesn’t that feel good? You can let down your guard now.

If this all still seems a bit awkward and unfamiliar, if you’re still wired to the blue tooth in your ear and are afraid to take it out, reach out: laura@laurabonarrigo.com. Let’s turn this around for you!