There are a lot of things expectant dads can be short on. Time. Money. Baby name ideas. But the one thing no expectant dad is short on?
Young or old, parent or non-parent, married or single, rich or poor, everyone has advice to share with expectant parents and plenty of it. Some of it sounds great and is actually insane. Some of it sounds insane and is actually great. Some of it both sounds like and is actually flat out insane.
Pregnant couple smiling When we were expecting our first (and second and third) baby, I heard all of the above. I was advised on the best ways to put your babies on a schedule (many nice, but insane theories), how to soothe babies (including an insane, but great method), and how turning babies heels over head three times in a row resets their internal clocks so they’ll sleep when you do (sounds insane and is, well, insane).
There has been advice and suggestions regarding the best diapers, formulas, pacifiers, cribs, high chairs, car seats, toys, monitors, strollers, baby foods, outfits, and breast pumps. (Okay, so maybe nobody gave me advice on pump options.)
However, there was one thing nobody shared with me when I was an expectant dad.
I don’t recall one person not passing along any advice to me. (To be fair, there are a lot of things about being an expectant dad that I don’t recall. It was a blur, and parenthood is murder on the memory banks.)
For better and for worse, it seems like there is a very well-intentioned compulsion that people have to share their best advice with expectant parents. It’s wonderful… and sometimes exhausting. I like to think of myself as a friendly, quip-full guy, but I’ve run out of clever ways to graciously accept “Pro Tips” from amateurs.
Again, to be fair, I consider myself a parenting amateur. Actually, I pretty much consider everyone to be a parenting amateur. We’re all figuring this thing out, and we all have very unique children. One thing I’ve learned about parenting after having three kids is that even advice gleaned from my own experience with one of my own children can be completely ineffective when applied to one of my other children.
What am I saying? Advice isn’t one-size-fits-all, and you know what? That’s okay, and it doesn’t mean that all advice is bad and/or ought to be rejected.
The nice thing about realizing that a large portion of parenting advice people give you isn’t going to apply to your life is that it allows you the opportunity to see the real value of advice. You see, my theory is that people share advice because they care, and not because they think you—as the expectant parent—are incompetent or incapable of being a parent. I believe it’s quite likely that it simply means they’re interested in helping your parenting experience be a little less bumpy.
So, while I personally am formulating a line of non-advice one-liners to drop on expectant parents, I am no longer going to be bothered by people passing their advice along to me.
And my advice to you? Next time someone passes along their best tip, lay it away for a rainy day. You never know when it might prove to actually be handy, and you just might make a good friend who’ll be there to walk alongside you as you venture into parenthood.
Book cover for “Expectant Parents”Oh, and while you’re at it, stay tuned for a brand new iPad app from Focus on the Family called “Expectant Parents.” It won’t solve all your problems (especially since it isn’t out quite yet), but it’s not meant for that. What it is meant for, though, is to be there for you when you have questions. To come alongside and encourage you on your journey of parenthood.
You know, like a good friend. Except digital… and slightly less good at hugs.
(The book version is much better at hugs. Don’t ask me how.)