In Defense of Unsolicited Advice
It’s pretty vogue these days in the blogging world to write rant-blogs on the unsolicited advice often received by parents of small children. Spew some annoyance in a witty way and everyone cheers via clicks and “likes” and feels vengeful towards the culprits. It’s equally popular to write blog posts about the hardships of parenting, some of which assure you that you are not a bad parent. These posts will circulate quickly and wildly, according to the relief tired parents feel upon reading them.
It’s nice that the Internet can provide some solace and camaraderie for exhausted parents who might possibly be worn out from the perceived expectations of a post-Pinterest world. But maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to jump on the rant-wagon. Here are some things to consider:
1. Parenting is hard, period. But no anonymous blogger can assure me I am a good parent. Yes, there is grace (lots of grace) in this parenting process but there should also be difficult, reflective crossroads–times when you have to admit you are being lazy, taking unwise shortcuts, or need to re-evaluate your action plan rather than plowing on heedlessly.
2. Unsolicited advice is annoying, but you never know when God just might use it, if you are willing. God approached Balaam with wisdom through his donkey, of all places. I know of few of us who are going to seek advice when we need a major overhaul of our attitude or approach to some aspect of parenting. That’s the last thing we want to hear. And yet, there are many aspects of parenting (especially when the kids are young) that do not come naturally; we must learn how to parent appropriately. For example, avoiding all toddler tantrums with food and appeasement will turn your sweet tot into a tiny version of the Hulk very quickly when the the world inevitably does not revolve around him or her. Yet this is an easy trap to fall into if you aren’t warned. Early parenting is full of pitfalls like this; nuggets of wisdom you aren’t always going to innately possess. No one likes to be told something they don’t know; we hate that. But those directives could be the realignment we really desperately need.
3. Our nature is to resist correction; the Bible warns us repeatedly to heed correction. Proverbs makes this point almost ad nauseum. Considering Solomon was the resident wisdom-specialist, it seems to be something he didn’t want us to miss. Obviously, we should not take every criticism to heart and let it define us, but we should sift it to see if there is any truth to be gleaned, especially truth we may not want to hear. Often the things we want to hear the least are the items we are deeply afraid of addressing in ourselves, our habits, our character. We are better off to face that fear and assess it, deal with it, consider the changes God would have us make, than to vent our wrath on the speaker of truth.
Next time you get some unsolicited advice, smile and nod. Instead of ranting to your spouse, Facebook, and the blogosphere, take a few moments to pray, sift, and honestly evaluate. You never know who might be the donkey in your path.