Apples and Oranges

I keep coming back to the post I wrote complaining how much I hate parenting advice because…well…I can’t seem to stop asking for and giving parenting advice. After a few weeks to think about it, I’ve realized my problem isn’t so much that people give advice – even if it is preachy, annoying, unsolicited and unwanted – it’s that a huge percentage of the time the advice is not at all helpful. It’s hard enough to go through a difficult stage with a baby, but it’s extra depressing when you hear “Oh we had the same x problem and after we did y it went away!” over and over…only to have it do absolutely nothing for your child. It can be especially difficult if the thing you need advice about is how to get more sleep. It may also lead to totally unnecessary mom-style panicky OMG WHAT IS WRONG WITH MY BABY WHY DOES SHE HATE THIS THING EVERY OTHER BABY LOVES thoughts when the answer is, truly, NOTHING is wrong with your baby. She’s a person. All people are different and like very different things. I mean, I really hate basketball but there are millions of people who practically worship it. There are plenty of fans for both the Dallas Cowboys and the Yankees. A huge percentage of the country actually thinks Sarah Palin is genuine and charming. There are no explanations for these things.

Even my own kids, who are only 20 months apart, are light-years apart when it comes to their likes and dislikes.

Things Caroline loves that Evan disliked or didn’t care about:

– Sleeping

– Lying down and looking at things dangling over her

– Rolling

– Taggies (those blankets with the little bits of ribbon on them)

– Bouncing (as opposed to the vibrating feature on the seat)

– Swinging (as opposed to the gliding option on the swing)

– My singing

– Chewing on things

– Her feet

– Watching the people on TV

– White noise

– Toys meant for infants

Things Evan loved that Caroline dislikes or doesn’t care about:

– Being worn (saddest realization EVER for this carrier addicted mama – I’m hoping when she’s a little older she’ll learn to like it)

– The dog

– Swaddles

– Nursing every 30 minutes

…and I can’t think of anything else, because a) It was a long time ago and b) Evan liked a LOT less stuff. He was a much more difficult baby just in general – another major difference that can’t be changed or cured with any sort of advice. And that list is just the stuff I’ve noticed during Caroline’s first 4 months. I can’t even imagine how different they’ll continue to be as she gets a personality and hits more milestones.

So, there, THAT’S my advice on advice.

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6 Responses to “Apples and Oranges”

  1. Brigid Keely says:

    I tutor a woman in Adult Basic Education math (we’re on pre-algebra, still) and sometimes instead of doing math we chat (she is ESL and likes working on her conversational English, too). Our last session we had a talk about child birth. She has 3 kids, and her first one was a C-Section, and she said she didn’t “feel like a woman” until her second kid… which was a vaginal birth. And she pressured me to 1) get pregnant again (because I’m getting OLLLLLLLLLD) and 2) to walk a lot to avoid another C-Section. I do not have a car. If I go someplace, I walk/bus it. I did a lot of walking with my last pregnancy.

    After our session was over we moseyed on out, where she cornered a pregnant woman and started giving her WALK WAAALLLLLLLLLK WALK!!! advice. At which point the woman revealed that she already had 2 kids and was on top of things, thanks.

    There’s advice that people WANT and there’s advice that’s INFLICTED UPON PEOPLE. I get that people love to share their OMG SO IMPORTANT LIFE CHANGING SOLUTIONS but when it turns into proselytizing? Lay off.

  2. Robyn says:

    i think it’s just human nature to want to give/get advice sometimes. i have learned to only ask for adivce from people who i know share my child rearing views though, and most of the time all i’m really looking for is someone to tell me what i was already thinking of doing, just so i have some validation. can’t stop myself from giving advice though, at least i have cut it back some. it’s hard though. i think for the advice giver, it’s a way to re-live some of the experience the first time around, and that’s probably why we do. i just couldn’t help myself from recommending the pregnancy/baby books i loved to my co-worker who just told me she’s prego. it brought me right back to when i was pregnant, and sharing those books with her was a way for me to get to enjoy my memories again (with rose colored glasses, of course).

  3. This makes me laugh just picturing them and their little baby likes and dislikes. There is SO much truth to what you’re saying. Just look at baby gear. I can’t tell you how many times the you-just-got-to-have-one thing for us was someone else’s why-did-i-pay-money-for-this-usually-pile-of-crap. And I’ve learned to not to say that something else was terrible cause someone else will have LOVED it. For instance Bumbo chairs. They sell alot of those things! Someone must love them, right?

  4. Darcy says:

    SERIOUSLY. I feel the same. If it were helpful, maybe I wouldn’t be so ‘meh’ about it :-)!

    That is so cute about your two babies….how different they are! I can’t wait for number 2. Although my babe is only 6 months old yet, I still think forward hahaha…

  5. Sarah-Anne says:

    great advice, mama! your kiddos are just fine. :)

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