Q&A: strangers giving unsolicited “helpful” advice on the street

More Moxie “Trusting Your Instincts As a Parent” is starting tomorrow morning. You can still hop in–just click the link on the left sidebar there and sign up!

Now here’s a question that’s far less emotional than yesterday’s topic was. Krys writes:

“It seems like every time I take my daughter–she’s 8 months–out of the house, someone’s giving me advice or telling me I’m doing something wrong. And it’s not even if Ava’s crying. We can be walking along, minding our own business, and someone will cross the street to tell me she should be wearing a hat. Seriously?? I am about to lose it and say something nasty. Is it just me? Maybe some kind of vibe I give off that says I welcome meddling? And is there anything I can say that won’t sound impolite but will shut them up?”

Ha. Haha. Hahahahahaha. I’ve been hating the meddling for 8 years now (since I was pregnant with my older son). You’d think that as an advice columnist I’d be more inclined to give people random advice, but I rarely do (and it’s almost always about physical comfort issues like the straps of a carrier being twisted or something). Maybe I see enough real problems that I don’t need to make things up.

I think at the bottom of it, that’s why people give un solicited advice to strangers–they want to feel important. Which is understandable, because we all want to feel important. Some people just choose better outlets.

At any rate, I completely understand the feeling of just wanting to punch someone in the face when they tell me my kid is underdressed when it’s sweltering outside. And I may, when particularly sleep-deprived, have said some not-so-nice things in response.

But I belive the high road that also cuts people off in their tracks is the classic Miss Manners response, which is to smile with your lips but make your eyes go cold, and say simply, “How kind of you to take an interest.” And then move on. (This also works when people ask when you’re going to have another baby.) Even if the other person doesn’t immediately realize how presumptuous they’ve been, there’s still not much they can say in reply.

Can everyone please share the most ridiculous or horrifying thing someone’s said to them on the street with their child? Mine was the time I was pushing my older son in the stroller, hugely pregnant, and some lady *chased me down the block* to tell me my son was picking his nose. “Ma’am, he’s 3,” is all I said. I’m still proud of my restraint.

Now you go.

0 thoughts on “Q&A: strangers giving unsolicited “helpful” advice on the street”

  1. My nearly two-old was throwing a tantrum in a store while I was hugely pregnant. I put her in time out in the store because she’d slapped my hand, and the Clinique woman said to me, “You know, have you ever thought about hitting her?”My jaw dropped and I’m certain I gave some hugely rude response. Turns out I went into labor later that day, so hormones were probably raging, but don’t you think she deserved it?

  2. This just happened yesterday:I was loading my 2 yo and my almost 4 yo into the car in a crowded parking lot on a hot day. My 4 yo climbed in on his side so that he’d be safely in the car but (following my instructions) left the car door ajar so we’d get some air while I buckled my 2 yo in her seat. I was still bent over my daughter when a woman came RUNNING across the parking lot to warn me that my son’s door was open and I shouldn’t drive away until it was closed. WTF?

  3. I will admit that this didn’t happen to me very often–must be that living in the NE phenomenon…When our first child was little, our babysitter, after giving her strawberries for the first time at 9 months, informed us that she really wasn’t worried about allergies for our child, so it was OK.
    I guess this doesn’t qualify as advise, but it still gets my dander up when I think about it. The relationship didn’t continue much longer.

  4. Reading these stories is so funny! I’ve read about this happening in passing around here before, but nothing like this has ever happened to me?!? I wonder if it’s regional, or something? I live in a very rural area of the NE where people are quite standoffish to begin with … Anyway, I’ll be reading for appropriately withering comebacks in case it ever does happen!

  5. Two stick in my mind as especially bad:once, when my daughter was about a year, we were on an epic voyage from Aspen to upstate New York. Epic because both my husband and daughter had a violent stomach flu. And then the plane caught fire in Denver so we were re-routed several times through different airlines. At 10 pm, we were in the Philadelphia airport. baby was still awake, but crabby and actually wanting to eat. The only thins to choose from at that time and in that terminal were candy bars and smart corn (why no pretzels? I have no idea). I chose the smart corn. An older woman approached me and Loudly dressed me down, because he husband was a “safety expert” and I was endangering.the.baby’s.life. I was a BAD MOTHER. She.could.choke. Etc etc.
    I thanked her for concern, and then the baby threw up in her general direction.
    Last year, my 1 year old son wore his standard outfit to the YMCA childcare – a t-shirt and diaper. It was August and about 90 degrees. The girl in the childcare room gave me a lecture about indecency and the need for him to wear pants. I spoke to the manager of the Y about that one.
    The boy, incidentally, does not wear pants. Usually a shirt and diaper. Sometimes a dress. I make him wear pants if it’s below 30F. I live in a smallish town and am out and about a lot. Strangers (who know me because I chat people up and then forget them) come up and cheer “W* is wearing pants today! Hooray!” any time he wears pants. It helps that he has an unusual name, so people remember him as the pantsless kid with a funny name. That always startles me, but you know what, if he eventually wears pants because people are reinforcing the behavior, I’ll be pretty excited. That’s a good kind of unsolicited help.

  6. These are too funny. My daughter (now almost two) is from Guatemala. After spending 5 minutes in the sun on the first nice day this year, she automatically turns this wonderful bronze color, and stays that same color all summer (I still lather her up with SPF though). If I hear one more person tell me how “tan” my baby is I might scream. On a cynical day I usually repond with “yes, baby oil is GREAT for getting that dark color. We’re hoping to get a tanning bed at home one day!”

  7. When my son was about 2 months old we discovered he had reflux so I went to Babies R Us to get a wedge for the crib. At the time he was very fussy and I couldn’t really take him anywhere because he would scream if he wasn’t either eating or sleeping in his swing. Well, he was a dream the whole car ride there and the minute we walked into the store he started to lose it. So I gave him a paci and went as fast as I could to find the wedge and get out of there. While I was looking at them trying to decide, a woman came over to me and started at us and then said, boy he’s really going to town on that paci….as if he was starving. I just looked at her and said, he sure is! grabbed my stuff and checked out. I am sure it was new mommy stress and hormones, but I was upset about that for at least a week πŸ™‚

  8. The worse one I have observed (while pregnant)was done by my in-laws to my sister-in-law (their daughter in law, not their daughter). Sister-in-law’s newborn baby was getting cranky, so all the in-laws piped up, one after the other. ‘She’s hungry’, said father-in-law, ‘She’s got wind’, said mother-in-law, ‘She’s too hot’, said childless Great Aunt. ‘No, she’s tired’ said my sister-in-law at which she picked up the baby, who promptly fell asleep. I couldn’t resist chiming in ‘Oh, look at that, mother knows best, she was tired after all’ – pregnancy hormones induced wickedness in me that day!I haven’t had too many comments about what I must/must not do with the baby, but I was told a humdinger about what I must do with my HUSBAND. Husband and I were ferrying a Great Aunt to a family event. Husband took the wrong road, and I said ‘no, we need the other road to X’. Great Aunt then stated, ‘Well Sky, it’s your fault that Husband took the wrong road, if you’d cooked him a proper breakfast it wouldn’t have happened!’. And she was SERIOUS! I picked my jaw up off the floor and replied ‘Well Aunty, I think at 38 he’s old enough to get his own breakfast’ and left it at that. Looking forward to reading all the comments on this one.

  9. My personal favorite, though I rate it as ridiculously funny rather than obnoxious, was when I was standing in line at the supermarket with my two-month-old son SCREAMING in the Bjorn.The woman in front of me asked, “Have you tried a pacifier?”
    To which I shrugged and replied, “Why, yes, I’ve tried five, in fact.”
    A bit taken aback, she wished me “bon courage, alors.”

  10. When I was a nanny, I got this quite a bit. I was the same race as the girls I was nanny for, and people often assumed I was their mother. I eventually settled on a huge smile, and a hearty “I will take that up with the child’s real mother when next I see her!” Then I’d stare at the person until they went away and/or just march off with the kids.Of course, I really wasn’t the girls’ mom, but there’s no reason why someone else couldn’t be substituted, such as the father, the grandmother, or, even mysteriously, “Uncle Bill.”

  11. The one that always sticks in my mind was when I took my daughter, then 3 weeks old to Target for the first time. An elderly lady peeked into her carrier, commented “What a handsome boy” (she was wearing a sleeveless blue dress) and then proceeded to berate me for not dressing the baby warmer. It was freaking July!!!! I didn’t know what to say so I told her I had better get my shopping done so I could get my freezing child home for her nap.

  12. I am from Minnesota and I live in Puerto Rico, where it *never* gets below 75 during the day. More than once I’ve been running with my now 17 month old son in a jogging stroller and it’s started to rain. Sometimes I have the cover and sometimes I don’t. Several times, people have stopped in their cars to tell me to get my baby out of the rain or ask if I want a ride.

  13. These are hillarious.I live in a city of Canadians who consider it rude to make eye contact and cheeky to smile so haven’t really received too much drive-by advice (mostly along the lines of “does he have mittens?”), so maybe that’s where my next comment is coming from.
    But I’m not sure that advice is always intended to raise the importance of the advice-giver. Or to wound the parent. I tend to look at it as a misguided attempt to connect, overall. Or perhaps even an evolutionary trait of the tribe’s alloparents to offer their services.
    I agree that there is NO REASON to take the advice or to feel bad about it, but I’m really not sure it needs to be taken as ill-intent (depends on the situation of course).

  14. I’ve had lots of unsolicited advice since my son was born, but the two most outrageous moments were when I was still pregnant with him.The first was when I was waiting with several other pedestrians for the walk signal at a crosswalk. I was drinking a beverage from Starbucks. A woman said “you know, you really shouldn’t be drinking coffee.” to which I replied “it’s decaf” thinking that would shut her up. But instead she continued to go on about how it’s dehydrating etc etc. Just when I had the nerve to ask if she was board-certified obstetrician, the walk signal lit up, and she was gone.
    The second comment was far funnier though. I was VERY pregnant looking, and wearing a shirt dress on the subway. A man told me I should be wearing pants “in case the baby fell out.”

  15. I have a funny one and a helpful one. Both happened at my local grocery store, where I guess busybodies tend to congregate!The helpful one was that a woman loading her car next to me looked into my car, saw that my car seat wasn’t tethered properly, and (barely stopping to ask my permission) hopped in my car and fixed it for me. At first I thought she was a loon, but she got that thing in there rock-solid, and from that point I’ve been fanatical about proper installation. So I really appreciated that interference!
    The funny one was when I was shopping with my daughter, who was maybe 10 months old, and an old woman came up and said, “Don’t worry, she’ll thin out when she starts running around. And so will you!” (Luckily I had lost a ton of weight from nursing, or I wouldn’t have found it so funny!)

  16. I want to know how you order up a pregnancy where the baby falls out because the way I did it was a lot harder than that. Do you think that man can help me out?My in-laws think that babies should drink water (in all weather but especially hot weather). Tiny, new babies even. Breastfed babies. And they let me know over and over and over again how they believe this. As a first-time mom on vacation with them during a heat wave, I almost lost it on them. But I’m older, wiser, and more assured of my parenting now with Numero Dos. So, on a recent hot day, our family including my 7-month old went to visit and I brought a sippy cup of water. The baby doesn’t know how to drink from the sippy but he chews on the silicone spout because he’s teething or it’s fun, whatever. They just kept going on and on about how thirsty he must be since he drank all afternoon. When we went to leave, I noticed that about, ohhhh, perhaps a tablespoon of water was gone from the cup and the front of his romper was awfully wet. But, they were happy and not bothering me and I didn’t have to hear it. And my husband and I laughed and laughed and laughed about that one all the way home.

  17. I have a 4-yo and a 1-yo in NYC. Unsolicited advice is practically a daily occurrence (“Get that baby a hat!”, “Doesn’t he have gloves?”, “He needs more sunscreen”, “His neck is going to get a crick in it with him sleeping in that position”, “Put a bib on him– he’s drooling.”). The funniest, though, was the advice I got from my baby’s two old-fashioned (and superstitious) caregivers when he was around 13 months old and still not walking…”You need to get that baby some hard-soled shoes! We see him wanting to take a step, but then he looks down at his bare feet and thinks ‘I need some good hard shoes!'”. Or this one, when they heard he was going to get his first hair cut, “You can’t cut his hair yet! You can’t cut his hair until he learns how to talk! I didn’t cut my own son’s hair until he was four! How could you??”.

  18. MrsHaley, you’re not the only one. I read Moxie for a long time before I got pregnant, and was dreading all the unhelpful unsolicited advice during pregnancy and after – and got NONE of it. Seriously. Not a single comment. No one touched my belly. Nobody has said anything to me about my baby/toddler other than “oh he’s so adorable.”I can’t say I’m disappointed!
    I do think it’s regional – I live in northwest Indiana, and we simply don’t get in each other’s business here.

  19. While I have received much of the same “advice” that other commenters have, I wanted to add in a comment made to me instead because I just can’t believe how someone could actually have said this to me.I was past my due date with my first daughter and it was June and it was HOT and I was HUGE but I was out there walking with my husband in the 95 degree heat, trying EVERYTHING to bring on the labor. Well after an hour walk, we passed by a house with a woman outside. She asked when I was due and I said 2 days ago. Then she said “Well it must be a girl because they really suck the beauty out of you”. I almost popped her one, but my husband dragged me away quickly.

  20. My 14 week old son and I were shopping in walmart the other day, we were on the aisle that has bread on one side and the cold case on the other. My son likes to have a blankey to hang on to since he’s found out he can grab hold of things now so he was happy, blankey draped across his tummy and clenched in his hands. This lady and her husband walked by, she complimented me on the baby and then said his feet must be cold etc. then walked off. I looked at my son and said in a loud baby talk voice “are your feet cold honey?” checked his feet which were quite warm and then said in the same voice “no they’re not, cause momma’s not an idiot and would cover you if they were! hehehe she saw me again later and had nothing more to offer.

  21. OMG, Cindy G, that’s just horrifying!I live in the SF Bay Area and have only ever once gotten a “that baby’s cold” comment from a stranger. Not sure what to attribute that to.

  22. When my son was a baby, I borrowed a vibrating baby chair from a friend at work. I was bringing it home after visiting work with him. My son was I’m his car seat in the back, and I threw the bouncy chair in the passenger seat next to me on the drive home. I had to stop for some errand on the way, and took my son in the store with me in a sling. When I came back out to the car, there was a woman waiting for me at the car. She was appalled that I apparently planned to drive home with my infant son in an unsecured bouncy seat, forward facing, in the front seat. I guess her outrage and concern blinded her to the car seat in the back. My, she had some helpful words for me that day. I was incredulous!

  23. Catherine – *I* live in NW Indiana, and you’re right, we don’t get in eachother’s business. It’s the Chicago aspect of it. Everyone’s worried someone might pop them one. Or something. Actually, Moxie, it’s lovely here. I recommend we do a meet up in NW IN when you’re in Chicago for BlogHer.Melissa – Am I supposed to say something when people are using their car seats incorrectly? I see the chest clip too low and the straps too loose on just about every newborn baby carrier car seat I see. I’m no certified car seat technician, but I know nipple/underarm height for the chest clip and one finger should fit under the straps.

  24. When my daughter was about 4 months old, I was informed I should tape a bow to her head so people could tell she was a girl.She was wearing a pink dress at the time.

  25. Catherine, same here – nothing other than remarks on my son’s cuteness (well, or baldness when he was smaller, but he was very, very bald and the comments were never derogatory, just surprised at how bald he was!). But that’s not surprising in Seattle – minding one’s own business is almost an art form here.I will admit, though, to engaging pregnant women in conversation (if they seem willing) and giving them the advice to come here! I’m thinking of having cards printed up…

  26. This wasn’t annoying but just proves how little some of the commenters and advice-givers know:I was going through security at an airport with my 3 month old son. He was born at the 50th percentile but by 3 months was at the 99th percentile for weight. He just liked nursing! Anyway, a lady beside us asked how old he was and then commented (in a semi-concerned way) about how SMALL he was!

  27. Since my daughter has always been on the skinny side, I’ve gotten lots of feeding advice. Which is second only to sleeping advice in my general listing of things I hate.My personal favorite, though, is people who see a pregnant woman, ask her if she’s planning to go back to work after the baby is born, and then tell her she’ll change her mind when she says “yes”. At least this time I can say “well, I didn’t change my mind the first time around.”

  28. The funniest ‘advice’ happened to my husband all the time when my daughter was tiny. He would carry her around in a Hoppediz sling (just a huge long strip of fabric), so she was facing his chest, and he would pull the fabric over the back of her head so that it was supported, and she would usually fall asleep. On multiple occasions he was accosted by one little old lady or another, absolutely panicked the the baby wasn’t able to breathe because her head was covered! With a thin layer of cotton!

  29. When my oldest was 6 days old, my husband, her, and I were in a coffee shop. Daughter was in her car seat. She woke up and started fussing, which quickly escalated to screaming. The oh-so-helpful coffee clerk asked me if something was wrong. When I said no, she just woke up and she doesn’t like her car seat, the woman told me *something* must be wrong because it is “not normal” for a baby to scream like that.In an amazing show of diplomacy (for me, at least), I replied, “Excuse me, I’m her mother. I think I know what is normal.” Shut her right up. Haven’t been back to that coffee shop since and it’s been 2.5 years!

  30. New Yorkers generally don’t like talking to people…unless the person in question is carrying a newborn. Then all bets are off.I was been scolded on the street for not putting my baby in a hat (he could get sunburned!), for PUTTING him in a hat (it’s too HOT!), for taking him outside AT ALL (still puzzling over that one – didn’t humans used to live outside pretty much all of the time?), for not making him wear socks/shoes in the stroller (in the middle of summer, before he was walking or crawling), for letting him take his mittens off, for carrying him in a sling (did you know that newborn babies peacefully sleeping in a fetal position in a sling are VERY UNCOMFORTABLE? I know this because five million nosy old women in the supermarket have told me so). Oy. It never ends.
    These days I assume I simply can’t hear the busybodies because my son is two and all my attention is devoted towards making sure he doesn’t kill himself by running into oncoming traffic. Small blessings, right?

  31. Just like TodayWendy, I also use a big scarf (like Hoppediz). I get SO many comments about my girl not being able to breathe! And also comments like ‘She must be too cold’ because I don’t dress her up in winter like babies in prams. She is all against me so she get a lot of my heat, much easier this way!But the funniest comment was when my husband was carrying her in the scarf, with her head just slightly getting out. There was a bunch of teenage girls, one of whom asked her friends ‘Do you think that guy is pregnant?’. At least her friends and us had a good laugh about it!

  32. Similar to Brooke’s comment, when my daughter was about 9 months old, someone told me that I should pierce my daughter’s ears so that “people would know that she’s a girl”. I replied, “I already know she’s a girl, thanks.” Around the same time, an elderly neighbor asked me if my daughter was a boy or a girl, and when I replied a girl, she told me that was “too bad.” The first comment irritated me, but the second one made me want to walk over and kick her, 90 years old or not.

  33. I don’t get a lot of unsolicited advice from strangers, though you’d think every girl needed to be dressed in pink ruffles and lace from head to tow until she got boobs for all the “he’s so cute” comments I get (she looks like a girl, I swear, and while I don’t always dress her in girlie colors, I don’t dress her in boy clothes. If they’re blue or brown, they typically have bows or minor ruffles or whatever. Sheesh.)The thing I get is from my mom who every.single.time. she picks her up comments “oh, dear, she’s so warm. Is she sick?” And I have to remind her that no, she just is a warm person like her daddy. I used to check her temp regularly to confirm. But now I KNOW what she feels like when she has a fever. (She’s 16 mos)

  34. When I was pregnant with our first, my husband got most of the idiotic comments. (“Get some sleep now, dude, you’ll never sleep again!”)When the baby was two weeks old, we were at the post office, my husband carrying the baby in a Hotsling. He’d uncovered his head so the baby could see me. A woman came up to him and starting yelling at him about how sunny it is outside and he needed to cover that baby’s head up! No amount of both of us pointing out to her that we were currently INDOORS made any difference whatsoever–she was bound and determined to MAKE us cover that baby’s head.
    A year later we were at an outdoor farmer’s market with our son on my husband’s back in the Ergo. A man came up behind us and said, “It’s too hot for him, he needs a hat.” I said, “EXCUSE me?” and he repeated himself. I wanted to believe that he thought he was being helpful but when he said it the second time he had the ugliest look on his face. I said, “I am his mother, thank you,” and he said, “Well, THAT’s obvious.” I wasn’t able to deliver my zinger about there being this new MIRACLE product on the market called SUNSCREEN because my husband turned around and offered to hit the guy, who made a swift exit. It’s too bad because I also wanted to ask him how many one-year-olds he had successfully gotten to wear a hat for more than ten seconds.
    When I am alone with the boy (who is now three) I get in trouble with security guards no matter where we go. Apparently allowing him to go more than ten feet away from me is BAD MOTHERING and I need to be put in my place. I am constantly told that he cannot do things that other people are doing at the same time as him. I think there must be a sign on my back or something.

  35. Me, 1st-time mom with tiny infant, back when getting to the grocery store was a huge effort. My DS started to wail while we were checking out, and the cashier said, “He’s hungry…why don’t you give him a bottle?”I looked at her and said, “Well, I breastfeed, so unless I whip my breasts out right here, he’ll have to wait until we get to the car.”
    She quickly went back to ringing me up.
    What’s funny to me now, with my 2nd child, is how many comments I get from my son’s teachers about whether I’m breastfeeding, how often, etc. Most of them are from other countries, so I wonder if it’s a cultural thing? They all assure me that what I’m doing (nursing exclusively) is best for the baby. I’m bemused by this, because I don’t really care what they think, but what if I weren’t nursing?

  36. This is not an advice story, but it does fit under the category of rude comments about babies. I am white and my husband is Asian. Our son looks like a nice mix of the two of us. I took my son to the farmer’s market in the baby bjorn when he was about 6 months old and the woman behind the tomato stand said, “Oh, he’s so cute! Where’s he from?” I spluttered, “From me!” She was pretty embarrassed.Since then I have tried to remember that if a situation looks somehow ambiguous, I will survive if I don’t have it clarified for me. I am very nosy, so this is hard to remember, but my own experience helps me restrain myself!
    P.S. Also, I think I’m becoming paranoid, but the number of times I have heard people near us mentioning “Jon and Kate plus 8” (like at restaurants or the park) seems higher than could be explained just by the level of popular interest in those people. The ONLY thing we have in common with them is the white mom and the Asian dad, believe me.

  37. The most frequent comment-generator was when one of us would carry my son in the ERGO (on the back). He loved the thing and would invariable pass out and snooze away while we tromped around. People would tell us his head was uncomfortable “like that” and after the second time I told someone not to worry, I’d tied his head on EXTRA tight.But unlike some of the previous posters, I mostly found the NYC “You lookin’ at me?” glare of death to be remarkably effective at deflecting comments.

  38. I’m in the Boston-ish area (grew up here), and haven’t gotten a lot of unsolicited advice *on the street*. It’s all come from family. This is the one that kills me:When Peanut was 2.5, we spent the week between Christmas and New Year’s in Los Angeles with my brother and his family: SIL, niece (4), and nephew (almost 2). Peanut speaks very well, knows how to ask for what she needs, and was running around the house barefoot. It was maybe 50 degrees outside, and the floors were cool from overnight. Three times, either my brother or SIL told us to put socks and shoes on her, that the floors were colder than I thought they were (this, while I’m standing barefoot). Finally, I told my brother that she’s fine, that she’ll ask for socks if she wants them, and that she’ll immediately take off socks that she doesn’t want. The kicker? They dressed my niece in a turtleneck, dress, and thick tights for an outing to the zoo, while my SIL wore shorts and a tank top. I was baffled into silence!

  39. My daughter is two months old, and for as often as we go out in public, I really haven’t received any advice from strangers. Just a lot of (as others have mentioned) “Oh, isn’t he cute??” Um, people — she may not be wearing bright pink and a superfluous hairbow (just one more thing to keep track of!), but she’s got plenty of hair, and usually some very frilly cap sleeves. Geez.The only unsolicited (and incorrect) advice I’ve received was from my husband’s grandmother. My daughter, then 3 weeks old, had had a very busy day — baptism at the morning church service, then a luncheon party to celebrate the event. Understandably, she was quite clingy and wanted to nurse every hour, at least. Grandma busts out with the old classics “Oh, she must not be getting enough milk” and “Maybe she needs a bottle.” My first reaction was to be very hurt — this woman thinks I’m a bad mother! — but then I realized that not only am I the best mother for my child, I’ve also probably done more research about the subject than Grandma ever did. I stood my ground and said, “No, she’s fine. Babies have growth spurts around this time, and she’s also had a very hectic day.”
    However, if I have one. more. person ask me how she’s sleeping/is she sleeping through the night, I’m going to lose it. She’s a breastfed baby, people! What do you think?

  40. I’m sure the unsolicited advice happens everywhere, but the greater NYC area appears to be RIFE with advice givers. Prior to moving to Maine, when Q was 1 yo, unsolicited advice was a more than daily occurrence, since the move – it’s only been a handful of times.During Q’s first year of life – especially related to her being outside (hot, cold, exposed to sun, not enough sun, too young, etc…) When she was about 2 mo, my husband and I were walking with her in a (covered) stroller. We saw a friend who had not yet met Q, and my husband lifted Q out of the stroller (with hat on, etc) for our friend to see her. She was out of that stroller for… maybe 2 minutes? A woman started screaming at him from across the street – “get her out of the sun! get her out of the sun!” and running toward us, as though the baby would burst into flames. My husband turned to me & said, “she’s crazy,” and I replied, “yes, welcome to my stay-at-home world.”
    We’ve been visiting the NYC area to see the grandmothers for 5 days now… again, I think I’ve received advice from family friends and strangers every day since our return. I just don’t acknowledge it.

  41. New Yorkers definitely have no problem telling mothers how to mother!My favorite was when baby was 2 months old in her Beco carrier, and I was waiting at a bus stop. It was December, so I was wearing a winter coat, but it wasn’t fully zipped around the carrier – the kid was dressed warmly and was PLENTY warm.
    As the bus approached, a hooker (yes, my “friendly” neighborhood hooker)dressed in her hooking finery screamed from across the street for the bus driver to wait for her. She was wearing the oh-so-seasonally appropriate lacy body stocking, push up bra, hot pants and a tiny bolero jacket.
    She had run across the street to tell me that my baby was probably freezing in the cold, and I should get on the bus to get her warmed up.
    A half naked hooker other mothered me.

  42. I had someone tell me the other day (ramdom lady passing on the street) “What a beautiful little baby. Please don’t give her any needles.”

  43. Oh, if I had a nickel for every time I heard (while wearing a sling = every day), “Oooh, can she breathe in there?” Or comments about her neck or whatever (she’d fall asleep in the kangaroo carry). The nicest comments I got about babywearing were almost always people from other countries (Nepal! China!) where it is the norm.Luckily, the sling allowed me to cover up my Irish looking babies so I was spared the hat/sunscreen comments.
    I blogged about my most feral reaction to an unsolicited comment, from a woman on a plane (international flight after 7 hr airport delay, out of mind with fatigue, crying 2 year old who could not not be comforted with ANYTHING–cookies, juice, breasts, ANYTHING). She said, “Why don’t you DO something? I HAVE NEVER HEARD SUCH SUFFERING! You are his mother!”
    I screamed at her in a plane full of sleeping people. So did my husband. Fun times.

  44. My friend T is so good at thinking on her feet! When a middle-aged woman came up to her at the store when she was hugely pregnant and started in with the whole “breast is best” annoying, totally unsolicited lecture, T stopped the lady in mid-sentence and said, “Wait right there – that shirt is so unflattering on you! I don’t think you’re wearing the correct size bra, actually. And your hair could be so much cuter and younger looking if you colored it. I think there is an attractive woman under there somewhere. You really should focus a little more on improving yourself and a little less on total strangers in the middle of effing Target.” The woman literally ran away from her. Now, in my view, T was rude, but I think we get a pass during pregnancy and the lady probably had it coming… though that’s not my style.As for me, I confess that I have pretended not to understand English in order to avoid talking to strangers…

  45. I have personally escaped most of the nosiness that seems to be rampant, but I had to pass on what happened to my mom – I look just like her, dark straight hair, slightly tanner, and my sister looks more like my dad’s side of the family and was very much a tow-headed baby. People would come up to her and go “Oh, different fathers, huh?” Not the case at all, folks – didn’t you learn that in the genetics class you apparently took that qualifies you to make such commentary? Fortunately my mom is a dignified woman. I’m hoping that she passed that on to me for when someone makes the inevitable comment…

  46. I also live in NY, capital city of snoop, especially down on the lower east side. One woman said to me as I carried my 9 month old (who at the time had full head control) in the ergo that she “didn’t like the way his head was bobbing” I assured her it was fine and then she chided me again saying “I’m just speaking as a mother” and I thought what the &^*% do you think I am lady! I’ve been told to take a hat off him, put a hat on him, put plastic on the stroller in a light breeze, gloves on (my usual retort to this is “Yes I’ll go home and staple a pair to his hands) If these people spent half the time they do sticking their noses in where they aren’t needed, actually opening a door for me, or helping me down the stairs of the subway, then perhaps everyone would feel we’re all doing our best for children.I think in the case of the grandparents and great aunts and uncles, all the chiding is a kind of envy for the way we look after our babies babies these days. Breastfeeding on demand is a far lovelier way of being with the baby than every four hours and enduring all that crying, which is what my mother in law advised, I think it kind of cut her up to see us both enjoy breastfeeding so much, also co sleeping, which she confessed she wished she had done though didn’t stop her calling me and telling off when she found out I was doing it. She would also talk to my son, telling me I was wrong via him eg “Mummy thinks you’re hungry again. You’re not hungry are you, you have a little gas!”
    I have no graceful replies, just seething resentment that usually comes out all the wrong way!
    I LOVE Moxie’s answer “How kind of you to take an interest” Genius. I am using that from now on!

  47. Oops, almost forgot the worst comment from my MIL:She was mortified that we weren’t going to circumcise our son, and when I was on the phone with her the *day* after he was born, updating her on his pediatrician’s visit, she asked me whether we’d changed our mind about circumcising. When I said no, she said, “He’ll hate you for that someday.” I snapped back, “No, I think he’ll thank me for it someday!”
    Who the hell says that to a brand new mama???

  48. My daughter has a small hemangioma (birthmark) on the tip of her nose. I cannot count the number of random people who exclaimed in horror (talking directly to the baby, not me) “Oh, my! Did you fall down and bump you nose?” It happened so frequently that I had lost my patience and started answering, with a sweet smile, “No, I punched her.” Now I’m fully aware violence towards children is no joking matter but I tell you, it made me feel better.The only time I was really tempted to punch someone is when an older woman asked what happened to my daughter’s face, and when I told her it was a birthmark, she said “Pity, well, you can get that taken care of.” Right in front of my daughter who fully understood, at age three, and asked “why that lady said that about her birthmark” which she happens to be quite proud of. I just gave the tactless old bat a dirty look and walked away for fear of what would come out of my mouth if I let it open.

  49. Not advice, but an odd comment:In the Target parking lot one of the employees was pushing carts and stopped to peek at my 3 month old bald, baby girl. She was wearing a blue shirt (new mom mistake- ALWAYS dress a bald baby girl in pink).
    The man said, “Oh he’s so cute”. To which I replied, “Thanks, she’s actually a girl”.
    He looked at me with disbelief and a furrowed brow, shaking his head, and said “But, *he’s* wearing blue!”
    I just walked on. How do you convince someone that you know the gender of your baby better than they do?!

  50. Oddly enough, I can hardly remember any unsolicited advance from random strangers or family members. Well except my crazy SIL but that is a whole can of worms that I won’t open since she is very very crazy and militant in her views.However, when my son was about 8 weeks old, I was flying back to see my parents as my dad was dying of cancer. Now granted I was a new mom traveling under less than ideal circumstances but actually I was doing ok. The woman next to me was apparently a nanny at some point and kept telling me that she would hold him when he got fussy, that she was used to babies, etc, etc. WTF? Lady, I am not handing my newborn over to a complete stranger. Thank heavens it was a short flight!

  51. My favorite was when my daughter was only about three weeks old. I was at the grocery store and someone was commenting on how cute she was. She then went on to say, “When will you have more?” To which I said, “I don’t think we will.” and she looked horrified and said, “But you have to have a SON for your HUSBAND.” I just looked at her and said, “Well, since I almost died both times I was pregnant, my husband would rather have a WIFE and MOTHER for his daughter than a SON, THANKS.”Bitch. πŸ™‚

  52. I don’t know what it is about the pacific NW but I’ve never gotten any direct advice from strangers…However, I gotten weird comments about other people’s parenting from complete strangers. A woman at a boutique downtown recently scolded her daughter in law to me, saying “she never put the baby down in the beginning, so it’s her fault he has separation anxiety now…” People here are so passive aggressive!

  53. I don’t get too many irksome comments because, for better or worse, I kind of have an invisible force field that I can put up that sends a pretty clear signal when I don’t want people to talk to me.But there was one time when my son and I were walking around our neighborhood, and my son was pushing his little toy stroller. A man saw us and did a double take. He looped back around to confirm that my child was a boy and not a girl. On confirming my child’s gender, he asked why I didn’t get him a wagon to push around instead. To which I replied, “Haven’t you ever seen a man pushing a stroller?” To which his only response was “Yeah, but…”
    Unfortunately, my son didn’t have his beloved baby doll in the stroller when this happened.

  54. Alternately, I am picking my jaw up off the floor and howling with laughter. @CindyG, I would have probably been arrested for assault–I was newly pregnant with my second in that kind of weather and the only thing that kept me from collapsing in a little heap of misery was imagining being overdue like I was with my daughter instead. That was miserable in DECEMBER, I couldn’t imagine it in June!I got a lot of “he’s adorable!” when my profoundly bald daughter was a baby. She had sort of the classic guy cut from the time she got any hair to speak of at age one-plus until she was about two and people kept asking “do you cut her hair like that?” YES, I do, that short chic look is SO hard to keep up on a baby but fashion rules!
    This one happened last weekend: We’re at a park with my nephews and my daughter, who is wearing a skort. This older lady who was there with a little boy said to her “you should have pants on!” Which would be annoying, except she had on a top that tied under the breasts, revealing all of her less-than-toned back and belly. And she was 50 if she was a day. I just cracked up. Thanks, you should maybe have a real shirt on so let’s keep the fashion/modesty criticism to ourselves, hey?

  55. I’ve been lurking on Ask Moxie for a while, usually with nothing to say because I’m probably still a couple of years away from kids. (The academic career track…sigh.) But today I just wanted to say that as much as I’m loving these stories, please cut some of us so-far-childless folks some slack.ITA there’s no excuse for the people who scold you about hats and sunscreen or insist that little girls must be dressed in pink with bows or comment on a birthmark (seriously??). That’s crazy. But some of us are honestly curious and honestly ignorant — about how your sling works, about how big a [insert age]-old should be, about whether your baby sleeps at night, about whether a kid should be talking or walking at a certain age, etc. I’m usually too shy to say anything to a stranger, but I’m sure I’ve said things to acquaintances that could come off as doubting their parental decisions or giving back-handed advice, when I really only meant to ask an innocent question.
    It’s hard to know what to say. I don’t have any close friends with kids yet, so I haven’t spent much time around babies since I babysat as a teenager — but I love them! When I see a parent with young kids hanging out at the coffee shop or next to me on the subway, I’m always trying to think of an excuse to say hi. Usually I just put on a goofy face and wave at the kid. When I do say something, shyness + lack of experience puts me on auto-pilot and I end up asking something dumb about talking, walking, or sleeping or offering babysitting services to someone I barely know.
    So, please continue with the stories — I’m loving today’s comments — but next time you get an awkward question from a late-twenties woman (maybe this applies to older women without grandkids too?), please understand that we’re probably just looking for any excuse to interact with your adorable baby.

  56. Most recently, I had to go to a week’s worth of work events when my now 5 week old son was 3 weeks old. Needless to say (I hope!) I was not back into my pre-pregnancy clothes and could not bear to wear maternity shirts to work – so I dashed off to Macy’s in what I hoped was an 1-2 hour window of contendedness with the baby. But I was wrong and as soon as I got undressed in the fitting room he started crying, wanting to nurse. I quickly chose two shirts and dashed to the counter to pay so I could just nurse him in the car because I thought that would be more comfortable. The checkout ladies gave me such a hard time and told with this tone of voice like I had no clue, “You know that baby is hungry” umm. yes, that had occurred to me. I pretended I couldn’t hear them over his crying.Second, about a year ago with my then 1 year old daughter we were in the middle of an 8 hour car trip. I went to change her diaper in the rest stop and was horrified to find a pooplosion in her pajamas. So I stripped her down, put a diaper on her, and went out to the main area to tell my husband to go get her another outfit when a middle aged lady said to my daughter “Your mommy should really dress you in more clothing”. What!? First, it was July I think. Second, I was right there. Why speak to the 1 year old about the supposed failings of her mother? I opened my mouth to explain about the poopy situation but decided it was not worth the trouble…

  57. rkmama – my daughter has a hemangioma, too! It’s on top of her head. We gets LOTS of stares when we are out and hear kids ask their moms about it, but haven’t had any annoying comments. Maybe it’s a CA thing, but I don’t get unsolicited advice from strangers here. Usually from family. For example, my younger and childless sister was a nanny for a whopping 9 months, which I guess qualifies her to give me lots of oh-so-helpful parenting advice. Most recently, she told me that the reason my 6-month-old daughter isn’t sitting up completely on her own yet is because I don’t put her down on the floor enough to play. Actually, she sits up quite well for her age, in my opinion. Thanks. My MIL is convinced – irritatingly insistent, in fact – that my daughter is teething because she drools and puts things in her mouth. So, that would mean she has been teething for about 4 months now, with no tooth to show for it. Alrighty. I also love how my MIL, who herself is a quite weight-obsessed, repeatedly tells me how “well-proportioned” my daughter is. Read: not chubby. Because that would be bad?

  58. I tended to get “You shouldn’t (worry)” assvice rather than “OMG, you should do X or Y or worry about Z,” or people trying to correct me.”Oh, a boy and a girl?”
    “Two girls.”
    “But SHE is wearing BLUE,” said suspiciously.
    What I said: “Yes.”
    What I wanted to say: “Oh, good heavens, you’re right. What was I thinking? Clearly, putting a blue sleeper on her caused her–I mean, HIM–to grow a peener. He’s a boy.”
    “How is M?”
    “Well, fine except for (long boring description of medical whatever).”
    “Oh, all babies have/do that.”
    Me: (blank stare) “No…not all babies do that. If they did, the human race would have collectively bitten the big dirt muffin a long time ago, so…kiss my ass.”
    Oh, and my in laws once discussed my parenting skills and found them lacking. And I quote: “You’d think a MOTHER would know why HER OWN BABY is crying.”
    Go on, ask me if I’ve forgiven them yet.

  59. Oh let’s see…I think the most fun ones were all the people who assured me I *had* to get Mouse into a sling or inward-facing carrier when she was 2 months or so. (Mouse shrieked her head off in any device she couldn’t see out of so we padded and propped her carefully and carried her facing out in the bjorn, which she loved.) Her spine was going to be permanently damaged, apparently.Also, everybody who’s told me my daughter needs a nap (even now, when she’s 5) at ridiculous times of day, not that she naps at all now. But I have to give kudos to the nice people (this happened a number of times) on public transit, who when Mouse was whimpering or even screaming as a 2-year-old on a delayed, packed bus when dinnertime should have been half an hour ago, would smile sympathetically and say “you know, we all pretty much feel like that right now”.

  60. I want to move to the Canadian city Shandra lives in. (I live in a city of Canadians who consider it rude to make eye contact and cheeky to smile)What made me so crazy when I was pregnant were the people who insisted that this wouldn’t be my only, that I’d want a second. And now they’re right (grrr…) I’d give my eyeteeth for a second. I hate it when other people are right.

  61. oooh, I think I did this to someone recently. I was at one of those indoor inflatable jumpy bouncy castle places for the birthday party of one of the 4-year old’s classmates. A relative of the birthday boy was there with her 8-week old baby girl. And I asked how old she was (totally getting that a red ladybug dress meant girl) and I said, “Oh, she’s so tiny.” And I meant, “Wow, babies are tiny. And cute and small.” And she thought I meant, “Are you starving your child to death, you unfit mother?” Or something like that. She replied that her daughter was big for an Indian baby. OK, then. So now, I guess my follow-up response after how old is he/she will be, “So cute.”

  62. After a mommy & me swimming class, as I was changing my toddler, an older woman asked me if he was my only child to which I replied yes. She then proceeded to say…of course, she could tell that he was my only child, I was being too patient with him. I don’t really remember what my response was, but I did think…well what would you be saying or doing if I wasn’t patient with him?

  63. Yeah … @Michelle, I’d totally hand my baby over to a (grandmotherly?) stranger seated next to me on an airplane (actually, I have). Not that that means that you should — I certainly respect your decision not to, especially in what was clearly already a stressful time — but I am somewhat sympathetic to @phdfirstbabiessecond’s point.

  64. my father sincerely expressed his surprise that my husband & I had created such a beautiful child.my mother assured me over and over that the baby was tall! not fat!

  65. @Ari – we get called out constantly for being cold and unfeeling (Toronto). People who are new here flip out that no one seems to SEE them. At all.When I moved to a small town the cashier was talking to me. While I was completing a transaction. Thus slowing it down AND implying that we were both human beings and not merely roles to each other. It was mind blowing! (Well not really, but close.)

  66. Here in the South, everybody is into everybody’s business. And there is LOTS of unsolicited advice. I’m sure most of it is meant with Love, so I would just smile and say “OK” and move on.But let me tell you, I have to bite my tongue every time I see a toddler drinking Coke from a baby bottle. ( yes, Coke! and Sweet Tea! In baby bottles)

  67. Funny, I have Janel’s invisible “Don’t talk to me” force field, too. Which is weird, because I’m actually very friendly and generally talk to strangers all the time, but maybe being 6’2″ does that. So I don’t get much advice. And through 2 pregnancies NOBODY thought they could touch my belly.I am guilty of giving unsolicited advice in one area, though. When I see a carseat chest clip buckled down low by a baby’s belly I’ve been known to pipe up, as that drives me nuts. And years ago I didn’t know better until a friend showed me where it’s supposed to be. But I don’t do it with total strangers. I don’t think.

  68. I’m with Ann, but I’m sure those babies are just drinking the Sweet Tea to pack on the pounds because someone’s Mother-In-Law said that the baby was too skinny! And probably not wearing a hat to boot.

  69. @phdfirstbabiessecond- I think we all need to vent, and online is a good place to do so. I know that I don’t really hold the comments against anyone- not even my grandmother who told me that my daughter would never learn to talk if we used sign language with her.I definitely try to interpret comments in the best possible way. But then, I don’t live in NYC where people apparently feel free to comment a lot! I don’t know if I could have handled NYC in the early days of motherhood when I was so insecure that EVERYTHING felt like a critique of my parenting.
    So, to the original question of how to handle the advice, my approach was to grin and bear it. It got less annoying as I got more confident in my mothering.

  70. Oh, and I have the opposite of the invisible shield some of you are mentioning. I have always been a magnet for interactions with strangers, even before pregnancy. I have been stopped and asked for directions in just about every city I have ever visited. My favorite was in Stockholm, when a nice American couple stopped me and started working through their question using a phrase book. I had to laugh, because the only things I could say in Swedish were “I don’t speak Swedish” and “I don’t understand”. And I was almost as lost as they were.

  71. I got a few earfuls about not breastfeeding. We tried, we really did, and usually I’d start crying, which is a fairly good response if you want to get someone off your back in a hurry πŸ™‚

  72. Oh, these are too funny. I’ve been getting LOTS of comments about my 6 week old’s hair (it is remarkably dark and curly, compared to my red hair and freckles), and even some people mistake her for a him (? not just bald babies get it…)But, the ones that really piss me off are the backhanded comments to my poor 2.5 year old daughter after they all ooh and ah over the baby- “I’m sure you were just as cute when you were a baby…” πŸ˜› She’s goshdarned gorgeous as a toddler, thank you very much.

  73. Oh, these are funny! I think all moms must have a collection of these moments by the time thier kid is two! Most of my “helpful” advice has to do with my daughter being in the sling–whether she can breathe, whether she’ll fall out, whether it damages my back, etc.However, I have to agree with a previous commenter–I think usually people are just trying to connect and “be the village.” Most everyone gets their helpful and not-so-helpful comments received politely from me. Unless they themselves are really, truly rude. I also find myself offering up tidbits to other parents–for example, I have fixed more than one friend’s carseat installation. I took a class on how to do it and it scared the bejeevils out of me. I always feel uncomfortable saying anything, but fear that something would really happen to the baby often makes me say something anyway.

  74. I think the one I get the most is something along the line of “He’ll be carrying you pretty soon”. He isn’t even two. I’m not that small and really he’s not that big but maybe some people just have to say something.

  75. Well….what we mostly get are “Where did those blue eyes come from?” as they look back and forth from me to DH. El has blue eyes, I have brown, DH has browny-hazel. La’s are DH’s color. My dad has blue eyes, and my brown-eyed sister has two blue eyed sons. DH finally came up with a good answer, “She won the genetic lottery.”My step-son gets “Were you adopted?” He’s multi-ethinc (African-American, Asian, and white: e.g. Tiger Woods). People don’t usually ask us that, but his school friends are not afraid to ask him. Especially after I and his two little sisters went to all of his classes for Open House last fall – I simply introduced us as “Josh’s family”.

  76. My favorite, because it was so incredibly passive-aggressive, about my 6-month-old who had her pacifier in her mouth: “Oh, what a pretty baby. I just wish I could see more of her face.”

  77. This thread is hilarious!A few favorites:
    1. When 7 months pregnant and carrying my 12-month old, a lady told me “I’m so sorry. I’d just kill myself if I were you!” Really?
    2. At the dinner table with DH’s family, someone asked if they could feed my 10mo son something with peanut butter (I do appreciate the asking!), and when I said no and explained that we hadn’t introduced peanuts yet because of potential allergies, my (childless) SIL replied that she’d read that introducing peanuts early was actually better. Kudos to her, because before I could respond, she said “But I guess I’ll just shut up now, since you’re his mother.”

  78. This doesn’t happen to me very often but one time at the library an elderly woman FOLLOWED me around, including to the checkout desk, because she overheard my daughter whine “I’m tired”, in mid-fit about me telling her not to touch a big framed photo that looked as if it were about to fall off the wall on top of her. But my daughter says “I’m tired” whenever she feels sad or embarrassed or mad. She had just woken up from her nap. The lady said, in this horrible “oh honey I feel so bad for you with your awful mom” voice, “are you tired? oh no!” and to me: “she said she’s tired. You should go sit down and let her sleep if she needs to.” She came into the children’s section JUST to watch me. And then a few minutes later, after I realized that she wasn’t going to stop watching me, I went to check out and she said, in a very patronizing voice, “don’t worry, you’ll be ok.” Which sounds nice, maybe, but it was in such a mean passive aggressive way, I was shaken for the next 3 hours. Ugh.

  79. When Fitz-Hume was about three months old, she had finally attained the size of an average newborn.”Oh, so liiiiiiiiiiiiiittle. How old?”
    “Three months.”
    “…..reaaaally,” and they would give me this look, as if I was either mistaken or had been squishing the baby in one of those zucchini presses to keep her from growing?
    I also loved all the crap we got for washing our hands and keeping them away from crowds in the winter. “But babies neeeeeeeeeeeed germs or their immune systems won’t be healthy!”
    People tend to conflate immunity to specific disease with the overall health of immune systems in general.
    I also frequently wanted to ask them if they would cover my shift at work when I had to stay home with a sick baby…? No? Then go away.

  80. We got, and continue to get, tons of rude comments about our daughter, who is adopted from China. These include “Where did you get her?” (as if she were a commodity) and “How much did she cost?” (ditto.) Recently I was waiting to get her a haircut and an older woman asked me, “Is she full-blood Chinese or mixed?” I’ve gotten loads of “What a little China doll!” comments, and more “What a lucky girl!” comments than I can count (Um, no, we were the lucky ones who asked for this, not her.)Most of the time, people are wanting to connect (their daughter, or sister, or best friend, or Aunt Myrtle adopted from China/Korea/ the Philippines and they want to know more). They don’t know what else to say. But starting a conversation with “Your daughter is beautiful. I know a little girl who looks kind of like her who was adopted” is less awkward than “How much did she cost?”

  81. Almost forgot.This one wasn’t TO me, it was to my mother ABOUT me when I was little:
    “What happened to her face?”
    It’s called a disfiguring scar, you stupid bint. Thanks for asking.
    Please, for the love of God, NEVER ASK STRANGERS ABOUT SCARS. It’s just not your business.
    /end PSA

  82. When I was pregnant with my first child, I stopped at a gas station to get a drink. A man carrying a case of Miller Lite cornered me and told me loudly that the chocolate milk I had picked out was “no good for the baby.” Really??? Miller Lite, maybe. But chocolate milk??

  83. I recently was the person *giving* the assvice. A neighbor was expecting #2 and while I was telling her about the co-sleeper and how it’s great, especially for night feedings, I said something like “well I shouldn’t assume you’re going to breastfeed.” To which she said she wasn’t, it’s not for her, etc. And then my mouth started moving and it was like someone else was working it, “Really? Not even at first?! The colostrum is so good for them…”Luckily, I realized what a friggin’ jerk I was being, stopped what I was saying and apologized.

  84. Not really unsolicited advice, but unsolicited anyway…While picking up a bridesmaid dress that had been altered, an older woman started cooing over how adorable my almost year old son was. He was strapped in his stroller and made all sorts of cute faces and noises while she preened over him. Then she looked at me, pointed to him and said, “That’s the kind of child that people KIDNAP!!” Luckily, my dress had appeared and I hightailed it out of there!!

  85. On multiple occasions I’ve had people run to to me, or shout from across parking lots that my son has lost a sock. When I respond that, if fact, he isn’t wear socks because he hates them (I carry him in a baby hawk or ergo, and he doesn’t walk yet), I tend to receive shocked stares as if I’m a terrible mother.Based on some of the health decisions regarding vaccinations and fluoride treatments I’ve made for my son, my brother’s half sister, who is not related to me, informed me that my baby would die with a mouth full of cavities.
    On the family front, I can’t count how many times I’ve heard:
    Still breastfeeding, huh? Mmmmmmm.
    or
    What do you mean he doesn’t sleep in a crib?

  86. I wonder if there IS a nice way to give advice… the carseat straps drive me crazy — the buckle that’s supposed to be up by the armpits, you know, the one that is usually down by the crotch buckle? I literally drive myself crazy over whether to speak to people about that. I mean, if their kid were to be in an accident, their little shoulders would slide right out. But their kid won’t be in an accident. And they don’t want some lady telling them they’re not doing it right. But they’re not! What to do??

  87. My favorite was in the grocery store when my son was about 10 months old. I put a cover on the cart, not just because he liked to put his mouth on the cart, but also because he liked to lean and rest his head on the side of the cart. I think he liked the vibration and he was in no danger of falling out.One older woman had passed us several times and gave us strange looks as my son sat in his “shopping slouch” as we’ve come to call it. When she finally came up to us, I expected an unwelcome comment, just by the look on her face. She said, “You know you’re not supposed to sit them in the cart until they are able to sit up on their own and hold their head up.”
    What shocked me was that my son is very tall for his age and most people assumed he was a year or older. Just then my little guy sat up perfectly straight as if on cue and grinned at me. I said, “Oh, he can sit up just fine, he’s just a bit slouchy.” She smiled and something like, “Have fun with him in 14 years. Teenage boys are the worst.” Really?
    I think she just needed to have the last word. But if I gave a crap what she thought I would have told her that I used to work with street kids and the teenage boys were always my favorites.
    As for family that gives insistent unsolicited advice (read:MIL and childless – won’t-even-get-a-houseplant-because-it’s-too-much-responsibility SIL), my standard remark is ,”Thanks, but it’s not your call.” They have learned that this marks the end of the conversation unless they would like to hear some of my opinions about their lives. And really, who wants that?

  88. Even though I live in an area famed for its busybodies who know better than you and aren’t in the least afraid to tell you so, no advice thus far; my son is almost 8 mos.When we were in NYC about 2 months ago, I was amazed by how many people came up (some going a good bit out of their way to do so) to say “What a cute/beautiful baby! How old is he?” No comments about hats, socks, naps, etc. One elderly man looked at H in his stroller, then up at me with a beatific expression and said, “What a blessing.” I said, “Oh thank you so much” and as we waled on past him, I noticed he had a concentration camp tattoo on his arm.

  89. @eccentriclibertarian, that gives me chills. I got a “what a blessing” from a stranger recently too, as well as a blessing said in a language I didn’t understand while the blesser was making the sign of the cross over my newborn. Not a particularly religious person but those moments felt pretty powerful.As to the rest of the drive-by comments – these are awesome! Thanks for sharing!!

  90. This one made me angry for a week… In a big city recently, pushing my 2.25 year old in a stroller which I rarely if ever use. He was making loud, playful sounds in the stroller which i told him he could do as soon as we left the store we were in. strange man comes up to me in a cap, leans down starts talking directly to child, why are you making so much noise, your mother is right behind you, your disturbing the peace (on a BUSY loud street) and then says to me, how old is he and I say 2 and he says “gee, you’re really spoiling him, he should be walking.” I wanted to hit him and then wanted to say that the reason he was making so much noise is because he is autistic. But I didn’t. I just told him to keep walking and that i didn’t want to talk to him. My poor son kept asking what did that man want?

  91. I think I agree with other commentors that mostly people think they’re being helpful rather than punitive or critical. I also tend to think the passive aggressive comments are made just because people don’t really know how to state their own preferences without sounding aggressive or dictatorial – @shelley, who had the comment about her baby’s face being covered by the pacifier – maybe that person didn’t know how to say, ‘i really think your baby is cute but i think pacifiers look ugly!’ I mean, she’s entitled to her opinion, right? Maybe she was just trying to state an opinion without upsetting you, and unfortunately it came off sounding like she was judging you for using a pacifier in the first place! Just playing devil’s advocate there… I think so much of bad/judgemental unsolicited advice is people meaning well but communicating badly.Also, I have been that unsolicited advice person on one occasion: I parked next to a man who was sitting in his car in the passenger seat, reading a book, and his toddler son was in the back seat, asleep. The boy was in full sun on a hot day, with no window open, or any covering over him, and his skin looked as though it was beginning to burn, and he was sweating profusely. I offered the man a blanket from my car to put over the window to block the sun out. Now, in that situation, I believed the child to be in danger, and there was no way I was going to let the possibility of the man being annoyed with me override the safety of the child. Maybe that makes me meddlesome, or maybe not. I certainly don’t regret speaking out.
    On another two occasions, I have watched new parents get in their cars holding their newborns to their chests and drive off with no carseats. I never know what to do in these situations, and I am often tortured with images of car crashes involving these people and the thought that I should have chased after the car or something… But even if I did, what could I do apart from give them a lecture which I’m sure they will have heard 20 times before? Any advice on this one, Moxites?

  92. Having twins will get you a lot of comments, usually along the lines of “their so cute” or “I wish I had twins”. But the one that floored me, and which I still wish I’d had a witty comeback for, was the woman in the grocery store who said, with the nastiest look on her face, “Just you wait until they’re teenagers.”I have to admit that one of the nicest things someone said to me was on a day where I clearly had not had enough sleep, had 6 month olds, and was in the grocery store, a woman patted me kindly on the arm and said “you will survive having twins.” It was a totally different experience – based all on tone of voice and look in the eyes. I think usually people want to feel connected, rather than important, but I agree that they could find a better way to accomplish it. A raised eyebrow and no verbal response I’ve found is often the best way to go.

  93. I was 7 months pregnant when I had this conversation with a woman in the frozen section of the grocery store:Her: When are you due?
    Me: At the end of November.
    Her: Are you having a boy or a girl?
    Me: We’re having a boy!
    Her: Are you sure?
    Me: Yup, we saw proof on the ultrasound.
    Her: You should talk to your doctor because you’re carrying low which means you’re definitely having a girl.
    Whaddya know… come November, out popped a boy! Sheesh.

  94. @Holly. Both of my kids play with the buckle. They slide it up and down (mostly down). I can’t keep it in the correct position without supergluing it (hey…).My sisters love to give advice about my children (they are childless). The one who gives the most advice is a part time pre-school teacher but routinely gives me gems like, “Working parents don’t care about their children to leave them in daycare so many hours a week. We [The teachers] are really the parents and we do all the hard work”.
    She also told me that the kids just fall asleep when they go home….she stopped saying that after she visited us for a while! The absolute funniest was she would just tease my older daughter mercilessly all the time -when my daughter was tired, hungry etc. The funny part was that after a while, my daughter just started to tell her quite calmly, “I don’t have to listen to you because you’re not my Mama” And I did and my (30+ year old sister) promptly threw a fit and wanted to know why I wasn’t on her side. She said that when we were kids that we teased our younger sisters until Mom intervened….I was laughing so hard at the sight of a 30 year old pouting and I explained….1) You’re 30 and she’s THREE. and 2) You’re my sister and this time, I’m the MOM and I’m intervening.

  95. @Ashramama….there is no polite way of saying I think pacifiers look ugly unless you asked their opinion. That’s on par with someone saying to you, “I think jeans look ugly on you”. Completely inappropriate. Just because you (generic you) have an opinion, doesn’t mean that you need to proclaim it all the time. I agree that there is a difference with a safety concern but often there is a perceived safety concern (e.g. its too cold and baby has no hat) rather than a real one.But a stranger coming up to express their (negative) opinion on what your child looks like/is wearing/or how you’re raising them? Hell no! That’s rude!
    My older daughter is high needs and I finally got tired of being told that she should/shouldn’t be doing x,y,z (developmental stuff). I used to feel very frustrated and defensive and finally just started saying, “Yeah, I agree that she shouldn’t be doing that. I read all the books and they all say that but the problem is that SHE hasn’t read them yet. Once she learns how to read, I’m sure she’ll be suitably embarrassed”. It ALWAYS made people do a double take. The more self-aware ones would laugh and apologize. The less self-aware ones would get upset. :shrugs:

  96. Oh! I just thought of something. Not advice, but a comment from someone–our neighbors’ babysitter, who, upon seeing my daughter in a tankini (rashguard top, no midriff showing) told her she looked “sexy!” She was FOUR.I had no idea what to say. It happened a year ago! I still have no idea what I’d say, except this year she’d ask me what sexy means.

  97. I find the idea that advice-giving is regional really interesting. I’ve been pregnant & with baby on both coasts and in between (though not in NYC!) and so far no advice-assaults from random people. No belly touching either. I’ve steeled myself to expect them, but nothing. (I’m only mentioning this fact since there are not-yet-parents reading this, so they’ll know it’s not inevitable!). It helps that my family is intensely WASPy and would never say anything, even passive aggressively, about our childrearing. And we’ve done some “crazy” things – my son has my last name, not my husband’s. you’d think THAT would get people going. But nothing. I’ve gotten some drive-bys in the advice dept but they were always in the context of a conversation about something specific (sleeping through the night etc).People always think my son is a girl. That never bothers me, but I’m always hesitant to correct them, because they sometimes become SO embarrassed, like they think they’ve insulted me or something. And I couldn’t care less. He’s a baby! So usually I don’t correct them unless I think it will cause awkwardness down the road.
    Maybe we should do another series of posts on ways to *give* advice that’s appreciated. Because sometimes advice is really necessary – in the case of the car seat that several have mentioned – or might actually be helpful to an overwhelmed parent. I’m pretty cautious about advice giving, even to friends, when it comes to children. But I’ve also really benefited from kind and wise words from other parents.

  98. @SarcastiCarrie, I don’t know if you’re supposed to make comments about car seat buckles. I saw a few other people have mentioned it too, but I’m never sure how to handle it. I always notice (sometimes the strap tightness and buckle positioning, but especially when the handle is up on an infant seat–most of them are supposed to be down when you’re driving), but I rarely say anything unless I know the person really well.I liked that some people mentioned the nice comments they’ve gotten, so here’s mine. A couple of months ago I was unloading both kids from the car and a woman parked next to me said, “Even in this economy, you’re rich.” I agreed and thought it was a wonderful thing to say.

  99. I’m one of those people who automatically elicit comments/advice too, and I hate it. When I was pregnant and huge with #2, I can’t believe the number of random people in grocery stores or on the street who said I must be having twins. HELLO, it’s called an ULTRASOUND – and I’ve had several, and there is just one large baby in there! Once I was out for a walk, having a very serious and difficult conversation on my phone, and a man *pulled over and stopped his car* to ask me when I was due and admonish me for being outside when it was warm out.Now that the little one is here, people always seem to have advice for me too (of the “a little cold to have a baby out, isn’t it?” variety – meanwhile, I live in California – it’s *never* too cold to have a baby out here). I have found that the best way to circumvent the advice is to mention that he’s my second child. Even if it weren’t true I’d still say that I had another child at home, because people really seem to give up once they realize that you have done this before.
    I am definitely getting tired of people who say “Just wait til he/she is walking/talking/preschool/teenager/whatever”. As though all of parenting is one long slog and it just gets more horrific as you go along. I think it is awful that parents seem to try to frighten other parents. After reading everybody else’s comments I think that from now on I will reply by saying seriously “why are you trying to frighten me?” or possibly jokingly “my goodness, you seem to dislike your child…”
    Last story – my husband’s boss is an absolute FREAK about the Babywise book. Every few months he asks if my husband has read/followed the advice of that book yet. My husband can’t reply as I’d like him to (“WHEN HELL FREEZES OVER!”)…

  100. I remembered some more! (I’m one of those people with a “criticize me” sticker on her back)The last time we visited my in-laws, dd was 23 months old. Developmentally normal. At one point, my FIL sat me down to tell me that she “seems awfully immature.” Well, yeah. She was ON YEAR OLD. She’ll be 5 in August and we haven’t stayed with them since (though, to be fair, they live in another country)
    When I was 7 months pregnant, and dd was 2.5, we went to Beijing for a couple of weeks. Now, I am 5’10” and was clearly hugely pregnant with my second. My first was large for her age and was white-blond/blue-eyed and pale. I think I got yelled at by every old lady in China for something or other. They would cross the street and follow me to yell at me (usually because she was eating something sticky, or her hair wasn’t brushed well enough, or she had taken her mittens off) – now I do not speak any Mandarin, but they got their point across. The younger people would just videotape her tantrums with their cell phones. I’m sure we’re on youtube somewhere.

  101. Moxie, you are so classy. I love your response. I will have to file that away for future use- it seems it will work in every situation!So far, I haven’t received a lot of unsolicited advice (not that offended me personally, anyway) but part of that could be where I live- here in Utah, everyone has a million kids of their own to worry about.

  102. @Ahsramama, tone of voice is everything — and the older woman who commented how pretty my pacifier-sucking baby is, “but I wish I could see more of her face,” — it was delivered in a judgmental tone. I knew what she meant, and she knew it — and I said, “Oh thank you so much,” in a tone that meant the exact opposite.And phdfirst — that’s the thing about all of these — the tone in which a comment is delivered makes a huge difference in how it’s received. I think most moms are quite OK with curiosity or interest — if there’s genuine kindness behind someone’s remark people tend to respond to that, even if the remark itself is awkward.

  103. I never got comments but when pregnant with my oldest son older women would give me horrible looks or would talk about me like I was not there because how dare I be covered in tattoos and want to have a family. I even heard an old woman ask her friend if they thought my child would be born drug addicted!This continued till my baby was 6 months old and he had a shock of red hair (still does) so that got all the attention! Now I have 2 little redhead boys so that takes the attention.

  104. The only one I can remember is when my first was about a month old. We had taken him to the doctor. My husband was carrying the car seat out to the car, and it was banging against his leg as he walked. My son was sleeping peacefully, enjoying the motion. Some woman came up to my husband and told him that the car seat was banging against his leg and he’d wake the baby! Um…see sleeping baby? Yes.I find I don’t get much drive-by advice, although since my first is now a 2.5-year-old with the most gorgeous head of red curls, he gets most of the attention (“Oh, she’s so cute.” Sigh. He’s wearing a blue shirt with a fire truck on it!) And now that I have two, the second of whom at 6 months is still remarkably hair-challenged, the second remark (after, “Oh, she’s so cute”) is “Is the other one a redhead, too?” I don’t mind it, except I find myself trying to think up new and creative answers.
    I do dislike the “Where did he get that hair?!” comments, though. From… us? Yeah. My husband always answers, “From the neighbors.” That shuts people up. Heh.

  105. Ashramama: she might be entitled to her opinion, but she is certainly not entitled to come up and share it, all unsolicited-like. How unbelievably rude.My GP said to me, when the Drop was a couple of weeks old, that she believes the unsolicited-advice thing to come from an almost primal urge, because newborns are the future of the tribe and we want to protect them. That feels right to me, because so much of the commenting is about things like under/overdressing the baby – this is in fact the only area where both my mother and MIL interfere with my parenting consistently, too, and it seems to be something people almost literally can’t stop themselves meddling with.
    I haven’t had a lot of comments except the usual ‘newborn cries at checkout in supermarket, checkout person says helpfully ‘she’s hungry, you know’, I think well thanks for that, because that would never have occurred to me, it being a completely obscure reason for a baby to cry and all, and also shut up’.
    However! Jessie, Ruby and AmyinMotown all said things related to my one abiding bewilderment; why is hair on a baby correlated with its sex? I’ve had women explain to me ‘you need to dress her in pink, not neutrals, because she’s a bald baby so she looks like a boy’ which, putting aside the fact that I don’t care if people think she’s a boy, since when did girl babies have more hair? Very, very odd.

  106. I would be thrilled if someone *nicely* corrected my carseat installation. I use a carseat about every other month, always in rental cars so I’m installing the seat anew each time, and always feel uncertain about it. I’ve even grabbed other parents off the street to ask them if I’m doing it right. I think if the advice-giver opened the interaction with some disclaimer like “I took this detailed class about carseats…” or “I have a lot of experience with carseats because of my job as a teacher/foster care worker/etc…”–even if that is a white lie–I would not feel judged.

  107. I would be thrilled if someone *nicely* corrected my carseat installation. I use a carseat about every other month, always in rental cars so I’m installing the seat anew each time, and always feel uncertain about it. I’ve even grabbed other parents off the street to ask them if I’m doing it right. I think if the advice-giver opened the interaction with some disclaimer like “I took this detailed class about carseats…” or “I have a lot of experience with carseats because of my job as a teacher/foster care worker/etc…”–even if that is a white lie–I would not feel judged.

  108. @Melissa – On our infant car seat, the manual says it is safe for the handle to be in the upright position. I have no idea how it is for others (we have a Graco SnugRide).The straps too loose/too low is a difficult one. To the poster who mentioned her kids constantly yank them down — I can totally understand that. I get more concerned when I see teeny tiny newborns with the straps super loose. It’s so hard to know what to say. I’d love to see a post where we try to come up with tactful ways to be there for each other without coming across as judgy-know-it-all-goodie-two-shoes.

  109. Ditto all they NYC-ers comments– I got all of them, too, including my Chinese dry cleaner being *horrified* that I took my baby outside of the house at all during the first three months of his life. When I moved to Berkeley, I got mostly positive comments, less meddling.But my step-dad takes. the. cake. Here are the greatest hits:
    Before I had the baby, upon hearing I was concerned about having enough support in the first 2-3 weeks postpartum: “If you’re not back up and around within a day or two you’re not the person I thought you were.”
    On the phone, just a few hours after my natural birth: “Gee, you sound beat. What happened? Did something go wrong?”
    On our decision not to circumcise: “You should do it, it’s weird not to.” To which I replied, “Actually, circumcision rates are going way down– the majority of newborns are not circumcised these days.” To which he replied, “I bet most of the white ones are circumcised.” Seriously.
    On my decision to go back to school for a PhD and put my son in day care at 6 months: “I didn’t think you were that kind of mother.”
    Suffice it to say, my position on advice is this: when in doubt, don’t.

  110. Ohhh Meggiemoo. Girl that circumcision thing..whew.I had a girlfriend tell me in the most hostile way that she wouldn’t go down on a man who wasn’t circumcised and I was like ‘good I don’t want you thinking about that with my son.’
    Then my stepfather told me that circumcision was good enough for his mother and should have been good enough for me. I told him that there was a lot of things that his mother did that I wouldn’t.
    It took a while for -that- to blow over. Thank god for blaming postpartum hormones!!

  111. My favorite pieces of advice/passive agressive comments1-My daughter was a month old and we were in that place where day and night have no meaning…there is only sleeping and not sleeping at any given moment. It was 10 at night, the baby was awake, and I needed to pick up some groceries…and leave the house for the first time in a week due to snowstorms. So we’re in line at Shaws and this elderly woman looks at me, looks at the baby, who has fallen back asleep in her carrier, looks back at me and says “it’s so interesting how childrearing has changed….when I had children, no one would be out with them at this hour.” it’s hard to convey tone in a comment, but let’s just say it ooozed with “BAD BAD MOTHER”
    2-My MIL, when we were staying with them the week before a move (so that the apartment could be packed safely with no risk to my baby) asked when i was going to give her a bath. Once a week I said. “*I* bathed R every day” she said and tried to engage me in a staring contest. “I don’t.”
    3-My daughter is half East Indian and has a light tan tone to her skin. I’m a super pale irish girl. Someone told me how wonderful my child’s color was…she must spend so much time in the sun!!! Roll eyes.
    I also get the cute boy comments, and my daughter is almost always in pink.

  112. @Diane, are you sure? I’ve also got a Graco Snugride and am positive mine is supposed to have the handle down when it’s in use as a car seat (as opposed to carrying the baby or sitting in the stroller).

  113. The two advice “situations” we’ve had that stick out in my mind were both on the subway in NYC. One time, my husband was wearing our son in the Ergo on his back. He was probably around 10 months–old enough to want to look around and to not need to be cuddled up against the caregiver constantly. Some skeevy, disheveled old dude turned to my husband and said, “You should be wearing him on the front. Lots of research shows that babies need to be able to see their parents faces” or something to that effect. I don’t think my husband responded with something witty, but we disembarked as soon as we could.Another time in the subway, baby in the Ergo, my husband was standing in the middle of the car, not holding on. He has a thing about touching the poles in the subway. Some lady chastized him, saying “You should hold on! You’re carrying a baby!” He responded that he had excellent balance, at which point of course the subway car whipped around a corner and threw him off-balance. He didn’t fall, but suffice it to say, he held on after that.

  114. @Rainne: The funniest part? My son has hair, a decent amount of it, and it’s curly. And people seem less baffled by his gender (until recently, because I still flatly refuse to cut his hair because the curls are so adorable).

  115. I do tend to take all that unsolicited advice in the spirit of ‘the village’, though it can be really annoying and extremely uninformed. My worst one was when my daughter was maybe 9 or 10 months old, still refusing all solids and exclusively breastfed (she didn’t eat solids til she was about 14 months). She was clearly healthy and vigorous and growing like a weed, but a so-called ‘concerned’ acquaintance clicked her tongue in faux sympathy and said “Well – do you cook?” In Such. A. Tone! My blood still boils a bit at the recollection…And, @Jessica, about the “did something go wrong?” comment, my father said something similar to me – on the phone when I called to TELL HIM I’D GIVEN BIRTH, I was gushing and bubbling in the immediate post-partum glow, having gone through 4 hours of pushing for God’s sake, and he said “did they give you some kind of medication? You sound a little unusual”. Um, yeah, because a PERSON just came OUT OF ME, Dad!

  116. Jess-jess: “I had a girlfriend tell me in the most hostile way that she wouldn’t go down on a man who wasn’t circumcised.”*jaw-drop* Uh, ladies, I think we have our winner. WOW.
    As far as positive things — I’ve been so lucky to have had people around me who find ways to say supportive things about my parenting, my daughter’s behavior and so forth. That was especially important when she was tiny, but I still really like it πŸ™‚

  117. Luckily, we haven’t gotten a lot of unsolicited advice. But perhaps the strangest thing a little old lady said to me was about DH’s socks. We get a lot of comments about his socks as he usually wears sets that are one striped sock & one polka dotted sock. Mostly, we get ‘Cute socks!’. But this little old lady, after commenting on the cute socks, said ‘They’re not cutting off his circulation are they? They look tight’. Um, no. His ankles are not turning blue. He’s fine. It didn’t bother me so much as baffle me. As another poster has said, sometimes people just need to say something.Another thing I’ve experienced recently is the strange phenomenon of other parents asking what’s wrong with my son when we’re in the ER waiting room. I find it strange that they ask outright. When you’re in a hospital you could be there for something extremely serious or somewhat benign. How could you know? I wouldn’t have the nerve to ask another parent that for fear that they might be uncomfortable or unwilling to talk about it. I had no problem offering up why we were there, but it just surprised me. I suppose they were just trying to make (nervous…for their own kid) small talk.
    For the most part I’m not bothered by unsolicited advice as I figure people just want to help or are interested or want to pass along some information they got from their sister/best friend/mom/whomever. However, if they are rude, or accusatory, or repetitive (Hi Mum! …for the repetitive, not rude or accusatory) all bets are off. I loved the fact that when I was pregnant I was just itching to fight. Come on! Try me! I dare ya! However, I should add that with my Mum we have a good relationship in that I know she’s just trying to help when she gives advice, and she knows I have no problem saying ‘OK. Enough., when she’s repeated herself too often).

  118. And oh yeah, we get the ‘She’ thing all the time for our DS. *I* think he looks like a boy. I’m chalking it up to his (un-fair) long eyelashes. When I correct people, I mostly get ‘Oh, I’m sorry!’. Thankfully, people don’t suggest he wear only navy blue and shirts with trucks on them (what I assume to be the boy equivalent of bows in the hair and ear piercing. Good grief.).What does annoy me is when, looking right at me (& if they are acquaintances, they often know DH), people say ‘Oh, he must get his hair colour (red) from his father’. WHAT?!! I said WHAT?! DH is blonde. I, yes I am the redhead. Grrr. Arrgh. I know I’ve gotten a few grey hairs since DH was born, but my hair is still red.

  119. And oh yeah, we get the ‘She’ thing all the time for our DS. *I* think he looks like a boy. I’m chalking it up to his (un-fair) long eyelashes. When I correct people, I mostly get ‘Oh, I’m sorry!’. Thankfully, people don’t suggest he wear only navy blue and shirts with trucks on them (what I assume to be the boy equivalent of bows in the hair and ear piercing. Good grief.).What does annoy me is when, looking right at me (& if they are acquaintances, they often know DH), people say ‘Oh, he must get his hair colour (red) from his father’. WHAT?!! I said WHAT?! DH is blonde. I, yes I am the redhead. Grrr. Arrgh. I know I’ve gotten a few grey hairs since DH was born, but my hair is still red.

  120. @Alexicographer – I’m pretty certain. The seat is a few years old, though. We’ve had it since my first was born in the summer of 2006. Maybe the newer models are different? I remember specifically looking it up, because it seemed odd to me, but my husband insisted he’d read it in the book. Being know-it-all mommy, I thought that couldn’t POSSIBLY be right, but it was. Of course, now you’re asking me, and I’m wanting to go digging for the manual to check again! Fortunately it’s not an immediate concern, as we just moved our second into her roomy convertible seat. Both my kids hated that stupid infant seat. Threadjack over!

  121. @Alexicographer – I’m pretty certain. The seat is a few years old, though. We’ve had it since my first was born in the summer of 2006. Maybe the newer models are different? I remember specifically looking it up, because it seemed odd to me, but my husband insisted he’d read it in the book. Being know-it-all mommy, I thought that couldn’t POSSIBLY be right, but it was. Of course, now you’re asking me, and I’m wanting to go digging for the manual to check again! Fortunately it’s not an immediate concern, as we just moved our second into her roomy convertible seat. Both my kids hated that stupid infant seat. Threadjack over!

  122. So, I did check the manual. It shows the handle having 5 positions, A-E, where A is the position you lock it in to use as a carrier, E is the position that locks all the way down for the sitting position, and B-D are “convenience” positions. It just says B and C should never be used in the vehicle, so A and D are fine.Also? Reading through there I learned all sorts of interesting things. Like it suggests that an adult should always be riding in the backseat to monitor the child in the seat AT ALL TIMES. And if there is only one adult (the one driving) it may be necessary to put the seat in the front? SERIOUSLY? How is that the safer option? No wonder I was so terrified as a first-time parent. These manuals are horrifying!

  123. So, I did check the manual. It shows the handle having 5 positions, A-E, where A is the position you lock it in to use as a carrier, E is the position that locks all the way down for the sitting position, and B-D are “convenience” positions. It just says B and C should never be used in the vehicle, so A and D are fine.Also? Reading through there I learned all sorts of interesting things. Like it suggests that an adult should always be riding in the backseat to monitor the child in the seat AT ALL TIMES. And if there is only one adult (the one driving) it may be necessary to put the seat in the front? SERIOUSLY? How is that the safer option? No wonder I was so terrified as a first-time parent. These manuals are horrifying!

  124. @ Diane, when I was last in Israel I noticed a TON of cars with rear facing infant seats in the front passenger seat! I almost keeled over! (You just don’t see minivans/larger SUVs there–gas is really expensive.) Booster seats are also not terribly popular.Even if you can turn off the passenger side airbag, I don’t know that I’d be able to bring myself to do it after 2 kids born in the US…

  125. @ Diane, when I was last in Israel I noticed a TON of cars with rear facing infant seats in the front passenger seat! I almost keeled over! (You just don’t see minivans/larger SUVs there–gas is really expensive.) Booster seats are also not terribly popular.Even if you can turn off the passenger side airbag, I don’t know that I’d be able to bring myself to do it after 2 kids born in the US…

  126. When Possum was nearly 3 I had an old lady scold me because he wasn’t wearing a jumper. I told her that he wasn’t cold to which she replied, “how do you know?”. I said, “I asked him” response was, “how would he know?”how would he know he was cold? geez, lady, even newborn know when they are cold!

  127. When Possum was nearly 3 I had an old lady scold me because he wasn’t wearing a jumper. I told her that he wasn’t cold to which she replied, “how do you know?”. I said, “I asked him” response was, “how would he know?”how would he know he was cold? geez, lady, even newborn know when they are cold!

  128. Maybe a twin thing or an Oregon thing, or my poor memory, but I don’t think I’ve ever received unsolicited advice from a stranger. I’ve received lots of ‘twin’ comments of course, but most of those are quite well-meaning (aside from the dreaded and so common, ‘double trouble!’).

  129. Maybe a twin thing or an Oregon thing, or my poor memory, but I don’t think I’ve ever received unsolicited advice from a stranger. I’ve received lots of ‘twin’ comments of course, but most of those are quite well-meaning (aside from the dreaded and so common, ‘double trouble!’).

  130. On a positive note, I was at the shops a couple of weeks ago, with bug (5 months) in the sling and Possum walking but holding my hand.He had a colossal melt-down at the check-out because I wouldn’t buy him a toy. This set off Bug who started crying too. While I was trying to get the toy off Possum the store manager stood behind me and quietly asked if I needed help, and then put the toy away after I finally get it back. And then while I was trying to coax my kicking, screaming, biting 4 and a half year old (who looks 6) from the store she said, “you’re doing a great job”.
    It was so reassuring, and immediately made me think of Moxie handing out chocolate! πŸ™‚

  131. On a positive note, I was at the shops a couple of weeks ago, with bug (5 months) in the sling and Possum walking but holding my hand.He had a colossal melt-down at the check-out because I wouldn’t buy him a toy. This set off Bug who started crying too. While I was trying to get the toy off Possum the store manager stood behind me and quietly asked if I needed help, and then put the toy away after I finally get it back. And then while I was trying to coax my kicking, screaming, biting 4 and a half year old (who looks 6) from the store she said, “you’re doing a great job”.
    It was so reassuring, and immediately made me think of Moxie handing out chocolate! πŸ™‚

  132. Oh, I’ve got a few doozies here in Italy (I thought it was only here that people gave unsolicited advice). One time I was in the store and had my son in his carrier. He was crying because it was hot and he was hungry, but we were just finishing up and I would feed him once he was in the car. A salesclerk told me I should give him a pacifier to which I responded that my son would never take one. Her answer – just put some honey or sugar on it. (!?!)Another time I was headed into a store that sells soap and detergents. A lady outside told me, “don’t take him in there, it smells so strongly of soap”. What was I supposed to do with my kid while I was shopping? Leave him in the car? I think not. Was she going to do my shopping for me?
    I’ve got a million of them. Don’t let the air hit him he’ll get a cold (when it’s 90 degrees), his arms are hanging down (when he was in his carrier) – I could go on and on…

  133. Oh, I’ve got a few doozies here in Italy (I thought it was only here that people gave unsolicited advice). One time I was in the store and had my son in his carrier. He was crying because it was hot and he was hungry, but we were just finishing up and I would feed him once he was in the car. A salesclerk told me I should give him a pacifier to which I responded that my son would never take one. Her answer – just put some honey or sugar on it. (!?!)Another time I was headed into a store that sells soap and detergents. A lady outside told me, “don’t take him in there, it smells so strongly of soap”. What was I supposed to do with my kid while I was shopping? Leave him in the car? I think not. Was she going to do my shopping for me?
    I’ve got a million of them. Don’t let the air hit him he’ll get a cold (when it’s 90 degrees), his arms are hanging down (when he was in his carrier) – I could go on and on…

  134. @Erin, ITA about the carseat. I would WELCOME someone crawling into my car and fixing it for me.These comments are killing me. I am SO GLAD nobody has ever said anything to me because I’m pretty sure I would not be able to exert the self-control many of you have.
    Howver, we are flying to vacation for the first time ever tomorrow, and I’m a little nervous that we might get our first piece of unsolicited advice/criticism on the plane!

  135. @Erin, ITA about the carseat. I would WELCOME someone crawling into my car and fixing it for me.These comments are killing me. I am SO GLAD nobody has ever said anything to me because I’m pretty sure I would not be able to exert the self-control many of you have.
    Howver, we are flying to vacation for the first time ever tomorrow, and I’m a little nervous that we might get our first piece of unsolicited advice/criticism on the plane!

  136. @ MrsHaley: I’ve recently joked (but haven’t done it) that I would board a plane with my kids and a fistful of $5 gift cards from Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks…to say sorry in advance. I’d probably do that for real if I were traveling alone! (Actually, my daughter, who now reads independently and entertain herself for hours with a pen and paper, is a piece of cake. It’s the 3 yo who turns into a mess.)

  137. @ MrsHaley: I’ve recently joked (but haven’t done it) that I would board a plane with my kids and a fistful of $5 gift cards from Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks…to say sorry in advance. I’d probably do that for real if I were traveling alone! (Actually, my daughter, who now reads independently and entertain herself for hours with a pen and paper, is a piece of cake. It’s the 3 yo who turns into a mess.)

  138. @MrsHaley- we’ve flown with our daughter several times. People have all been nice, even when she didn’t behave perfectly. Now, they may have gone home and posted nasty comments on one of those “childless by choice” message boards about the little hellion on their plane… but they didn’t say anything to us. Actually, most people seemed to enjoy seeing her- she is so excited to fly, and I think it reminds people about how we used to feel about flying.I always tell nervous parents (including myself!) that I used to fly A LOT for business pre-baby, and the only obnoxious passengers I still remember were other business travelers.

  139. @MrsHaley- we’ve flown with our daughter several times. People have all been nice, even when she didn’t behave perfectly. Now, they may have gone home and posted nasty comments on one of those “childless by choice” message boards about the little hellion on their plane… but they didn’t say anything to us. Actually, most people seemed to enjoy seeing her- she is so excited to fly, and I think it reminds people about how we used to feel about flying.I always tell nervous parents (including myself!) that I used to fly A LOT for business pre-baby, and the only obnoxious passengers I still remember were other business travelers.

  140. Even a perceived safety concern like car seat adjustment does not make interference welcome. You are inherently criticizing the parent about something (child rearing) that she/he feels incredibly anxious and insecure about.If I felt there was a real safety concern that I had to comment on I hope I’d try to phrase it as tactfully as possible, all the while somehow making it clear I knew the parent was doing a great job.
    It’s also important to remember this: a child would be safest if kept in a bare cage day and night – no germs, no falls, so suffocation… but of course that would be horrible for the child both emotionally and developmentally. So we all take calculated risks with our kids, balancing safety concerns with the kid’s happiness and our convenience.
    That’s why I would have to be VERY sure the safety concern was real before saying anything.

  141. Even a perceived safety concern like car seat adjustment does not make interference welcome. You are inherently criticizing the parent about something (child rearing) that she/he feels incredibly anxious and insecure about.If I felt there was a real safety concern that I had to comment on I hope I’d try to phrase it as tactfully as possible, all the while somehow making it clear I knew the parent was doing a great job.
    It’s also important to remember this: a child would be safest if kept in a bare cage day and night – no germs, no falls, so suffocation… but of course that would be horrible for the child both emotionally and developmentally. So we all take calculated risks with our kids, balancing safety concerns with the kid’s happiness and our convenience.
    That’s why I would have to be VERY sure the safety concern was real before saying anything.

  142. @HappyMama, great point – one that the carseat handle discussion here in the comments illustrates pretty well. I let my kid explore in ways that some feel might be dangerous, but I’ve taken what I consider the true dangers out of reach (sharp knives, caustic cleaning products) and the rest of the house is his. If he hits his head on the table corner because he wasn’t looking, he’ll look next time. Drives my mother in law crazy.@sarcasticarrie – thanks for the car seat handle link! I also loved the last paragraph about how one of the original carseats needed to be locked into place by putting the handle down, hence the “always put the handle down” belief….

  143. @HappyMama, great point – one that the carseat handle discussion here in the comments illustrates pretty well. I let my kid explore in ways that some feel might be dangerous, but I’ve taken what I consider the true dangers out of reach (sharp knives, caustic cleaning products) and the rest of the house is his. If he hits his head on the table corner because he wasn’t looking, he’ll look next time. Drives my mother in law crazy.@sarcasticarrie – thanks for the car seat handle link! I also loved the last paragraph about how one of the original carseats needed to be locked into place by putting the handle down, hence the “always put the handle down” belief….

  144. More threadjacking- my husband is one of the certified carseat installers/inspectors. You would not believe the number of hours of training this took – more than 50!!Anyhoo, one of the risks of having the handle up (regardless of what the manufacturer says about the safety of stability with the handle up) is that something flying through the car as it stops suddenly could smash into and shatter it the handle just a few inches away from your baby’s face. The smashed bits of the handle could injure your baby’s face. This risk exists regardless of what the carseat manual says. So safest position is ALWAYS down.
    BUT I wouldn’t mention this to a mom in person unless I was being asked my opinion!

  145. More threadjacking- my husband is one of the certified carseat installers/inspectors. You would not believe the number of hours of training this took – more than 50!!Anyhoo, one of the risks of having the handle up (regardless of what the manufacturer says about the safety of stability with the handle up) is that something flying through the car as it stops suddenly could smash into and shatter it the handle just a few inches away from your baby’s face. The smashed bits of the handle could injure your baby’s face. This risk exists regardless of what the carseat manual says. So safest position is ALWAYS down.
    BUT I wouldn’t mention this to a mom in person unless I was being asked my opinion!

  146. @sueinithaca — when we went to China to adopt our daughter, we were told to expect a LOT of comments and “help” from Chinese women with the baby. Apparently it’s cultural that you always make sure everyone else’s child is safe, perfectly dressed for the weather, etc. We had total strangers come up, TAKE OUR DAUGHTER FROM OUR ARMS, adjust her clothing, rearrange socks or blanket, tell us she was beautiful/ had “lucky earlobes” / needed her nose wiped, and give her back. Many, many, many times. Fortunately, we had been forewarned about this and didn’t totally freak out! It wasn’t your “criticize me” sign in that case, it was Chinese culture!

  147. @sueinithaca — when we went to China to adopt our daughter, we were told to expect a LOT of comments and “help” from Chinese women with the baby. Apparently it’s cultural that you always make sure everyone else’s child is safe, perfectly dressed for the weather, etc. We had total strangers come up, TAKE OUR DAUGHTER FROM OUR ARMS, adjust her clothing, rearrange socks or blanket, tell us she was beautiful/ had “lucky earlobes” / needed her nose wiped, and give her back. Many, many, many times. Fortunately, we had been forewarned about this and didn’t totally freak out! It wasn’t your “criticize me” sign in that case, it was Chinese culture!

  148. Oh, I just remembered a good one. My son had just turned two and had a mosquito bite near his eye which had unfortunately caused his eyelid to swell up and make him look kind of like Sloth from Goonies, or Eric Stoltz in Mask. He and I had gone to the post office, where he had thrown an epic tantrum because I would not let him run around (I knew he would run straight out the door). While we were still inside, a woman had come up to me and said, “It’s OK to let him play,” to which I responded that he would run away and she sneered. So that was pretty annoying. But then. Then we went outside, where he melted down again. A very nice woman with a baby girl came over to make sure everything was OK and I was just starting to feel that maybe not everyone in my neighborhood was out to get me when another woman came up to me and loudly demanded, “What’s wrong with his eye?” I said it was a bug bite and she huffed (seriously, huffed!) and said, “You HAVE TO take him to a doctor.” I looked her straight in the eye and said, “That is the stupidest thing I have ever heard.” She huffed again and finally, when she realized I was going to continue ignoring her, walked away muttering.

  149. Oh, I just remembered a good one. My son had just turned two and had a mosquito bite near his eye which had unfortunately caused his eyelid to swell up and make him look kind of like Sloth from Goonies, or Eric Stoltz in Mask. He and I had gone to the post office, where he had thrown an epic tantrum because I would not let him run around (I knew he would run straight out the door). While we were still inside, a woman had come up to me and said, “It’s OK to let him play,” to which I responded that he would run away and she sneered. So that was pretty annoying. But then. Then we went outside, where he melted down again. A very nice woman with a baby girl came over to make sure everything was OK and I was just starting to feel that maybe not everyone in my neighborhood was out to get me when another woman came up to me and loudly demanded, “What’s wrong with his eye?” I said it was a bug bite and she huffed (seriously, huffed!) and said, “You HAVE TO take him to a doctor.” I looked her straight in the eye and said, “That is the stupidest thing I have ever heard.” She huffed again and finally, when she realized I was going to continue ignoring her, walked away muttering.

  150. Happy Driving- That is NOT true. Some carseats absolutely require that the handle be left up, so having it down would be unsafe. Bottom line: Read your manual.The only time I ever do anything about carseats is call the police when I see unrestrained children. You drive off with your infant in your lap, I call 911.

  151. Happy Driving- That is NOT true. Some carseats absolutely require that the handle be left up, so having it down would be unsafe. Bottom line: Read your manual.The only time I ever do anything about carseats is call the police when I see unrestrained children. You drive off with your infant in your lap, I call 911.

  152. @Brooke- Then the position of the inspectors (at least those that I know) is that a seat that requires the handle to be up is inherently unsafe, and that a different seat would be a better choice (if you still have that option).

  153. @Brooke- Then the position of the inspectors (at least those that I know) is that a seat that requires the handle to be up is inherently unsafe, and that a different seat would be a better choice (if you still have that option).

  154. Interesting… several people have commented on the “Where did the baby get eye/hair, etc color from”. I have been asked that about my boys and have asked that about other people’s kids and it’s never bothered me one bit. I guess I’m curious about how genetics shake out and figure other people are too. *shrugs*One other thing, about car seats: just took a child safety/CPR class, and according to them (not sure where the stats came from – American Academy of Pediatrics maybe??), *most* people have their car seats installed incorrectly. If you’re not sure whether yours is properly installed, perhaps your local hospital or firestation offers checks/installation.
    By the way: we’re all doing a great job! πŸ™‚

  155. Interesting… several people have commented on the “Where did the baby get eye/hair, etc color from”. I have been asked that about my boys and have asked that about other people’s kids and it’s never bothered me one bit. I guess I’m curious about how genetics shake out and figure other people are too. *shrugs*One other thing, about car seats: just took a child safety/CPR class, and according to them (not sure where the stats came from – American Academy of Pediatrics maybe??), *most* people have their car seats installed incorrectly. If you’re not sure whether yours is properly installed, perhaps your local hospital or firestation offers checks/installation.
    By the way: we’re all doing a great job! πŸ™‚

  156. I have enjoyed reading all these stories!I have three children so this has been non-stop for me for the last seven years. I generally use the silent and disgusted stare technique (with just a hint of sneer) to make the worst commenters go away.
    In other cases, where someone is obviously well meaning, I stick to “Oh” while walking off. Like at the inflatables zone last weekend where one of the staff turned the music up too loud and then diagnosed my 3 year old with ADHD when he covered his ears. !?!

  157. I have enjoyed reading all these stories!I have three children so this has been non-stop for me for the last seven years. I generally use the silent and disgusted stare technique (with just a hint of sneer) to make the worst commenters go away.
    In other cases, where someone is obviously well meaning, I stick to “Oh” while walking off. Like at the inflatables zone last weekend where one of the staff turned the music up too loud and then diagnosed my 3 year old with ADHD when he covered his ears. !?!

  158. I got some creepy advice while waiting in the jury duty room. I was about 8 months pregnant, and the room had about 350 people in it. I was lucky enough to sit next to the woman who felt compelled to tell me that1) natural childbirth is the only way to go but
    2) you’ll get all torn up down there but
    3) it’s OK because when they sew you up, something happens that makes orgasms really incredible.
    Good for her. Creepy for me. Did I mention that this whole monologue was whispered close in my ear? I had a C-section so I can’t comment on whether or not she was right about #3.

  159. Thanks for all the carseat info! Now I can stop worrying when I see infant seats with the handles up. We had the BabyTrend which had to be locked down, so I guess I thought they all did.

  160. Thanks for all the carseat info! Now I can stop worrying when I see infant seats with the handles up. We had the BabyTrend which had to be locked down, so I guess I thought they all did.

  161. @Diane, @happy driving!, interesting, on the seat handles. If the concern is the handle fragmenting, then I have to say I’d leave well enough alone (in terms of advising other parents). My son would be safer if I didn’t carry anything loose in my car — it’s easy to envision my laptop-containing backpack, for example … well, now I cannot actually type the words, but if you picture things flying around in a crash, for most of us the carseat handle is probably the least of our worries. An empty coffee cup could be a deadly projectile.On a more cheerful/positive note, @Erin, in my state all firestations have hours scheduled when they’ll teach you how to install your carseat if you drop by (or you can schedule an appointment). Obviously if you don’t regularly have access to a car you might want to alert them to that, but at least the ones near me take this task very seriously and I’m sure would be willing to demonstrate in one of their own vehicles.

  162. @Diane, @happy driving!, interesting, on the seat handles. If the concern is the handle fragmenting, then I have to say I’d leave well enough alone (in terms of advising other parents). My son would be safer if I didn’t carry anything loose in my car — it’s easy to envision my laptop-containing backpack, for example … well, now I cannot actually type the words, but if you picture things flying around in a crash, for most of us the carseat handle is probably the least of our worries. An empty coffee cup could be a deadly projectile.On a more cheerful/positive note, @Erin, in my state all firestations have hours scheduled when they’ll teach you how to install your carseat if you drop by (or you can schedule an appointment). Obviously if you don’t regularly have access to a car you might want to alert them to that, but at least the ones near me take this task very seriously and I’m sure would be willing to demonstrate in one of their own vehicles.

  163. When I was 9 mo preggers, some guy came up to me (apparently joking) and said “Have you put on some weight?” The look I gave him must have been pretty bad, b/c he quickly back-tracked explaining that his wife was also preggers and so it was a funny joke, right? Right?

  164. When I was 9 mo preggers, some guy came up to me (apparently joking) and said “Have you put on some weight?” The look I gave him must have been pretty bad, b/c he quickly back-tracked explaining that his wife was also preggers and so it was a funny joke, right? Right?

  165. I once had an elderly woman tell me how beautiful my son was. She then proceeded to say that she found babies with a mixed black and white heritage to be very ugly. I told her I disagreed, that I found them to be beautiful. She backtracked a bit, saying that the really awful ones were the Arab and white mixes. I smiled, told her that the little boy she had spent so much time admiring has an Arab father, and walked away. Really, lady? I just cannot imagine what would possess someone to say something like that.

  166. I once had an elderly woman tell me how beautiful my son was. She then proceeded to say that she found babies with a mixed black and white heritage to be very ugly. I told her I disagreed, that I found them to be beautiful. She backtracked a bit, saying that the really awful ones were the Arab and white mixes. I smiled, told her that the little boy she had spent so much time admiring has an Arab father, and walked away. Really, lady? I just cannot imagine what would possess someone to say something like that.

  167. I haven’t gotten a lot of unsolicited advice so far, thankfully. Just a few comments about “letting her cry” when she wants to be held, fed, etc. so she won’t be spoiled. I just nod my head and don’t mention breastfeeding on demand, co-sleeping or babywearing.What I/we do get that is very annoying are all the “beautiful baby/she has so much hair/what is she mixed with?(I’m white, father is black)” comments whenever we go shopping. First, I never know what to say. Thank you doesn’t seem right, neither does “Yes she is.” And, second, I just want to get my shopping done without having to stop and make small talk with strangers.

  168. I haven’t gotten a lot of unsolicited advice so far, thankfully. Just a few comments about “letting her cry” when she wants to be held, fed, etc. so she won’t be spoiled. I just nod my head and don’t mention breastfeeding on demand, co-sleeping or babywearing.What I/we do get that is very annoying are all the “beautiful baby/she has so much hair/what is she mixed with?(I’m white, father is black)” comments whenever we go shopping. First, I never know what to say. Thank you doesn’t seem right, neither does “Yes she is.” And, second, I just want to get my shopping done without having to stop and make small talk with strangers.

  169. The advice I remember having gotten seemed to always come from a family member. These are some of the highlights:-When our first was born, I was telling my mother that I stocked up on first aid type things along with some medicine which included baby Tylenol. My mother immediately told me in a hysterical voice that Tylenol will KILL my baby.
    -Stupid me, I also told my mother that our baby was vaccinated for Hep B in the hospital which is standard nowadays, she was shocked and appaled and quite concerned. She must have asked me ten times aftewards if this was really true. YIKES.
    -My sister in law who is childless consistenly questioned us getting our first child down for naps when she was a baby. She could not understand why we wouldn’t just keep her awake all day. This especially irked me when she would expect us to actually wake up baby when my SIL would unexpectedly show up at the house, just so she could see her.
    -When my daughter got to be around 1 1/2, my mother would tell me all the time that it was time for potty training because at that age I was already potty trained. I finally told her that she was welcome to do potty train her, but that I didn’t think my daughter was ready yet. Needless to say my mother never did anything and my daughter happily and easily toilet trained at 2 1/2.
    -My MIL thinks that every time our son or daughter cries/cried as a baby, they either had gas or they had to go to the bathroom. According to her, there was no other reason for crying.

  170. The advice I remember having gotten seemed to always come from a family member. These are some of the highlights:-When our first was born, I was telling my mother that I stocked up on first aid type things along with some medicine which included baby Tylenol. My mother immediately told me in a hysterical voice that Tylenol will KILL my baby.
    -Stupid me, I also told my mother that our baby was vaccinated for Hep B in the hospital which is standard nowadays, she was shocked and appaled and quite concerned. She must have asked me ten times aftewards if this was really true. YIKES.
    -My sister in law who is childless consistenly questioned us getting our first child down for naps when she was a baby. She could not understand why we wouldn’t just keep her awake all day. This especially irked me when she would expect us to actually wake up baby when my SIL would unexpectedly show up at the house, just so she could see her.
    -When my daughter got to be around 1 1/2, my mother would tell me all the time that it was time for potty training because at that age I was already potty trained. I finally told her that she was welcome to do potty train her, but that I didn’t think my daughter was ready yet. Needless to say my mother never did anything and my daughter happily and easily toilet trained at 2 1/2.
    -My MIL thinks that every time our son or daughter cries/cried as a baby, they either had gas or they had to go to the bathroom. According to her, there was no other reason for crying.

  171. One funny one…When I was pregnant I checked out “Husband Coached Childbirth” out of the library. There was a group of women working the desk and upon seeing the title they all started laughing and one said “Girl, all you gonna to use this for is hitting him over the head with it when your in labor!”Also, not funny, an unbelievable amount of unsolicited advice about our decision to not circumcise. It was really great to be fielding multiple phone calls from in-laws about how he was going to get cancer while dealing with our newborn with EXTREME colic. Lovely! Weirdly, one of the first times I was out with him I was surprised to get a beautiful boy comment from a Hasidic man followed by “circumcise!” I can only guess that it’s a traditional thing to say and the man didn’t have xray vision…

  172. One funny one…When I was pregnant I checked out “Husband Coached Childbirth” out of the library. There was a group of women working the desk and upon seeing the title they all started laughing and one said “Girl, all you gonna to use this for is hitting him over the head with it when your in labor!”Also, not funny, an unbelievable amount of unsolicited advice about our decision to not circumcise. It was really great to be fielding multiple phone calls from in-laws about how he was going to get cancer while dealing with our newborn with EXTREME colic. Lovely! Weirdly, one of the first times I was out with him I was surprised to get a beautiful boy comment from a Hasidic man followed by “circumcise!” I can only guess that it’s a traditional thing to say and the man didn’t have xray vision…

  173. I think having twins defends you from some of the advice, because they don’t think THEY could survive it, so … uh, how much is their advice going to really help?But there are some who will still try, even then, because you clearly need the HELP.
    What I hate most is not having a response. So the Miss Manners stuff comes in handy. But just talking out possible responses is also useful.
    Some of my favorites that I’ve actually used (comment first, response after):
    “You know what causes that, right?” (referring to me being pregnant a whopping THIRD time, jeez!) :: “We’re still testing the theory” (which made bystanders crack up, turning the tables effectively)
    (looking at the twins, plus two others) “God BLESS you” (in the tone that says ‘your life must totally SUCK’) :: “God already has.” (stopped that person, they actually looked at me as a person for a moment, and they said, “yeah, I guess you’re right, at that.”)
    (Looking at the twins in the stroller, both decked out in pink frills) “Oh, how cute, a boy and a girl!” :: Response from Mr G, 7 years old at the time: “Which one in the pink frilly dress do you think is the boy?” (I learned to get pink hats, because nobody looks at the clothes, but they notice the hats).
    “Oh, twins? Are they Natural?” or ‘How did that happen?’ (uh…), or ‘did you do fertility treatments?’ or the less direct but similarly intended ‘do twins run in your family?’ :: Actually, the best answer to this has been from Miss Manners, “Why do you ask?” – because most of them were actually asking for a reason, either had IF issues themselves, or were worried about a twin pregnancy in a relative or friend, and were trying to make a connection between how it happened for the other party and me, to see if I could shed light on the experience. Had some good conversations start that way. Though my one sister was really just being nosy, sigh.
    I particularly enjoyed the late pregnancy with twins ‘OHMYGOD should you be walking around like that?’ comments, actually. I remember one woman stumbling back about three steps in shock after asking my due date and finding out that I was due in two and a half months… Eventually, though, people went from asking if I was having twins, to saying ‘that has GOT to be twins’ to just saying, ‘I hope the twins come soon – or are they triplets?’
    I also don’t get much advice (I’ve been told that I have a vibe that says ‘give me shit and I take you down right here’) – at least not outside immediate family, and immediate family knows they’ll get what’s coming. Drive-by comments now tend to be along the lines of ‘are you done now?’ – apparently you can stop if you have three kids, but if you have four you never ever plan to stop. Nobody has FOUR on purpose unless they’re going to keep going, or something. Fortunately I don’t get many of the ‘oh, you finally got your girl’ comments I was afraid I’d get. We always planned on three, just the third was two. I wasn’t trying to get a girl out of it.
    And for the ‘just you wait for the hell to come’ thing, I think Miss M and Miss R were 6 minutes and 1 minute old respectively before my mom said, very dryly, ‘TWO fifteen year old girls, AT THE SAME TIME’. Uh, thanks, can I just enjoy the fact that they’re BORN please? Oy. Granted, I’m not exactly looking forward to that stage just because of their different personalities, but it isn’t about the teenagerness.
    (According to one research study I saw go by, maternal expectation about how the teen years will be is the biggest predictor of how the teen years actually are – so, expect the best, get the best! Given how many people say ‘just you wait, it’s awful’ want more company…)

  174. I think having twins defends you from some of the advice, because they don’t think THEY could survive it, so … uh, how much is their advice going to really help?But there are some who will still try, even then, because you clearly need the HELP.
    What I hate most is not having a response. So the Miss Manners stuff comes in handy. But just talking out possible responses is also useful.
    Some of my favorites that I’ve actually used (comment first, response after):
    “You know what causes that, right?” (referring to me being pregnant a whopping THIRD time, jeez!) :: “We’re still testing the theory” (which made bystanders crack up, turning the tables effectively)
    (looking at the twins, plus two others) “God BLESS you” (in the tone that says ‘your life must totally SUCK’) :: “God already has.” (stopped that person, they actually looked at me as a person for a moment, and they said, “yeah, I guess you’re right, at that.”)
    (Looking at the twins in the stroller, both decked out in pink frills) “Oh, how cute, a boy and a girl!” :: Response from Mr G, 7 years old at the time: “Which one in the pink frilly dress do you think is the boy?” (I learned to get pink hats, because nobody looks at the clothes, but they notice the hats).
    “Oh, twins? Are they Natural?” or ‘How did that happen?’ (uh…), or ‘did you do fertility treatments?’ or the less direct but similarly intended ‘do twins run in your family?’ :: Actually, the best answer to this has been from Miss Manners, “Why do you ask?” – because most of them were actually asking for a reason, either had IF issues themselves, or were worried about a twin pregnancy in a relative or friend, and were trying to make a connection between how it happened for the other party and me, to see if I could shed light on the experience. Had some good conversations start that way. Though my one sister was really just being nosy, sigh.
    I particularly enjoyed the late pregnancy with twins ‘OHMYGOD should you be walking around like that?’ comments, actually. I remember one woman stumbling back about three steps in shock after asking my due date and finding out that I was due in two and a half months… Eventually, though, people went from asking if I was having twins, to saying ‘that has GOT to be twins’ to just saying, ‘I hope the twins come soon – or are they triplets?’
    I also don’t get much advice (I’ve been told that I have a vibe that says ‘give me shit and I take you down right here’) – at least not outside immediate family, and immediate family knows they’ll get what’s coming. Drive-by comments now tend to be along the lines of ‘are you done now?’ – apparently you can stop if you have three kids, but if you have four you never ever plan to stop. Nobody has FOUR on purpose unless they’re going to keep going, or something. Fortunately I don’t get many of the ‘oh, you finally got your girl’ comments I was afraid I’d get. We always planned on three, just the third was two. I wasn’t trying to get a girl out of it.
    And for the ‘just you wait for the hell to come’ thing, I think Miss M and Miss R were 6 minutes and 1 minute old respectively before my mom said, very dryly, ‘TWO fifteen year old girls, AT THE SAME TIME’. Uh, thanks, can I just enjoy the fact that they’re BORN please? Oy. Granted, I’m not exactly looking forward to that stage just because of their different personalities, but it isn’t about the teenagerness.
    (According to one research study I saw go by, maternal expectation about how the teen years will be is the biggest predictor of how the teen years actually are – so, expect the best, get the best! Given how many people say ‘just you wait, it’s awful’ want more company…)

  175. We stayed with the in-laws for 3 weeks when pops was 5 months. They live on the other side of the world (thank God) hence the extended stay. After about ten days I was fed up. I am conflict averse (meaning too scared to say to say boo to a goose)and we don’t speak the same language.I asked my partner if he could have a word and tell her to quit with the advice – outdated, culturally different advice – and we were joking that I should say ‘no me rompas las pelotas’, meaning ‘don’t break my balls’. Which if course you never would say!
    We get home and I’m playing with pops on the floor. I had him standing up on his legs – something he has loved to do since he was about 2 weeks old. The MIL tells me ‘don’t hold him like that it’s bad for his spine’. My partner says ‘Ma, please, enough with the advice’.
    She turns round and says ‘No me rompas las pelotas!! Us woman have an understanding’.
    I thought yeah, you can say whatever the hell you like and I just suck it up. Okay I understand!
    Hi great aunt also told me I should only give him plastic toys. He shouldn’t even have a teddy bear because of all the germs. WTF?

  176. We stayed with the in-laws for 3 weeks when pops was 5 months. They live on the other side of the world (thank God) hence the extended stay. After about ten days I was fed up. I am conflict averse (meaning too scared to say to say boo to a goose)and we don’t speak the same language.I asked my partner if he could have a word and tell her to quit with the advice – outdated, culturally different advice – and we were joking that I should say ‘no me rompas las pelotas’, meaning ‘don’t break my balls’. Which if course you never would say!
    We get home and I’m playing with pops on the floor. I had him standing up on his legs – something he has loved to do since he was about 2 weeks old. The MIL tells me ‘don’t hold him like that it’s bad for his spine’. My partner says ‘Ma, please, enough with the advice’.
    She turns round and says ‘No me rompas las pelotas!! Us woman have an understanding’.
    I thought yeah, you can say whatever the hell you like and I just suck it up. Okay I understand!
    Hi great aunt also told me I should only give him plastic toys. He shouldn’t even have a teddy bear because of all the germs. WTF?

  177. These were fun to read!I am rather tall (almost 5’10”) with a long torso, and I didn’t get as much unsolicited while pregnant as comments about how small I looked (even at the end). I felt like I was constantly having to explain, no my doctor says my size is perfect and I’m going to have an average sized baby, I’ve gained the proper amount of weight, etc. Then it did occur to me that was probably a little too defensive sounding, but honestly I didn’t really know what to say. If everyone knows not to comment about a person’s size in general, why do hormonal pregnant women have to be the exception to the rule? I’m sure many people just had no idea, or where trying to give me a complement, so depending on the situation I eventually just said, “Thanks but I’m x months.” I would have preferred just someone saying “You look great” or something more generic instead if they wanted to pay me a complement still.
    The only general other unsolicited advice (or more concerns) I got were generally just from family. Surprised at my normally supportive family ganging up and telling me in essence cloth diapering was a horrible idea, I really don’t want to do it (then were amazed at how cool “modern” cloth diapers like my Bum Genuis 3.0’s really are ;-). Then my MIL telling me things like I have to play classical music for my unborn baby to help brain development (I know some people here probably really believe that…but I think it would be like listening to music underwater, and the only way it could matter at all is if helps relax the mother…but for me, I’ll listen to music I enjoy thank you very much), or as my baby started pulling up that he has to do more coordinating crawling first or he’s going to have reading trouble later (???? how could they be linked). Sure generally doesn’t criticize any decisions made and I know she has the best intentions at heart. Still, I just want to tell her sometimes “Please stop worrying so much!”

  178. Oh, delurking (long time fan, first time post :)) to add my personal favorite: We were in our regular, slightly alterna-grocery store, in line, with J eating an apple and a big ole’ pile of groceries waiting at the check out till…Older, clearly childless lady behind me: ‘Excuse me, but your son’s eating an apple’
    Me: ‘Yes, I know, we’re going to pay for it!’
    OCCL: ‘But you haven’t washed it!’
    Me: ‘It’s OK, I’m his mother: it’ll be fine.’
    (OCCL on cell phone to random person):’ Can you believe there’s this woman in front of me in line who’s feeding her son an UNWASHED APPLE?!’
    (Me, perplexed, head down, trying to finish shopping as soon as possible…)
    Can you BELIEVE that? I mean, I know we live near Berkeley, CA, but come on!!

  179. I love all the comments although it’s taken me three days to get through them all. I’m kind of late to the party, but here are my top stories:I was 9 months pregnant, hormonal and with ankles the size of grapefruits, when a complete stranger stopped their car in the middle of the parking lot, rolled down their window and said, “Oh my god, you’re HUGE! Are you having twins?” Um, NO!
    The second one happened when my son was 6 weeks old. We went out to a restaurant with some friends. I was thrilled to actually be out of the house and even more thrilled that he was sleeping through most of the dinner. A woman in the group seated next to us kept telling us how cute and adorable he was. Near the end of the meal he woke up and as soon as my husband picked him up out of the carseat, the woman came over and took him right out of my husband’s arms without asking, just gushing about how she’s been waiting for him to wake up so she could hold him. I was surprised that my husband let her take him but I think he was just shocked. I mean, who does that?! It only took him a minute to recover before taking him back quite firmly.

  180. Update from plane rides! The only comment we got was from the man sitting by the airplane baothroom on our 3-hour return flight … On my 3rd trip to the bathroom with a poopy kid (did the change in air pressure push the poo out of them?!!?), he said, “Your children are beautiful and you are clearly an excellent mother. Great job.”Seriously, y’all. Does it get any better than that?!?! He must read Moxie — I almost expected him to hand me a chocolate!! I was thrilled and proud and humbled. Some people know EXACTLY the right thing to say. πŸ™‚

  181. While pregnant I was basically told I would love my baby less if I had her by c-section.I’ve had a friend email me that I really should breastfeed – when my daughter was already six weeks old. (we were breastfeeding, but she didn’t know that)
    I’ve also been chided by a daycare attendant that I don’t always need to give her a pacifier. Understandable, but I’m much more at ease if I don’t hear her fussing as I walk out the door, since I’m not there to monitor if she is gonna hit full fledged wailing. At under 3 months it’s not like the thing is hurting her.

  182. I have dark hair and black/brown eyes…my son who is the spitting image of my husband has such blond hair it is almost transparent and blue eyes. I have been asked twice if I am his nanny…and one lady at the grocery store told me, “Honey, that child doesn’t look a thing like you!” (Like I hadn’t noticed…)

  183. Very late to the party, but who can resist? (duh, not me)I have a definite don’t-fuck-with-me vibe, so I didn’t have to deal with any crap when I was pregnant.
    After I had my DS, I was astonished to find that the most judgmental questions I got (note: “still,” “ever,” “never,” and “yet” are words to avoid when talking to parents!) came from two women I know. Each has more than one child, and each had talked to me a lot during my pregnancy about how different the children are from each other. After I gave birth, they apparently believed that their 2 and 3 children, respectively, represented the totality of reasonable baby experiences. WTF?
    But the really bad one happened to my sister. My nephew, who was ~3 at the time, was in ICU with severe asthma. He was sweating all over his body from the effort to breathe. He had all kinds of tubes and machines and all that stuff. And he was naked (ref: sweat). A nurse (A NURSE) told my sister he needed to put on underpants because it might bother other parents in the ICU.
    If there ever was a parent in ICU bothered by what some dangerously ill child was wearing, I would be astonished. “I’m here with my dangerously ill child… PUT SOME CLOTHES ON that child behind the curtain!”

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