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.