Is That Good Advice?

by Susan

There are so many different types of advice…

  • Good advice. Bad advice.
  • Solicited and unsolicited.
  • Welcome and unwelcome.
  • Well-intended and not-so-well intended.

 

Good advice can change a life.

Bad advice… well… hopefully it’s not taken.

I think we all can agree

The ultimate unsolicited and unwelcome advice usually comes when you’re between 6 to 9 months pregnant and your swollen belly marks you as the target for advice from every woman who has ever given birth, had a sister, friend or co-worker give birth or even thought about giving birth.

I think most of us can remember holding back a punch as the fourteenth helpful stranger that day reaches out to stroke your apparently irresistible baby-bump while dispensing cliche advice.

Yet often I think we too may be guilty of over-sharing our lessons-learned to another woman about to step into a similar journey.

Why?

Why are we so tempted to tell other people what to do?

The other day, I witnessed a different type of advice exchange amongst a group of near strangers…

One woman was talking about her current separation from the father of her toddler. She’d been separated for awhile and was happy to be in a new relationship.

Another person commented on the importance of not moving from one long-term relationship into another.

The first woman asked the others, “Isn’t it okay if…” and went on to explain a little of her own situation.

And a third woman, cut her off to declare, “Just don’t do it. I was divorced, moved into a new relationship and now I’m separated again. Trust me. Just don’t do it.”

I practically had to force my jaw closed with my hand.

Why was this woman immediately passing her judgement and “advice” on to a stranger whose life she knows nothing about?

I replied to the first woman, “You can’t seek validation and approval for your relationship from someone else. Only you really know who you are, where you are at and what is best for you and your daughter.”

She thanked me and the conversation turned to other topics.

But I kept thinking about advice — who gives it, when and why.

As women we love to share our experiences. We love to help our friends and even strangers. We want our experiences — good and especially bad — to extend their lessons far beyond ourselves.

I think we as women are lead to open our mouths — sometimes too quickly — because we want to help.

But, I think maybe we could all benefit from pondering what advice we’re giving, to whom, when and why. Do we really know enough about the other person to extrapolate our experience onto theirs?

Does their decision need to factor in the results of a completely different experience based on entirely different variables?

Sometimes the flaw is just in the delivery.

I think most advice shared amongst women is well-intended but perhaps timed or worded poorly. Perhaps it isn’t really even “advice” we mean to share, but instead just some insight into the lesson we learned on a similar road.

I wonder if the well-meaning, twice-divorced woman could have instead said something like, “It’s wonderful to hear you’ve found some happiness. I wish my second marriage had lasted, but sadly I think I may have moved too quickly from my first into my second.”

And maybe the next time a bloated, pregnant woman pulls her cart into line behind us at the grocery check-out, instead of dishing out advice, we should simply flash a knowing smile and ask if she’d like to go ahead of us in line.

What about YOU?

What’s the best or worst advice you’ve been given?



Email Author    |    Website About Susan

Susan Carraretto and her identical twin, Janice Croze, created 5 Minutes for Mom in 2006. Susan loves all social media, but her top addiction these days is Pinterest. She recently published a children's book titled "The Pest Detectives" which you can download now in digital format for free.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jennie June 2, 2011 at 8:13 am

2 pieces of excellent advice – from my mom of course: 1) Don’t yell at your kids – they don’t hear you when you are yelling – they just hear noise, and 2) Anger is a tool of manipulation and the only one hurt is usually the person who is angry.

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2 Susan June 2, 2011 at 3:35 pm

Thank you Jennie.

Those are two brilliant and important pieces of advice.

And yes about the anger thing… I’ve heard it said that holding on to Anger is like trying to hurt the other person by you drinking the poison.

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3 Jackie June 2, 2011 at 1:01 pm

I think the best advice I’ve been given (and maybe I just made it up myself lol) is that you’re the parent of your child, and no one knows them as well as you. Don’t let other people (no matter their title) make decisions for your kids.

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4 Susan June 2, 2011 at 3:36 pm

So very true Jackie. Our children need us to have confidence in our decisions for them.

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5 Amanda M. June 2, 2011 at 2:01 pm

The best advice on life I ever got was from my mom. She said that no matter how much you love someone marriage (and relationships in general) take work and you should always give more than you expect to receive.

Advice is a tricky thing. I think women just like to talk, most of the time and sometimes it comes out as advice or a story, but other times it’s just talk and we take it as something else. I loved hearing stories of other people’s dilemmas and successes when it comes to kids, but I was also very thankful to not have anyone pushing advice on me. I had a friend who was not so lucky when she had her baby and was about to punch someone when everyone was telling her how to breastfeed because no matter what she did, it wasn’t “right.” I think it is important to surround ourselves with positive and supportive people. And see, even right now, I am talking, sharing my thoughts, and giving advice…haha.

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6 Susan June 2, 2011 at 3:38 pm

You’re so right… we women love to talk and share our stories and that is wonderful!!!

But sometimes it comes out the wrong way, and it’s really hard in situations like your friend’s when it feels like everyone is telling you what to do or not to do and that you can’t get it “right”.

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7 Heather Mundell June 2, 2011 at 3:10 pm

Best advice (or one of the best pieces I can remember): “Just be yourself”. So easy, yet so hard!

Worst advice: “You’ll do fine without the epidural.”

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8 Susan June 2, 2011 at 3:42 pm

Ha ha ha… yeah, I never fell for that advice about the epidural. For me I listened to the advice to ensure you don’t miss the window of opportunity with the epidural. You don’t want to wait until it’s too late.

And yes… the ultimate advice is “Just be yourself”. Profoundly powerful. Sounds so simple, yet is so difficult to carry out.

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9 Kimberly June 2, 2011 at 8:17 pm

Worst unsolicited advice EVER:

A older woman I barely knew walked up to me at work, the day I announced my first pregnancy (and I was OVERJOYED). The battleaxe barked…”HAVING MY DAUGHTER WAS THE BIGGEST MISTAKE I EVER MADE…30 YEARS LATER I STILL REGRET IT! MARK MY WORDS, YOU WILL REGRET THIS FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE! HAVE AN AB*RTI*N!” And with that, stormed away!

I don’t know how long it took for me to scrape my jaw off of the floor…

Who does that?

My son, at 22, has been the delight of my husband’s and my life, and has been followed by 2 equally loved and wanted siblings, neither of whom has been a regret, for one MOMENT!

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10 Barbara Manatee June 2, 2011 at 10:48 pm

As a Mom and a teacher, I hate to push my opinion on others. I’ll gladly share advice if someone asks me but I almost always preface it with “This is what works for me/us” and not necessarily the best way for you. I hate when people think their way is the ONLY way to do something and only their opinion counts…so I don’t ever want to be that person.

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11 Jacquie June 3, 2011 at 11:45 am

I think one of the problems with advice is that it is so often based on our personal experience, which may very well not apply to another person’s situation, and that it is often very relative – there are no absolutes. I also agree that the delivery is key to how well your advice will be received – are you compassionate, graceful, caring, tactful, etc.? However, what I consider to be the most important is, does my advice or counsel line up with what the Bible says? Our personal opinions on things are relative, but God’s advice is absolute truth. In some cases, I think it’s important for us to speak up on issues that we have convictions about, in order to speak what we believe to be true, because it’s what God says, even if the message may not be well received. The truth of a message cannot always be judged by whether it was received or listened to, although it is important to speak truth with grace and not with judgment, with the hopes that our delivery will help in the message being received. While this may not apply to receiving unsolicited advice from strangers, I would hope that those who love and care about me would have the courage to give me counsel to keep me from making a bad mistake or doing something contrary to God’s ways, even if I didn’t like hearing it at the time. So, did I just give unsolicited advice to everyone who reads this??? :)

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12 Forgetfulone June 6, 2011 at 11:00 pm

I think the best advice is one of the momisms most of us are familiar with, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” That just about covers it!

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