Everyone has some form of anxiety all moms are moms with anxiety, however, many have anxiety disorders. Their anxiety can cause them to not live their best life. There’s a huge difference between having a little anxiety, like worrying over a job interview the next day, and an anxiety disorder, which causes such painful worry you end up cancelling the interview because you are not physically able to walk out the door.
To the mom with an anxiety disorder, I understand. Motherhood is hard. Motherhood is filled with worry, anxiety, stress, and frustration. Motherhood, no matter how often it needs to change, no matter how much it is wrong and detrimental, comes with judgment and shame. That judgment and shame is harmful. Sometimes we judge ourselves, a lot of the time we shame ourselves, but also it comes from others.
No matter if you’re a mother, grandmother, friend, daughter, husband, father, or grandfather, your unsolicited advice can be harmful.
You Do Not Know the Whole Picture
If you give unsolicited advice to a mother, you may be missing so much of the picture. For instance, a child screaming in the store and throwing a fit, may be autistic, may have a sensory processing disorder, and may be overwhelmed. You’re advice may come across as judgment. You judge the mom for not doing enough, not disciplining, not stopping the tantrum, but you don’t know the whole situation. Also, that mom is almost certainly in one of the worst moments of their life. They feel the stares, the judgment, the whispers. They feel anxiety over “why am I not able to calm them?,” “Why is this always happening?,” “Why am I not good enough?.”
Your Advice No Matter How Well Meaning Comes Across as Judgment
No matter if you’re family, a friend, or just a stranger on the street, your statements can come across as “You’re a bad mom,” especially to a mom with anxiety. My daughter is almost two and a half. I hear a lot from family even, “Why haven’t you potty trained yet?” That statement can throw me into fits because first off, my daughter is only two, second my daughter has a speech delay (I focus on that), third I have a son that is very close in age, and they know none of those factors. You may have potty trained a child by one and a half. Great for you, you don’t know my child well enough or at all, to think I’m not doing enough, or know that my daughter is even ready yet.
No Matter Your Advice, It’s Probably Been Thought Of Before, and Likely Turned Down
I know, at least for me, when I have a problem I have thought of just about every option to solve it. Many I find do not work, or will not work for my child. My husband and I know our child best and are the best to judge what works for them. Often times, unless I ask for advice, I have worked through every alternative imaginable, so your points will probably be redundant.
The Person May Specifically Not Asking For Your Advice
This may sound rude but there are plenty of people I know that I do not respect their parenting style. It is fine for them and that’s great, but I specifically would not take their advice because their parenting style is NOT right for me. If I have not asked you for advice I probably do not want it. When I’m given your advice, unsolicited, I worry. I worry about how to politely ignore you. I worry about the pushy behavior I hear from you and I worry about being pushy back in order for you to hear me.
Anxiety is Not Easy to Turn Off
If you’ve never had an anxiety disorder it would be hard to understand, and I get that, but you can be respectful. For me, my anxiety is work. It can be work for me to get up in the morning, work to go to work, work to leave the house, work to do much else but watch the kids and watch tv. It depends on the day, it’s not always like that, and sometimes it depends on the year. I often have great years and others that are just crap. Luckily, I’ve been doing pretty well.
Now all of this advice about giving unsolicited advice, is not just for mom’s with anxiety. It’s for every mom. We need to stop the judgment. Stop worrying about others when it does not involve or affect us. Stop whispers, stop stares, stop the unsolicited advice.
What can you do?
Give advice, when it’s asked of you, no other time.
Ask one simple question, “What Can I Do to Help You?”
Tell me, what is an instance you’ve received unsolicited advice and how did you handle it?