…about unsolicited advice

No one likes getting advice. All advice is grating and snotty. But there are two things that make this already bad side effect of civilization worse: 1) if the advice is unsolicited and 2) if you are Bethro.

Let’s start with the second point first (settle in, this will be a long post* – photos of my adorable baby sprinkled in to ease the blow).

As I said, no one likes advice. Now some of you feel-good smiley-icon infested liars will tell me that’s not true. You are lying liars who suck at not lying.

NOT a lying liar...yet

But, although, as I say, no one likes advice, I take it as a personal insult. When someone gives me advice, I hear “Beth, you are too stupid to think of this yourself.”  That’s what advice sounds like to me. Not like you are my knight in shining armor, but as though you think you are better than I am.

The worst part is, people always “advise” based on the first thing that comes into their heads – even if they have only been just given a situation. Guess what – if I am verbally worrying about an issue, I have spent way more than five minutes on it and have already thought of that garbage idea that just popped out of your cakehole. Did you really think that, in my weeks of wrestling with something, your first notion – practically a waste byproduct of thinking – was going to solve my problem? No, I already thought of and rejected that nonsense.

Let me give you an example. This little dialogue is based on an actual conversation.

Me: I’m frustrated because I can’t find a dress for an event that looks good since I’m post-partum.

Friend: Could you just go to a store and spend some time looking at dresses?

That’s the advice: go shopping. You don’t think maybe I thought of that? To exchange money for goods or services? That’s what you’re here for?

Can you see how that is insulting?

Even small children are suspicious of your nonsense.

So the next problem: unsolicited advice. This part is a bit of a cheat because all advice is unsolicited. I have never solicited it. I have asked for sympathy, commiseration, agreement, maybe a few additional facts to help me make a decision, but never really advice.

But let’s assume, for the sake of argument, there is such a thing as asked-for advice.  If you assume that some people sometimes want advice, then unsolicited advice is a million times worse. It insults the recipient twice: once with the foolish crap (also known as advice) and then again with the simple assumption that a person can’t even pull her thumb out of her butt long enough to request your wisdom.

I don’t really believe givers of advice want to help; I believe they want to be a hero. They want me to look back one day and think “thank goodness that old friend of mine Bob Smith told me not to stick my hand in a running garbage disposal. I have two hands thanks to that hero. I’ll tell God and get Bob in good. I’ll mention it during my guest appearance on Good Morning America, too.”

Yes, he's laughing AT you

Some of you might be wondering why I feel so strongly about this. Or, at least you’ll tell yourself you are wondering. Really, everyone agrees with me in secret and most are not brave enough to admit it.

If you need a reason for my vehemence, though, consider this: I just had a baby.

The most over-advised person in the world is the new parent. It starts nearly the second you discover you are pregnant and as far as I can tell, continues until 20 years after death.

Complete strangers come up to me to tell me one or more of the following about my son:

  • He needs a hat.
  • He’s too cold.
  • He’s too hot.
  • He looks unsafe in that sling.
  • Careful of his car seat (don’t fall, swing it, put it near the sun, breathe near it).
  • His pacifier should be on a string.
  • Pacifiers are the source of all that is wrong with modern America.

I’d like to take a moment to discuss those last two. First, why would you think I couldn’t figure out that strings tie objects to other objects?  Maybe I just didn’t bother. Maybe I want his pacifier to fall on the ground. Then I am going to let him lick it (actually, he really does lick the ground on his own – falling pacifiers are not such a problem compared to this). Either way, using string is not revolutionary and you are not winning the parenting of the year award for telling me about it. Maybe this is my first child, but the rapid and alarming growth of my uterus during pregnancy did not relieve me of all common sense. Strings tie. That’s what they do.

Look - we let the cat nap with the baby. What do you think of that?

The worst and most annoying advice giver in the whole world is the pacifier hater (you can’t see it in the picture above because the whale is angled weird, but there is a pacifier in there alright). They always say the same thing as an intro. ALWAYS. They say

It makes me cringe when I see a two-year-old with a pacifier.

ALWAYS.

Can someone check this out for me? Did someone famous say this horrible, over-used sentence.

Let’s ignore the triteness, though, and analyze this blather. It makes you cringe when you see a two-year-old with a pacifier. Really cringe? Like as if someone is about to punch you? (someone is) And you instantly know the age of every kid you see? Or at least every two-year-old with a pacifier? Amazing. You are a savant.

No one ever says “I hate seeing your baby with a pacifier.” They always repeat The Sentence. Like I don’t get that it’s criticism or some kind of dire warning. Passive aggression at its best.

While I do hope my son is weaned from the pacifier before two, if that’s not how things play out, I’m not going to sweat it too much. I want him to be kind, to love his parents, and to be healthy. Everything else is cake. I know at least a couple of people who had pacifiers well past two and they are functional human beings. Even I, Bethro, sucked my thumb until I was about 8. I am healthy, have functional adult relationships, and have a good resume. I am neither emotionally stunted nor hideously deformed as a result. In fact I am refreshingly honest and amazingly hot.

But since I’ll never get this rant out in time to all the pacifier haters, I have decided to just scream random obscenities at the next one who tells me about how they cringe.

After all, we brought him from here…

Milo, Day 1

To here…

Milo, day...I have no idea

and he’s OK so far.

One final thing. Learn the difference, people: advice is a noun, advise is a verb. Write it correctly.

*This is the abbreviated version of my rant on advice, sadly.
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10 Responses to …about unsolicited advice

  1. MM Mim says:

    Wishing I had access to a tiny, tiny font I say:

    sorry

    • bethro says:

      You aren’t an offender, that I recall. Although, everyone is at some point. I catch myself doing the stupid obvious advice thing.

  2. JR says:

    All I saw was a cat and a baby. Hah. Cat and baby.

  3. Baby looks so cute! 🙂 I just hope he doesn’t use the pacifier much longer. It is cringeworthy. Is that offensive? I’m just testing the boundaries.

  4. beth g says:

    I LOVE that the cat napped with the baby. So baby has warm feet! And I love that you noted the difference between advice and to advise. PS in the laughing photo, I think Milo has your big beautiful eyes. Good job. 🙂

  5. Maggie says:

    Boy, that’s an awful lot of blankets for the baby to be sleeping with (in the cat/baby picture), do you really think that’s safe? Just kidding.

    Really good post. I’m with you. My kids are older now but I remember how frustrating it was for every toothless nose-picker in Walmart to tell me he/she should wear socks in this weather(JULY!!!). Now because I’m extreme dieting, I have people who tell me my doctor supervised food restriction is not healthy. Inevitably, they’re shoving onion rings dipped in lard in their mouths when they tell me this.

    • bethro says:

      You might also notice he is on a bed as well. Cat, blanket, bed. It’s amazing he still loves me.

      No socks! I’m surprised they let you keep them!

  6. […] couple of posts might just lead you to believe that I don’t like anything (see me bitching here and here). That’s not true. I like a lot of things. I like knitting and writing and beer […]

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