My Unsolicited Advice

A year or so ago I ran into a friend that I see every three
or four years.  She is my age, with kids
my age so we had a lot to talk about.  Of
course she asked me “How is motherhood going?”
I didn’t answer right away, because that week it had been stinky.  Not like depression, or spousal abuse kind of
stinky but more like piles of manure-coated laundry, and sick children stinky.   Not bad compared to some people, but no
picnic with puppies either.

So, she asked the question, and I thoughtfully considered
what to say.  I went the honest route and
said something like “Well it was pretty tough this week.  Being a mom is hard”.

Oh dear.  A well of
knowledge bubbled up out of her mouth and poured over me.  It was complete with a four step program to
be a better mom, a book I needed to
read, and lots of real-life illustrations.

When the conversation was done, I was annoyed.  I felt angry that because of my honesty, she
felt compelled to help.   I didn’t want
help; I wanted the assurance that I wasn’t alone.  I wished I would have said the normal thing,
Oh it’s tough, but so fulfilling. I
wouldn’t change it for the world
.” ( I cannot tell you how often I’ve heard
people say that.)

Gene, naturally thought I over-reacted, (I had) and thought
I need to take in consideration that she meant well (I wasn’t in the mood).

When I love my kids like I should, when I’m living a
disciplined lifestyle, when I try a new discipline technique and it actually works, then I feel like I’ve
found the key to successful living.
Sometimes those weeks happen to me, and while it’s very fun, it doesn’t really
breed brokenness. Usually it starts to bug me when other people gripe about their
lives.  I want to yell “just do what I do;
and it will all turn out A-OK.” 

Then I get a stinky
week again, and I realize that I am at the receiving end of both wonderful
weeks and stinky weeks.

In contrast to the friend above, our close friends have a live and let live mantra.  So much so that when we first had children I
was trying to figure out sleep patterns and how to get babies to sleep through
the night.   Ignorantly I asked about
crying it out vs. rocking to sleep.
Well, I was met with “Do whatever you want”, and I was frustrated
because I didn’t know what I wanted.   That’s why I’m asking ok?!  (Also I was ignorant to the fire-storm an
innocent question can raise, and my wiser friends knew better than to even
start)

My advice is this: Do not give advice to anybody, unless
they ask for it.

If they
ask, they truly want it. Give it.

The End.

11 thoughts on “My Unsolicited Advice”

  1. This topic is EXTREMELY interesting to me!!  For a couple of reasons.#1) I am a person, who, when I have a problem, I ask for advice. And I WANT advice. If you are my true friend and I have a problem and I am telling you about it and especially when I am asking for help, then for you to “just listen” feels like you don’t really care that much. Listening is not that hard to do (at least for some people) but doesn’t help me a bit with brain storming or trying to figure out what to do.#2) Because this is how I like people to respond to me, I have a VERY hard time knowing where this boundary is with other people.  Like, if a friend that I care about is telling me about something rough in her life, then my idea of how to “help” is to give advice or at least share something that has worked for me. Because I care!! Not because I think I have it all together. To me…giving some helpful advice is a way to show that I care. If I am invested, I want to help.  #3)  Sometimes what I would want is not the same as what my friends would want so there is this disparity between what some of my friends need or want and what I give. I am trying to learn how to know when to just listen (like you wanted your friend to do) and be sympathetic versus giving what I think is helpful advice or whatever.  I think your advice is good, though. Don’t give someone help or advice unless they ASK for it. As you can see, this is a big subject for me and something I have been struggling with. But…if/when I see you, and you say “I had a horrible week as a Mom” I will totally know how to respond!   Loved this post and your honesty!!

  2. I know that I am ignoring the point of this post, but I can’t help it.  These sentences made me laugh so hard b/c they are so often me.  And I LOVE the last five words best.  :)Gene, naturally thought I over-reacted, (I had) and thoughtI need to take in consideration that she meant well (I wasn’t in the mood).Back to the post … I am kind of like you and kind of like Audrey.  I have times when I really just want to be allowed to be honest (there aren’t enough places like that) and have someone acknowledge what I am feeling w/o me feeling like I have to add all the polite things.  But I also have times when I really do want advice and it stinks just as badly when everyone just hmmmms as though they didn’t know anything about anything.  And I can already see David shaking his head and saying “women.” 🙂

  3. the whole don’t give advice unless asked thing? i echo that 100%. and whom i can honestly answer about how my life is going and how my parenting is going…very few people. but, praise God there are a few who can handle the candid when it busts out of my mouth.

  4. Heh, I feel like I’m sitting with your family in your very warm and comfortable kitchen drinking a glass of lemonade when I read your stories…its great, thanks!I did a study on the English word Holy a while back and it comes from the ancient German word Hol, which means whole, integrated, non-transgressable (or boundaried).  You’re totally Holy…you’re so in touch with all these different parts of yourself, its encouraging to see.God bless you…and keep telling stories

  5. wow.  good words.  i think i give too much advice.  i need an extra elbow to remind me to quit giving advice unless someone asks.  i really appreciate your thoughts…

  6. I used to be a spouting fountain of advice. But I met rock-bottom in my life, and then I discovered that all the advice I had ever given, was advice that I found hard to adhere to, myself. For someone who had all the answers, I suddenly had no way of “fixing” myself or my life. I echo your last three phrases, even though I came to understand them in a much different way.Good thoughts, Andrea. Glad you shared.

  7. this is funny! love it.funny as in you made me laugh.funny as in not so funny actually because it’s happened to me. both scenarios.*though of course over-reacting isn’t anything i’ve ever tried.*and funny because these thoughts and words of yours tie in with a post i’m writing in my head. how really more than often than not, i am just like the kindergartner that i met in my son’s class. she held up her bandaided finger…and wanted cared for. that’s all. and…me too.

  8. This Is Good.I don’t like to be told what books to read either.  I come from a family where everyone reads a lot and people are always spouting off about what everyone else should read and we all just ignore each other and live our lives anyway.You know what I like best about this post?Sometimes those weeks happen to me, and while it’s very fun, it doesn’t reallybreed brokenness. Usually it starts to bug me when other people gripe about theirlives.  I want to yell “just do what I do;and it will all turn out A-OK.”    Then I get a stinkyweek again, and I realize that I am at the receiving end of both wonderfulweeks and stinky weeks.Now that’s truth right there.  But yeah.  I get sad when I ask an older lady for advice about children and I really want it and she says she can’t remember or whatever.  But now I find myself saying things like “Do what works best for you” when people ask me for advice.  It’s a puzzle, to be sure.I will always remember what I heard at the beginning a series of child training tapes we used to listen to.  The speaker said that in no way should we be pushing the new ideas we learned down someone’s throat.  He said that when someone came to us and asked “How in the world do you have such a well-behaved family?” was when we could tell them about the series.  ONLY then.  (and sadly, I don’t think we’ve had anyone ask us that question anyway. 🙂

  9. when I try a new discipline technique and it actually works, then I feel like I’vefound the key to successful living……it doesn’t really breed brokenness. Oh my goodness yes. Brokenness is what brings out the understanding in us, AND no need to have all the answers. Love what you wrote ^^^. The whole example was recently brought out….how does a person float? By relaxing and allowing it to happen. Not struggling and flinging arms about in a panic. I try to remember this in my relationship with Jesus and also in parenting. I actually float very little, mostly I am just struggling to reach the Life Line of both.

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