Unsolicited advice: what say you?

30 Jan

Picture this: I’m in Target, trying to find some more of the sippy cups T uses (day care is no-man’s land for sippy cups. Where are they hiding them? How hard is it to put it back in his back? Sigh.), when around the corner come three chatty ladies. One of them is pregnant, as indicated not so much by her belly as by the scanner gun poised in her hand. If the fact that two other people were with her didn’t tip me off that it was her first, their conversation sure did.

“What about this one? Oh no—it says 12 months and up.”

“I’ve read that the kind with the straw encourages brain development.”

“This one is for 4 months and up. She’ll still be on formula then, right?”

“This one is for real cute.”

“Check it out: keeps drinks hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold. (Side note: it’s a thermos.)  I don’t think I need that.”

“Yeah, if you’re feeding your baby coffee and soda you have other problems.”

Although they were practically standing on top of me by this time, none of them had said a word to me. I felt the urge to speak up: yes, 4 month olds drink formula…usually still from a bottle. The kind with the straws are not very spill proof, and they’re a b!tch to clean. Don’t worry about cute, you’ll be writing your kid’s name in permanent marker all over it anyway.

But nobody asked me.

I chewed over it. She’s about to have a baby, and I just had one—I’m in the perfect position to provide an opinion. And I remember how confused I was when I registered. But then again, nobody receives more idiotic, unwelcome, and downright intrusive pearls of wisdom than new moms. I’m just as likely to get a stony stare as a warm thank you.

This topic obviously transcends parenthood, or even shopping. It probably happens a dozen times a day at workplaces across the nation—you see someone struggling, and wonder whether to step in. I’m always wary of trying for helpful and friendly and coming off as an intolerable know-it-all and butter-inner.

I obtained my data from this chart

In the end I didn’t say anything, but when I told P the story he thought I should’ve done. So what’s your opinion? How would you feel if a stranger offered up a heaping helping of (kindly) advice, unbidden? And on the other hand, what would have done in my place?


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