In light of the official release of Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full, Crossway asked readers to submit their questions about motherhood, marriage, and treasuring Christ in the midst of the busyness of life. Part One of this interview (the Q&A was split into two parts), can be found here.
Some of these questions were so challenging that it took me weeks to formulate how I wanted to answer. And somehow I managed to bring up Nutella.
Here's a question that might come up in your daily life:
How do you respond graciously to people who offer unsolicited parenting advice that you may or may not agree with?
This is a neat question. We moved to a global city in the Middle East when our oldest child was a baby. My experience with “unsolicited parenting advice” seems to be different than what I hear from my friends in the West. Most of the people here come from cultures in which “the village” raises the children, and the idea of “mommy wars” is foreign to them. In their worldview there is no such thing as “unsolicited” parenting advice because surely the frazzled mom in the checkout line at the grocery store is waiting to hear your encouraging words. Singles sit next to our crazy family in restaurants so they can distract talk to our kids while we’re eating. Grandfather-types and young men stop what they’re doing in government offices to play peek-a-boo with a fussy baby. A middle-aged woman in our building always opens her purse to give my kids candy in the elevator and she squeezes my shoulder saying, “God has blessed you!” The community dotes on children, and I love this about where we live.
When people say things that I don’t agree with I might talk with them more about it (depending on the context). Mostly I just say thank you because it’s not about their advice so much as it is an expression of their desire to help me be the ringmaster for four cheeky little monkeys.
I’ll tell you what is challenging about this, though—living under the expectation that I am part of the village that is helping look after other peoples’ kids. “Can’t they see that my hands are already full?” My flesh recoils at the selflessness required to serve the children afoot out in the community. It comes in conflict with the “mind your own business” mindset that I’m used to.
I'm betting we all have dealt with and dealt out "unsolicited parenting advice." :)
Don't forget to read the rest of part one of this Q&A here.