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Parenting Advice: When to Take It, When to Leave It

When it comes to parenting advice, one thing is certain; there's never a shortage of it! When you become a parent, it seems everyone has an opinion on just about everything, from how many kids you should have to what your child should eat for lunch.

Most of us appreciate a little help, depending on who is offering it, of course. Grandma? Well, she raised you, didn't she? Experienced mom next door? Tell me more! Random guy at the gas station? Seriously?

So who do parents really trust to answer their biggest parenting questions?

An Irish parenting site called Her Family reports on a recent survey about this very topic, and the results may surprise you. Ahem, perhaps one finding in particular; that grandma's pearls of wisdom are not as welcome as she might believe them to be.

In the Pampers #BabySleep survey, one in three Irish moms confessed to thinking their parents are a little out of the loop on how to raise kids today. Newsflash, grandma: Babies are supposed to sleep on their backs now. Yes, kids have to ride in booster seats in the car. No, helmets aren't optional if the kids are riding bikes.

More than a quarter of those surveyed said they'd ask their friends for advice before asking their moms and dads, and 61 percent of moms said parenting websites are a trusted resource. Meanwhile, the more experienced the mom, the less she needs her parents' advice. Seventy percent of first-time moms asked their mothers for advice. But by Baby No. 3, more than half of moms trust their peers over dear ol' mom.

Clearly, as parents, we need an aggregate of opinions to navigate the many difficult decisions we must make on a daily basis. And sometimes grandma's experience is irreplaceable. I turn to my own mother to help me decide the biggies:

  • Is it really okay if the baby spits up all the time?
  • Should I take my toddler to the ER because she bumped her head?
  • Should I send my daughter to kindergarten or hold her back?
  • How do I deal with the bullying behavior my first-grader is experiencing already?
  • What's the right age for a sleepover?

My parents are the first people I turn to when we enter new parenting territory. By my third child, I had the newborn thing down. But I'm clueless about the ins and outs of elementary school. So mom is still on call and probably will be for the rest of her life. Dating? OMG.

My fellow moms' advice is much more valuable when it comes to shopping, family-oriented activities and current parenting trends:

  • Which stores have the best bargains on kid's clothes?
  • What toys stand the test of time?
  • Is the mommy-and-me yoga class really worth it?
  • What's the deal with that crazy social media game I keep hearing about?
  • Is the local produce co-op a good solution for my kids if they are picky about what fruits and veggies they'll eat?

Then, there are the things I don't want anyone's parenting advice about—not my mother's, not my best friend's. I'm not interested in the woman in line at the grocery store offering her two cents. I've heard what my doctor has to say, but I'm still doing what I think is best. Certain choices you make as a parent are personal and should be no one else's business, such as:

  • Should I breastfeed?
  • Should I let my baby cry it out?
  • How much screen time should I allow the kids?
  • When should I stop letting my kids see me naked?
  • Is it okay for my child to sleep in my bed?
  • Are time-outs effective forms of discipline?

Of course, the best parenting advice you will ever receive comes from your gut, that mom intuition. But we all have different experiences, and we can potentially help each other. Sometimes there's too much help though. And you have to tune out the advice that feels wrong for you and your family.

As for grandma, well, she's been there, done that. So listen to her sometimes—or at least make her think you are.

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