Top Ten Ways to get Bogus Parenting/Stepparenting Advice

There are so many opinions out there about how to be a good mom or stepmom, aren't there?

"Oh, you should do this."


"I'll tell you exactly what you need to do!"

The first step is to realize that not everyone handing out advice is doing it out of the goodness of their hearts.

I'm not saying that you need to live your life on the defense of everyone else, but you do need to be responsible for understanding this concept.

YOU have to be ready to hear the bad and the ugly advice if you ask it of someone who is genuinely wanting to guide you.

Someone who wants to help is not always going to tell you what you want to hear and you have to be willing to appreciate their advice as it is given. If you decide not to act on it, that's your decision.

Women everywhere are willing to bend an ear to anyone who will give them the time (or pay them).

I'll admit, I gave into these opinions a few times.

Honestly, sometimes you're just so desperate to know what to do that you take advice from the first woman who isn't in third-day yoga pants, a sweatshirt with spaghetti splatters, and hair discolored from four days of DIY dry shampoo.


So, after a few interesting sessions with paid coaches, family counseling/therapy sessions, and random fellow mom and stepmom conversations (some elicited and some not), I've come up with some tried and true processes to picking the individuals with whom I will take the advice to heart.

Otherwise, it's like throwing a dart at any random Facebook rant written by a mom or a stepmom.

Before I give you my mental checkoff list that helps me decided whether I am going to make any space in my brain for the opinion of another mom or stepmom, I have to tell you something about myself.

I have the gift of discernment.

Oh yes, I have, and I am proud to admit it, mostly because I can't say that I have too many distinctive gifts. I get pretty siked about this one.

The definition of discernment in the Cambridge Dictionary is: The ability to judge people and things well.

I don't even have to think about it. I just know.

Within approximately the first ten minutes of talking with someone after I meet them, I can get an overall feel for their intentions of the conversation and overall integrity in life.

The definition of integrity in the Cambridge Dictionary is: The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.

It's not even something I have to think about, and I have a tough time understanding why other people don't have the same ability to discern between people who are going to be positive influences and friends in their lives and individuals who pretend to be.

But, that's how I learned about my ability to do just that.

For my husband, after about five different situations in which I clued him in on my discernment regarding a particular person did he finally admit to my gift after being totally let-down by that person.

The first step is to realize that not everyone handing out advice is doing it out of the goodness of their hearts.

Below is a list that you can mentally review in your mind when deciding if advice from someone is worth taking or should be thrown in the trash on the way out the door after the conversation.

1.Parents "in the circle": When you seek advice from someone who is close to the situation or parents of your child's friends, it may be difficult for that person to advise you without allowing their personal agenda get in the way. Some of this is human nature, and some of it is self-serving. Let's face it; there are a lot of moms who enjoy seeing other people's children fail. Usually, they are insecure themselves and hope to overcome their insecurities by seeing their kids flourish and succeed in life.

2.Paid Advice: There are a lot of "coaches" and "advocates" around these days. I am a coach myself. But, as I have progressed in my journey as a coach, I have realized that there is a large pond of entrepreneurial coaches who are depending on their financial income from month to month. I get that, we all have bills to pay. But, if you, as the client, feel rushed through your sessions with your coach or feel that you aren't getting everything you agreed to when signing on with them, then you need to move on. Discuss your concerns with them but if you still don't get the results you feel you agreed upon than accept the experience for what it is. You can request money back, but sometimes it's easier to finish what you started with them knowing that you will be moving on after your sessions are complete. If you request your money back, understand that they may ask you to fill out paperwork or prove that you did indeed uphold your end of the agreement. That is only fair. Some people want miracles when miracles aren't possible.

3.Busy People: This is vague. What I mean is that sometimes the well-known coaches, therapists, or entrepreneurs who offer paid mentorship are very busy with speaking engagements, team management, and growth strategies. Some spent a lot of time as the little fish in the pond and worked hard to get to be the big fish. That is awesome! But, at some point, they became way too busy and caught up in the growth of their business that they haven't had the time to phase out the clients with whom they once mentored. It's part of their growing pains, but unfortunately, clients get stuck feeling like they are a nuisance to their coach. If you ever feel this way, realize that some of the little guys will be able to help in new ways that your old coach no longer can.

4.Deep Seeded Beliefs: I am a Christian, and it is part of who I am. I also don't push my beliefs on others or base my coaching on serving only other Christians because that totally goes against my belief of inclusiveness and living my life as a nonjudgmental support to other human beings. However, my beliefs as a Christian are part of who I am. Some would say, in almost negative terms, that this comes out as "religious undertones." I don't feel that is negative at all. For people seeking advice due to my expertise or experiences, they may choose not to work with me because of my beliefs. That is entirely acceptable and appropriate. I don't want to make anyone uncomfortable and vice versa. If you feel like your coach is trying to impress upon you their personal beliefs and it makes you anxious at all, then that coaching relationship will not help you.

5.Geographical Location: My bonus daughter goes to school on the Westcoast. I love to visit her because it's so different than my Hoosier state of Indiana. I also really like to come back home to my comfort zone. I have had clients from the west coast and I was able to help them through my coaching. I also learned a lot about the west coast culture, laws, politics, and general lifestyle. But, I can see in some situations why the difference between my experiences and thought processes as a Hoosier might not jive well with those of a West Coast client depending on the subject matter. Be aware of how the advice you are seeking would be affected by the geographical area of the coach you are hiring or the family/friend you are leaning on for help.

6.Teachers and School Counselors: Although they are an awesome resource for support and questions, they are very busy people. Their positions aren't meant for ongoing therapy or support. They are a great place to start for questions, and they need to be kept in the loop of issues, but don't bog them down with calls, emails, and requests for meetings.

7.Kidless: I've had so many twenty-somethings, nanny's, teachers, friends, family, and athletic coaches try and give me parenting advice while I was in the middle of a crossroads with my child or when they perceive my child was not conforming to their idea of how a child should behave. The worst is when it was discussed behind my back, and I was later told about their thoughts regarding MY parenting style. Parenting looks so simple from a kidless perspective. Just create boundaries, right? Yeah well, it's not that easy.

8.Your Children: I have twins. I can't tell you how many times one of the twins has tried to guide me on how I need to be parenting the other twin. To them, everything we are doing with their sibling is ridiculous and going to end in tragedy. Respectfully remind them that it has taken your whole life of experiences to make the parenting decisions that you make. Someday they might understand.

9.Your Ex's Spouse: This is entirely dependent on your distinct situation. You may have a relationship with her and feel blessed to have her to lean on. In my case, she is younger with younger kids. She deals with my daughters, at most, twice a month. Yet, she does seem to have some pretty detailed opinions about how my daughters have been and continue to be raised by myself and my husband. Hence, the reason why my 17-year-olds are treated like 12-year-olds when they are at their dad's house. She also says things to them that lead me to believe that there are some negative feelings about the whole situation. I demand that my daughters' treat their stepmom with the respect that they would give any other woman in society, but as far as her parenting advice, it doesn't apply.

10.Expert-Know It All: I heard a story about a stepmom coach who called out an audience member during a stepmom convention during a breakout session. Apparently, the stepmom coach didn't feel that the stepmom was doing something appropriately. Even though her question was on a topic other than the action the coach became upset about, the coach pointed her out in front of everyone else and firmly told her she was doing something wrong. I would die if I were that coach or the poor stepmom just asking a question. Regardless of our expertise or experiences, we all have something we can learn from others on a daily basis. And, our opinions are not the end all be all. If someone isn't willing to change their views based on new information OR if they are judgmental of others who don't share their opinions because they believe they are the expert, then we would all parent like robots. Don't ever let someone judge you or embarrass you to make their point known.

Ultimately, go with your gut (even if it takes a while for your gut to notify you). Remember, you are ultimately in charge of you. Hold your head high that you are going to do the best you can. That's all your kids or stepkids can really ask of you anyway.

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