My husband’s father looked at me across the dinner table with a grave expression one night and said, “It’s time you started serious efforts to wean your son.”
My son was just over a year old. True, we’d reached the typical milestone when many moms wean their babies from the breast. But I didn’t see this coming. Least of all from my father-in-law. I mean, I figured men of that generation left these things up to the women.
But there it was, a severe command that made just no sense at all to me.
Breastfeeding hadn’t been easy but I was committed from the start. I felt it was something I could offer my son that would benefit him for the rest of his life. And I was ready to continue until my baby and I were ready to stop. We were nowhere near that point.
So, what did I say in response? I think it was something like, “What? Do you really think that? Hmmmm.” Or maybe I tried spouting facts about the benefits of extended nursing, I can’t really remember. It was safe to say I was in shock.
I nursed my son successfully for one more year despite concern from the grandparents that it would ruin his teeth and so on. (My dentist put it in perspective when I asked her if there would be a problem: everyone gets questioned by the grandparents, she said. After all, they’re vested in your child’s well-being, too.)
But questions, comments and advice can come at you from all directions.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m the first to listen to a new way of doing things. There’s just no way to have all the answers yourself. But when a well-meaning friend or relative tells you you should do something without knowing the full background, or at least having done some research or gone through the same thing herself, it’s pretty hard to know how to respond.
On one hand, you want to just come out and say what you’re thinking: “You don’t know what you’re talking about.” But there are relationships to be preserved. And mostly people give advice because they care, right?
The most regrettable part is I haven’t become any smarter in my responses.
What do you do when a well-meaning friend or relative has opinions that just don’t gel with the choices you’ve made as a parent?