I invited Jeanette Hanscome to guest blog this week. She is the author of six books, including Suddenly Single Mom: 52 Messages of Hope, Grace, and Promise, published by Worthy Inspired. Jeanette has also contributed to Kathy Ide’s Fiction Lover’s Devotionals, 21 Days of Grace and 21 Days of Love. Jeanette lives in the Bay Area where she sings at her church and enjoys being the mom of two amazing sons. Please welcome Jeanette!
The Cure for Advice Overload
Five years ago I became a single mom. Along with great support, I got lots of parenting advice. Some was helpful; other times it left me feeling like a failure. Often, one friend’s “You need to…” contradicted another’s “Whatever you do, don’t…” All of this was compounded by my tendency to believe the strongest opinion in the room.
After one upsetting encounter, I had a bold thought: Wait, Christian and Nathan are my sons! I’m the one who really knows them. Maybe it was time to shut some of those voices out. I was doing my best in a unique situation. My sons didn’t have every recommended chore, but they certainly contributed. I’m visually impaired and can’t drive; that came with extra helpfulness requirements (like lugging bags home after walking to the store). I called on Christian to babysit Nathan (they’re 11 ½ years apart). Christian had a job and paid rent; not a lot, but enough considering that he cooked dinner weekly and occasionally bought groceries. Nathan was getting through this crisis with good grades and a good attitude. If he misbehaved, there were consequences; not always the same as his friends, and I didn’t feel the need to share details at the next luncheon, but they were still consequences. I probably could be firmer, but my sons’ world had been rocked. I needed to be sensitive to that.
If I wanted to thrive as a single mom, I needed to stop allowing opinions to override my instincts and good judgement.
Maybe you’re suffering from advice overload. Here are a few things I learned to consider:
How God parents – Does God set limits and expect everyone to contribute? Yes. Does He discipline His kids? The Bible is clear that He does. He also created each of us uniquely and deals with us according to our needs, which only He fully knows.
“In my house . . .” A friend reprimanded Nathan for reacting to a disappointment with “Aw, man.” She didn’t allow that in her house. Did it mean I needed to forbid, “Aw, man” too? Probably not, considering how often I said it. I held onto this memory as a reminder that every household has its own rules and mine were just as valid as the next parent’s.
The source – Is the advice coming from someone I trust? Did she take time to understand the situation? Do I admire her parenting skills? Are the suggestions based on truly-biblical wisdom and common sense, the latest trend, “When I was a kid,” or “In our house…”? Did I ask for the advice or did it come out of nowhere? Was it given gently and respectfully, or in a way that left me feeling stupid?
I should warn you that the above limits your pool of advice, but it also reduces resentment. Sometimes our only advice comes from God in a moment of “Help me know what to do.” What could be better than that?
Amazon page for SSM: http://www.amazon.com/Suddenly-Single-Mom-Messages-Promise/dp/1617956678