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Mom Gives Unwanted Advice



"My 84 year old mother raised children in the 50s and 60s, a.k.a. a long time ago. She’s filled with childrearing advice and loves to impart it on anyone who will listen, including my kids who now have families of their own. But, much of her advice is outdated and unsolicited.

I love my mother very much, but I hate the unwanted advice. I can see how off-putting it is to my children. It’s tough enough for them to raise a child without my mother telling them how to do it.

How do I get my mom to back off before she scares away all her grandchildren?"



I suspect that your mother is well-meaning with her advice and doesn’t realize she’s offending anyone. She may feel entitled to provide her wisdom given that she’s gotten this far, but I can’t be sure of her motivation.

I believe that you can go one of three ways here:

  1. Prepare your children to expect grandma to provide unwanted advice. Suggest that they just love her and ignore her tips. I realize it’s easier said than done, but knowing it’s coming may make it easier to brush off.

    Additionally, you can give them responses to buffer the situation. They can say something like, “Thanks for the advice grandma, but we’re going a different route.”
  2. Speak with your mother and let her know how sensitive people are to her comments. You may be assuming your mother has no filter and can’t alter her behavior. Unless you speak with her about it, you can’t be certain that she is unable to adapt.

    Maybe provide her with a new framework for when to give advice. Rather than blurting out thoughts that may be hurtful, suggest that she preface her comments by asking permission to offer a suggestion first. If the other party declines, she holds her opinion. I do realize that nonverbal communication is also powerful, so you may need to coach your mom on that as well. 

    Remind her that ongoing unsolicited advice could push her loved ones away.
  3. Do nothing.

Sometimes we interfere when no intervention is needed. If the advice is annoying but infrequent, it may be best to just let it happen. Adults have some responsibility to manage unwanted advice. If your children aren’t asking for assistance or pulling away from grandma, you may wish to let it go. 

I wish you well in this situation. Hopefully, your family can grow together with everyone learning new skills in the process.


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