Growing up we may not have always appreciated our mum’s advice to us. Especially unsolicited – as teenagers and young adults we thought we knew it all.
When mum explained right from wrong and offered tips on how we should live our lives, we rolled our eyes and sighed heavily. And heaven forbid if anyone uttered those dreaded words, “mum knows best”.
Fast-forward the years and, chances are, your mum is still giving you pieces of advice – especially now that you are a mum yourself.
But how do we respond to it now? Does it still fall on deaf ears and is it still unsolicited? Or are we more appreciative and accepting?
“It is not until we become parents that we feel a connection with our mothers that was not there before,” explains psychotherapist, Annie Gurton. “It’s like you’ve joined a secret club, and your mother is a respected older member who will guide and encourage, support and care for you as you transition through.”
Dr Karen Phillip, an expert in relationships and parenting, agrees. She says that because of this transition in our relationship, advice from our mums is usually well received.
“Our mums have ‘been there, done that’ and so offer their advice to try to alleviate the errors they made with you,” she says.
“This advice is well-meaning, comes from a place of love, and can help curb some of the hurt, heartache, guilt and frustration that most new mums experience.”
Dr Phillip adds that, if you choose to listen to it, the advice could prove to be a priceless gem. However, not every mum may feel so receptive or welcoming of it.
“Some mums may just want to make their own judgements, mistakes and choices. Or, alternatively, they may want to try parenting differently to their own mum,” she explains.
In these instances, unsolicited advice from others can often feel more like unwanted interference or be regarded as unhelpful.
“The best way to deal with advice in this situation is to listen openly, but then explain respectfully why you are making the decisions you are, and parenting the way you want,” advises Dr Phillip.
“Highlight you are doing what’s best for you and your child, and that you would like guidance and support, rather than judgement.”
Dr Phillip says that the key is to maintain open communication with your mum and reach a place of mutual understanding.