After almost two weeks as a mother in China, I’ve received a lot of advice. Some of it good, some of it bad, but most of it just none of the business of the people on the street. (I guess our type of ergonomic baby carrier isn’t used much in China as a lot of it centres around that)
I asked my husband, “How are new parents meant to have any confidence in their abilities if every Tom, Dick and Harry on the street keeps questioning them and advising them to do things differently?” “They’re not” he replied. And here lies the culture difference.
When our little boy was a few days old and the midwife came to my home to visit me, I said to her “What do you think?” to which she replied, “You’re his mum, you know what’s best.” I thought she was crazy, she was the professional, she clearly had a lot more knowledge on the subject. Yet telling me I know best made me think things through and did give me confidence in my decision. Furthermore, any decisions I make about my baby, we will have to live, not the midwife.
Back when Baby Z was a newborn and I was living with my mum, she used to say ‘thank goodness for the internet, you guys know everything these days’: she couldn’t believe the extent of my research on baby topics and she acknowledged that I was much more knowledgeable than her. But here in China, elders know best and I guess it could be considered rude to disregard their advice, so it is largely followed (think zuo yuezi, etc) despite how things have moved on. Well I’m sorry China, I am a new mum and I am fairly young, but I am confident as a mother and I know my son best. I’m fortunate that my husband also has confidence in me and I can see my mother-in-law’s confidence in me also growing.
I’ve tried a few different approaches to receiving advice about my baby. Thanking them, reassuring them he’s fine, ignoring the advice or ignoring them completely. I also asked my husband how to say ‘it’s none of your business’ (关你什么事?) and that got some very interesting looks from the group of ayis standing around us, but I don’t think I’ll use that one too much! (I also plan to ask my husband how to say ‘what is the scientific basis for that approach?’)
Comments about how beautiful my baby is though, those I don’t mind so much 🙂
Any other approaches I could try to unsolicited advice?