As soon as the words flew out of my mouth- I wished they were attached to a cord so I could pull them back in like a rogue kite.

No such luck. Instead, they flew out and attacked like one of those battle kites in “The Kite Runner.”  It probably would have been less bloody had the words been tipped with broken glass or needles. Instead they dripped with criticism. Poison that can wreck relationships.

Were the words harsh? No. Just the normal Mom stuff. (And wife stuff, and friend stuff-and leadership stuff….I am guilty of giving unsolicited advice-way more often than I care to admit.) Was I wrong? No. The problem is…… I gave advice that wasn’t asked for. Otherwise known as: criticism.

I meant well. I was TRYING To help. Except, I didn’t. I  hurt someone I care about. And I probably hurt the relationship. Not my goal.

The thing is: I know better. Because I’ve been on both sides of this fence.

When someone offers me advice that I haven’t asked for- I hear an underlying criticism. “You should think about changing your hair color”  sounds like:”I don’t like that hair color- this one would be better.”  “You’d look thinner if you wore_____” sounds like: “You look fat. ” Maybe you should try leading like this….” Sounds a lot like: “You’re a terrible leader.”  Criticism.

Helpful. Maybe. Sometimes. Right? Maybe, so. It can also damage relationships. Someone who’s always offering unsolicited advice (criticism) is probably not the person youre going to turn to when you feel vulnerable and need input.

After recently being both guilty of and victim to “advice.” I wondered:  What would happen if I stopped giving unsolicited advice ?

Honestly-  the idea makes me feel the beginnings of a panic attack. My mind reels:

“But, I’m a mom. I know things. I’m even (sometimes) right. If I ignore things, people won’t change.The world would be better if people did things my way…..and did I mention- I’m right?”

Some part of me feels like I’m the advisor to the universe. Like I have a responsibility to share the wealth of my knowledge.

If I am- why does it so often go ignored at best, often unappreciated  and sometimes, cause hurt?

Maybe the rest of the world feels like unsolicited advice is criticism, too.

So what can we do when we see something we’d really like to “advise” on?

1) Pray it- don’t say it. Pray if there’s something you see in someone you love that may need to be addressed. It’s amazing the opportunities God can create- and how God can help us change our opinions about our role as “advisors to the universe.”

2) Listen when advice is asked for. Answer the question- don’t look for a way to squeeze in your own agenda. (When someone asks for advice about a pair of jeans- it’s not the time to advise them about their hair… I call that:  pork-fat advising. Like the government, only more personal. Build trust by sticking to the advice asked for.)

3) Prioritize relationships over rightness. Ask yourself: Is this person doing this the RIGHT way (aka: mine) worth potentially losing the relationship for? Will saying this this help build relational trust- or crush it? Choose your response based on whether it’s worth losing trust to confront an issue. (Sometimes, it is.)

  • Do you experience unsolicited advice? How do you handle it? 
  • Do you often give unsolicited advice? How is it received? 
  • Is there a particular person- group of people who’s advice really rankles your cankles? (Yes- I just said that… it rhymed. This needed a rhyme. Are you criticizing me in your mind? Whatever.:P) 

Dear Lord- help me to pick and choose when to give advice and when to be quiet. I know that unsolicited advice feels like criticism… even when I’m just trying to be: helpful. Help me to prioritize relationship over rightness, help me to listen and help me to pray. I love you lord- amen. 

I’m learning:

When I pick and choose when to “advise” in my relationships- I find people more apt to respond and listen. Maybe unsolicited advice is like yelling- the more you do it the less is heard.

It’s not just the fairy tales we read to our children that are full of myth.  It’s our perceptions of each other.  Not so much a problem in fairy tales, but a big problem in Mom-life.  he myths we believe about ourselves and each other build walls between us.  The walls are made of the assumption that we don’t need to get to know someone different, because we think we already DO know them., based on what we assume from the tiny bit we see.

Here’s the thing: In my 20 years of mothering and working with mothers as a pastoral counselor and MOPS leader,  I’ve learned this… I don’t always recognize the myths I believe, until I meet a mom who blows them away.

My goal: To use humor and truth to create a project that can BUST the Mommy Myths we believe.

My Premise:

These myths cause us to judge and criticize each other without bothering to find out the truth about each other. They divide us into false categories and make us hurt each other with words and actions. These myths hurt us individually and corporately as a mothering community.

What would happen if moms could get past the assumptions, prejudices and myths we believe about each other and learn to respect and appreciate each other?  I have a feeling we could change the world. The hand that rocks the cradle truly DOES rule the world. I am on a mission to help moms rock the world TOGETHER.

Will you help?

I am looking for the top ten (maybe 20) myths we believe about each other as moms. I also need to define them and confront them.  This isn’t about hating on each other for holding these myths.. it’s about smacking down the myths with a foundational truth- we are mothers, regardless of our style, background and choices.

Below is a list to start you thinking. I’ll be adding to it as we go. Please either post your thoughts about other archetypes we hold as mothers and the myths we believe about them… ie SAHM’s sit around in their jammies and eat bon-bns all day) in the comments- or email them to me- at soltrcy at aol DoT CoM (you’ll need to format the addy correctly but you get the jist) You can also Tweet your ideas to me- follow @traceysolomon or you can add to the conversation on my facebook page. All emailed and twittered myths will be kept confidential unless you state otherwise. (Some of these myths are more volatile than others)

I appreciate your input,  authenticity and prayers as I work on this project! Let’s bust some Mommy Myths!

PLEASE be sure to click the MORE button at the bottom of this post- the rest of the list we’ve started is there. :)

SAHM-  Stay at home moms- moms who don’t work outside the home for a paycheck.

Working Moms- Moms who work outside (or inside the home) for a paycheck.

Welfare Moms- Moms struggling financially and on assistance of some sort.

Well off Moms- Moms for whom budget issues are less intrusive to daily life. (hard to define)

Home School Mom- A mom who educates her child at home.

Public School Moms-

(more…)