Coping with Unwanted Advice about Your Child’s Medical Condition

  • Have you tried a gluten and dairy free diet to improve his behavior?
  • I bet I could get him to eat if you just left him at my house all weekend!
  • These essential oils are completely safe and will stop all her seizures, and they are only $50!
  • Have you gone to Mexico for stem cells? They helped my cousin’s friend’s child be able to walk.

I am sure that every parent has heard advice like the comments listed above. Sometimes the advice is well meaning and really an attempt to let you know about other potential options for diagnosis and treatment.

But a lot of the time, the advice is packaged in a whole lot of judgment.

woman with fingers in earsComments like this make you feel like all the work you have done to try to help your child has been for naught or that you are a bad parent. The commends may seem to invalidate your entire experience with your child’s medical condition — every test, every hospital stay, every procedure, every single thing you have tried for months and years. Not only that, commenters often claim that their likely-Googled or second-hand knowledge of your child’s condition is greater than yours and even that of your child’s doctors.

Handling Comments

So, what do you do when people make these kinds of comments?

Option 1: You always have the option to tell them to mind their own business

It’s really easy to want to fly off the handle and tell them to stay out of it, and it is of course your right to tell them to butt out. But you can do it nicely. Here are some simple ways to tell them to stay out of it:

  • I apologize, but I don’t feel comfortable discussing my child’s health. Can we talk about something else?
  • We’re working with his/her doctors on this right now and will be following their treatment plan.
  • We prefer to get our advice from our son’s/daughter’s medical professionals.
Option 2: In one ear and out the other

Sometimes it is easier to shut people down by seeming to acquiesce to their advice-giving. Smile, nod, and say thank you. Then forget everything they said. Here are some ways to do it:

  • Thanks for the advice. We’ll consider it.
  • We’ll keep that in mind. Thank you.
  • We appreciate your advice. Thanks for thinking of us.
angry woman on phoneOption 3: Ignore, if possible

When comments are given face-to-face, it is pretty hard to ignore them. But these days, so much communication is by text, messages, email, or social media. It’s easy to simply not respond or even block people if need be. Of course, you probably don’t want to block your nosy sister, and ignoring your mother may backfire, but this strategy works well for people who are not as close to you.

Option 4: Make it funny

This option takes a certain type of personality and the ability to think on your feet, but it also is incredibly powerful to say something funny if you can do it. Sometimes the humor ends up being sarcasm in a joke package, and that’s OK, too. Maybe it will still make the point. Here are some examples:

  • If we give him any more protein, he will poop bricks.
  • Well, the essential oils may not cure his seizures, but at least he will be the best smelling baby on the block.
  • Everybody needs a feeding tube. It’s much easier to get drunk with one.
Option 5: Teach them to overcome their ignorance

Much of the time, comments come from a place of ignorance. The commenter rarely knows the ins and outs of your child’s condition, let alone what you have and haven’t already tried for years. Sometimes the best option is to provide him or her with a real education on your child’s condition.

There are many ways to do this, from inviting the advice-giver to a medical appointment, giving her a medical article to read, or providing him with a pamphlet or book on your child’s condition. Sometimes just including them in your day-to-day life can make your point in a simple and yet obvious way.

Option 6: Give them a job

If someone persistently gives you advice, sometimes your best option is to use his or her desire to help for your personal gain. At least it will keep the advice-giver out of your hair for a while. Here are some options you can use:

  • You seem really good at researching medical conditions. Could you help me by researching beta blocker medications instead?
  • That’s interesting. Can you get me some articles from medical journals about it?

No Matter What, Stay Calm

No matter what option you choose, try to stay calm. Jumping down the other person’s throat usually isn’t helpful, and will just lead to him or her becoming defensive and angry.

There are times when someone in your life simply will not stop with unwanted comments, no matter how hard you have tried to shut them down. In this situation, first be honest with the person and let them know that their comments are really bothering or upsetting you. A good friend or kind relative will find a way to stop. And if the person still doesn’t stop, it may be time to take a break from that person. That is perfectly OK. You and your child’s needs come first.

Author: Susan Agrawal • Date: 10/27/2019
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