This is universal. We all know one. You may not be best buddies with this font of all knowledge but I’m sure that right now in your mind you’re picturing someone that you see fairly regularly.

You know who I mean, the one that’s been there and done that.know-all-friend

I realise that I’m on shaky ground here, I earn my living through supporting parents, so let me digress for a moment. I hope that supporting parents is the accurate description – I would hate anyone to think that I tell people what to do. No one can do that. So, doing the job that I do makes me really fearful that people will think that this know it all is me!! It can make things a bit tricky and it’s the main reason that I have chosen not to work in the area in which I’m bringing up my children! I need my peer relationships just as much as the next parent, ones where I whinge and moan and ask what the hell I do next.

The reason for this post (which upon proof reading I discovered is actually a rant in disguise) is that I’ve been supporting a new mum who is coming up against this in a big way. So much so, it has completely knocked her faith in her own abilities and crucially it’s squashing any hope that she has about coming through the other side of a tricky patch.

She’s been blighted by a know-it-all of epic proportion. The most destructive kind… not the “Look at me, I’m nailing it!” type, she’s been totally brow beaten by someone who is so caught up in their own negative experiences, dismissive of new ideas, new approaches and different ways of thinking that she’d almost given up hope of getting back on track. Someone who is so blinded by their own bias that they’re completely shut down and are inadvertently (and likely unintentionally) shutting down those around them.

I guess that’s the point that I’d like to get to. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all be captain of our own ship? If we didn’t come up against peer pressure (because on reflection that’s what I think it is). I suppose that this might be almost impossible. We need peer advice, it’s just not always useful! Perhaps it is because parenting is so all-encompassing it’s virtually impossible to see beyond our own experiences. I like to think that however damaging, the know all friend has good intentions.

The sad thing is, I experience this kind of scenario quite a lot as I spend my working life facilitating other people to navigate their own way through parenthood.

So what can you do if this is happening to you?

When I’m chatting to friends and acquaintances who may be struggling with something unless they explicitly ask I never offer up a more professional opinion. I hope that if they wanted one, they would ask me and I completely understand that sometimes we all just need to let off a bit of steam. It’s amazing how therapeutic it can be to have somebody nod and agree with us whilst we just let it all out.

If you’re coming up against this kind of thing, remember that this is your parenting experience, not theirs.

What happened for them isn’t necessarily going to happen for you and just because they might of been through something similar once or twice is doesn’t make them an expert. There can be no experts on parenting. Just as all of our children are different, so are we – therefore the way we parent is completely unique.

Absolutely, listen to well intentioned advice but if you’re hearing things that doesn’t quite fit well with you, remember that you don’t have to follow it.

There is a really good chance that your parenting styles are completely different, no matter how similar you are as people.

Everybody’s experiences are different, surround yourself with people who genuinely want to support you and distance those who don’t. If we were to generalise I tend to hypothesise that negative Nora’s are often people who have struggled and who haven’t made peace with that struggle.

Smile, nod and walk your own path.

Sarah xx

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