This article is written by reflux parents and RISA Inc members Glenda Blanch and Marie Ashworth for the benefit of reflux parents, based on their own experiences. It is not meant to replace medical advice and is of a general nature only. If you have any questions or concerns, please seek advice from your medical professional.
Dealing with reflux can be very stressful, and many people think that they are being helpful by offering advice. Even though their suggestions may be helpful, the constant advice, and inferred criticism of your parenting, can make your journey all the more stressful.
In addition to that, the advice may conflict with your beliefs or the advice you have already been given e.g. someone will tell you that you should not nurse a baby to sleep as it ‘will create a rod for your back’, while someone else will tell you that you should. As a result, it can leave you feeling very confused, inadequate, frustrated and resentful.
Even if you feel stressed, there may be ways you can manage the situation without upsetting friends and strangers who offer advice.
- Listen to what they have to say even if you feel the advice is judgemental or critical of your parenting skills. They may simply be trying to share information they feel is valuable, and there is the possibility it may help; you never know.
- Thank them for giving the advice, but bear in mind you do not have to use it.
- Do what is best for you and your family; use only advice you think will be useful.
- If it is a stranger offering advice, it may help if you just thank them and continue on your way. There may be no point in trying to explain your situation; but if you wish to, you could offer a brief explanation. Avoiding the word ‘reflux’ can sometimes be helpful.
- With family or friends, you may need to use additional tactics to deal with their need to offer advice.
- Choose topics to take a stand on (issues that are important), and consider making allowances just to keep the peace on issues that really don’t matter
- Avoid talking to a particular person about issues when you know their opinion strongly differs from yours (like letting the baby cry it out as opposed to picking them up straight away)
- Ask them for advice on issues they do know about. This may avert any problems on topics you would rather not discuss with them.
- Try to educate them on current treatments; especially if your doctor has validated your approach.
- Stand your ground; you know what the situation is. While they can make suggestions, you have to do what is best for you and your family, without worrying about what someone else is saying.
- Never take to heart what someone is saying, although this can sometimes be hard. Unless they have been in your situation, chances are that they do not understand, and letting someone upset you is only going to hurt you, not them.
- Surround yourself with supportive family or friends, or failing that, a support group where you can talk about how you feel. This may help you cope with all the advice that comes your way, and people who have coped with, or are coping with reflux may be able to offer advice you can use.
- Try to keep a sense of humour about it all. Remind yourself they are trying to be helpful, and probably do not realise you are given advice wherever you go.
Information reviewed by Professor (Adj) Jeanine Young, Nursing Director, Research, Royal Children’s Hospital, Brisbane.
Additional information on gastro-oesophageal reflux and management suggestions are provided in our book “Reflux Reality: A Guide for Families”.