On Being Wary About Advice (And Why I Hate Baby Showers)

Dr Erin Bowe

October 7, 2021

A version of this week’s blog is on Episode 14 of the Mum as You Are podcast HERE 
I have a slightly shameful secret.
I don’t like baby showers. So much so, that I refused to have my own. In my girls’ baby books there is literally a blank section where I’ve written ‘sorry, it’s not Mummy’s thing’. It’s not that I dislike celebrating pregnancy and babies, it’s that I’m that awkward introvert who hates party games and doesn’t take board games seriously enough.
The last baby shower I went to was maybe 8 years ago now. After guessing the mamma’s belly measurements (ha! Imagine trying to get me to agree to this when I as pregnant with my 5.0kg baby belly) we were all asked to give the mum a piece of advice. Everyone took turns saying things like “get your baby into a routine on day one”, and “sleep when the baby sleeps”. It was my turn and I shrugged and said “don’t listen to any bad advice”.

Knowing exactly what skills you need for your career path or your particular parenting journey can be surprisingly tricky. It takes time to get to know someone and know what ‘might’ be a good fit for them.
Have you ever met someone who seems to align with your values or has what information you think you need, and you get all excited asking them for advice? You wait with baited breath to see what wisdom they will impart, and then they offer….well…nothing amazing really.  The pressure to offer something that sounds wise and insightful is too much so they end up saying anything.
I think this is where storytelling comes in. People are just better at telling stories than they are at on the spot advice.
Instead of asking for advice consider asking: “tell me the story of what it was like having a baby who didn’t sleep”, or “tell me how you go to this point in your business”.
Good stories have a dilemma, obstacles to overcome, and often, a guide or helper along the way. Someone who helped you see something in yourself, taught you a skill or gave you confidence to change your mind about something. When you listen deeply to these stories, the golden nuggets will be there to be extracted.
I’m about to embark on the nerve wracking process that is final edits and a cover for my upcoming book, Motherhood, Mental Health & Social Media. There’s a reason most people never actually write a book, or sort of write one then hide it in a cupboard. I’m entering a stage of feeling really exposed and having to make decisions based on other people’s advice and nervous about getting it ‘right’.
And yet, I’ve come such a long way from even the process of deciding on my first logo. I naively outsourced the final choice to family and friends on Facebook. I wouldn’t ever do this again. Like, ever. While I ended up with something that was OK, I ultimately didn’t love it and allowed myself to enter analysis-paralysis by asking too many opinions. I chose a hydrangea flower and people said:
“It looks like a tampon ad” (my mother in law)
“You don’t want petals falling; that indicates decline and decay, at least in gerontology” (my BFF; this was actually useful to consider)
“Are you a florist now?” (a bloke I went to high school with)
Were any of these people my ideal client? No. Did I ever consider consulting someone who was not just a graphic designer but someone experienced in making images to covert my ideal client base? Also no.

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