What Is the Oddest Unsolicited Advice You’ve Received More Than Once?

Every month I post a Facebook album of the photo highlights from the previous 30 days. While I pretty much only accept Facebook friend requests from people I’ve met in real life, my profile is public–anyone can see my posts and comment on them.

Today I woke up to find a comment on the album from a complete stranger that struck me as so odd and inappropriate that I removed it. After I did, though, I realized that it’s not the first time someone has said this to me, and it strikes me as one of the strangest pieces of unsolicited advice you could give someone, especially a stranger.

To paraphrase the comment, the person said, “You really should start having children.” There was a little more to the comment–something about my cats and a note about how a famous game designer has kids–but that’s the gist of it. And it’s not the first time I’ve heard it from a complete stranger.

I think what these people are actually saying is, “My experience with having and raising children has been fulfilling and important to me. I recommend it.”

But by making it about me instead of them, they’re essentially saying, “Jamey, I don’t know you, but I’ve decided it’s my place to tell you that you should have sex with the intent to procreate (or adopt), then completely change everything in your life to care for another human being as long as you possibly can. Based on what I  know about you from social media, the best course for you moving forward is to add the immense responsibility, love, heartache, happiness, pain, and triumph of having and raising one or more children.”

I’m hesitant to even recommend a long game to someone, knowing that playing it will take 2-3 hours of their life, much less tell a stranger completely unsolicited that they should have and raise kids (a process that I’m pretty sure takes more than a few hours).

Again, I understand what these people are actually saying: They’re wanting to share something with others that has brought them joy. But the delivery matters, especially when the recipient of the unsolicited advice is a stranger.

To be perfectly clear, while I’m very grateful for my parents and I respect the decision to have children, it most certainly is not a path I want for my life.

Do you agree that this is odd, or is it a perfectly normal thing to say?

10 thoughts on “What Is the Oddest Unsolicited Advice You’ve Received More Than Once?”

  1. As someone who also made the decision not to have children, it definitely seems odd to me. It never bothers me if people ask if my husband and I have kids, but I’ve never had someone recommend them to me! It makes me wonder why they are such a proponent of you adding children to your life and why a Facebook photo inspired them to share that sentiment.

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  2. Yeah, that is super weird. Perhaps they meant to say that they think you would make a great father, but english is not their first language…or they have abysmal etiquette and writing skills.

    But I think that’s giving them far too much credit.

    I have a kid, and he’s awesome. I don’t recommend it, though. Because it’s none of my business. And also I hate everyone else’s kids, and wish they would produce fewer of them. (Logic suggests they feel the same way about me and mine.)

    How about this as a comment on your album instead:
    “You really should start making the game that will topple your own Scythe on the BGG rankings.”

    I mean…I’d probably like it more than pictures of your hypothetical kid.

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  3. That’s indeed a unusual unsolicited advice. If someone you knew was speaking that’s one thing.

    That said, I wouldn’t weigh this against a long board game recommendation. Rather, it’s a different category of discussion. I find having children such a curious topic for those without children. It’s one of the single common trait we hold with every ancestor along with a few other activities. I’d place it in a category of total life experiences than something to try once.

    Children change our life obviously immediately but they change our lives 30 years later even more. Hearing folks at that age talk about children (or no children) is incredibly more substantive than 30-40 somethings.

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  4. I agree with you, they might recommend it based on their experience. But it’s still not appropriate. Growing up in Asian culture, relatives often ask about getting married yet? Having children yet? But no one ever asked “Are you living a happy life now?” 🙄
    Everyone has different purpose of living, we should all respect that, and realise where the boundaries are.😊

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    • I much prefer the phrasing of your suggestion, Judie: “Are you living a happy life now?” I like that! 🙂

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    • I think the way you phrased it “My experience with having and raising children has been fulfilling and important to me. I recommend it…” is typically the thinking behind it.

      I myself would agree with that sentiment, and I thinkt he reason it feels like such a pressing thing to recommend is both tied to the fact that our society is set up around the concept of family being at the forefront, as well as how major of a role having children plays in people’s lives.

      For me, I wasn’t planning on having a son already, but it has made my life so immeasurably better that I can’t imagine life without kids, which is why it feel so pressing to recommend. I know I don’t know you, but when something so major makes your life so much better, it’s hard to not want to recommend it to everyone.

      But, I agree that people should be more careful and considerate of how they are getting that point across. Your decision to have or not have kids is your own. I don’t know you, and while I’d recommend children, I can’t possibly know that that is the right choice for you so why would I imply it is? What’s right for one person isn’t right for everyone.

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  5. I feel those types of comments are a reflection more on the person making the comment. At times it seems people are trying to reaffirm to themselves they made the correct life decision by encouraging others to make similarly valued based decisions.

    Unsolicited advice of this type is not respectful and inappropriate especially in type of setting in which it was shared.

    I recently watched a stand up by Mike Birbiglia on Netflix titled “The New One”. He does a great job of shedding insight with lots of laughs into how life is irrevocably altered by having children.

    Reply

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