Are We Giving Bad Advice?

Should parents stop giving parenting advice to those not asking for it?

Mike Treanor
10 min readMay 3, 2020


I got asked this question a few days ago. I had previously thought that the answer was obvious: I don’t have the right or the time to get in the middle of the business of other people. But it got me thinking …

What value does advice have if it is unsolicited? Does it have any value at all? Is parenting advice different? Does it have some side effects that we are dangerous? Forcing opinions on anyone who isn’t asking can’t be a good thing, can it? I’m not sure that I know the answer, but I’m taking a try at it. Let me know what you think.

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash

Humans have collectively discovered a fantastic evolutionary method that has allowed us to dramatically pass every other animal in terms of translating ideas into actions: We cheat!

We can learn from the experience of others, and we can even learn from the ideas of long-dead ancestors that have traveled through time stowed away in the books. But those activities are initiated by the person who is motivated to learn. It only works if the seeker is seeking. You cannot fool motivation or fake creativity. If we want advice, we must be motivated enough to ask.

What happens when someone else witnesses the events or reads the books and tries to foist those ideas upon us? Resistance. We have all had the experience of someone sharing an exciting (to them!) story that left a strong impression on them. They believe they are sharing the event … sharing the experience. They may even think that they are doing us a favor.

But they are not. They are not sharing an experience, a feeling, or an insight. They are sharing how excited they were when they ‘got it.’ When they notice that we are not very enthusiastic or thankful, but shrug it off with a “guess you had to be there.”

And they are right. You had to be there! Think about the most exciting and motivating experiences you have had… I’ll wait …

While I waited, I watched a cool YouTube gardening video about building Enclosed Raised Beds.) YouTube is a…



Mike Treanor

Mike is a software developer, chemist, motivational speaker, parent, and musician who writes about creativity and human nature.