Know the Ropes: Giving Advice


Cliff thinks I give too much advice, so I’ve been pondering the topic.

Now that I’m of a certain age, I especially love to give advice to young people. I do this because I think I know the ropes. I’ve been around the block a bit. But is the advice welcome? Or is my advice even good advice?

I’ve had people (usually women my own age) come back to me and say, “Barbara, I took your advice…….” (fill in something good that happened to that person). I had one friend say that my advice saved a whole vacation! (Can’t remember what the advice was now–something about how to react to a situation, but I can’t remember what situation.)

But of all the friends, and sometimes strangers, that I’ve given advice to, I don’t know how many I’ve annoyed or upset. Those people are usually too polite to tell you that your advice got on their nerves.


I often go to others for advice, and in recent years, I’ve worked to be even more open to advice, especially advice that initially makes me bristle. It’s felt liberating to let my guard down and to be more receptive. But I’ve been the victim of condescending and sometimes even cruel advice, so I get why Cliff is urging caution.

When we really know the ropes on a topic, should we give our advice?  Or should we NEVER offer advice unless it’s requested?

Give us your advice, wise friends!

Here’s a great article on the Psychology Today website on the giving of advice.

I snapped these cool rope pictures at a resort in Cabo, Mexico last year. I would never think to decorate with ropes!

Here’s some info on the expression: Know the ropes.

Menopause, Midlife

I Can Solve Your Problem! I know I Can, She Thinks with Her Hand Over Her Mouth

I can solve her problem.  I know I can.  I know I can.  I just know I can!

But she won’t listen.

I can solve his problem.  I know I can.  I know I can.  I just know I can!

But he won’t listen.

I can solve everybody’s problems.  I know I can.  I know I can.  I just know I can!

But they won’t listen.

And oh no!  I bet they sometimes feel the same frustration with me.

So what’s the answer to this quandary?  Can you solve it?

Why won’t others take our advice, and why won’t we take theirs (most of the time)?

Is it because they/we are stubborn?  And the solutions will force us to go in directions we don’t want to go?

Or are we just not insightful enough to get deep inside one another’s problems to really understand them?

Don’t know.

Friends and family (well mostly family, who tend to be so ouch brutally honest), say I give way too much advice.  And so with The Great Pause and midlife, I am learning to just keep my mouth closed, at least some.  (Blog excepted.)

But if someone says, “I need your advice,” this old brain goes to town.  Yippee!

What about you?  Are you a giver of advice?  Or has age taught you to hold your wise tongue?

Photo:  I took this picture from a fourth grade arithmetic test my mom saved. I got a 98%.  Funny, no math tests exist for Barbara Kiehne [Younger] once she got into Algebra Two.  Maybe a tutor or a wise math friend could have helped her, but she was too stubborn to ask for advice.

Note that the test was mimeographed.  Remember the fumes!  Those were the days.

Children, Fashion, Fitness

Listen to Your Children and You Shall Hear

One of the best lessons I have learned as a mother is to listen to my children.


Because I’m the mother, I get to decide which advice to take.

I have said no to totally gutting the inside of our old house and starting over.

I’m not sure what else I’ve said no to, but I bet my girls could make you a list.

I have two daughters, so I get double advice.

Daughter Number Two, Laura, is pictured above.  When Laura and I go shopping, she helps me pick out clothes.  She doesn’t like frump or bag.  In fact, she HATES  frump or bag.  I always get compliments on what she chooses for me, probably because I look less frumpy and baggy.

Laura insisted a few years ago that I get an IPod, and I did.  That sent me on many happy miles of walking with my favorite music.

Laura’s latest project is my fitness program.  She (and the rest of the family) kindly refrained from any sniping comments when I was the last one up the mountain on our Thanksgiving hike.   Actually, I felt they were lucky I made it up the mountain at all.

But a few weeks after, Laura said, “Mom, I think you need to work on your fitness level.”  I guess I haven’t been walking fast enough with my IPod.  ( It’s also probably not a great idea to circumvent all hills I encounter in our town of Hillsborough.)

And so I get it.  I’m not just lucky to make it up the mountain.  I need to be fit enough, especially for the sake of my heart, to make it up the mountain without taking in most of the mountain’s air.

Resolved.  (And this works with my plan for Naked Church in July.)  We’ll see how I do.

But this post isn’t really about fitness or fashion.  It’s about listening to kids, be they our own children or nieces, nephews, cousins, grandchildren, or young people who aren’t even related to us.  We can decide to take their advice or not.  It’s the listening that’s important.

Advice from kids feels different.  It’s given with great love and  usually, flat out honesty.  The young ones don’t tiptoe around.  We react, I think, with honesty and openness too.  I’ve found, in talking with my girls, that I’m less defensive than I am with spouse, friends, colleagues, or parents.  Not always, but often.

After all, deep down, don’t we want that remarkable child to be right?

Photo:  Laura and I on the top of Humpack Rock Trail on the Blue Ridge Parkway.   BTW, she’s also working on her dad.  She wants him to color his gray hair.  Guess what sort of luck she’s having with that suggestion?  Zilch, thus far.