We’re back with another behind-the-scenes look at our advice to celebrate Advice Week. Today we’re hearing from Doyin Richards, one of our Care and Feeding columnists, on how he cuts through the noise of the parenting advice world.
Doyin! You’ve been a Care and Feeding columnist for more than two years now. How has your approach to advice evolved over that time? Have you noticed any change in the types of questions you receive?
When I first started, I played it safe to ensure I didn’t hurt anyone’s feelings — but after a while, I figured that the quality of my advice suffered because I wasn’t keeping it real with my readers. Now I’m at the point where I feel comfortable delivering tough love, which was always the most effective form of advice I received from my loved ones.
In terms of the types of questions I receive, I notice that I’m receiving more questions about race/racism, and raising anti-racist kids. Obviously, I love that because my full-time job involves speaking at conferences, schools, and corporations about how to be anti-racist in all walks of life.
One challenge with parenting is that advice is just about everywhere and everyone has an opinion. It seems like parents are constantly inundated with a million different ways they could be raising their kids. How do you cut through all that noise to help people and get through to them?
That’s true, and that’s why I never tell people how to raise their kids. Because at the end of the day, that decision always falls on them. My role is to offer them a perspective they may not be aware existed, or I’ll validate what they already believe if I agree with them.
What’s one parenting tip you wish everyone knew and followed?
Follow your gut. One of my mentors once told me that advice is something you seek when you already know the answer. Listen to your inner voice, because it’s never wrong.
Does your advice-giving translate to real life—I’m imagining people in your life coming to you and saying, “Hey, you’re an advice columnist, what do you think of this?”
Oh, my goodness—I’m often inundated with people asking for my advice on all types of things because of my column at Slate. Everything from buying cars to dating/sex and everything in between. I love it, but sometimes I wish I had a virtual “tip jar” for my time.
Favorite column you’ve written?
I don’t want to cop out, but just like my kids, I love all of my columns equally. Every week that I’m trusted to answer reader questions is a win for me.