One of the unique things about NICU is that in the start, we truly know more about someone's child than they do. That and the fact that we can pretty carefully control this tiny little human and their environment tend to make us fairly anal and controlling. Although this is well-intentioned, I think it also makes us prone to forgetting that this is their child, and they do have the right to be involved in and make decisions about the child's care, even if the decisions aren't always the best ones.
Just like I can go to the doctor for some depression issues but then elect not to start taking anti-depressant medication that they recommend, a parent can seek care for their child but not always follow all of our recommendations. I don't believe we should cater to demands that are inappropriate. For example, the physician is responsible for the meds that they order, so they shouldn't order something that's inappropriate, even if the parent wants it. However, if I tell the parent that I am making an effort to keep things dark and quiet so the child gets a good nap, and I tell them why, they can still choose to wake up their child. I will do everything possible to help them make a healthy decision for their child, but in the end some of these things are their decisions. Don't you all ever ask questions about your doctor's recommendations and even challenge or disagree with them sometimes?
I have found that variations in the way I phrase things can make a big difference. For example, my new little patient's mom really wanted to hold him today. I could have said, "He's not ready to be held." or "He can't handle coming out yet." We say those things all the time, right? Instead, I said something like, "I would love for you to be able to hold him, and I'm sure you're really looking forward to it. I know it would be great for both of you. The actual snuggling part would be wonderful for him, but I am a little worried though about how he would handle the transition between the isolette and your arms. I noticed that when I do small things like turn him in bed, his oxygen levels drop quite a bit. I think it's going to be better for both of you if we pick a time when he is showing that he does really well with activity before we make a big move." This mom responded really well when she saw that I was paying attention to her baby individually and wanting the best for him. I'm not trying to say that I say everything right. I have just paying a lot of attention to my words lately, and I have noticed that parent responses seem to really depend on how I phrase things.
I guess if I was sitting at my child's bedside for weeks on end, I would probably have a lot of opinions (some misguided) about their care too. And I probably wouldn't respond very well to people who were very sure that they knew my baby and what was best for him/her better than me.