No matter how much we wish it weren’t true, criticism seems to be a definite when it comes to motherhood. As mothers we feel we know what is right, we have our own opinions about raising kids. Often times these opinions can be shared or pushed on others. Then, if parenting criticism is inevitable, how do we deal? This is a question I’ve been asking myself. I’ve only been a mother for almost three years now and I’m not very good at taking criticism, at least for something so personal, like how I’m raising my children. I have come up with some different tips, I’ll be working on following them myself.
Remember there is no such thing as “Perfect”
I always grew up as a perfectionist. It was definitely hard on me in school. It definitely was the cause of a lot of my anxiety. Since becoming a mother it’s been tough. There’s a strong urge to compare. It’s hard not to compare myself to other mothers. Compare my parenting to others, or to compare my children’s milestones to others. This is especially true when someone criticizes you as a parent. It’s hard to not beat yourself up because although their criticism may be unfounded, it is their opinion, and other’s choice words can hurt.
Keep an open mind.
Although you may not want the person criticizing you to know, they may be right. Unsolicited advice, criticism, or judgment are all things we dread but different people have different paths in life. Different people have different perspectives and they may actually know from past experience, better then you. Keep an open mind to what they are saying and if it’s reasonable and valid at least consider it.
Put your foot down when you need to.
When criticism is unfounded then make sure you stand up for yourself. Find a way to stop it in its tracks. I need to remember this more. For instance, my daughter has a speech delay and is very independent. Those that do not know her well think she’s very aloof and unaffectionate and can criticize her for this. When it’s completely untrue, you just have to know my daughter better, it’s most likely an instance when you probably have to tell them off and put your foot down.
Don’t take it personally.
Criticism most often comes from those close to you, especially when it comes to parenting. Friends, family and other loved ones feel they have a right to give their unsolicited opinion. This makes it hard to not take criticism personally because those speaking are so close to you. Try to remember to brush it off, you’re the mom or dad, you know what’s best for your children.
Accept it may happen.
This becomes an expectation. I personally think it’s a sad expectation to have in life but I do not think there’s any way to avoid it. Criticism happens. Parenting criticism happens a lot. Everyone, with or without children, feel they know what’s best. They know how to raise a child or how to discipline a child and many feel they have a right to express those feelings. If you just realize it’s going to happen from time to time it’ll be a lot easier to deal with when it does.
Reduce time you spend with those who criticize.
There’s nothing better to improve your own mindset then to just do away with those that are negative. This is also true when it comes to dealing with criticism. Try to stay away from those that incessantly criticize. If people around you, family or friends, are bringing your mood down regularly then it may be best to keep your distance. I’ve been doing this recently and it definitely helps.
Keep complaints private.
This is hard in a time of technology and social media, but keep your complaints private. Do not bitch online about your mother, friend, grandmother, or whom ever else has given their opinion about your parenting. It’s okay to complain, it’s okay to get things off your chest, but do it personally to someone you can trust and confide in.
Shield your child.
Its amazing what children, even young toddlers and babies, understand around them. They understand what we say, especially when we are talking about them. The can feel our emotions, fears, as well as our joy. When criticism is given directed at a child they can often understand it. Or, they interpret it in a way hurts their own self esteem. Shield your children from the hurtful criticism. If someone feels its necessary to give you their opinion make sure they know it is not appropriate to do so in front of the children.
Consider the source.
I, honestly, have to consider the source more often then I’d like. My parenting style differs a lot from those around me. There are many I know I down right do not respect due to the things I’ve seen. So, when those people give me either parenting criticism or advice I look at their own parenting. When I do not agree with them I ignore whatever opinion they have.
How have you dealt with criticism in the past? How has that changed or stayed the same since becoming a parent?