Have you ever been criticized as a parent?
This is a tough subject to deal with because I have all sorts of readers – some are mature and tested, others are inexperienced or clueless. Everyone else is in-between – mostly just trying to figure out this parenting thing as they go along. We are all different with varying levels of expertise.
Criticism can be valid, but the way it’s delivered matters.
Some never really get a handle on parenting, feeling responsible for everything that goes wrong. Some judge other parents because they think they had all the answers and did everything perfectly when in reality they just had children who were easy to raise.
Others are supportive and compassionate knowing it’s a hard job and nobody is perfect or has all the answers. They just feel blessed when their kids enter adulthood ready and able in spite of all their parenting mistakes.
Some had easy children who respected their position as parents and complied throughout. Others had strong willed children who required patience and creative parenting.
Regardless of your parenting situation – we ALL had criticism.
Here are a few that we heard throughout the years:
- You are too easy on them.
- You are too hard on them.
- You need to trust them more – they will never learn responsibility if you don’t let them go.
- You should never trust them – they are little wicked sinners looking for trouble.
- Give them space to make mistakes – they learn from their mistakes.
- Don’t give them an inch – they will take a mile.
- You should never treat them all the same – they are individuals.
- You should treat them all the same – parenting favoritism will cause bitterness.
- You should spank them.
- Never spank them.
- Establish your authority early on through rules and consequences.
- Authoritarian parental figures cause children to rebel.
- Always address rebellion from the git-go or you will have trouble when they are teens.
- Teenage rebellion is natural – don’t stress over it, they will grow out of it.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff – pick your battles.
- Don’t let anything go – be consistent and address everything.
One word of caution here: if you and your spouse don’t agree on parenting issues, you still need to present a united front. ALWAYS support each other. That doesn’t mean you cover up or encourage abuse, that “ALWAYS support each other” comes with an asterisk.
So what do you do when you or your parenting are criticized?
I have a couple of come backs that you need to memorize and apply at the proper time (or you can just smile and walk away):
- Thanks for your suggestion – I will consider it.
- I appreciate that you want to help, I’ll take it from here.
- I will deal with it at home, but thanks for your concern.
- I’m sure you mean to be helpful but your comments sound critical.
I have a couple of snarky responses that I got from my survey today.
Sometimes people step in and don’t handle your kids correctly. A well placed few words can drive home a point where a generic response would just leave you looking incompetent. Some people just don’t get it and will continue to pick at you and your kids unless you make it clear they are to back off.
- How’s that working out for you?
- Was that for your benefit or theirs?
- And you have experience in this area how?
- Your point is?
- Aaaannnnndddd???? (This puts them in the hot seat) Just keep saying it till they walk away.
Before you judge me to be insensitive or accuse me of not having a Christ-like attitude, realize this: The kids are more important than the adults and sometimes people can abuse you and your children with their words. Some just don’t understand a polite, “Thank you I’ve got this covered.”
If you’ve never experienced someone lashing you with their parenting advice tongue, then I’m glad for you. But I have and it ain’t pretty. Often I let them verbally abuse me because I never gave myself permission to go into a verbal battle for my kids.
Desperate times call for desperate measures.
I don’t agree that you must always be polite, though that should be our first rule of Christian conduct. When raising my kids, my rule was “always be polite no matter what” and I think that was a mistake. Sometimes the mama bear needs to come out!
I was quite beat up by the time all my kids were raised – and I’m not referring to my kids. Adults who thought they knew everything (but were very deceived in their own minds) caused a lot of bitterness and anger in my kids and left me feeling defeated.
I did get some funny responses to my survey – please don’t use these, but read them anyway. They will give you a laugh:
- If I throw a stick will you go chase it?
- Look at them and smile and start waving at them. And then mutter (so they can hear) “Smile and wave boys, smile and wave.” (From the Penguins of Madagascar)
- I’m busy now, can I ignore you later?
- Shush, the adults are talking.
- How very Ghandi of you…
These comments came from friends of mine who has raised special needs kids:
- Most times I am pleasant and say thank you and walk away. If the people are persistent I tell them they have no clue and depending on the situation I might explain. I have told people if they think they can do better, go adopt a child with baggage and special needs and do a better job then me. I wonder if anyone ever has. If they have I would like to see them today and see if they are now more understanding or on the psych ward recovering.
- There are those that truly think they are being helpful and then you have inconsiderate clods that probably should mind their own business. To the latter, I would be respectful but firm in my response. Don’t be bullied by rude people.
I will leave you with this one thought.
If you are criticized, listen to what they say and if what they say is true, then change. If it isn’t, then ignore it and move on. Only you can know for sure what your kids need. Trust your instincts and if you have any questions, find someone you trust and is wise and ask for help. Read parenting books, but don’t raise your kids by them. Godly friends and God’s Word were our most trusted sources back when we couldn’t find any one with answers.
Now go out and be amazing.
Join the Mom of Many mailing list and be invited to our exclusive M.O.M.s Facebook group where we chat every day about mom stuff. Support is important during times of criticism. (The servers are temporarily down, so if you are interested, try later.)