It doesn’t feel good to be the oddball parent among family and friends. Here’s what you can do when people criticize your parenting methods.
One glaring fact sets me apart from my family: I didn’t let my kids eat sweets. They had no first-year birthday smash cakes or Christmas cookies. It took years before my eldest had his first taste of candy.
I’m more lenient now with the twins, but not too much. Coming from a family where dinner can can include five desserts, this was sacrilege. And sometimes, I felt it.
“Don’t you feel bad for him though?” Someone might say as we’re all eating cake except for my then-two-year-old. “Everyone’s eating cake except him.”
I even heard someone say, “That’s so sad. I would hate to grow up without having tasted any sweets.” Ouch. As if not giving a two-year-old sweets meant a lifetime without it.
Fast forward to today. My now-four-year-old has eaten his fair share of cakes thanks to birthday parties. He’s had the occasional candy during Halloween and Valentine’s Day. And he’ll chomp on a cookie his classmates brought for a birthday celebration.
My twins have yet to do this, and I’m in no rush. I’m also less inclined to put up with people’s criticism of how my husband and I run our home, or the values we hold. I love my family and friends. (We’re like the Big Fat Greek family minus the Greek part.) But back then, I’d get annoyed. Either way, I now don’t let those comments bother me.
Sweets is just one topic too. Other factors that set us apart:
- We have rules about bedtimes and naps. We’ve missed out on traditions like midnight Christmas because it was past bedtime. And many times we’ve had to turn down invitations because the event was right smack in the middle of a nap.
- We don’t watch television. At least not until they’re two-years-old, and even then, my eldest had little interest in it. For the longest time he wasn’t familiar with Yo Gabba Gabba, Disney, Sesame Street, you name it. Only now at four is he watching movies, and only 30 minutes per day.
- We sleep-trained our kids. People were baffled why we weren’t going in to pick the baby up the minute he cried.
- We don’t force our kids to hug and kiss. Although others may think it disrespectful not to hug and kiss the adults, we don’t make our kids do so. We encourage and ask them to, but we don’t make it an issue if they don’t want to.
- We didn’t baptize our kids. Out of everyone, we’re the only ones who aren’t raising our kids Catholic.
And so on. When you’re a first time mom and you’re trying hard to hold onto your values, it can suck to hear opposing views. You start questioning yourself. You feel like you don’t have support. Or you’re the topic of conversation at parties once you leave (for the early bedtime, of course!).
What to do when when people criticize your parenting
So what do you do? How do you respond when people criticize your parenting methods?
Remind yourself why you do what you do.
Once in a while, people’s unsolicited comments can help you decide what to do. We can get caught up in ourselves that hearing opposing views can add a fresh take on it.
Other times, people’s criticisms just further cement your beliefs, which isn’t bad either. You’re reminded why you don’t feed your three-year-old dessert an hour before bed. You’re the one who has to deal with his crankiness the next morning, not them. Or why co-sleeping is best for you. Or making your own baby food.
Whenever you hear a comment about “Why do you do this…?” remind yourself why you do. It’ll give you the reserve to keep going and tune criticism out.
Surround yourself with positive people.
Notice I didn’t say “people who agree with you.” Positive people are those who will support you and your decisions, no matter different. These folks are the ones who understand you’re doing the best.
They won’t judge. Instead, they’ll listen. They might offer their views, but because it’s what works for them, not because you should follow.
And they won’t make snarky comments or jokes when you breastfeed your eighteen-month-old. Or when you’re rocking your baby to sleep once again. They’ll instead offer to help whenever you need it.
Learn along the way.
Parenting is a learning process. It’s that “learn-on-the-job” role where you’re making up the rules as you go along. Trial and error play a huge part in deciding what to do. And each family is different.
That’s why no one is factually right and should criticize your parenting. Other than outright abuse or neglect, we’re doing what’s best for their families. One mother might not let her kids watch television and stay up later than another mother would. It’s okay. Those kids aren’t going to turn out into little devils.
It’s what works for their family. Through trial and error, they realized this works for them, which can be different from your own.
It’s never easy dealing when when people criticize your parenting. You put so much heart into this role. To hear someone brush aside your rules, make a joke or criticize how you raise your kids doesn’t feel good.
Instead, remind yourself why you do what you do. Use them in a positive way to improve your parenting. And surround yourself with positive people who support you, even if they may not agree. (Get more tips about small habits to improve your parenting.)
And most importantly, be kind to yourself, amid other people’s criticisms. In the end, what others say won’t matter if you don’t let them.
Get more tips about parenthood:
- Positive Parenting Resolutions You Can Actually Keep
- Ask the Readers: Do You Feel like a Confident Mom?
- Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
- Moms, We’re All in This Together
- These Are the Things Your Kids Will Remember About You
Your turn: Have when people criticize your parenting? How do you handle their criticisms? Let me know in the comments!
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