Frustrated with the criticisms of the way you raise your kids? Here’s how to respond when someone criticizes your parenting methods.
One glaring fact had set me apart from my extended family: I didn’t let my little toddler eat sweets.
He had no birthday smash cakes or Christmas cookies, and it was years before he had his first taste of candy. Coming from a family where dinner parties had more desserts than main meals, this was sacrilege. And sometimes, I felt it.
I love my family, but I’d get annoyed when people criticized this choice. Sweets were just one of the topics, too. We had firm boundaries about bedtime and naps, limited screen time, and didn’t force our kids to hug and kiss others.
When you’re a new parent trying hard to hold onto your values, dealing with criticism can feel defeating. You start questioning yourself or feel like you have no support. You’re the topic of conversation at parties once you leave (for the early bedtime, of course!).
So, what do you do? How do you respond when someone criticizes your parenting? Take a deep breath, friend. Here are a few things to tell yourself:
Table of Contents
1. Remind yourself why you do what you do
Once in a while, people’s unsolicited comments can help you decide what to do. We get so 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 3 year old dessert an hour before bed. (You’re the one who has to deal with his crankiness the next morning, not them.) You know why co-sleeping is best for your baby, or that making your own baby food is important to you.
Remind yourself why you do what you do. It can give you the reserve to keep going and tune the criticism out.
Free email challenge: Feeling stuck in motherhood? Sign up for my newsletter and join the Motherhood Motivation 5-Day Challenge! You’ll get one actionable tip a day that can make you think (and act) about motherhood differently:
2. Surround yourself with positive people
Notice I didn’t say “people who agree with you.” Positive people are those who can support you and your decisions with warmth and understanding, no matter how different. These folks are the ones who know that you’re doing your best.
They can listen, not judge. They might offer their views, but only because it’s what works for them, not because you should follow suit.
And they won’t make snarky comments or jokes when you breastfeed your 18 month old or rock your baby to sleep once again. Instead, they can offer to help whenever you need it. As I say in my book, You Are Enough:
“Here’s what I learned about unhelpful criticism: People’s criticisms say more about them than they do about you. In other words, negative criticism has less to do with who you are or how you’re raising your child, and more about the person who said them.”
3. Learn along the way
Parenting is a learning process, a “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. We’ll often change points of view along the way, as if we did a complete switch from our earlier opinions.
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 our families. One parent might not let her kids watch television and stay up later than another would. It’s okay. They aren’t going to turn out into bad kids.
It’s what works for their family. Through trial and error, they realized this works for them, which can be different from what works for you. Take their feedback and see if you can learn from it. If not, let it go.
It’s never easy when someone criticizes your parenting, even with all the patience you try to muster. 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. You want to trust your own instincts but feel shame and guilt from others.
Instead, remind yourself why you do what you do. Use their comments to see if you can improve your parenting. Surround yourself with positive people who support you, even if they may not agree.
And most importantly, be kind to yourself. In the end, what others say won’t matter if you don’t let them.
Don’t forget: Sign up for my newsletter and join the Motherhood Motivation 5-Day Challenge below: