Happy New Year everyone! I hope at this point everyone’s over their hang over and food coma. For me I’m still recovering from lack of sleep. And this wasn’t my regular lack of sleep from waking up at night with my kids. This one was more exhausting… from staying up late having fun with friends.
To give you an idea of how late we stayed up, I’ll put it like this… hubs and I purchased Exploding Kittens over the holidays. For those of you that don’t know what that game is, well it means you don’t spend a lot of time on social media. Good for you!
So what better way to kick off the new year than to work on something everyone struggles with. No one likes being criticized and there’s honestly no form of criticism that’s easy to take and no one person that it’s easy to receive it from.
I find that especially for moms, criticism is waiting for us the moment we exit our front doors. Strangers have suddenly adopted the role as co-parent and will approach us boldly, (from any distance away too), to correct us on something we secretly knew we were doing wrong but were too exhausted to fix, or we thought we were doing right.
What’s most difficult but ought not be, is hearing criticism from close friends. And most often these close friends are mom friends. A close mom friend criticizing another mom is most difficult because in some way, shape, or form they are right. But to clarify they might only be truly right in one out of three ways.
They are either right in terms of dealing with their own children, right in terms of my specific child and situation or right in general and ought to inform other parents.
When I criticize my mom friend in regards to a matter I’ve seen with my own children, it could be valid information, but it could also not be timely information. For example if I tell one of my mom friends that she ought to introduce more meals with complexed flavours so her child can learn to eat more varieties of food… I don’t know that her child is ready for that or will be ready for that any time soon.
Perhaps the introduction of complex flavours at this point could cause the child to stop eating. Is it good advice… sure. But it could also be good advice solely for my children and family. Especially because my family loves to travel often and in doing so we won’t always find flavours of food we are accustomed to.
We moms tend to give our criticism to another mom in the same manner we tell our toddler not to touch a power outlet. Like if we don’t say our opinion in a firm manner and right at that moment something absolutely horrible will happen. I believe we’ve all been that mom and experienced that mom. And I’m sure we can all say that we truly mean well.
So right now I’m talking to the receiver of criticism… what do we do? How do we respond. I would suggest if you disagree, don’t throw away the information and decide full heartedly that it’s wrong. But instead, put it on the back burner.
There have been many times I’ve disagreed with moms and all it took was a few days for me to suddenly go, “ohhh that’s what she meant”. One of these times was right after the birth of my first born, Esperanza. As a new mom I really did not want to leave the house. I felt like I could not be in full control of my child’s protection unless we stayed at home.
A mom with a child only a few months older pushed me to get out of the house. She kept saying, “you need to start now before you get too comfortable and then you won’t do it when you really need it”. She went as far as showing up at my door numerous times with baby items to help me get out of the house. Extra blankets, sun hats and stroller accessories. I was getting pretty annoyed. So annoyed that I went out and purposefully tried to bump into her at a church gathering to show her, see I’m out now stop bothering me!
I see this mom’s point now that I have two small kids and I have trained them to be comfortable with following my schedule. We get out of the house daily to go to the gym and run errands afterwards. I need this time out especially because it helps with my recovery from postpartum depression.
At this point I’ve met moms that are stuck inside the house with their kids because these children don’t cope well with leaving the house. I’ve seen it first hand, children that have anxieties about getting out of the house and around groups of strangers and I think to myself… could that have been my children?
So what’s the best way to respond to a fellow mother’s criticism? Be honest with them about why you disagree. Maybe they’ll understand your point of view or perhaps they used to have a similar point of view and they can further explain why this changed. If your point of view has not changed, just let them know that you’ll stick to your way of doing things for now because you don’t agree that their opinion is what’s best for your family.
In this way your mom friend now knows where you stand and will hopefully understand that it’s not worth bringing up their criticism again.
And now what’s the best way to respond to a stranger’s criticism? Simply nod, smile and say thank you. Even if they’re being rude. However after doing so, walk away. You don’t have to torture yourself if what they’re saying is making you feel like a horrible mother.
If you’re unable to walk away, (let’s say you sat next to this person on a crowded bus), just ignore them if they continue to go on. And next time take an uber. Just kidding! Hopefully you won’t bump into this person again and if you do then it’s quite the opportunity to practice self discipline and patience.
Now for the best way to respond to a family member, such as a mother-in-law, grandmother or your own mother… take the time to listen out of respect. However if what they are saying and the manner in which they say it is hurtful, let them know. (Or ask your husband to let them know if it’s his side of the family). In this case it could be time to do some research on that special word, “boundaries”. And remember just because they’re blood doesn’t mean they’re right. You can put their information on the back burner just as much as you would with a fellow mom friend.
If you’re a mom with the heart to do what’s best for your child then you’ve got the right skills for parenting even if you lack the method.