Responding to the Critics

Many parents feel bombarded by unwelcome criticism and judgment, from family, friends, professionals, even society at large. How can you learn to cope with criticism without destroying your own confidence or damaging your relationships with others?

  • Firstly, remember that you are the parent. Whatever roles other people have in your child’s life, you are the parent and only you can choose the kind of parent you are.
  • Be clear on the kind of parent you want to be. Connect with your own personal values about parenting, what matters most to you and what brings you joy.
  • Pay attention to what actually works for you with your child, according to your values. That’s the ultimate judge, not the opinions of others.
  • Remember, criticism and judgements are just words. Sometimes we don’t have to counter them at all. We can just let that person’s opinion be what it is and carry on doing what we want to do. Because after all, you are the parent.
  • If you do engage in a discussion with your critic, remember it is unlikely to be helpful to slide into a debate about right and wrong. Instead, speak from your own heart, talking about what matters to you and making a personal appeal for their support, regardless of whether or not they agree.
  • Encourage others to respect your differences by respecting theirs. Speak positively about how they live their lives, while asking them to support you in living your life as you wish.
  • Sometimes, self-depreciating humour is the best response as it can take the sting right out of criticism, leaving the critic with nowhere to go. For example, ‘oh yeah, she’s got me wrapped around her little finger alright!’

Apply it in your life: How do you cope with unwelcome criticism?

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