Parenting criticism mostly starts off as those unsolicited parenting advice everyone seems to be dishing, some even starting when the baby is still in the womb. Packaged as concerns and curiosity, the uninvited pregnancy-cum-parenting tips basically are subtle criticisms of how you are looking after yourself and your unborn child and then they escalate to how you are taking care of your little one after giving birth.
The criticisms can be from how you are interacting with your baby to what you are feeding them. Nonetheless, the bottom line remains that your parenting techniques are being opened for commentary from everyone. Well, one group that might be synonymous with this is your spouse’s family.
We all have our opinions about parenting and while it can be easy to shrug off suggestions from strangers, it is harder to ignore advice, say, from your mother-in-law.
As we look at a few tactics you can consider to help you handle parenting criticism from your in-laws, remember that having your methods challenged can go a long way in either cementing your views or opening your mind to other possibilities.
Debbie Mandel, an author and stress management expert, suggests that: “To respond, instead of reacting to unsolicited advice, you can smile and say you appreciate their advice.” You can then try changing the subject after admitting that you will consider their advice but only after checking it out with your pediatrician.
At the end of the day, remember that your in-laws love the baby too and react in a way that is filled with compassion and positivism.
- Speak up, but respectfully
If you are not the one to le an opportunity pass without speaking your mind, then you can consider doing it in a respectful manner so that you don’t step on anyone’s toes. Before you go flying off the handle, remember that despite how aggravating the unsolicited advice may be, they are only sharing it out of a desire to feel useful and included.
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Dr Wendy Forman, a psychotherapist, suggests that you should try thanking your in-law respectfully for their interest and wisdom before explaining that you might need to figure things out on your own as that’s how you learn things.
An outside opinion may give you a fresh perspective on parenting. Therefore, even though the criticism may seem harsh, you can try to listen and be open to adopting a few changes.
Other than merely finding merit in the advice being given you also get to cool off after the ‘disapproval on your parenting’ with much of a struggle.
When you feel that the criticism from your in-laws is becoming too much to handle, you don’t have to respond directly. Instead take the moment to soberly express your feelings about the unwelcomed comments to your spouse. You can ask them to have a talk with their family about the criticism as that way you don’t get to it your yourself and risk sounding defensive or inappropriate.