Grandmoms, kids love ‘em, and they sure can be handy to have around when you need some help, even if they are a bit too liberal with the treats!
But, what happens when even the most well-meaning mom or mother-in-law just cannot help meddling or being critical of your parenting style. It can, and has torn families apart.
So what can you do if your own mom just won’t stop being critical of the way you parent?
Most of the experts agree (and from my own experience) you just can’t stop a meddling mom, you just have to learn how to grin and bear it. Here are some tips on how.
They Are Worried and They Care
When it comes to criticism of your parenting by a mom, or other loved one, you need to recognize that in most cases, criticism equals worry – and if they are worried, that means they care. If you decide to assign positive intent, you can see their criticism as concern. This softens it and allows you to deal with it differently. So, when mom criticizes your parenting – try to tell her in a genuine way that you appreciate her concern. She will feel heard. This is often the first step in diffusing the situation.
It took time, but one way that I finally stopped losing sleep over my mother and mother-in-law criticizing my parenting choices was that I became confident in my decisions. I didn’t come by my parenting choices by blindly following the latest fads. I researched everything. I talked with mothers who had parented children in the ways I thought were best and with mothers who had made other choices. I knew why I made the choice I made, and could be confident in them. Don’t let an intimidating mom make you second guess your choices.
You Do Not Owe Any Explanations
Very closely related to being confident is realizing that you do not have to explain your parenting decisions to your mom, or anyone. They are yours, and yours alone to make.
One of the biggest steps in learning to deal with criticism over some of my “less than traditional” child-rearing practices, was realizing that I didn’t owe anyone an explanation for my choices. My parenting choices were between myself and my husband. No one else had a right to an explanation of why we were doing what we were doing.
Change the Subject
Deflection and changing the subject works as well with a tantruming two-year-old, as it does with his or her grandma! One of the best tools I used when my children were younger and my parenting choices were unpopular was to simply change the subject when I saw questions and criticism coming.
Don’t Mistake Interest for Criticism
Try to be less defensive and sensitive. Not all questions about your parenting style are actual criticism, sometimes it is genuine curiosity. You may certainly have had your share of criticism, but don’t let that cause you to miss an opportunity with someone who is truly interested in how you parent.
When it comes to a critical mom, except in the very rare cases where you might be dealing with a truly vindictive or malicious person, your meddling mom really does mean well.
If you feel you are right, and her advice is out of place, outdated, or otherwise does not fit your lifestyle, then the best you can do is listen politely, and remind yourself (often) that she really does have good intentions, and just wants what she feels is best for her grandchild. Let her know you are confident in your parenting style, but at the same time, glad she is there, and are grateful and appreciative of her advice.
Try not to take it personally — which I know can be difficult if you grew up with a mom that was overly critical of you, your whole life – but instead, try to think about her criticisms objectively.
She’s your mother, now that you are a mom yourself, the time the two of you may have together can be special, and also fleeting. Do not waste any of it in petty fights for control, you are the mom now, and in reality, all the control is yours — and if all else fails, you can always fall back on what she probably said to you many times before – “my house — my rules! 😉