Four ways of dealing with criticism of your parenting methods
When you have a child, everyone and their dog have an opinion on how you should raise them, what they should be able to do and not do, what they should eat and when, how much etc., the list can go on. When it is your neighbour offering some 'helpful' advice, you can just brush it off and move on with your day, but the situation gets a lot more complicated when it is your partner, grandparents, or even best friend. One one hand, you need to ensure you stay true to your values and believes and do what you believe is best for your child, on the other you need to maintain the relationships that are important in your life, or even your partner's life (mother in law). So how do you get it right?
I am not here to tell you which one is best, so take your pick.
1. My baby my choice.
Sure, it is one of the options, but be prepared to cause a lot of upset for everyone. If you are set in your ways and there is no other way out, you may need to step aside from the situation and announce to all involved that they either accept your way of parenting, or they will not have access to your child until they do. Yes, this is extreme, but there are mums doing it and it is working for them. Sooner or later, those important people in your life will realise that it is not worth arguing as they are missing out on the precious time with your little one.
2. Lead by example.
You don't have to argue about your choices or defend your decision if you don't want to. After all, it is your baby. What you need to realise here though is that what is now obvious to you, may be completely new to your baby's grandparents, your childless best friend or even your other half. You are doing all the reading, you are the one spending the most time with your baby and so everyone else is a lot less experienced than you are. And that's ok. This doesn't mean that they are unable or unwilling to learn and follow your lead, especially if you can show the benefits. Any comments could be taken negatively if the are opposing your views, but they are most likely due to ignorance rather than wanting to oppose you for the sake of it. Don't argue or stress, do your thing and do it well, be open to communication, and soon they will come round. You will then have an army standing behind you cheering you on and able to help when you need it.
3. Accept that you have no control of what others believe in.
What people think about you, is their interpretation of you based on their own experiences and opinion. In the same way, you would define yourself. You are who you believe you are. Here, you are a mother, and as a mother, you believe that you are the best person to know what is best. This may or may not be true, and it can be difficult to accept. When others offer their opinions and comments, it may be because they don't trust you. This may not be rational, but it is what it is and you will find it incredibly difficult to change this. Their truth is not your truth, and you don't have to accept it or prove anyone wrong. You can agree to disagree. It may hurt when your parents or close friends don't see things your way, but you need to be ok with your choices, you need to stick to your beliefs, as otherwise you will not be happy. You can ignore anything that you are not happy with, but it can be a lonely place, as people will not understand why. If anyone gets hurt, you need to remember that this is because that for some reason you don't match their expectations of a mother, of parenting, of what they believe to be right. They are causing themselves to feel like that and they are the only ones who ultimately can change it and accept that you are a mother, no matter what.
4. Lower your expectations.
The same will go for you, you may have had some expectations of your other half agreeing with you at every stage, but this may no be happening now. He may not get your methods, for whatever reason and this will cause tension. When our surrounding doesn't live up to our expectations, we suffer. Now you are doing this to yourself. You may not be able to control what others think about you, but you can control your own behaviour. Make it easier on yourself, drop the expectations, and try to be happy and grateful for what you have rather concentrating on the negatives that are not quite the way you planned them. Try to work out any issues through a compromise. If not possible and you are miserable, you may need to go to the first option above.
What's your way?
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