17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Who Can You Take Criticism From?

I recently had an experience interacting with a spoiled child (related to me). I watched in frustration as this child got away with ridiculous behavior right in front of his parents. I so badly wanted to say something to the parents but realized 1) they would be highly offended because 2) they’d CREATED these behaviors in their child. With a little more distance and a cooler head, I also realized that while both child and parents might ultimately benefit from being made aware of what was happening, it was ridiculous to expect anyone to listen to criticism about their child rearing. I mean, I don’t know if I could do it. Good golly, I didn’t like it when the social worker (since we adopted, she must visit us 4 times the 1st year), whose job it is to observe and give advice to parents, acted like she knew more about my six-month-old baby than I did, a brand-new mother. Pride rears its ugly head again.

And it’s not just me. You watch more than one hour of “Nanny 911” or “SuperNanny,” and you’ll know, if you didn’t before, that the problem with misbehaving children is always, not just sometimes, but ALWAYS the parent(s). If that’s true, and I believe it is (okay, I have evidence BESIDES popular TV—articles, a documentary, my own experience), then we NEED to be told, as parents, when there is a behavior problem if we’re not seeing it. This is certainly the case with the parents on the nanny shows; they’re always stunned to learn that their child’s horrible behavior is because of something they do or don’t do. And often the parents resist making any changes in their own behavior, though it always makes things better. I think how we raise our children is too connected to who we are for criticism not to deeply affect us. It wounds us to have people criticize us and, worse, our beloved children. But not taking criticism and correcting our child’s behavior will only make things worse for them in the end.

A few months ago I saw this in action. I saw one mother correct another. I was surprised because I knew I couldn't do that. I guess my main hesitation in not "correcting" another mother is that I'm not the perfect mother. I know I make mistakes, and I'm afraid anyone I said anything to would just laugh in my face or be deeply offended. I mean, the longer I "mother," the less I know. My own AF just passed 10 months and is wonderfully spoiled! She has humbled me tremendously.

I used to think I could say things to my siblings, but found out (only) later that what I said didn't go over very well, maybe because I'd said it when I had no children, and knew everything about child rearing.

Have you ever had someone criticize your child’s behavior and tell you to fix it and maybe even how? Were you able to listen with a rational head and quiet lips? I know we all get looks that we interpret, but what do you do about actual comments? Are there people you are more able to listen to? Why? Have you ever said anything to another mother? How did she react? Is there a good way to point out flaws? And is it ever our “place” to do it?


  • Ok, as I just returned last night from three weeks in California staying at my mothers, I feel PRIMED to answer this question!!

    My family rode my behind the whole time I was visiting- criticizing, giving advice, and even going so far as to discipline my kids in from of me. My kids are very busy, very active boys, and they are NOT bad- I just have different standards than my only other sibling who is a parent.

    My brother has one child, who is a very, very mellow kid. The kid is easy going, mild, and exhibits no temper or will. They live right next to my parents. This is what they all think is normal in a child. This meek child is not allowed to get dirty, and his parents wipe his mouth after every bite he eats, and I'm not kidding.

    So when I show up with strong-willed, messy, noisy, super active boys, I am a BAD mother, my kids are stigmatized as "bad" and in need of correcting. It was hard. And it wasn't fair.

    So in this situation, I would have and did resent the criticism. The standards were unfair, and the criticism was not helpful. To be clear, my kids are not allowed to push or hurt others, they must use manners, say please and thanks, not run in the house, all that civil stuff. They are just far busier than the standard my family uses to gage things by.

    Now, if someone who knew and cared for my kids in their natural environment saw something that needed correcting, and I knew they were coming from a place of love, rather than "one-up-manship" I could totally take it. Welcome it, even.

    I know I'm not the perfect mama, but when people who don't have a clue presume to give advice, it's never bound to go well.

    Sorry for the novel! I'm a little heated still!
    posted by Anonymous tracy m at 9/05/2006 03:49:00 PM  

  • Tracy M, you and I have almost the same situation except the exact opposite. I have the one mellow kid, and the messy noisy superactive girls are the ones that live near my parents. I hear my parents critisize my brother and his wife so often that I get embarrassed. While my parents seem to think that I've got great parenting skills just because my baby is so mellow. I never know how to handle the situation and always feel bad about it when it comes up.

    Anyhow, I think there is a time and place to offer constructive critisism. If you're critisizing to make yourself feel better then that is never ever welcome. Also, there is a large difference between, "you know, I've found that with my kids that when they sleep more makes them much less clingy," and "your baby is tired, can't you even see how exhausted she is? You would have much fewer problems if you made her nap once in a while." I would be glad to hear the first, and infuriated by the second.
    posted by Blogger Starfoxy at 9/05/2006 04:40:00 PM  

  • Here's how I would approach a conversation with someone else about parenting. "I am so impressed by the way your child XYZ. Do you think there is something you specifically did to help them act/become that way?" Then ask a question like, "I notice my daughter has a tendency to XYZ, and I'm wondering how I'll deal with that as she gets older. Do you have any advice or experience with something similar?" Both questions being completely sincere, and only if you are willing to engage in a real conversation and be influenced by their responses. If they want your advice, they'll feel comfortable and open up, too. Otherwise I think they'll go home and cry.

    If they have the kind of kids that other people raise an eyebrow at, like I do, unsolicited advice, no offense but coming from someone with an infant (I really thought I had it together when I had one baby, unlike now when I feel pretty much lost most of the time) will probably only cause bad feelings.
    posted by Blogger Gina at 9/05/2006 05:29:00 PM  

  • I think that (in general) it is difficult to take criticism well from anyone. A new idea? That's great. A different perspective? Thank you, much appreciated. I think it's all about how you package it. The times that I've been at least willing to listen to someone's thoughts and at most thankful to hear them, it's because they started by asking me (neutral, curious) questions about my son's behavior and then listened to what I had to say. But that was about obvious things - "Wow, does he always run in circles for twenty minutes?" or "Is he usually naked?". I think you're talking about the more subtle things, behavioral issues like whining, discipline, attitude, etc. And those are way more difficult to comment on in a neutral manner. "Does she always talk to you like that?" is a judgement right off the bat. I like Gina's idea - open up to them, and maybe they'll open up to you. But with this one, I kind of have to say that unless you're getting some indication that the parent would like some advice, I'd keep my mouth shut.
    posted by Blogger marian at 9/05/2006 05:51:00 PM  

  • I can't help but feel like a failure when my daughter, 22 months, pitches a fit. She is strong willed and learning to be independent. We are really trying to be consistent in discipline and what not, but I do worry about what people must think of us and her when she throws a tantrum. I have a hard time not comparing her behavior / my parenting skills to others. I know that's wrong to do. I think I would be hurt if someone was overtly critical of my parenting, but then again, there are times I would love advice on what to do. I definitely agree with a previous poster that it all depends on how you package it.

    Be careful giving "advice" or criticism because parenting and discipline are difficult and the parents in question may be trying really hard. If they ask for advice, then give it, but be gentle!
    posted by Anonymous Mary at 9/05/2006 06:58:00 PM  

  • Lately I have found myself calling out kids on their behavior, as opposed to the parents. I have said: "That hurts my feelings when you talk to me in that tone" or "When you said that to me, it made me feel stupid because I had never heard of that band, and your tone seemed to indicate that I should have heard of it" These kids were like 5 and 10....so I am not talking about the little little ones. I figured they were old enough to converse with me, and my actions might have a large impact.

    I have probably been guilty of saying the wrong thing to another parent, but certainly didn't mean to offend. I don't like it when I am criticized by strangers, b/c they don't know the context of my life and my kids. If my friends have ever said something, or a nanny-type (like tracym said), I am way open to it, b/c I know that my kids and I are not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. My sis just had a baby, so it will be interesting to see how we are with judging each others' parenting styles.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 9/06/2006 04:49:00 AM  

  • I think both Kage and Mary touched on something I was trying to put into words and couldn't - that criticism can be hard to take if we feel that someone doesn't know the context. To be effective and helpful with a comment (which is the goal in the end, right?) you need to really understand what is going on - maybe this is just a bad day because everyone was up all night with a cold. Or this is a recurring issue that both mom and dad are spending all their parenting energy on. OR there's a bigger issue that is being tackled and this one is next on the list. Or there's a family crisis right now, so things are getting a little lax. Or, or, or, or, or.

    Back to your original question - who can I take criticism from? I think that if someone who really knows what is going on in my child's life on an hourly basis (ie my mom, my husband, Chloe) were to say something to me, I would probably be hurt and a bit defensive at first, but would get over that and would take it much more to heart than if anyone else said it. That, and someone I consider a "expert" - his preschool teacher or doctor.
    posted by Blogger marian at 9/06/2006 05:15:00 AM  

  • After even a few minutes reflection, I knew I would never tell the relatives I mentioned how awful I thought their kid is (and, of course, he isn't ALWAYS awful). And the more I think about it, and the more I read, the more convinced I am that you shouldn't give other people unsolicited advice.

    The people on those nanny shows asked for it, so they deserve to hear that they're making parenting mistakes, but most of us never ask.

    For those of you saying there's a "way" to offer constructive criticism, I'd like to hear of a real experience when you got some and appreciated it. (I really appreciate Gina's specific example, and would love to know if it ever worked in real life.) Because, in theory, gently offering suggestions is great--even important, but when it comes down to it, I don't know if I, or anyone, could really take it. So if you've had an experience like that, I'd love to hear it.

    I like Kage's idea about talking to the child about it, but some parents don't like it when you do even that. (When the kids are older, it's easier.)

    After reading from Tracy m and Starfoxy, I'm starting to think the WORST people to offer advise to is the family.
    posted by Blogger newmom at 9/06/2006 05:16:00 AM  

  • Sorry, more thought - the reason I think understanding the context is so important is not just so that you can be more helpful with your advice, but it will be harder for the receiving parent to dismiss what you say. When someone criticizes us or gives us advice that we don't like, I think a natural reaction is to brush it off saying they "don't understand _____" (my child, that we were up all night, etc.) But when it comes from someone that you KNOW understands, you can't use that excuse and maybe have to pay a little more attention to what is said.
    posted by Blogger marian at 9/06/2006 05:18:00 AM  

  • It's really started bugging me when complete strangers tell me what to do. They don't know that my 5 year old always stops at the end of the sidewalk. I don't need to be warned that he's running down ahead of me. The other day at the park some park-worker almost scolded me as my kids were carying big sticks out of the park,"Watch out, those sticks are sharp." Oh brother. I don't care! They're sticks, these are kids. I let my kids play with sticks. (within reason) Besides, we're leaving your dumb park anyway. Leave me alone.

    The other day I heard kage tell my 5 year old that his tone or something hurt her feelings. I was a little surprised at the comment, but felt it was totally fair and that he could take it. I'll have to try it with my neighbor's kid who can have a pretty mean tone or words with me or my dd. His mom, I KNOW, doesn't like people disciplining her kids, so maybe this is a good approach.

    I think in general unsolicited advice is unwelcome. But, I know I've given it. I try to do it well. Sometimes I just open my big mouth! :) If I can't hold back, I try to say things like, Have you tried...? Do you think....would help? Also, commiserating a little helps--like, "Oh, my kids put me through this too."

    So, I think--criticism=bad. Well phrased advice, esp. when asked for=good.

    I honestly don't mind people's advice and thoughts. Just don't say I'm doing such and such wrong.

    Newmom, you said, "You watch more than one hour of “Nanny 911” or “SuperNanny,” and you’ll know, if you didn’t before, that the problem with misbehaving children is always, not just sometimes, but ALWAYS the parent(s). If that’s true, and I believe it is (okay, I have evidence BESIDES popular TV—articles, a documentary, my own experience)..."

    I don't see how anyone can say that EVERY behavior problem is because of parenting. Let's face it. My 2 older kids are different and I feel we dicipline and parent them pretty much the same, adjusting which tricks work better with which personality. Yes, a lot (or most) of issues are because of parenting. But not ALL. I just don't believe it. Kids have personalities and wills of their own. Just ask how 3 year-old handled bedtime last night and how well 5 year old went to kindergarten today. Both were not great, but I did MY darndest to be great. shed a tear.

    Also, with the craziness of life and all our different situations, we should give everyone wiggle room--it's not easy raising kids and none of us will do it perfectly.
    posted by Blogger Katie at 9/06/2006 06:35:00 AM  

  • I think this is a super touchy issue. I've been burned both ways. A friend of mine was complaining about how difficult her toddler was in church and was asking why my toddler (who is easy going but with A LOT of personality) did fairly well. I told her that from when she was a baby I wouldn't let her down on the floor to play or crawl or wander, etc., but instead entertained her on my lap and was consistent with her....I do realize that it's not easy, but it really worked for us. She rolled her eyes and said that she thought the the children were too young to even worry about that. It really hurt my feelings because she asked for my advice and then criticized my parenting. So, now, I'm hesitant to offer any advice....solicited or not.

    I just figure that advice from mother's and mother's in law are a fact of life and I take it with a grain of salt....to a point. After that point I get pretty irritated. But, I'm learning to stick up for myself or ignore it when I need to. But I definitely am guilty of seeing other childrens behavior (like hitting, disrepect, etc) and thinking to myself how the parents need to change a few things. I like to think of that as learning from other people's mistakes. ;o)
    posted by Anonymous Eskinose Kisses at 9/06/2006 09:35:00 AM  

  • katie, so it was your son that I said it too, I couldn't remember the exact person and situation. I am sure it slipped right off the tongue for me b/c he is pretty much the same age as my daughter, and I do the same thing to her, so I am sure I was in that mindset. And glad you thought he could "take it"....I didn't say it to hurt his feelings back, just to point something out...so when you were surprised...do you wish I hadn't said something?
    posted by Blogger Kage at 9/06/2006 10:56:00 AM  

  • I feel the need to weigh in here again, and it's a bit of a tangent, but is pertinent to the thread...

    When I just had my boys, who as I said are VERY busy, headstrong and occasionally challenging, I started to feel the weight of the critisism from my family and from strangers who felt free to comment on their behavior. I started to think maybe I was failing as a mother, that I had somehow caused the challenging personalities of my sons.

    Then, I had another baby. Same parents, same home, same rules, completely different child. Baby #3 is mellow, eats well, sleeps well, doesn't cry or throw fits for no apparent reason, rolls with things and is really a sweet and easy to love child. AND I HAVE DONE NOTHING DIFFERENT THAN WITH THE OTHERS.

    Having a mellow child after some severely challenging children has saved my sanity, and not just because of the ease. It has taught me that my children CAME with intact personalities. They CAME already being who they are- and it is not my failure as a parent that my boys are headstrong and not easily malleable. Their indomitable spirits, while difficult in a child, will likely be dynamic and powerfull in their adult form- NONE OF WHICH has anything to do with my success or failure as a parent.

    This is something folks with only easy (or one easy) kid might miss- congratulating themselves on their stellar parenting and looking down on mothers with kids like mine. Until you have a child with a will of iron and a stong mind of their own, it's easy to believe your parenting is to thank.

    Had I had my third child first, I too would have thought I was a great parent, and not understood why other parents' kids weren't as well-behaved as mine. Instead, I now TOTALLY GET IT that it had almost nothing to do with ME. Yes, it is my responsibilty, and one I take seriously, to guide and teach my children. But they came from the Heavenly Father already being someone, and some someones are harder to deal with than other.

    I hope this in helpful in formulating opinions of others' parenting- and choosing when to give advice. I know most folks have the best of intentions- but if you have one meek child and I have three iron willed ones, please consider that before you tell me how to raise my kids.

    Thanks. End of rant.
    posted by Anonymous tracy m at 9/06/2006 10:59:00 AM  

  • Tracy - I don't know that it is possible to do the exact same with every child. Specifically, the introduction of other children changes the dynamic. As the oldest child, I had no domineering older sibling as I was to my younger brothers and sisters.

    also, Katie, you complained when strangers would warn your children or you. However there are good reasons for this. First of all we live in a society, and civilization should be based on others looking out for each other. I want the stranger to warn my 3 year old about the cars. I don't want them disciplining him. Further, employees (park workers, waiters etc) have a perfectly good reason to warn about obvious dangers. Lawsuits! If my three year old stands on his chair when I turn around, and then falls, the restaurant could be sued. I defended a case where a family sued the mall when a 4 yr old child slipped on a slide, and the parents had left the child alone while shopping in a store.
    posted by Anonymous jay s at 9/06/2006 11:30:00 AM  

  • My mom gave me a great bit of advice when I was younger. I had an oldest brother that was a very difficult child, eventually got into alcohol and drugs, was hyperactive, struggled in school etc... The other three siblings that followed were much easier children and ended up living "normal," productive lives.

    When I was in grade school, a few of my friend's parents would not let them play at my house because of my older brother. Now that I'm a mother, I understand these parent's concerns. However, at the time, it was very hurtful and I felt it was unfair. My mom never criticized these parents or expressed anger towards them, she only said, "Someday, they will have teenagers too." And who knew? They did, and some of their teenagers struggled with similar and not-so-similar problems. I'm not saying that we should wish a curse on any other parent, I just learned from my mom that everyone will face their own trial with parenting eventually. So, it's probably wise to relax our own judgment of their skills, because one day, it may be our turn.
    posted by Blogger Maralise at 9/06/2006 11:31:00 AM  

  • jay s- of course an environment is not identical and family dynamics change- however, the most recent child CAME OUT mellow and easy going, and that had nothing to do with my parenting. That is the point I was trying to make.
    posted by Anonymous tracy m at 9/06/2006 12:05:00 PM  

  • tracy, what I was saying that children are more alike than we think. Take the billiard ball example. You roll a billiard ball one direction, and it bounces off the bumpers. You can trace the path by mathematics. Vectors and all that. Put a second one in. The second ball will follow a different path, simply because it will interact with the first, so on and so forth. If we were really smart, we could get the second one to go where we wanted by taking into account the first.

    Kids are different, but most of it comes back to us. Some of it may be things that we can't see because of the way we were raised. Some of it comes to what we value. I love that my 3 year old jumps and runs in circles! (that is one nice thing about a house with an open floor plan - race track through the kitchen, hall and family room!) I don't want my boy to just sit. I love that he goes to complete strangers and shows them his pirate sword.
    posted by Anonymous jay s at 9/06/2006 01:11:00 PM  

  • Interesting.

    This entire post seems to be a constant problem in my life. Not that I'm a criticizer, nor do I necessarily get criticized frequently, but I'm always aware of it going on in, about, and around me.

    One of my best friends in the whole world is on the brink of no longer being my friend. And it all has to do with the fact that I don't have the courage or charm to be able to "criticize" her parenting.

    Her children are spoiled and coddled to the furthest degree. My children hate to play with them. They hate to be around them. And my friend is so oblivious to ANYTHING in her life except coddling her kids --to a point that her health is in danger. She rarely takes care of herself. She and her husband have never taken an over-nighter, either, and when we suggested a weekend for the 4 of us --only, no children --they thought we were crazy. Oh, and I didn't know 4 year olds were allowed to remain in diapers and have their binkies in arm's reach until this.

    Now, how do I tell her? How do I ask her to help herself by getting a backbone and giving her children a sense of independence? I just don't know how to do it. So I don't. And I try to ignore it, but I don't want to be around her because I go crazy knowing I should --or I shouldn't??!?--say anything. So, the friendship is dying.

    I hate to be criticized, too. Especially by my FIL who allows my children to do or say things that I've just told them they can't. Okay --that's not criticism, that's just plain defiant. I call him on it, though, so it's usually okay.

    But from other mothers? If I have asked for it, I will take it. I will even pretend I think it's good even if I hate the advice. Then they leave thinking they've improved me and I just go on with life.

    Ignoring? I've done that, too. Tuned people right out. Strangers in the store? I've actually said some rude things right back (can't recall specific examples right now --blast this pregnant brain!) and it probably wasn't the best reaction.

    All in all, it is VERY hard to take criticism. I mean, it's not like people are saying "wow, you should have picked a different color". Instead, it's "WOW! You really suck as a mother and I can't believe God would allow you to reproduce!"

    At least that's what it feels like....
    posted by Blogger Cheryl at 9/06/2006 01:35:00 PM  

  • One more thought (sorry!): I have to agree with tracy. I have raised all 3 of my kids relatively the same. They were also all very mild-mannered babies (perfect is really the word I like to use), they all nursed, they all took bottles, they all took binkies, and they all were on regular schedules. I never had to force any of them to do any of that, either. They were just very good babies.

    Now? I have no idea where #2 came from --she's so foreign to me! #1 is exactly like me in every way (stinks, especially when I can see her flaws) and #3 is a rowdy, crazy, cuddly boy.

    BUT, they are all fairly polite, obedient and kind. Not perfect anymore, but they're pretty good.

    So I guess what I'm saying is this: Kids do come from God with their own personalities that can be as mysterious to us as what that smell is from behind the washing machine --HOWEVER, good parenting can usually help all those personalities turn out okay.

    Well, and then there are those that turn out "bad" regardless....Okay, I'll just stop. :)
    posted by Blogger Cheryl at 9/06/2006 01:44:00 PM  

  • I'm shocked at how often you mothers receive criticism from total strangers!

    I'm expecting my first baby in January and I would never dream of actually SAYING anything to a mother having difficulty with her children. HELLO? I've never been there before! I ususally smile a "I'm so sorry you're having a bad day and can tell you're frustrated smile" and move on my way. I often wonder if I should offer to help too, but never do because I don't want to offend.

    So, I sit back and watch to learn from observation the various methods used to control children who are independent and constantly test boundaries so they know what they are.

    As far as seeking advice, I have before with a sister in law and found it to be less real advice and just more criticism - so that's why I come to the blogging world to read up on these methods.
    posted by Anonymous EmilyS at 9/06/2006 02:19:00 PM  

  • Hi. So I'm currently knocked up with our first child and as such, I'm scared enough about the looming responsibility that I feel myself tensing up at the idea of other people criticising what I'm already scared of doing . . . but right now that's neither here nor there. What I wanted to share is that I heard about this one parenting book something about "Ephraims Children." (I can't remember the full title). This is probably not the first book I need to be reading as a newly pregnant woman but I have found it fascinating and it seems to tie in with what a lot of ya'll are saying. The basic premise is that this LDS woman realized her children were pretty out of control no matter how much disciplining, scheduling, consistency etc. and further, she seemed to notice a lot of kids like this from other people whom she generally regarded as good parents. She tried all sorts of parenting books (she got them in scores from family members for Christmas apparently) . . . anywhoooo, after much time and research she came to the conclusion that the world is being flooded with children from the tribe of Ephraim, who is the tribe most closely identified with the last days and the second coming and whatnot. Therefore, these little spirits are just "more" than other children--more intense, more emotional, more sensitive, more, more, more--as they will need to be in order to complete the very important work to be done in these latter days. Hopefully they will be the strong-willed leaders the world needs one day, but as children they are mentally draining, emotionally exhausting, and physically trying children to raise. Anyway, just a different spin as to why some children have naturally more intense and energetic personalities. Maybe some of you might find it an interesting read.
    posted by Blogger miggy at 9/06/2006 02:30:00 PM  

  • "I love that he goes to complete strangers and shows them his pirate sword."

    Jay, I sure hope you are talking about a literal pirate sword and not a figurative one!
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 9/06/2006 02:31:00 PM  

  • Miggy- I don't know if they're Ephraims children, but it's sure a nice idea- and plausible too... My Bishop actually suggested something along those lines...

    Jay- Billiard balls??!!? You obviously do not have kids like mine- or you haven't worked in the nursury! It wouldn't matter what tradgectory I set them on... and if you think it did, come spend a week at my house.

    To be clear: we discipline, we have rules that are obeyed, we expect civilized behavior; it's just a WHOLE lot harder to get their with some children than with others.

    I will now bow out. Thanks.
    posted by Anonymous tracy m at 9/06/2006 02:46:00 PM  

  • Ugh. Saddest typo ever...

    That, of course, should read

    "...get THERE with"
    posted by Anonymous tracy m at 9/06/2006 02:48:00 PM  

  • I haven't been on the receiving end of much critism SO FAR (watch, tomorrow will be my special day) but if I were to perk up and listen to "critical" comments it would be from 1) a very good friend who knows my children extremely well (ie: Marian, Amy and a couple other Tales girls) or 2) someone older and wiser who is asking me a lot of questions before they give their opinions (my MIL is pretty good about this).

    There have been a few times where friends with one child have made some comments about what I could do differently with my very strong willed two children. And my inclination is not to give their thoughts a lot of credence because they don't know what it's like to parent more than one child - no experience in the situation, no interest on my part in the comments. Just like I wouldn't expect a mother of 6 children to take my comments on handling all of those kids seriously - I don't really know what I'm talking about, I don't understand her day to day context.

    There have been a few times where a good friend, at THE RIGHT MOMENT (and this is key) made an observation about something my kids were doing and it stuck with me. I didn't particularly like my parenting skills called into question...but ultimately they recognized something I had been missing or was TOO TIRED to work on. And it helped...a lot.

    Tough call with when to speak up and when not to...
    posted by Blogger chloe at 9/06/2006 04:16:00 PM  

  • miggy, congrats! Come visit us again so we can give your tummy good Tales from the Crib energy.

    carrie, TOTALLY gonna say the same thing about the pirate sword.

    emilys, criticism from strangers in NYC is the daily norm. I recently had a costco experience...

    And carrie and I combined have a whole list of subway encounters. One ride this woman could barely sit still b/c she thought my baby (faced towards me in the bjorn) couldn't breathe. I just sat there calmly looking straight ahead. I have gotten to the point now where I say "it's ok", "IT's OK!" (very loudly), and then I ignore. Did the woman think it was my first time out with the baby in the bjorn that way?

    On the same token, I am so grateful for strangers that offer their help by holding kids, strollers, tying shoes, picking up bottles, even scrubbing puke off the subway seats and floors with me. This isn't criticizing though, this is helping...so I guess you take the good with the bad.

    jay, I get the whole lawsuit thing, but a mother walking with her kids, fully aware of them holding sticks? Come on...

    It would be different if the park ranger had approached Katie nicely and said: "Maam, your kids are so cute, and I see they are holding sticks, and as a worker on this property, I just want to let you know that I am not that comfortable with them playing with those sticks, in the event they were to hurt themselves or the kids around them...we have had a couple of incidents..."

    If people were nicer and more compassionate, the criticism wouldn't seem like that at all.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 9/06/2006 04:39:00 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
    posted by Blogger Katie at 9/06/2006 08:20:00 PM  

  • Kage, I had no problem with what you said. I tell him he's hurt my feelings now and then too. It's different than "scolding" in that it gives kids more responsibility for what their statement did to someone. I think kids can forget that Moms have feelings too. So, I think it was a good move. Not too harsh, didn't offend, probably got ds thinking a little. I only say I was "surprised" because nobody besides myself has said that to him. I gotta hit the hay--I'm turning another year older in 43 minutes after all!
    posted by Blogger Katie at 9/06/2006 08:25:00 PM  

  • People are born with certain temperament traits. It's really important as a parent to understand your child's temperament, as well as your own. The dynamics between the two are good to be aware of.

    I don't have any books to suggest, but I'm sure there's tons that have been written. The best thing I've ever done for learning about parenting was take some early childhood education classes when my kids were babies---learned all about their development stages, etc. Invaluable.

    Now that they're teenagers I'm lost, but fortunately they're extremely good kids. Even my difficult one.
    posted by Anonymous Susan M at 9/07/2006 08:14:00 AM  

  • Thanks Kage. I don't comment super ofter, but I ALWAYS read the blog. . . some great insights and things to think about. . . like a mommy prep class.
    posted by Blogger miggy at 9/07/2006 10:08:00 AM  

  • People never criticize me, 'cause I'm a perfect parent. And if they open their mouth to say one word about how I parent, I just punch them. Hard.
    posted by Blogger Heather O. at 9/07/2006 05:05:00 PM  

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