Is it ever OK to criticise someone else parenting?

Like most things in life we are all individuals and we are all different and the way in which we parent our children is not immune to this difference. It’s easy to pass judgement on someone else’s parenting or to have an opinion because there’s a high chance that what they are doing isn’t necessarily what you would do. But without being that person, parenting those kids, in their situation are you really entitled to pass judgement, particularly if that judgement is negative?
There are so many things that influence the parents that we are. There are the obvious things like culture, family make up, financial situation and employment commitments and then the less obvious things like our own upbringing, a parents physical and mental health and the personality of the child being raise amongst many other things. When you think of all the contributing factors that determine a person’s parenting style it’s no wonder that we are all different! The most important thing to recognise is the fact that although we are different in most situations what we are all individually doing is in fact right for us! Now the exception to this is child neglect and abuse which is never right – those situations do not apply to this blog! If you ever suspect abuse then you need to talk to someone who can aid in the family getting support.
Now what I want to discuss is the negative criticism that we can receive from others about our parenting and if this is in fact ok! If you have ever been unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end of someone else’s negative opinion about your parenting you will know exactly what I mean when I say it can hurt. I think as parents we are all fumbling through this journey and all trying our upmost to do the best we can and god only knows how much we criticise and question ourselves. I think most parents at some stage have agonised over decisions they are making for their children or ways that they manage challenging behaviour or the lessons they are teaching their children and the internal dialect we face within our selves is often all the criticism that we need. So, what if someone else decides to tell you where you are going wrong as a parent? Do you receive it well or get instantly hurt and defensive?
I think for the majority it would be the latter. There is nothing more painful to a parent than being told by someone else that you are ‘doing it wrong’ or not ‘doing it well enough’. Such comments not only hurt the receiver but such judgement often fractures relationships or friendships sometimes beyond repair. A friend of mine told me that a relationship with a ‘good friend’ was never the same after said friend told her she was ‘too soft’ on her kids. She said from that point on she felt as though her friend was judging her every move and for her that wasn’t a nice feeling! Comments like ‘you’re too hard’ ‘you’re too soft’ ‘you’re not doing this right or that right’ ‘you spoil them too much’ ‘you don’t do enough’ are all judgemental and often hurtful. Unless you have walked in the shoes of the person you are judging then in my opinion you have no right to make those statements. And if you’ve been on the receiving end of them I’m sorry.
Now I know it's human nature to judge others and it's not realistic to suggest that we don't have opinions at all. We will always compare ourselves to others because thats what we do. What we can change though is whether we voice our thoughts and opinions or not.
You know what’s much more helpful and productive than judgemental, opinion driven comments; kindness and support! If you think someone’s too hard maybe you could ask them how they are! Maybe they are stressed to the max and struggling with the simplest of things – Offer to help or give them time out. If they are ‘too soft’ on kids are they exhausted and don’t have the energy for a fight? – offer support. Instead of being critical or judgmental try looking at their situation with compassion and kindness, try and understand why they might do things the way they do or ask them to help you understand their choice before you launch into an attack on their parenting style.
Raising children is challenging and not one of us ‘gets it 100% right’; there are plenty of us though that come close! Next time you look at someone and want to pass judgement on their parenting choices just remember that you don’t always know their whole story, you don’t know where they have been, where they are now or where they are going. If you must offer anything to anyone offer kindness, compassion, support and love as that’s much more productive!
Take Care & Best Wishes
Zalie xxxxxx
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