Confession: I Hate When People Criticize My Parenting

Let me start by saying I hate it when people criticize my parenting. Our 2-year-old had been screaming for five minutes, and we were out of distractions. There’s nothing worse than being stuck on a runway when your kids start freaking out. We had been entertaining him as best we could with games, toys, snacks, and movies. You name it, we tried it. But after two hours on a full plane sitting on the tarmac, he was done. As my wife took the diaper bag to the front lavatory to change our 3-month-old daughter, I was left to try to calm our son. For reasons I still can’t explain, I decided he needed a diaper change right then. I laid him down, pulled his legs up, and ripped the diaper off. I’m pretty sure everything he had eaten in the first two years of his life came out of that diaper and landed all over that seat. As I reached frantically into my bag for wipes, I came to a horrifying realization. My wife had taken them to the bathroom. That’s when my son went into a full tantrum.

Since I had to hold his legs still to keep the hazardous material from flying everywhere, I was stuck. Meanwhile, the stench began to hit row after row. I got glares from everyone. It seemed like two hours before my wife came back. When we finally got him cleaned up, he proceeded to scream louder than ever for 20 straight minutes. More looks and stern, silent judgment followed. As I said, it’s hard for me when people criticize my parenting. I don’t like being judged by anyone, particularly people without kids. Many times, I feel defensive. However, I’m definitely not perfect, and some outside opinions help point me in the right direction. I may end up disagreeing, but when I am open to outside opinions and when people criticize my parenting (even those without kids), I receive things that can sharpen me as a dad. Here are 3 of the greatest things I’ve learned from people who have criticized my parenting.

1. “They just got here.”

This little gem came from my Mom. She was speaking about my kids after I had lost my patience. As illustrated in the above story, I am very much in touch with my shortcomings and need for grace. Somehow I have a higher expectation for my children. I expect them to behave perfectly when they have neither the experience nor knowledge to do it. I lose it when they don’t do the things it’s taken me a lifetime to learn while they have only been alive for a couple of years. They just got here. Even when they do learn, I need to remember—like me—they will make mistakes.

2. “Don’t ever count.”

A seasoned parent gave me this piece of wisdom. I called my kids to come to me. When they didn’t respond, I started counting. She told me all I was doing was teaching my kids they could wait until the count of three to come. She was right. I stopped doing it and started to give my kids consequences. Now my kids come to me right away—unless they’ve had too much sugar.

3. “They are going to do what you do.”

My wife taught me this one. My kids were fighting and being really loud while doing it. I was frustrated with how they were yelling at each other and wondered where they had learned their behavior. Naturally, I screamed at them to be quiet. After it was all over, my wife pulled me aside and gently made me aware that our kids were acting out what was modeled to them. She criticized herself as much as me. It was something we both needed to always keep in mind, particularly when resolving conflict. Our kids do what we do.

Sound off: What are some parenting criticisms you’ve received? How did you handle it?

Check out our All Pro Dad team discussing how to avoid parenting to please others:

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “How do you feel when people criticize you?”