What to do when friends criticize your parenting

By Elisabeth K. Corcoran
Author of He Is Just That Into You

I’ve had two people question my mothering in the past couple weeks. They’ve looked me in the eye and told me that I am doing damage, that I am being selfish and controlling. These words cut me, deeply.
What do we do when someone criticizes our parenting? Here’s what I did.

I sat with the accusations, writing them out. And then I asked God to make it clear to me if there is any truth to be found in the words that were spoken to me.

I’m holding loosely, because the women who said these things do not know me well.

But I don’t want to just throw out the baby with the bathwater altogether, because they are both godly women whom I respect.

I do not want to hurt my children. I do not want to be selfish with them. I do not want to control them, these almost-adults of mine.

So, I sift through the words. Are these women right or wrong? Am I right or wrong?
I think they are both a little bit right and a little bit wrong, and I am a little bit right and a little bit wrong.

What changes should I make, if any, based off what they’ve said?

I will measure my words with my children more carefully. I will choose the higher road of intentionally speaking kindly of others in front of them, of pointing out the good, when it would be easier to say nothing, when it would temporarily feel good to point out the bad.

And I will remember that they are teenagers, that they have opinions of their own to be listened to and honored.

What things will I keep doing as I am, despite what they’ve said?

I will continue speaking truth, just reminding myself to pepper it with more love and grace and gentleness, not to be hurtful with my words just because I’ve been hurt.

And I will move forward with decisions that I had made, prayerfully and thoughtfully, not letting one person’s opinion derail my own already-come-to conclusions, because my children still are my children, and I am responsible for them.

I already walk around with a truckload of mothering doubt and guilt to begin with, so when someone else speaks into my life on this point, I tend to cower and assume that I’m the worst mother ever. But I’m not. I’m a good mother. I love my children, and they know it. So, I will keep doing what I’ve been doing…training them, praying for them, loving them, and working on – slowly but surely – letting them go. And I will hold my head high knowing not that I’m doing the best that I can, but that God is equipping me daily and chose me for them.

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