Judgement seems to go hand in hand with parenting these days.
Whether it’s how you handle a toddler meltdown in the middle of the supermarket, or the questioning looks you get when you allow your kid a double scoop of ice cream - every parent knows that judgy look you get from strangers, relatives and even friends. And celebrities aren’t immune to it either.
The Bachelor’s Matty Johnson, who shares two children with fiancée Laura Byrne, recently came under fire from online trolls after he posted a video of his two-year-old daughter Marlie-Mae, mispronouncing a word.
One troll ignored the point of the video altogether and criticised the fact that the toddler was still in nappies, something the 34-year-old dad later said really hurt his feelings.
“Maybe people do this because there is so much pressure to be the perfect parent in today's society, that criticising others makes us feel better about our own choices,” he said in a column for 9Honey, “Or maybe people are just a**holes. I'm still trying to figure it out!”.
Clinical psychologist Dr. Aileen Alegado tells Yahoo Lifestyle that so much pressure in society rests on how ‘good’ we are, and this is no exception when it comes to parenting.
“When someone questions our parenting skills, most people can interpret this as criticism of one's parenting ability, and the anger we feel is the defence mechanism for us to fight back and stand up for ourselves.
“It hurts because as parents, we want the best for our children and we see children as an extension of us – how good or capable we are as parents.
“We want to do everything in our power to give our children a good life, and if someone criticises this, we feel like we aren’t just failing ourselves, but failing them.”
Responding to criticism
When it comes to dealing with judgement or criticism, Dr Aileen advises parents to, “Be open to the feedback, but also take it for what it is.”
“When we hear criticism and feel that we are attacked, we can lose valuable feedback that could help us see our blindspots.
“Don’t see feedback as critical, but neutralise this and take a position of curiosity. Ask questions, share your points of view. Sometimes people DO criticise, but understand that it says more about them that it does about you.
“When people are insecure, they feel that by criticising others then they could feel better about themselves. When you understand people’s intentions better, you’re less likely to see their criticism as a threat, and the more you can come from a place of compassion.”
Another important thing to do is embrace a diversity of opinions - while certain parenting styles or approaches may not work for you, they could be the perfect fit for another family.
“Have confidence in your own abilities and also appreciate individual differences,” Dr Aileen says, “Values and experiences can vary, so there is no right or wrong way of parenting. Embracing diversity means there is less need for judgement which breeds negativity.”
“Develop compassion for yourself and others, and see parenting as a journey. We won’t always get it right, but that’s part of the journey. Be kind to yourself.”
Top tips for boosting parenting confidence
Dr. Aileen says that having a good support network is key when maintaining confidence in your parenting abilities.
“It takes a village. We are most likely to have resources, emotional and practical, by having friends and family around. You don’t have to do it alone.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help – everyone makes mistakes and by asking for help, we can learn to grow and improve on our shortcomings.”
Dr. Aileen also says it’s important to be compassionate to yourself when you do make mistakes.
“No parent on this earth has ever got it right all the time. It’s ok to not know things, and reaching out to others is important to normalise these feelings.
Tap into your inner child – being a parent is hard but more than likely your experience as a child can also guide what intuitively feels nurturing and caring.
As humans, we are wired for connection, so try not to overthink things and do what feels natural and hopefully have some fun.”
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