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As someone who goes against the flow with most things in my life, believe me, I know what it is to be criticized. We have a large family and choose to take a more spiritual approach to family size (you can read more about that in my post about why we have a large family), we homeschool, and because of these two previous things our kids have more responsibilities than most. These things naturally put me and my parenting skills under the microscope.
Criticism comes from all angles, even when we are out in our own driveway having fun.
So, if you feel the sting of criticism all too often, you are in good company, namely, mine 🙂
Over the years, I have learned a few things to soften the hurt that criticism can bring. Maybe you will find some of these helpful.
- If criticism is a regular happening in your life, expect it and accept it. Once you do these two things, it automatically hurts you less because it becomes an anticipated event. When you know something is coming, it automatically stings you less.
- Recognize that if the criticism comes from someone you personally know, the criticism most likely comes out of concern rather than out of a desire to personally attack you. If you keep the motivation behind the criticism in mind, it will hurt less.
- Revisit your reasons for doing whatever it is that causes repeated criticism. For me, I reexamine and/or remind myself of the reasons we live our life the way we do in my family. Remaining focused on your goals, callings, and methodology will keep you strong at times when the harsh words, actions, or insinuations start.
- Connect with others who are similar to you – see if they face similar criticism. If you can find friends who are in similar situations, you can not only gain wisdom from them but also encouragement.
- Just sit back and let nature take its course. If you are confident in the choices you are making being right for your family, the benefits that are coming will become apparent to others at some point. If criticism starts in regards to homeschooling in my life, the proof is in the pudding because I have great kids who are well rounded, hardworking, and respectful kids who not only exceed from an academic standpoint, but also from a social standpoint.
- Don’t feel the need to explain or defend yourself to others. This can be incredibly difficult if you are being criticized as a parent, but again, waiting for nature to take its course is the only defense you need.
- Learn to change the subject or to walk away. Don’t bring on the criticism by walking into conversations that will only invite those who criticize you to criticize you. This can seem pretty basic, but we so often open the door without realizing it. If you are being criticized by a friend or family member about your chosen discipline methods, don’t speak to your friend or family member about the behavior of your children being out of line. If they bridge the subject and the conversation begins to drift down a path of criticism, change the subject or walk away whether in person or over some sort of audio or digital media.
- Don’t be too sensitive. Don’t read criticism into situations where it is not. I think once we become accustomed to being criticized about something, it is easy to see any sort of negative behavior in regards to this hot button issue as criticism. When you think you are being criticized, take a step back, pause, and pause deeply before doing anything else.
- Prepare a response. Effective communication is always ideal, but it is especially ideal when you are wanting to diffuse a situation that stings. Saying things like, “thank you for your thoughts,” or, “I appreciate your concern,” can go a long way in calming an intense situation. However, you cannot deliver your response in a way that is demeaning, disrespectful, or just downright rude. Even if you have every right to be offended, just go over and above to remain in control of your emotions, words, and body language.
- Fill your life with those who are supportive of you. Sometimes moving away from the harsh criticism of others is necessary, but fill that void with those who do support you. By this I don’t mean others who tell you what you want to hear, but I am referring to those who accept you as you are – and appreciate you for who you are including these things that bring criticism from others.
Criticism is just part of being human, I suppose, but repeated criticism doesn’t have to hurt. The next time you feel the familiar sting of criticism, apply some of these key principles to the situation to respond in a loving and understanding way.