The top 5 ways to respond to parenting criticism

You’re doing the best you can with your little one; you know your child better than anyone. So, it can be hard not to feel a little raw, emotional, stung (and more!) after receiving criticism over your parenting style. 

Trust us, we’ve been there. You’re not alone. We’re parents here too at Kendamil, and we’re here to remind you that EVERY parent (yep - even the ones who seem like they’ve got their life together) experiences criticism. We're all unique, so we all parent differently. If you’ve faced some negative feedback, don’t despair. Here’s the top five ways to react, respond and bounce back.

‘There’s no such thing as a perfect parent. So just be a real one’ - Sue Atkins. 💙

1. 🥰 Politely respond. 🥰

We know that emotions can run high, post-criticism. ESPECIALLY when that criticism has anything to do with your little one. Not getting upset is…well…difficult. If you feel that their advice won’t work for your child, find a polite way to shut them down. 

Our advice: We find this works well if the person giving you this feedback isn’t a close friend. If you find yourself in a situation where your gut is telling you a person has no basis to be criticising you, then a firm ‘thank you, I’ll keep that weaning trick in mind’ or a ‘we tried that breastfeeding tip: it didn’t work for us, I’m afraid’ may be enough to get the message across, before extracting yourself from the situation.

2. 🧘🏿‍♀️ Follow your inner guidance. 🧘🏿‍♀️

If YOU feel that your way is the right way (and you’ve done all your research - perhaps by scouring Kendamil's helpful guides blog section!!) then stay firm in your beliefs. 

Our advice: This one is ALWAYS useful to keep in mind, in any situation where you find yourself being criticised. You can either ignore the negative feedback and be on your way. Or you can educate and inform the person criticising you. 

3. 💬 Talk it out! 💬

Is that feedback really bugging you? Yeah, we’ve been there. Our favourite thing to do, when a piece of criticism is burning a hole in our brain, is to Talk. It. Out. Get someone you love over for a cuppa and talk about your feelings over their feedback. You’re bound to feel better, once you’ve unloaded yourself (and honestly? A ‘venting session’ over a cup of tea never harmed anyone).

Our advice: If chatting to a friend or family member doesn’t work, then the root cause may need some professional help. We find chatting to a trusted healthcare professional from time to time extremely valuable. Get your feedback-related feelings out there!

4. 💙 Empathise. 💙

If your gut is telling you that your critic is genuinely trying to help, and has your child’s best interest at heart, then try a little empathy. Listening without responding is your friend - whether you disagree or not. Everyone has their own point of view!

Our advice: We find this works best if the person giving you feedback is a close friend, someone you value and respect, or someone who works within a professional childcare setting. Consider this: could this person’s feedback be useful? Is their tone kind and nurturing? Empathy is all about getting yourself in someone else's shoes and understanding where they’re coming from, which leads us to our next point;

5. 🙌 Remember the value of feedback! 🙌

This one can be tough to swallow. But consider this: does your critic have a point?

No one’s perfect and we can ALL learn from one another. If your critic is giving you some educated feedback or advice, it’s well worth taking note of and not getting too defensive. And, as we point out above, this is also an important point to consider if your critic spends a lot of time with your child - like a teacher, tutor or babysitter.

Our advice: Do you act differently with your friends than with your colleagues? Well, most likely, so does your little one! No one is ever the same with every individual they encounter, and this goes for your child, too. How they are at nursery or school might be vastly different to how they are at home - and, so, some people will see facets of your child that you never will. 

So, take all feedback into consideration and try not to brush it off just because it’s not what you’ve experienced. And, remember, ‘feedback is a gift’ and can be critical for your growth as a parent. Taking on hard lessons can be the most effective way to improve your skills, allowing you to be the BEST parent you can be.

🌟 Let’s welcome polite feedback! 🌟

That coworker who expresses their continued surprise over your busy work week ('oh, your poor baby must be missing you'!) or that teacher who questions why you can't volunteer for the school event of the season ('but so-and-so's mum and dad always help out!) can leave you feeling icky and inadequate - not to mention the heavily unpleasant dose of ‘comparenting’ (which may follow suit).

But while we admit that polite criticism over your parenting style can be a tough pill to swallow, it can also be valuable; helping you learn, grow and validate your skills as both a parent AND an individual. 

So the next time you receive some polite feedback on your parenting, try not to react in a harsh or overly self-critical way. Remind yourself that you’re doing your best. Take a deep breath. Talk out your feelings in a healthy way. And remember, you’re not going to please everyone. All that matters is this: are you doing the best you can to parent your child? 

Remember, feedback, welcome or otherwise, is down to what YOU make of it. You got this, KendaFam!

Kendamil Heart

🍼👨🤔 Need some Kendamil resources and support? 🤔👩🍼

Don’t let criticism get in the way of educating and empowering yourselves in all things parenting! ✨ Reach out to us! ✨ Our customer support team of fellow mums and dads are here to help! 

And why not check out our recent support blogs for your detailed dose of parenting help? Some of our (highly-recommended) favourites include:

  • BLOG: Parenting tips after lockdown
  • BLOG: How to manage overwhelm as a parent
  • BLOG: How to overcome comparenting
  • More from the blog