How to handle criticisms

What to do when other people’s criticism on your parenting skills comes your way...

Parents-How to handle criticisms

We’ve all done it, often without thinking, and sometimes, just to provoke a reaction. But sometimes, simple off-the-cuff comments can really hurt — especially when those comments are directed at our parenting skills.

After struggling to breastfeed her newborn son Alex, Rachel Nathan, 29, switched to formula milk reluctantly after he stopped gaining weight. It was the right decision for her and her baby, but that didn’t stop a snap judgment by a fellow new mum, which sent her confidence crashing.

“I met up with a group of mums from my antenatal yoga class and was telling them about giving up breastfeeding,” Nathan recalls. “In fact, I was saying how guilty I felt about it, but that at
least Alex was finally putting on weight. Then, I heard one of the mums whisper to another, ‘Well if somebody paid her $25,000 to breastfeed, I bet she’d be able to do it’.”

Nathan was devastated on hearing this and felt sick with guilt about it for weeks. Then she got angry, “This woman had no idea what I’d been through, how dare she judge me!”

It’s an increasingly familiar scenario. A 2011 survey by,
 a UK-based parenting forum, found
 that nine out of 10 mums compare themselves to other mums. And clearly each of us thinks we’re doing a better job, as a 2011 poll of 26,000 mothers by, an online parenting magazine, found that 90 per cent of women have a negative view of other people’s parenting methods.

So, it seems judging and feeling judged are very much a part of modern motherhood. And when you consider it’s often other mums on the jury, you have to wonder — why can’t we rein it in a little?

Judgment call

When it comes to assessing other mums, breastfeeding (or not) is probably the most contentious issue, yet it doesn’t stop there.

“For me, it’s toddlers ‘addicted’ to their pacifiers or seeing them drinking juice from a bottle,” notes Jane Lee, 36, mum to Edie, 6 months, and Luca,
3. “I also can’t stand seeing baby girls wearing hair accessories and overweight toddlers in strollers — and that’s just off the top of my head.”

Lee, just like most mums, admits that she would never say anything openly because she doesn’t want anyone to know how critical she can be, though she adds “But inside, I can’t believe the things some mothers think are acceptable.”

Whether your biases are a matter 
of taste or concerns about a child’s welfare, they all come from a need for reassurance. Judging others can give us that security we crave.

Explains consultant psychologist Susan Ashbourne, “If you’re learning new skills and feel uncertain about what you’re doing, you check what everyone else is doing. In other words, you judge.

“It’s not about being superior, but
 has more to do with working out if our skills are as good as they could be, and exploring ideas around why other parents aren’t doing the same as us.”

Judging others is normal, nor does it mean that you’re a bad person. Which leads to the question, are we just being too sensitive?

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