I was raised with parents who tended to be more critical than encouraging. Most of us who have grown up with overly critical parents are left constantly wondering if anything we do will be good enough to please them, and what’s worse, whether we are good enough. Parenting is the most difficult job on earth if done correctly, and most overly critical parents don’t want to hurt their children. Usually, these parents have the best intentions, but their delivery is extremely toxic to their children. Constant criticism can cause some serious damage to a child’s mental health.
Even if you didn’t have overly critical parents, I am sure you have experienced the demoralizing effect of frequent criticism from a boss, from a friend, or from your spouse. Despite our first hand experience with criticism, we still often fail to consider the toxic effect of criticism in our relationship with our children.
What is An Overly Critical Parent?
An overly critical parent is never satisfied with how his child is, how his child behaves, how his child feels, how his child looks, or what his child wants. That alone is sad and damaging enough, however, the worst part about it is that a critical parent doesn’t keep these feelings to himself. Instead, he lets her child know exactly what he doesn’t like or what he’s doing wrong.
Critical parents usually believe their way is the right and only way to do things. Therefore when the child doesn’t perform exactly as the parent expected, criticism and corrections will shower the child.
It doesn’t, however, mean that there are no rules. Some people of the positive parenting persuasion take things too far and allow their kids to basically do whatever they want. To literally make allof their own choices. They see “respect” as avoiding confrontation or anything that might make their child upset. But there is nothing respectful about having no boundaries. Part of being a parent is giving kids structure in the form of rules and expectations and understanding that those things are beneficial to them. It’s how we set up those rules and enforce them that makes the difference.
Overly critical parents tend to spend almost no time praising their child’s positive qualities. Most of the attention that an overly critical parent gives to his child is negative and detrimental. If it goes too far, it can (and often does) turn into emotional and verbal abuse. Children raised by an overly critical parent often have long-term negative effects from this type of childhood.
Since I was raised by an overly critical parent, my natural tendency is that. If I let myself go, I would be constantly criticizing my daughters. My natural predisposition is to focus on the negative, to focus on what’s wrong instead of what’s right. In my mind, I’m still constantly criticizing myself, but I do stop myself before do it to my daughters most of the time. However, there’s much room for improvement.
Are you an overly critical parent? What traits do you have?
Much love, Diana-