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  • Paula Thompson
    Paula Thompson

    How can you handle a partner who constantly criticizes your parenting decisions?

    It can be incredibly difficult to handle a partner who constantly criticizes your parenting decisions. Having someone critique your every move may leave you feeling like you're doing something wrong and can cause the relationship to become frayed and uncomfortable. Nobody likes to be on the receiving end of criticism, particularly within the context of parenting. However, it is important to remember that this behavior reflects on them, not you. Learning how to stay positive when faced with such constant criticism from a partner is a necessary skill in order to preserve the relationship dynamic.

    The first step toward rising above such hopelessness is to recognize that the criticism your partner spouts off does not define the quality of your parenting. When a person becomes insecure about their own abilities, it can be normal for them to try to belittle those around them. This doesn’t mean that the opinion they are giving is accurate. It just means that the opinion spoken is coming from an emotionally charged place and therefore might be biased. During this time, it is important to take a look at the situation objectively and ask yourself if the criticism is fair and accurate, or if it is being colored by other emotions.

    The next step is to put yourself in your partner’s shoes so that you can better understand where they might be coming from. This can be difficult when you feel as though you have handled the situation correctly. However, taking the time to approach the situation sympathetically will make the dynamic better for both of you. For example, if your partner is unemployed, they may be lashing out because they feel as though they can’t provide as well as you can. This could cause them to become frustrated and resort to criticizing your methods. Recognizing that their subpar feelings may be contributing to their behavior will help you handle the situation in a more constructive way.

    In addition, focus on maintaining a positive attitude during this difficult time. Remind yourself that what your partner is saying is not a reflection of your parenting abilities. Additionally, reassure yourself that you are taking the best course of action for your family regardless of what your partner says. Know that children are resilient and respond best to consistent, unconditional love and understanding. Certified parent coach Laurence Steinberg claims “children need a sense of safety and security, and that usually means having a consistent home life.” Be sure to follow through with your decisions and actions in order to show your children that you have faith in your chosen path.

    It is also helpful to approach communication in critical moments with a clear head and open heart. When responding to criticism from your partner, be sure to discuss how you felt and how it made you feel when it occurred, rather than attacking back or pointing out mistakes. Keeping the dialogue constructive will enable both of you to move forward and work together towards common ground. Furthermore, listen to what your partner has to say. Making the effort to hear each other out instead of becoming defensive will help ensure a productive outcome.

    Finally, remember that it’s okay to take time away from your partner in order to recalibrate. Do something that makes you feel good and allows you to clear your head. Taking a break is not a sign of weakness; instead, it’s an indication that you are taking care of yourself so that you are better able to handle the situation. A short walk or exercise can work wonders in releasing stress and restoring balance.

    It can be incredibly difficult to handle a partner who constantly challenges your parenting decisions. The key to rising above such negativity is to recognize that their opinion does not define the quality of your parenting, to put yourself in their shoes, to maintain a positive outlook, to communicate constructively, and to take a break from the situation if needed. Doing this will allow both parties to come together and support one another in a healthy and comfortable way.

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