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My parents make me feel like a bad parent

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Every week we go for family dinner at my parents place. Majority of the time it is good, I get to catch up with my siblings and parents and my kids (5yr old and 6 month old) get to see the family. 
Last night we were discussing something where my dad said asians respect their elders but westerners don’t (We are Asian but have grown up in a western society).  Anyway he was in the wrong. During the argument he made me feel like I was not bringing up my kids in the correct way and it felt like he was saying I was a bad parent (he didn’t say that but I felt that). Then for the rest of the night he barely talked to anyone, I didn’t want to look at him. And since then I have been feeling all emotional and have been questioning if I’m a good parent or not.  I watched my 5 yr old today playing by herself, asking me to play with her but I’m tired, I have to feed the baby, it’s the end of the week. I feel like I’m letting her down. 
Also during the argument my 5 yr old said to me ‘why do you always talk to him like that. Stop squabbling’. I felt bad. Is this what I’m like?
I don’t want her to not have a relationship with them but I feel like they like to compare and complain. When we visit they don’t interact with them much and when they do they ask my daughter the same things. If I leave my 5 yr old with them, she’ll be in front of the Tv majority of time.
And then my dad will complain that she doesn’t want to talk to him. 

My parents have been comparing me and my siblings to our friends since we were young and now I feel like they are doing it with my kids. Like the other day my Mum said my cousins baby is sitting already, but my 6 month old isn’t. I know that babies develop at different rates and I was not at all worried until she made that comparison. She wasn’t saying ‘why is he not sitting yet?’ But that’s what it felt like from past experience. If a friend had told me her baby was sitting I would not be comparing but when my mum says it I feel inadequate. 
So for the past few months with the baby I have been relatively ok emotionally aside from the lack of sleep. But this recent argument and comparison has been questioning how I am as a parent. And it’s got me all emotional which in turn affects my parenting. 
Why do I feel this way? How do I not let my parents actions affect me and my family?

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Your dads comment was uncalled for.  Westerners do appreciate their parents/family.  That was a bit harsh! - Maybe he was in a grumpy mood anyways- so try to let it go.

I understand.. when this all comes from someone so close ( like parents), we do tend to take things too deeply 😕 .

But, this happens a lot with people - the comments, the comparisons.. So try hard not to let all of that affect you.

You know you are a good person and parent.  These are your kids. You continue as you are! 🙂 

Having 2 young ones, you are under many stressors.  And you will for a while yet.  So, enjoy your kids and keep moving on ahead.  You will learn to ignore 90% of all you hear or get told.

This is your life & your kids.  Not theirs.  They are the grandparents.

As for when/ if your kids visit, I say leave it be.  That is what happens there.  They are not home, things will not be the same as 'home'. ( so often you will hear of grandma 'spoiling' her grandkids, that's how it is.. they'll most likely get away with more.. knowing they are not home).

Sad though, how they were with you kids.   (comparing), but I guess this is just how they are.  And parents are known to do this..comment/compare. 

Expect this and then some, as you go through your parenthood, and to also learn to pay no attention to most of it.



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3 hours ago, soulsista29 said:

 Anyway he was in the wrong.  made me feel like I was not bringing up my kids (he didn’t say that but I felt that)

It may be best to avoid highly charged political debates with family and in front of your kids.


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Posted (edited)

I can sort of see how your parents might feel a certain way with their grandchildren being raised so different from how they were raised. Not that it’s okay, but I’m from a very small town in the Midwest of the United States. If my daughter were to grow up and want to raise her family in LA or New York, I can see how I would feel sad for my grandchildren for missing out on the type of childhood I had, which included camping and four wheelers, fishing, boating, etc. I would also wonder how I’m going to relate and be close with them when they have such a different lifestyle than me. Again, that doesn’t make it okay to guilt you for raising your children your own way, just an example of how they might feel.

As far as comparing, listen, babies learn new skills at all different rates. I’m sure you know that. Some kiddos can walk at 8 months but don’t crawl, and some kiddos prefer to crawl until they’re a year and a half old. Every baby is different, but they all learn in their own time. I don’t know a lot about Asian culture, but I would suggest having a conversation with your parents about how their comments make you feel. Tell them you want to feel confident and supported in however you choose to raise your children. I know it will be a difficult conversation to have, but saying nothing and letting your feelings and resentment fester will be much more difficult. Just say to them, “when you said XXXX the other day, it made me feel like you think I’m not doing a good job as their mother. As my parents, your opinion really matters to me. I want to feel supported in the way I raise my children, and right now I just feel judged.”

You may find that they have suggestions that might be great for your children, and some that you don’t agree with, and that’s okay! They can love the way you do one thing and hate how you do another thing, but the point is that they support you and know you want the best for your babies. I’m sure they want the best for your babies too, they just have to understand that you have to prepare your kids for the world they’re going to grow up and live in, not for the world your parents grew up in.

If you love your kids with all your heart, and want the best for them, then you’re a good mom. All we can do is our best, and some days are better than others, but you’re still a good mom. ♥️

Edited by indea08
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There are books out there on establishing relationship boundaries. I would read one or more of them.

Yes, communicate with them how their comments are affecting you and upsetting to your children to hear the arguments.

What can you do to tach them how to treat you? After you explain what you want to happen and what you want avoided, if you're visiting them and they begin their put-downs, don't respond and be reeled into a conversation that goes nowhere and say, "Well, it's time for us to leave." 

Same thing if you're on the phone. Cut the conversation short and say you have to feed the kids or whatever.

As far as interacting with your daughter, maybe he doesn't know how to. How about buying something he can do with her like a match game or a puzzle that a five year old can handle? Bring crayons, colored paper, kids scissors and glue and tell the grandparents that your child wanted for them to do art projects together. Bring some kid books he can read to her. Perhaps mention to them that those are the sorts of things that brought you the most joy as a child if they did those things with you, and if not, say that you imagine those are the precious moments your child will likely treasure with her grandparents.

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On 5/7/2021 at 12:38 AM, soulsista29 said:

Anyway he was in the wrong.

Why must your father's personal observations and beliefs be wrong--for him? 

And why prove his point by disrespecting him (in front of your children) for expressing them?

When visiting your parents' home, honor their right to say and do as they wish in their own home.

When your parents visit your home, same rule applies--if they raise conflict, ask them to honor your right to say and do as you wish in your own home.

Choose your battles carefully, and notice how the internalizing you do to your own head will lift as your confidence in using good discretion rises.


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I agree with others.  Set boundaries for yourself.  Cut phone conversations short, make your visits brief and infrequent.  Pull back.

I've heard it all from my mother, siblings and in-laws throughout my long marriage.  I too am sick 'n tired of snide, inserted comments here and there regarding what type of mother I am and unsolicited advice through the years.

You can't change people.  I've learned this harsh lesson the hard way.  You are the one who has to alter course with your dynamics with them, change and adapt with your new boundary settings.  You don't have to like them but you have to accept them as they are.  The only thing you can control is your choice and decision regarding how often you wish to have contact with them whether on the phone, electronically or in person.  

Learn to turn a deaf ear.  Learn to ignore and change the subject.  Don't give life to snide comments which don't deserve your energy, breath and time.  Confrontation will get you nowhere except their gaslighting, accusations about your being a bad parent and you're left defending yourself ad nauseum.  It's a losing battle.  You can win the war by taking control regarding how much you will allow to hear their snide comments.  

Keep the peace.  Be gracious, well mannered and handle yourself with aplomb and poise.  Keep your cool.  I've had many, many years of practice and experience dealing with relatives, in-laws, co-workers and all sorts of unacceptable and intolerable characters which would be enough to curl your toes.  😡

I agree with others.  Pick your battles.  Remain peaceful and enforce healthy boundaries. 

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Posted (edited)

Parents are often the target of judgey comments especially when they are with their young children in public. I hate all the assumptions, including the one that children need to grow up in a suburban neighborhood in a house with a yard and other kids next door /down the block and if they don't they're missing out, will never appreciate nature/go camping/go fishing.  Or the opposite assumption that kids who grow up in suburbia will never appreciate diversity, culture, walking instead of being carpooled/chauffered everywhere and will be all cookie-cutter.  It's all wrong.  It's all about ignorant people who don't think for themselves and then target parents with their ridiculous unintelligent comments because it's so so easy peasy.  Feel sorry for those people.  You do you.  Stay in your lane.  Trust yourself and choose outside sources of advice wisely.  But find those sources.  It might be your parent, someone else's parent or a friend who has no children and wants no children but has insight and wisdom and a good heart.  Don't forget about those people - it's not only parents who are great sources of support and input.  Don't do it alone but also don't absorb everything people say even if they are related to you.

I hate to say this but if it were me -and again no need to take my advice, I get it! -I'd limit how often you go over there for family dinner/family time.  I'd use others as sitters (our parents would have made great sitters when he was a baby but three of them were disabled, the other took care of the disabled person and all were elderly as we started our family when we were 42).  I'd stop assuming some sort of obligation to go ever week if it's this stressful and draining. 

My father in law, RIP used to play with my son for close to an hour like this:  he'd put a handful of cheerios in one of his hands -my son -who was a toddler -would have to figure out which hand.  Then they'd pass cheerios back and forth (note that my son for some reason never put stuff in his mouth so the cheerios could be fresh or stale or from the floor).  But my FIL would sit there quietly with my son on the couch playing their game over and over.  It was that simple.  And that lovely. 

Most kids don't need bells and whistles.  Just a grown up who cares, who's happy to play at their level whatever it is and who takes a genuine interest in the child without an agenda.  Kids know -with rare exception they're so attune to vibes and energy and can have fun in any manner of ways.  

My son sat up and crawled at 8 months old.  Walked at 16.5 months.  Ran the next day. Comparing will make you crazy.  If you have true concerns have him checked out by the pediatrician or an OT/PT/ST if you wish or if you're referred to one and you, the mom, think it's a good idea.  

All the best to you and your family.  Happy Mother's Day.

Edited by Batya33
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Posted (edited)

I wouldn't even go so far as feeling sorry for anybody.  I don't care about anyone else except how my husband and I raise our sons and "the proof is in the pudding." 

Raising kids no matter where you live is never easy.  Parenthood is hard work from birth to at least age 18.  And then, your heart will forever be with your kids until your dying day.  You will always fret about them or you're concerned for their welfare no matter where your children and grown adult children are. 

Regardless of who it is, family (relatives / in-laws), friends, neighbors or whomever, if you're uncomfortable around people who are "off," don't quite ring true and have an obnoxiously rude side to them which is consistently unkind, simply learn to stay away. 

If they're unavoidable, at least decrease ALL forms of contact whether on the phone, electronically or in person.  This is what I do and it really does work.

Enforcing healthy boundaries are rules you set for yourself.  "I won't make myself conveniently and easily available to you." 

Change your mindset.  Everyone raises their children their way and in optimal cases, their best way.  Who cares about anything else?  Where a person lives?  Who cares?  It doesn't matter.  There are better things to do with your life such as remaining focused on raising your family the way you see fit and everyone else is less than a blur.  In this regard, indifference and apathy are positive traits.

My mother said, "Let everyone else spin frantically just like the spin cycle of a washing machine."  I'm listening to my mother and this visual gives you the mindset of:  "I couldn't care less about you" which makes you strong and tough.  My mother is always right! 🙂

Hope you had a "Happy Mother's Day."  My Mother's Day was relaxing and the break was nice. 

Edited by Cherylyn
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