Mom, do you feel Bullied?
Moms, this is for you if you're fed up with people judging and criticizing your parenting. You know, making you feel like crap about yourself and even your kids. I've actually been hired just to help parents cope with this ... imagine how bad it is for that to happen :(.
Yes, some advice is well intentioned but generally, if it's not invited, it's just self-righteous, bossy criticism. It's just another form of bullying which is cutting others down to make yourself feel good. It's pathetic, weak and built on massive insecurities.
Adult bullies can be passive aggressive and absolutely impossible to reason with. They often start sentences with, "You know what you should do?" , or "I hate to criticize but ...". They use "but" a lot. They're also very defensive and practiced at hiding behind good intentions: "I was just trying to help you!" Yeah right (eye roll).
People who truly are trying to help say things like, "Would you like some help?" or "I'm here if you need me." Awhile back I saw a mom struggling with a screeching toddler in a store and she was close to tears. I grabbed her arm and said, "Go home and have a stiff drink after this." She gave me a hug and thanked me (haha). You don't always want "help", sometimes you just need compassion ... am I right?
I advise clients who feel bullied to take a step back and think about the source. People who bully are miserable and/or jealous. They can't help but lash out trying to bring others down to their level. I wrote a blog about Snarky People which may help. We all have to deal with such people from time-to-time. Best to avoid them whenever possible and pity them the rest of the time. Oh yeah, and pity yourself for having to be around them (haha).
Here are some responses to try when a bully's having a go at you:
- "Thanks for the advice, I'll give it some thought." then change the subject.
- "What a beautiful day, what have you got planned for today?"
- "Go suck an egg."
Okay, so maybe not the last one (haha).
Life's full of wonderful, warm people. Focus on them and just tolerate the rest. Surround yourself with people who also have imperfect children. Share your stories and have a laugh. Kids will test your patience and certainly your parenting. Parenting isn't about perfection, it's about doing the best you can and keeping your sense of humour. No one's perfect, we're all flawed. Just be glad you are flawed with kindness instead of spit and vinegar like the bullies out there.
Note: I'm Canadian born but raised my kids in Australia which is famous for self-deprecating humour. Us moms would often sit around and laugh at stupid things our kids would do and what bad parents we were. Didn't feel any sense of judgement or competition, just comaraderie. Search out such groups of moms, it'll make you feel great about yourself and your kids.