The holidays are a great time of year. You get to catch up with family you haven’t seen since last year. And don’t forget the feast that is beautifully spread across the table during your annual Family Christmas Dinner. However, there are also some not-so-joyous things that will ultimately come about. One of those things is when the in-laws, extended family, or maybe your own parents don’t agree with your parenting style. What do you do? I have some suggestions.
It’s bound to happen. At some point during the holiday season, whether it’s when my child is being a tad to “hyper” or when I say “no” and everyone else thinks I should lighten up, someone is going to have a negative reaction to my parenting style. It happens every year, so I’m not surprised when it does. However, it’s still just as frustrating. When it does occur, here’s how I try to handle it…
First, I take a couple of breaths. When people criticize my parenting style, it is a tad irritating but I want my response to be appropriate - after all, this is a teaching moment for my child. I am an absolute believer that we are our children’s first teacher and they model what they see us do. So, I take a breath, smile and respond.
Make sure your kids always feel empowered.
It’s important to me that my children are always celebrated so if something negative is said about one of my children in a demeaning manner, I correct the misconception. “My son is not bad, he has a lot of energy and he learns by doing things. I wish I had as much energy and zest for life as my son does.” Always make sure that your children feel empowered and that relatives don’t deflate their self-esteem.
Establish clear boundaries.
It’s okay to be clear that you are satisfied with your parenting and would prefer that they leave the parenting of your children to you and your husband. Sometimes this might be a little tricky with the in-laws, so if you feel uncomfortable having the conversation with them, give the task to your husband. Or you could do it together, however, be sure to set firm boundaries.
If your boundaries are not respected, then it’s okay to create space. Space can be created by staying in another part of the house during the gathering or even leaving the family dinner if necessary. Of course, leaving should be a last resort but if it becomes necessary, then it is okay. I’ve never been a believer in allowing yourself or your family to be mistreated or abused just to make others happy.
Do some reflection.
However, I also recognize that sometimes people are well-meaning but their delivery is off. So take a moment to reflect on what was said. If you think there may be some validity to the comments, talk it over with your husband and see if there are some useful changes that could be implemented.
Ultimately, how you choose to parent is up to you. Not everyone will agree with every decision that you make. It’s okay to receive feedback from family members if it’s given in love, but it’s also okay to set boundaries for overly critical people who aren’t involved in parenting your children in any way.