Dear Mothers, I know it can be hard sometimes. Specially, when you are a first time mother. Soon, you will realize that you cannot talk to anyone about your baby’s day-to-day activities without listening to a list of things that are wrong with you or the baby. There will be always someone raising concerns about your feeding methods, mealtime, nap times, sleeping techniques, car seat and the list goes on. While a woman can let go of some of these comments, there are some that sit deep inside their vulnerable new mom heart and make them feel inadequate. It is time to stop feeling like that and learn some ways to deal with these without letting it touch your soul.
• Boost your self-confidence. Repeat this in your head every time you feel inadequate ‘ I am an awesome mom and I know what is best for my baby’. Read Dear First Time Mother, You Are The Expert! if you are doubtful.
• Hold on to your tongue. You do not need to explain your parenting methods to anyone. It might be difficult when you are really pissed off but explaining yourself may seem like you need approval from others about how you raise your kids. Let go, and change the topic to something completely different.
• Let them do the talking. Some people criticize just because they want to talk about themselves. They might not be against your decisions, but they look at it as a chance to re-live their memories. Bounce the ball back at them and say, ‘Why don’t you tell us more about it?’
• Choose peace. There will be times when your family might get on your nerves. Wait for few minutes before you react. They might have a genuine advice or a totally vague one. If you need time, tell them you would give it a thought. But if it is totally unacceptable, choose peace. Use words like ‘We’ instead of “I’. This will give them a sign that it is a parent’s decision together. For example, ‘We find this method best for our baby’. Remember to be calm; your kids might be watching you.
• Find the humor. Say something funny in response to the criticism. It is always good to do it with a smile and not with sarcasm. Who needs all that negative energy hanging around?
• Inform. Some people are genuinely curious and are not criticizing. Learn to differentiate. I remember meeting a cousin of mine when her daughter was 3 years old. I made a dessert but my cousin told me that her toddler had not started eating anything sweet until then. My first reaction was, ‘What? She hasn’t tasted anything sweet until now?’ Now that I think about it, it could have been easily taken as criticism. But I was not even married then, and this was a plain surprise reaction. I had no knowledge to question any mother 5 years ago. So, if you think your audience is just curious, tell them how your method works for you and it might satisfy their query.
• Agree to disagree. There is a reason this phrase is used so often. Not every mother has to do everything alike. You might have your way of doing things. Take pride in it and politely tell people that it works best for you and you would not like to change it.
• If the comments come from a total stranger, they do not deserve a response.
Having said all that, look for the fine line between criticism and a genuine advice. For example, if someone tells you that it is not good to smoke around your kids, they are right. Whatever method works for you, do not forget to enjoy your motherhood and set boundaries for unwanted people and advice. Your wonderful energy is better invested in your kids and your own well-being.