As a parent you tend to notice how other parents treat their children. I often watch other parents and think, "I hope I never treat my children that way." For some reason I have encountered a lot of critical parents lately. Sometimes I can't help but think about how these parents can be the worst kind. They give their children everything they need, they even love their children, but they invest so much time and energy into making comments, criticizing and pointing out their children's flaws. If your parents don't love you unconditionally then who will? It just makes me sad for those children who just want to feel loved by their parents, but instead feel like they do nothing right because they are constantly met with negativity. You are an adult. You were given this child to love. They should feel encouraged. They should feel special. They should feel as if they are making you proud. To watch a child's happiness completely disappear and be replaced with an expression of hurt because of something their parents said to them is heartbreaking. You can smile and act sweet around your friends. You can post about what a great mother you are on social networks, you can even throw some religion in there for good measure, but if you are tearing down your child instead of lifting them up then there is something wrong with you. I have encountered so many parents who are far from perfect, but expect perfection from their children. It's not going to happen and making them feel bad about themselves is not going to give you the relationship you hope to have with them someday when they're an adult. It is only going to push them away.
I'm talking to that mother in the waiting room who looks at her teenage son disapprovingly and says, "Why is your face so broken out?" The kid glares at her, his face clouded with hurt and he slumps down in his chair. I'm talking to the parent who makes comments about his child's weight . . . to his child. I'm talking about the parent who makes comments about their adult children when they see them and criticize them, whether they realize it or not. Parents who question everything their children do and believe that pointing out areas that need improvement will help them be better people, when really you're just chiseling away a little bit of their happiness and bruising their self esteem with each comment or criticism they're met with.
I am not a perfect parent and I'm not raising perfect children. I do my best, though. Jacob and I both encourage our children every chance we get. We don't point out imperfections or say anything that will make them feel bad about themselves. We always try to focus on their positive qualities . . . and let me tell you, there are so many! I pray I am still this mom when my children are older. I pray I never make them feel bad about themselves through commenting on things in a negative way or through criticizing. Even when I'm old I want to be a positive parent. Children want relationships with positive parents who make them feel loved. I never want to make any of my children feel bad about any part of themselves . . . that's what the world is for, not parents. There are days when I cannot believe the number of parents, especially those in the waiting room with their special needs children, who criticize their children. We're here to love them and love them unconditionally (whether your child is 2, 15 or 40). Seeing these parents treat their children this way is a good reminder of how not to treat my children.
What kind of parent are you? What kind of parent would your children say you are?