My mother likes to 'help' people she's close to by pointing out what she thinks they are doing wrong. When I was a kid whenever I was feeling confused or upset, instead of consoling me she'd explain why I was to blame for my predicament. She wouldn't yell, just calmly criticize. It used to hurt me a lot when I was younger, and I had long periods where I wasn't around her. But after much therapy, personal work, meditation, etc... I began to be able to be around her a little more easily.
But now that I have kids it's like going back to square one. Having children gives her more fuel for criticism, and they are so close to my heart that I can't protect myself from her comments about them, and how I am as a parent. She criticizes my children and my parenting a lot and my response is to snap at her.
This evening my kids were over tired (because she kept them up too late), and while they both were crying, she was telling me - and them - what was problematic in their behavior. My daughter is slow going places and doesn't always follow directions the first time asked, so she had to yell at her, which made my daughter cry. My son was crying loudly because he wanted to sit on my lap and fall asleep, but couldn't because I was standing up (listening to how my daughter was not following directions, and also listening to my daughter crying loudly). And then when his crying wasn't getting him what he wanted, he hit the back of my leg to get my attention. Honestly, I was so overwhelmed with the late hour, listening to my mother, dealing with both kids crying, that I didn't even notice he hit me until my mother said, 'He just hit you! You allow that!?' So I snapped, 'Can you just go now!' and sent her home. The words just fell out of my mouth. All I know about non-violent communication flew out the window; and I don't regret sending her home, but I do regret being so harsh about it.
In my head I know this is all age typical stuff. My kids act like typical preschoolers when they are overtired, my mother acts like a typical older person who has forgotten what over tired young children are like.
But in my heart, I'm just furious. I constantly wish I had one of those mothers who could be supportive. Who would reassure me when my over-tired kids act like over-tired kids that I'm doing OK, or help soothe them when they're both crying, or at least go away to let me soothe them, rather than stay and criticize. Especially now when I have so much other stress in my life, and being a SAHM/WAHM makes it really hard to cultivate other nurturing, supportive friendships.
How do you deal with criticism of your children and your parenting? Or a parent who isn't who you want them to be?