Monday, May 3, 2010

The right to criticize them?

I watched a smiley toddler bumble her way down the hall. Her bright blue eyes were shining while her hands grasped everything she could get ahold of.

"So clumsy. That kid is so clumsy. She has such big feet.." her grandmother noted to me.

Something struck an unhappy chord in me. I spent the rest of the day going over that scene in my head, even this morning I was still perplexed. It really bothered me.

I wish I could not see the wheels of time spinning fast forward in my head. First, it is a toddler's natural tendencies to toddle. This doesn't need to be criticized, does it?

Every stage of life has it's troubles, doesn't it? What do we as parents and grandparents to help them get through those stages? Is it our job to sit back and criticize the natural stages or love and support them through it?

And why is it that those who are closest to the children feel the need--the compunction to openly criticize them in front of others? Is it their way of laying claim on their existence as people?

For example, "I own that child; therefore, I can criticize them" or is it pride? "Others are noticing this bad behavior, so I had better make a comment to make sure they know that I know it is bad also?" What?

Either way, it needs to stop. In the case of age-appriopriate behaviors, it is perfectly normal for:
a toddler to toddle
a young child to stumble in words and reading
a young adult to have pimples
a young mother to be sleepy
a young father to be discouraged
a middle-aged man to be overwhelmed with work
a middle-aged woman to be trying to re-find herself
and for the elderly to have wrinkles and pains

This is not to say that children and grandchildren do not need correcting: they do! They need loving exhortation on improving their character. For the little ones, they need constant reminders to obey their parents in the Lord for this is right. We all need encouragement in that area! When people are criticized for things that they can not help, they start to feel hopeless and they start searching for acceptance outside of the home.

We have been wondering why the church is loosing its young people to the world. I think this is it. It starts right here. We fail to correct their characters, and we over correct in the non-essentials. We let pride dictate how and what we correct. That would cause me to rebel too.

Of course, they are going to leave their families and the church when this is the type of scenario they have going on. I was so blessed to have SUCH an encouraging mother to be an example to me! Even before she knew Christ, she gave us oodles and oodles of encouragement--not criticism. I know that's why I am 1) close to my mom to this day and 2) love being a mom.

I hope my own children will grow up wanting to hear what grandma and mom have to say; that is, after they recover from my craziness... (which also is attributed to my MOTHER)!!!!


squeeli2 said...

My Father-in-law recently pointed out my daughters pimples. Thankfully she didn't understand him and asked him to repeat himself and decided not to. He's like that. He himself is overweight, but loves to point out my weight issues (thankfully my husband put a stop to that). I guess the reasoning is different for different people. I honestly feel like he feels so badly about himself that he points out faults in others to make himself feel better or take the attention off of his own faults. I'm certain that he doesn't realize it's what he's doing. It's hard to remember that in the moment.

My hubby and I do use those moments to mentally run a tally of all the things we don't want to do say or be.

Herding Grasshoppers said...

That is sad that the gramma would say that.

Sometimes I wonder, though, if that generation is reacting to the overabundance of meaningless syrupy praise that the whole raise-their-self-esteem crowd piles on. But that's a whole different issue.

You're right about every stage having its challenges. I want to build my boys up into men, not tear them down over every little thing.


Braley Mama said...

amen! I was constantly teased by my mom and it was really hurtful. I see others in my family do this and I will not do it to my children. Thank you for pointing out such a horrible trend!

Mrs. Parunak said...

Great post! I love the idea of exhorting when our children need it, but not criticizing normal stages.

Kathryn said...

It hurt to read what the grandma said, for i remember similar things in my life & carry them (they still effect me) to this day.

I've been told to "forgive" but i don't believe forgiveness is really the issue.

Something just occurred to me - we all have a tendency, especially when young, to think everyone is looking at us & being critical. Usually we get older & find that it is not true. But i think some of this may come from being little, having everyone watch, & often criticize as if the little one weren't even in the room.

I believe i've forgiven my mother for her abusive/critical ways, but many of the things she said stick like burrs in my mind when i'm interacting with other people.

It is hard to get past, tho i think it effects people differently. Some folks seem to be born able to just shrug such things off.

I do believe small people need encouragement as much as possible. And i agree, that is not the same as permissiveness & a lack of boundaries/appropriate behaviors.

Organizing Mommy said...

the fact that so many of you have had similar experiences confirms it in my mind that we need to protect our kids from this and be watchful for our own tendencies. They have a lasting effect--as evidenced here.

Squeeli2: Even if a person feels bad about himself, that's no excuse to pick on you or your daughters. Let him know that you will not tolerate bad comments from him.

Kathryn: As usual, I value your insight. I wish I could take a big eraser and "make it better". Thanks for chiming in.

Braley Mama: teasing is part of this bad trend also!
Julie: I pile on that stuff all the time!! LOl

Roxanne said...

My sister grew up with my mom constantly telling her she had big feet. She wears a size 8! My mom is only 5'2" and wears a size 7.

The sad thing is that I'm hearing my sister beginning to say the same things about her 7yo daughter. I've tried to gently bring it up, but she hasn't caught my drift yet.

Maybe I need to just come right out and say it...

The dB family said...

What a great post!!