Many moms experience guilt and shame from other people’s critiques regarding their parenting. This mom-shaming behavior often comes from loved ones, especially a mom’s own mom.
I grew up with a mom who never lacked for expressing those “little comments.” It seemed that she had an opinion about everything I did, said, or thought. She didn’t stop there, though. She “just had to” comment about my clothes, hair, and physical features, too.
I guess she had her reasons. I just don’t know if she was aware of them most of the time, though.
You cannot underestimate the importance of awareness. There are many things that we as moms may or may not be aware of regarding what we say to our children.
When it comes to criticism, a recent survey of 2,500 moms found that nearly 90% of them expressed more critiques towards their daughters than their sons.
Why does this happen?
As I review the research and my mom clients, there are two things that contribute to this critiquing pattern.
- A mom’s projection.
- A daughter’s perception.
Here are five keys to quitting the critiquing.
Correct Mom’s Projection (3 Keys)
Projection by definition is an action that occurs outside of one’s awareness (i.e. occurs unconsciously). It is not something that is volitional or intentional in nature. To progress towards change, you will need to…
Key #1: Increase your awareness of when and how you are “commenting.” This is the first key to correcting your projection pattern.
Key #2: Track your behavior to become more aware of how often you make critiques. This may entail taking stock of your daughter’s reaction to you when you are “commenting.”
Notice if she shuts down, gets snippy, or changes the topic? If she’s doing this, then this is likely a sign that something you’re saying is not going over too well.
Key #3: Develop an alternative response to your daughter. Doing this after you have tracked your behavior and become (more) aware that you are projecting will help your new communication attempts be more effective.
Since every situation is different, for your particular mother-daughter relationship you may want to consider getting some specific strategies for this part of the change process.
Two Additional Keys To Consider About Your Daughter’s Perception.
Psychologically-speaking, perception refers to the way information is taken in, organized, interpreted, and consciously experienced.
Every daughter is unique in her interaction with her mom. However, how a daughter (consciously) perceives her mom’s comments and (unconsciously) stores them in her memory is affected by her age or stage of development. Here are two additional key things to consider.
Key #4: What’s experienced can differ from what’s stored.
Have you ever said something to or had an interaction with your daughter and both of you recall the instance differently? It sometimes makes you scratch your head wondering if you “missed the memo” on what just happened.
One of the reasons a tween daughter, for example, may hear your comment as criticism is that she is starting to gravitate away from seeing herself through your eyes to developing her own sense of herself. She will hear any suggestion, comment, “observation,” you make as a rejection of her own viewpoint.
So, your tween daughter may hear your innocuous reminder of “Remember to wear your coat,” take it in and organize it in her conscious mind of experience.
However, your reminder may have gotten stored as “I (your mom) think you’re incapable of assessing the weather and determining that a coat is needed.”
I kid you not.
This is why fostering open communication in which your daughter feels safe is important.
…and the earlier the better.
Key #5: Auditory or visual learner.
Your daughter’s learning style impacts what she will take her cues from the most.
If she is a visual learner, then what does she see in your face or body language? If she’s an auditory learner, then what does she hear from your mouth?
So, be aware of your facial/physical expressions and/or your tone of voice.