Monday, February 9, 2009

How to Deal with a Critical Parent

I keep wondering why I try to have a relationship with my Dad when it's clearly obvious he doesn't like me. Why else would he criticize practically everything I do, where I live, how I raise my child, and more? Why else would he nit-pick my life and gossip about me? Why else would he continually find fault in what I do and see the negative of my life?
  • If my Dad loves me, he sure has a weird (bizarre-- yup, here's that word again!) way of expressing himself.
  • If my Dad cares about me and my well-being, he sure does make matters worse.
  • If he wants to have a relationship with me, he puts forth a very minimal amount of effort.
  • If he wants to have a relationship with his grand-daughter, why did he only see her 5 times in 2008 when he lives less than an hour away and is retired?
For subsequent blog posts about my Dad: My Dad, the Narcissistic King and What Makes my Narcissist Dad Tick

I feel that no matter what I do, I can't win with my Dad and step-mother. And I feel like I have been living my whole life trying to achieve my Dad's acceptance and approval, which is ironic because in all other areas of my life, I am full steam ahead, confidence, self-assured, and settled.

The answer lies in that I have been dealing with a highly narcissistic parent who has progressively gotten worse through the years due to retirement, getting older, and feeling less in control. And the worse that he feels about himself, the worse he treats those around him that he feels are successful, confident, and possessing something he doesn't. So, with the rise of the narcissistic behavior, the criticisms rise.

I have been dealing with a highly critical set of parents (Dad and step-mother) for almost my entire life. I continually read & reread this list to help keep myself in-check-- some of these points REALLY hit home. The following is for anyone with a critical parent:
  • Stop hoping and expecting approval. Stop trying for approval. Stop believing that if you were good enough or worthy enough or perfect enough this parent would suddenly approve of you. Some parents have a need for perfection, and tend to be judgmental by nature. They see the flaws, instead of the strengths, and in every human, if you look for flaws, you will find flaws. Such parents are wired to find the glass half empty, instead of half full. This has nothing to do with you, or who you are, or what you are worth as a person. Such people rarely, if ever, change. Let go of the belief that if you tried harder you would suddenly gain their approval. You won't.
  • Stop seeing yourself through the eyes of your critical parent. While you cannot change a parent who tends to criticize, you can change what you allow this to do to you. Stop looking and judging yourself through the eyes of this parent. Speak to the part of yourself that has internalized this criticism. Tell yourself that while you love this parent, you do not believe this parent nor do you welcome this parent's beliefs into your inner home. Ask nicely that this part of you please leave and be silenced forever.
  • Understand that something within your parent is flawed, and that is why they are driven to find the flaws in another human. As children, we see our parents as all-knowing, all-powerful, completely benevolent creatures, even when they are cruel. In a sense, they become our Gods, and we maintain this view of them well into adulthood. While consciously we may acknowledge their flaws, subconsciously we still somehow believe they are right about everything. So if they don't approve of us, on some level we believe they are right in not approving of us. Something, obviously, must be flawed in us to have a parent criticize us. Why else would a parent criticize us unless we really deserved it? Begin now to understand that a parent who gives in to the desire and need to criticize a vulnerable child is on some level cruel, ignorant and completely unaware. Why else would they give in to the temptation to make their own children feel so badly about themselves? They either lack understanding as to what their words are doing, or they lack kindness. Either way, they are lacking. Every time they criticize you, tell yourself that this shows that they are the ones who are flawed, not you. The giver of criticism, rather than the receiver, is usually the one who has a problem and needs to change.
  • Understand that the desire to shame and criticize another person usually stems from a deep self-hatred and self-loathing, along with a childhood of criticism and shame. Most likely, the parent who criticizes you was also the victim of a critical parent. This is the sad and cyclical nature of dysfunctional families. Forgive your parent. Understand that they are part of an unhealthy and cruel family pattern.
  • Commit yourself to being conscious of how being the child of a critical parent has impacted your life. By being conscious of the effects of criticism, you'll actually begin to negate the effects. Bringing to the surface the impact of criticism can actually help it dissipate and lose the power it has in your life.
  • Be aware that if you were often criticized by a parent, you will be inexplicably drawn to people who are judgmental and critical of you.
  • Surround yourself with loving, approving people. No, you don't have to break off all contact with your critical parent, but you should make sure that your life is filled with people who see the good in you and who aren't too afraid or too petty to give you the affirmation and positive feedback your soul deserves.
  • Let go of the hope that your critical parent will ever change. Stop looking for their approval. Love them. Forgive them. Understand why they are like this, but stop looking to them for approval and support you will probably never get.
  • Learn to reparent yourself. Start talking to yourself with love, kindness, concern and respect. Compliment yourself. When you do something good, tell yourself that it was good. When you make a mistake, tell yourself that it is okay to be imperfect. Talk to yourself in the same soothing, comforting, positive way you would talk to a new baby. Visualize your adult self hugging, praising, loving, and affirming your child self, that is still helpless and longing for a kind parent. Be kind to yourself. Introduce yourself to the kind of parent you deserved, but did not get.
  • Be aware of the critical voice within you. Children of critical parents tend to internalize a critical voice that bashes and beats their self-worth, often with even more harshness than the parent who was critical in the first place, as this voice was born of cruelty and unconscious parenting. Tell this voice that it is no longer needed. Refute this voice with your kind parent voice, letting the voice know that you know that all their words are lies. Fight this voice with all your might. Tell this voice you understand why it is there, but that it is no longer needed.
  • Stop blaming yourself for your parent's actions. It wasn't your fault that your parent was critical. It wasn't your fault that you never got the approval you needed. There was nothing you could do to make this critical parent into a kind approving parent.
  • Let your parent know that while you love and respect them, you will no longer be the victim of their criticism. Every time they start to criticize you, firmly tell them that while they have a right to their opinions, you will no longer allow yourself to be at the mercy of their words. Let them know that their words have hurt you, because you want their approval, but you've accepted that you'll never get that. Let them know that you no longer want to hear their criticisms, and sharing them with you is no longer an option.
  • Stay away from people and situations that keep you longing, yearning and believing that if only you tried harder you would win their approval and love.
  • Aim not emulate your critical parent and criticize others. If you continue the pattern in your own family and with others you love, you'll be affirming that your parent's behavior toward you was right and proper, instead of showing by example that it was completely wrong to treat another human in such a manner. Set in motion a new pattern for your life and family by refusing to give in to the temptation to be critical of others.
  • Understand that if a person can't see the good in others, they are lacking some basic qualities needed for healthy human relationships.
  • Some people are, by nature, judgmental perfectionists. It isn't your fault that you were born to one of them.

61 comments:

  1. Thank You.

    I have very critical parents who not only criticize me but also critize and frequently ridicule each other. I've grown up feeling so much self hate that it's difficult for me to make friends because when I encounter a new person, I automatically think they already dislike me or see all my flaws already.

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    1. Ohh, I'm sooo sorry. My step-dad is VERY critical of me, and of my mom, too. They argue quite a bit. I just wish my dad wouldn't put me down so often. He calls me names and because of it i have to see a therapist because I got involved with self-mutilation. He knows I'm very sensitive; that's why I came to this page, to get help on dealing with all of "this". I have tried talking to him, and praying ALL the time, asking Jesus to help me and to give me strength.....Anyway, this isn't about me. Ask God to help you. He has helped me by having me see a therapist; and that has helped some. I don't know what God has in store for you. Just say," Jesus, I am a sinner, and You died for me then rose from the dead. Please, Lord help me follow you. And, also, help me with my parents, and help my parents. Thank you. Amen"

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  2. You are quite welcome. I hope that the post helps... I printed it out and read & re-read it whenever I need a boost.

    I am so sorry to hear about your parents-- no child should have to live through criticizing, ridicule, judgments, and nit picking but many of us do, sadly. As an adult, I hope that you are able to see the power in yourself, the value of YOU, and believe in yourself. May you find happiness and peace :)

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  3. As I struggled with my anger at my critical parents this morning, I realized that I desperately needed a reality check. I was letting them drag me down again and I had to stop the slide...this, the first result on my internet search, has provided me the needed clarity and positive outlook I needed. I feel refreshed. I have regained some ground! Thank you!!

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  4. You are quite welcome. So wonderful to hear that you are refreshed and regained some ground... keep going in that positive direction. I have this blog entry printed, and whenever I need a reality check, I read and reread it. Keep believing in yourself and keep lifting yourself up :)

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  5. I agree 100% that you should surround yourself with a network of people that are NOT critical. To get there, it was a slow and steady climb for me, starting from a young age. I always knew there was something better for me, no matter how terrible my childhood experiences were. And, that helped me have the courage to look at my relationships with an objective eye, analyze my relationships, understand why they failed or why they succeeded. I looked at past friends, boyfriends, bosses, etc. I became wiser about how to choose positive people for my life and better at learning how to successfully deal with negative, critical people.
    Being in a positive and supportive environment with my friends and husband made my experiences and interactions with my parents become unbearable; it also made it all the more clear how wrong/hurtful my parent's behavior was. That was when my relationship with my parents came to a crossroad about a year ago, when I was 29. With the last and final straw, I suddenly was able to verbalize and consciously understand the effects their words and behavior had on me and how it affected every aspect of my life- past and present. The unexplained pain, frustration, and anger I had as a child finally made sense to me.
    And interesting realization was: when parents are criticizing, they are probably not listening. If the child feels that the parent does not listen to them, the child will feel a huge sense of frustration which results in breaking down, crying, yelling, screaming, etc. Acknowledging and validating other people’s feelings and opinions is crucial to make any relationship work.
    Honestly, I could go on and on with the many realizations I had about our relationship. It was like an epiphany. In the end, I asked myself “Do I want to put up with this for the rest of my life?”

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  6. Congrats on your "slow and steady" climb... it wins the race :)

    You said, "Being in a positive and supportive environment with my friends and husband made my experiences and interactions with my parents become unbearable"-- ain't that the truth! All of the positiveness and support truly pronounces all of that toxic and dysfunction, doesn't it!? I have been there, done that... makes one want to totally back away and shake that part of his / her life off.

    And how you touched on the listening aspect... I have a Dad that never listens, and you are so right-- the relationship didn't and doesn't work because he rarely acknowledges and validates feelings. He will walk out of the room when you're in the middle of a conversation. He doesn't remember what you've supposedly talked about. He doesn't listen or care to even know about what makes you tick or what is going on in your life. And you hit the nail on the head, "Do I want to put up with this for the rest of my life?"... and my answer to that was a definitive, "No" We deserve to be treated with respect and kindness.

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  7. I just got done crying my eyes out because of the movie Prayers for Bobby. Im not gay and my mom isn't a bible thumping person, but she is critical. I've alway's known there was something not right in the way she treated me, but when you are a child and the parent who is supposed to love you and teach you, fills you up with nonesense it doesn't always then come out of you the right way does it? I had a very hard time verbalizing what exactly my mother did. I tried to commit suicide when I was 16 and when the hospital was going to send me home I told them I wasn't going to go home with her. Of course they wanted to know why, but I couldn't tell them she hit me or beat me. Only that I never did anything right in her eyes. That was minimal though wasn't it. After watching Prayers for Bobby I realized what she did was put a black mark with every critisism on my soul, everytime she corrected me it was just another black mark. Im still not very good at putting into words what it is exactly that she does only that it's never a happy time, a good time someone or something always does something to get under her skin and then we all who are around her get to suffer for it. Thank you for your post and it's good to know that I am not the only one out here feeling like a freak.

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  8. "When you are a child and the parent who is supposed to love you and teach you, fills you up with nonsense it doesn't always then come out of you the right way does it?" You are right- no, it doesn't. Your parents are supposed to be the ones who give you love, support, and safety to build confidence and independence to take on the world. When these powerful people break that attachment and that trust at such a pinnacle time, the consequences can take years to overcome.

    I totally understand what you mean by the 'black mark'. I always used the term 'brick in the wall'... as the wall keeps building until she's (my mother) shut herself out of my heart. And my mother did. We haven't spoken in 5 years. She will never get to me again-- nor my daughter.

    At this point, are you still in a relationship with your mother? Do you have anyone around you to reassure you that your mother is the problem NOT YOU?

    Remember-- we all would like to have a relationship with a mother, just not OUR mothers. It's okay if you don't have a relationship with her-- there are MANY other people out there in the world that will treat you right.

    You are the master of your own destiny. Don't let anyone take that from you. Love yourself and be happy. Feel free to email me if you want to correspond: gretel.ella.smith@gmail.com

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  9. Better late than never... I needed so very much to read these words today. I was raised by a severely critical and domineering father, for whom perfection was required. He was overbearing and incredibly strict, I was ridiculed and jeered and they put me on diets from the age of eight. My aloof and passive mother resented me and physically disciplined me often. Hence I became easy prey to be groomed by a "family friend" at an early age. I have grown to overcome much and am achieving plenty via professional goals. Yet, I struggle with self-doubt still and it mostly manifests as obesity. Finding your words today gave me strength and made me cry for the child within that replays negative messages unconsciously at times. Thank you for allowing the universe to use you to share, comfort, support and inspire.

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  10. My pleasure... may your life be happy, filled with those who love you, and showered with sunshine. Keep positive messages flowing-- with a smile on your face and in your heart.

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  11. I feel better reading this, critism and its effect can be really subtle, but massive. My parents constantly tell me what I am doing wrong as a mother, they tell me how I should keep my house, what my kids should be doing and when, what I should look like, I think I understand them, basically if I was a small dress size, had an immaculate house and my children who are 4 and 5 never ever did anything wrong I would get it right. But this is not just my parents my sisters get in on the act to, my big sister comes round to my house regulary and tells me how to arrange my fruit bowl, where my tea towels should be bla bla bla. It has completely acceptible in my family for people to say things to me, that I would never ever dream of saying to them. It's weird. I run my own business and I got a degree while my kids were really young and I was a single mum, I actually won a prize for my business a few months ago, but my father phoned me today to tell me I was lazy, but this was in response to me reminding him that my mom beat on us when I was a kid. Apparently that was ok, because she had more energy than me and her house was cleaner. I really need to get these people out of my life, there is nothing more strange than the people who brought you up in a dysfunctional way telling you that you are getting it wrong with your own children and that its them who knows how to do it right. It is so weird, undermining and exhausting, I rarely visit them, because when I do, I take days to recover. I feel I am way more picked on than my siblings to and I am a grown women!

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    1. You are just like me. It's amazing how educated, accomplished and decent we all are and yet we are still told we are lazy and incompetent by our families. My therapist told me it was jealousy on their part and I think she's right. THey both have health problems, meaning they can't work now, while my younger brother lives a chaotic (borderline criminal at times) lifestyle, and I think they resent me. I was always very academic and solid, and tend to be well liked outside the house, but my family would always say 'Ha, if only they knew who you really were!' I found it difficult to make friends until recently because I too felt I wasn't good enough, and they would abandon me once they got to know how evil, selfish and lazy I am. I'm in a bind at the moment because, despite plenty of qualifications, a growing small business in the arts and about to go into the final year of my degree course, I have met with bullying and abuse at workplaces as well. This has grossly affected my ability to earn my own living, and get away from them frankly, and I find myself more dependent on them at the moment, while I take time out of work to get therapy, than is safe for me. It's a real rock and a hard place. Bullying happened three times in a row, and so I have had to take time out to work through it. One of them was bullying by a tutor during my last degree course in my early twenties and I left without finishing. This has directly impacted me now, meaning I am more dependent on my parents than I should be, because I cannot get much student finance to finish my degree, due to previous study. I hate the situation I'm in right now and I can't wait to get back on my feet again. In the meantime, I have no privacy - they can just barge into the room whenever, there is no kindness - I haven't been well the last couple of days and I'm met with 'You'll live, get on with it, quit whining, have you done such and such yet?' It's exhausting, and I am trying to keep my business together as well where other people are depending on me to get things right. Tomorrow I have an international business call with my first US client and I have to read through their 40 page contract tonight. I have to get things right, from a legal and professional standpoint. Hard to feel competent in myself about things like that when they are constantly attacking me. They call me lazy, believe I don't do anything and any purchases I make are looked at with derision as if I'm rolling in money/have no right to buy things. I'm 33 years old and have been trying to escape my family since I was a kid. Honestly, only for the fear of being bullied again, and the need to get therapy I would be living in another city, hundreds of miles away, and earning a middle class wage. One day I will be....

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  12. "there is nothing more strange than the people who brought you up in a dysfunctional way telling you that you are getting it wrong with your own children and that its them who knows how to do it right. It is so weird, undermining and exhausting.." how perfectly poignant! I completely relate! Makes my head spin! And I don't blame you ONE BIT for rarely visiting. Whenever I visited my Dad with my daughter (and even before she was born), I would (like you) take days to recover after the visit. I always left feeling drained and empty. Who needs that!?

    Family SHOULD BE your biggest supporter-- someone to lift you up... not bring you down. And just because they are family doesn't mean we have to take the poor treatment-- would we stand by and let 'friends' treat us like that? Nope... so family doesn't get a special pass to treat others in their family poorly just because they're family.

    I am so sorry that your family has been so critical. You know what you have accomplished, what you're worth, and who you are-- you told me! And I think you are doing a FANTASTIC job with your life: education, job, mothering, and managing everything. Don't let them tell you otherwise. I don't understand why folks would WANT to beat down someone's confidence, self-esteem, and being... but they get some sort of satisfaction from it. You, however, must remove yourself from the negativity, as you know, and surround yourself with those who are proud of you, support you, and give you happiness. Life is too short to have the 'turkeys bring you down'.

    Thank you for sharing your story. May you find strength in those precious children of yours... and search out those that are positive and upbeat. You are focused on what's right and reasonable... keep going! You will shine :)

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  13. Thank you so much for having this post about critical parents. I found it by googling dealing with critical parents. I 've read it and even copied some of your wisdom into a little book i keep.
    I am 34 years old, I can't speak for my brother but i believe we were both victims of emotionally abusive parents, i.e. critical.
    There is not a time that I visit them where they don't have a list of things they shoot off of how I should change and improve myself because they want what's "best" for me. and that they support me (yeah right!, so supportive!)
    It hurts a lot, it takes a few days for me to recover as well, usually by pigging out or eating late at night in front of the t.v.
    I believe from reading this blog that they too were criticized as children, they too, have a poor reflection of themselves and criticize each other as well endlessly.
    I forgive them and try to practice presence around them as much as possible without reacting, but some of it does get absorbed, i have finally decided therefore to limit my exposure to them by visiting less often. I beat myself up worrying that they might think i don't love them as much but I have to protect myself. I think 34 is long enough to have suffered. As for my brother he will have to come to his own conclusion of what to do.
    Thank you again for the blog .

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  14. My mom is critical of me and her mother is critical of her as I observe now. Both interfere and try to manage my life when I'm at a stage where I need to make decisions for myself. There's alot of times in my life where intervention was necessary yet it was totally disregarded. I get sick alot from how she mistreats me verbally by stating that im not normal and how every other girl is better than me.

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  15. I am so sorry to read this. Keep your chin up, believe in yourself, and surround yourself with people who love you unconditionally without judgment. All my best to you.

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  16. Thank you. I feel like for my whole life I haven't been good enough. I get B+(s) and A's but I'm always being told that I will never get into college and that what I'm doing isn't good enough. I'm being told that I'll only be able to go to work after I leave high school and that I will never amount to anything because of that. Thanks for telling me this its helped a lot.

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  17. You are so very welcome. Believe in yourself and know you can do anything you set your mind to... and you will flourish, prosper, and thrive despite your parents. You are perfect just the way you are-- you are the one and only you, and you are the best YOU! All my best to you.

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  18. Great post. It helped a lot. Thank you very much for sharing this. I also have a critical father and I have put-up with his negative words up to the age of 30. After that I came to the realization that no person should be doing that to anyone. Now, when he starts to say critical things about me, I do not take it anymore. I either change the conversation, leave or tell him to stop. I don't tolerate it anymore. And it's working.

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  19. I just came across this blog as I googled, "how to deal with a critical parent".
    THANK YOU for sharing your story....I wish that I had come across it before I spent hundreds of dollars on therapy recently! I share a similar story with the posts before me....I am accomplished, educated, etc. but strive for perfection in order to win my parents approval. I even married the man that finally met their expectations (who is sadly just as critical and unkind as they are). I often find myself scared to go out into the world and make any sort of decision because it is going to be incorrect or wrong. I always feel that I have to gain approval from someone to make it a valid, and that has really taken a toll on my confidence and self worth.I am now on a journey to regain the confidence I once had self and nurture the talent and things that truly make me happy. In the last year, I've returned to my artistic passion and recently opened my own company. I have met many career milestones, but still have the inner voice that tells me I'm selfish, wrong, or even crazy for trying to do anything else other than "they" (my parents and husband) see fit. I know that it is going to be a daily struggle for me, but am reassured after reading your blog and gaining new insight on how to cope with their unkindness. Thank you so much for maintaining this blog and for sharing your story.

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  20. You are so very welcome! Thank YOU for sharing!

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  21. Thank you for this post, it really helped calm me down - to get my 'reality check', as one poster put it. I really relate to the draining effect of being dragged down by the constant and universal criticisms of a parent - I know it's useless to try and get my parent to change, they are a bit bonkers, put politely - and so will use tips from here to help me rise above it!
    I find it really tough not to take the criticism personally but I am going to work on it :-)

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  22. I just had a 'reality check' myself after having a visit from a family member. I let my guard down a bit too much and had a reminder of why I should keep it up with my family. To keep from being involved in all of their judgments and criticisms, I chose to exclude myself. I, however, allowed myself back in for a brief period of time... only to be reminded how cruel and mean they are. So I am back to excluding myself and being happy in my sweet & simple world. Keep working on letting the stuff roll off your back. Life is too short to let the bad stuff bring you down. My best to you!

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  23. Thank you for this post. It has been so good to read. My parents have always been critical. My dad in particular is also controlling and used to never like me being on the phone, going out with friends or having friends round to the house. So I gave up a bit in the end with friendships because of the hard time and started to spend a lot of time in the house and on the internet just reading things of interest to me etc. He recently said to me that I should get some real friends instead of being on the internet all the time!!! The thing about critical people is they will never be happy. Because even when you try to please them or passify them they will still be critical!!! Live life as you feel is best without letting others dictate your worth and be considerate of others so that you don't continue the cycle. Take no notice of what critical people say because they are not happy or fulfilled but sad and miserable and I feel sorry for them in many ways. You can never please them and even if you try to do as they say, they will change their minds and criticise that too. Often critical people are also hypocrites because after all we are all human!! I think it is easier to think of critical people as having an illness who just can't help themselves! Treat yourself with kindness and don't waste time bearing grudges for it is not worth the energy and you do not want to become bitter and angry.

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  24. "The thing about critical people is they will never be happy. Because even when you try to please them or passify them they will still be critical"... so true! What a rich point you made! Thank you :)

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  25. WOW. I'm one of many, I see, who discovered this blog after googling "how do I deal with my critical parents." I'm 31 years old, and have only in the past few months realized why criticizing others comes so easily to me, and why I have such a low sense of self-worth even though I have been lucky enough to achieve a lot of great things in my life. I never believe anyone who says anything good about me, and I know now where it comes from. My parents are critical, and my dad is exactly as others have described: someone who never listens to others and often abandons conversations in the middle. This blog post and the comments have provided so much more enlightenment to me. It's scary how methodical and textbook this type of behavior is, and what it can do to children. I don't have any myself (after all, I've chased unavailable, cruel men my entire life), but my sisters do, and they are constantly criticized by my parents for raising their children the "wrong way." Thanks for helping me realize I'm not alone.

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  26. I totally agree with "it's scary how methodical and textbook this type of behavior is." I suppose that if one has a heart ailment, the symptoms are similar person to person-- and in the same sense, if one has brain ailment, the symptoms are similar person to person. Thank you so much for dropping by and sharing-- my best to you :)

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  27. Thank you thank you thank you...i've grown up my whole life with such critical parents and I really thought that I was the only one! Isn't that ridiculous, but I really did. I thought I really deserved it, that there was really something just inheritantly wrong with me. This brought me chills, I feel soooo much better. I've been putting off telling my parents I'm pregnant (21 weeks!) because I know they will find a way to bring me down and this helps me feel confident...I don't have to listen to them! I don't have to let them be negative! I can stop any conversation that I don't like and I don't have to believe what they say! Thank you so much.

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  28. You are so welcome! I wish you all the best--happiness, health, and a wonderful pregnancy. Thank you for stopping by.

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  29. Hello there,
    I just want to tell you how much I appreciate your list. I'm printing it out and sticking it in my organiser so I can read it EVERY DAY to remind myself that I cannot let my critical parents get to me.

    My mum's favourite line to me these days are "You are such an ungrateful daughter." Today she stepped it up a notch by saying that I influenced my siblings to be the same. Believe it or not, she actually told me: "We are your parents. We raised you. It's therefore your responsibility to give us money when you're an adult!" she snarled. I was like, "Am in a book, because this feels horror-story surreal!"

    I don't react to her as viscerally as I used to, and picturing her as a child throwing a tantrum lightens things in my head a bit ;) But I still can't help reacting by snapping back at her. It's almost an auto response! It's pretty frustrating ;)

    Seeing humour in situations like these, I feel, really helps. Sure it hurts what they're doing to you, but I tell myself that Look it's just not my problem they can't find happiness in themselves and can't see the good in their kids. Not my problem, nope. ;)

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  30. Hello there,
    I just want to tell you how much I appreciate your list. I'm printing it out and sticking it in my organiser so I can read it EVERY DAY to remind myself that I cannot let my critical parents get to me.

    My mum's favourite line to me these days are "You are such an ungrateful daughter." Today she stepped it up a notch by saying that I influenced my siblings to be the same. Believe it or not, she actually told me: "We are your parents. We raised you. It's therefore your responsibility to give us money when you're an adult!" she snarled. I was like, "Am in a book, because this feels horror-story surreal!"

    I don't react to her as viscerally as I used to, and picturing her as a child throwing a tantrum lightens things in my head a bit ;) But I still can't help reacting by snapping back at her. It's almost an auto response! It's pretty frustrating ;)

    Seeing humour in situations like these, I feel, really helps. Sure it hurts what they're doing to you, but I tell myself that Look it's just not my problem they can't find happiness in themselves and can't see the good in their kids. Not my problem, nope. ;)

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  31. You are so welcome. Great to hear that you are printing and reading it daily. I hope that you find peace and happiness-- freeing yourself from the negativity that can bring you down. Sending love your way-- thanks for stopping by!

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  32. Hi,

    Thank you so much for the analysis and advice above. Reading it has made me cry lots! As I realised how accurate and close to home it is. I will definitely practice the advice and improve.

    Thank you again! :-)

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  33. You are so very welcome. I hope it provides an effective and efficient tool for you when dealing with your parent(s). All my best!

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  34. Hi, I'm going to refer to your wise advice until I can reach a good place in the relationship I have with my Mother. It makes such sense and should release me from a 45 year cycle of disapproval and criticism.

    My parents moved town every few years making me 'the new girl' at school 7 times by the age of 14! During these many moves they fostered up to 13 children for varying periods and over-compensated in their care of them by treating me as a non-daughter instead.

    At the age of 14 we moved country, house & school and after not achieving the end-of-school exam results I should have, my Mum said "I hate God for sending me a failure like you".

    She's never apologised for that comment & I've had to live with this sense of disapproval and low self worth ever since. Whatever I do is criticised, she tells me what cosmetic surgery I should have to correct my face and praises up my foster sisters in my presence all the time.

    I do love her & have told her so but I need to be released from the desire for her approval. I am a good person and have achieved a lot in my life & have a loving family of my own. It hurts so much!

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  35. "I've had to live with this sense of disapproval and low self worth ever since." ... I pray you find a sense of approval and self worth from yourself. Believe in yourself-- focus on all of the positives and try to create a happy and positive perspective. I am thinking of you! All my best!

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  36. Hi I found this blog by typing i "how to deal with critical parents" too. My dad is critical of everything, I tend not to take too much notice or ask for his opinion on anything- there wouldnt be much point. OIf I ever ask for his advice he will just tell me to shut up, be quiet or tell me he doesn't want to talk about it. So I don't bother asking anymore. I can talk to him maybe about something on the news, or the tv. Thats about it. I dont know when he last asked me about work. Maybe he might say how are you? I will reply fine thanks you? >>> yes, I'm great he'll say. I didnt speak to him for 6 weeks recently after he shouted at me for being ungrateful.

    My mom, i have to say shes amazing, she would do anything for me in the practical sense, looking after my pets, getting the car fixed, weeding the garden, picking up groceries, going out shopping, she would listen to me talk about work and my friends all day long. She would always put me and my brother first its always been the same. But she is just so critical. Nothing I ever say is good enough, I'm desperate to make a change in my job as my career is very pressurised and its making me ill. she just doesn't get it and any suggestion I make she says it stupid and not thought out. In the end I come up with a million ideas only to be told they are all stupid and I change my mind too often. Everytime I have a problem I turn to her only for us to argue and make the situation worse. I feel like my self esteem is at an all time low.

    Thanks for your advice its good to know that I'm not the only one. Hope I can make some changes.

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    1. We have such similar stories! You're definitely not alone, and at least we will never turn into our critical parents.

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  37. Good evening,

    Thank you so much for writing and posting this article.

    Google brought me here as well, searching on 'how to forgive a critical parent'. My father oscillated between playing distant uncle when I was down, and my worst tormenter whenever I succeeded. He never helped me learn anything, yet blamed me for all of my faults, always saying he already knew I couldn't do. He attended all of my cousin's sporting events, yet was busy for all of mine. He told me I had to earn my way into the family, yet all of my cousin's were accepted without condition. Whenever I actually managed a small success, it was ignored, made light of, ridiculed, compared as failure with my cousins, or one-upped (i.e. no matter what I accomplished, there was ALWAYS another step to take, and it was always a step I hadn't taken).

    The worst part of all this is that I thought I was a complete failure, ashamed to ask for anything, as each time I asked I was ridiculed for asking. And the response never came in private or over the phone, it was always in public in front of others, where he would taunt me until I broke down.

    I've read your article a dozen times, and I imagine I'll need to read it a dozen more ;-) Thanks again,

    Anonymous.

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  38. Thank you so much for this blog and the cooments shared by other readers. I too found by Google - my initial search was 'senior mother critical of middle-aged daughter' I am humiliated and have humiliated myself further by raging at my 77 year old mother who persisted in trotting out our lifetime script of why I couldn't "dress like that" in Nevada - a Laura Ashley skirt - but I realize it's not me but her - I am to catch a plane at the beginning of a two-day journey back to Europe where I have lived all my adult life - I have put the miles between us but see it increasingly tough as she gets health issues and loneliness with age. Louise L Hay does good books on this - also search Princess syndrome if you're an over achiever. I am so grateful for your comforting loving words. Am a little calmer but have to go back and rebuild myself - a big hug to you all - you are not alone; you are good .

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  39. Thanks for your blog. I live miles away in India. And I guess narcissistic and critical parents are not limited by culture or borders !

    Personally I face a different problem. My in laws are narcissistic. But my parents are an entirely different story. They are not critical of us as such. But they are critical if everything else under the sun. If we go out to lunch, they always complain about the food, the service, the place. If we go out to a movie, the hall is bad, the doctors and nurses at the hospital are bad and want to rip them off. My ears ring with the string if complaints. I don't understand how to deal with them. I have specifically asked them not to criticise my sons coaches and educators in front if him.

    To add to it, they stay 2 mins away from us, and my in laws stay 2 mins away too. I feel as if we are in a blender. :(

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  40. Thank you for sharing...

    I will definitely have to print this out. My father is very critical of me and my weight along many other things. It hurts more than he will ever know. He has been this way my entire childhood and adult life. A lot of times I feel lost because of this. Thank you so much for sharing. I finally feel I am not alone.

    Lora

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  41. Bravo for posting this incredibly useful advice! I have sent it to my adult daughter, who is having difficulties dealing with her father's criticism and judgmental attitudes. Excellent blog!! THANK YOU

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  42. I've just read your article for the very first time, and it will not be the last. I am in tears; tears of sorrow, tears of relief, tears of thanks. To say I have had critical, harsh, perfectionistic parents is putting is kindly. To read your words of encouragement, and to know your story gives me hope. I have let my fathers abandoment and my mothers criticisims completely tear me down as a human being; I cannot be around my mother without coming away a totally broken person each and every time. And it has gotten so much worse with her most recent illness, I now have to spend a great deal more time with her, someting I've avoided as much as possible up to this point. But, with finding your blog, I now have something to focus on when I walk away from her, a new realizaiton that the fact that absolutely nothing can make her happy is NOT MY FAULT, even though she tells me it is! SHE is the one that is broken, NOT ME! When I have been away from her for a while, I become happy, clear-headed, joyful, energetic, fun-loving, I become ME!!! I now need to be about learning to be ME even when I'm with her, and I belive that as you've suggested, taking a stand and clearly but lovingly letting her know that her critisisms are no longer welcome is a wonderful place to start - thank you for being here and sharing your story!!!

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  43. this was written 3 years ago and it still helps! I have just come on here to also look at how to deal with critical parents and glad i am not the only one! the post really helps, and it has also helped looking at others comments on here. I have been at home now for under a week and always since day one feel so emotionally week and drained and cannot stay here any longer feeling this way. Even though i feel bad that i am not spending enough time with my mum, for my own sake i need to leave. Your post has helped me, i know i will need a few days like others on here when i leave to initially recover emotionally. I hope in the long run i can stop my own criticisms inside myself, and i hope i never do this to my own children!

    thanks again for the post
    x

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  44. Thank you so much for this blog site. I'm at the beginning of my journey....finally at the age of 48 realizing I am the way I am because of a critical, overbearing mother. Putting into words the way I feel or the emotions I have is still quite difficult. A recent visit to a psychiatrist has set me straight and am now seeking the knowledge I need to think, feel, make decisions on my own. I married a very critical man as well ...sooooooo...I have my work cut out for me !! :-) I rarely go home to see my parents as usually leave the visit feeling worthless....my feelings ridiculed not vocally but the body language !!
    Anyhow I am rambling...thx to all who contribute and best wishes on this journey to self awareness and positive living !! God Bless

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  45. Thank you so much...thanks for the blog site. I am not a worthless, useless, stupid man. I am a good looking, smart, driven, loving and sensitive, accomplished young man with a music career that's moving up and forward. My dad and step mom just never appreciated my 3.925 GPA and my growing business as a freelance music producer and audio engineer. I am not a loser. They are fearful and unhappy.

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  46. Thank You :)

    I'm 19 now and my mom has been this way forever. Its left me(and I still feel this way) empty and still yearning for that love and approval and attention, etc(I fear this may be sought out in a negative or defeatist way ).

    I just want to make love a priority in my life.

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    1. ... and make yourself a priority in life too :) All my best to you.

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  47. I have just found this site, and know that my parents are critical and narcissists - even go so far as to say they're sociopaths, as my late wife told me when she was alve..

    anyway, kindness hurts, it makes me feel that the people in the world that show it to me are not genuine and that they're telling that I'm slow or disabled mentally..

    I guess that I am torn between doing nothing more with my life, or for finding the kindness and the love that is there for me by other people... - I don't know how to accept this though, and would like to know how to...

    my mother and father mocked kindness and affection, and showed me that i am unworthy or above it and need attention to show that i should be cast down for making mistakes, that it is forbidden to think about things and anything I take a pride in is smashed to the ground and in pieces.

    I have hardly any social skills, and I don't know what it is like to accept kindness either - but I am sure it is there for someone...

    and other people are kind to eachother, but that is something I want and don't know how to accept, but it is there and it's not from my parents, for they scorn and criticise me for making mistakes, and my mother says it is good that I don't make mistakes, that it is good that i don't spend any more money on helping myself, as she obviously sees the change in me, and I am sick sick sick of all the people who tell me to go back to my parents, despite them being abusive emotionaly and what used to be physically by my mother and threats by my father...

    also, I am ready to die. I am so aware that anything personal I have is known and shared between many people and is not for me to keep to myself - even when i do people seem to know my business!!!

    and yet i'm not famous :os

    anyway, I don't know what this is leading to, so I will sign off now, saying that I am glad it is not PTSD but it is criticism that has screwed me over...

    as someone else says, it is so difficult to show what the parents have been doing, and it is difficult for me to socialize and show people that I'm normal and just like them..

    for I have been told that I am highly intelligent, and I realize that everyone on this board is, because we all know that we were abused!

    thanks for reading

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    1. I certainly understand where you are coming from and feel deeply for you. Do you have anyone you can talk to about all of this?

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  48. Thank you for this article. I found this in a frustrated state of mind.

    My mother can never be happy at anything that I do-- she will find faults in everything. She asks me of great sacrifices while not making even minor compromises herself. She takes my father down with her thinking and words-- poisoning his mind against everything/everyone he likes. I do not know how he still manages to remain sane (especially after retirement).

    Even when I do everything she wants-- sometimes really big changes in my life to satisfy her, she remains as critical as ever. I never see her happy and all my life I have tried to make her so.

    This is simply a very frustrating situation to be in.

    But your article helps put things into perspective. I already was thinking on those lines-- but getting an affirmation from another person gives me a sense of validation. Thank you.

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  49. Like everyone else, I am glad that I came across your post and am relieved to know that I am not alone dealing with a critical parent. I was contemplating if I should start taking antidepressant yesterday. Thanks for sharing.

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  50. Thank you for this beautifully written, articulate and insightful article.

    I've grown up with a father who was always, and continues to be, extremely critical of me and my mother. He's called me lazy, and constantly criticises and implies that I am, and this has become one the biggest factors affecting my life that I feel I am not good enough for. I know I am not, I know that in my heart, and I have and am capable of achieving a lot, but because the things I do do not match up with what he thinks people/I should do, I devalue myself. I find myself doing things just to please him, which he never sees. For many, many years now I try to avoid which ever room he's in in the house. I believe he had a difficult and critical childhood, but because he is not reflective, he does not see to break this pattern. The reflective and sensitive people here are the ones who will, and will have warmer, loving and stronger families and relationships for it.

    There is never any need to hurt another person, emotionally or otherwise. Unconditional love is the most important thing a parent can show you, but a critical parent is oblivious to this. Criticism from them (in that specific critical parent way they offer it) means that their love for you is dependant on who you are and what you do. [How it makes the child feel, regardless of whether this is their intention].

    Anyway.... just a big thank you for your lucid article! Such a help!

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  51. Thank you so much!! All this seems obvious on the face of it... but the more I think about every point I can see how effective this is... I feel frustrated that I dint come across this earlier... myself having to deal with an over critical father who couldn't appreciate my college, life or anything I did... this has surely helped me and will continue to do so :)

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  52. thanx , it really helped me a lot.

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  53. thanks so much. i guess i kinda came to the internet for comfort. my dad has been criticizing me since before i could even remember. when he begins to put me down in front of my mom, she agrees maybe because she is afraid to say any thing against him. my dad has physically abused my mom 4 times since i was born. the first time was when i was 5 and i can still see it happening in my head. i know now why i would always come to him when ever i achieved anything knowing he was only going to say something hurtful. im in college now and he refuses to give any money or cosign a loan for me to dorm. therefore im a freshman at college and im living in this hell. i try to distance my self from him but what ever i do he always seems to find something to say back that used to kill me a little inside. some times i just want to scream. well i just wanted to say that this was very helpful and i will keep coming back to it for support.

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