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Silencing the Critic continued...

Over the years, Linggi has developed some techniques for building a shield around herself when it comes to critics of her parenting skills. Rather than showing she’s been bothered by a comment or getting riled up, Linggi smiles widely and gives her standard line: "Thanks for the input!" That polite yet non-engaging statement seems to stop parenting know-it-alls in their tracks.

But it’s the internal critic that many of us need to muzzle because it does the most damage. Without that little voice inside our heads creating doubt about our mothering skills, comments made by others would be less likely to take hold. "I’m overly sensitive to what my mother says," Linggi says. "She can say, ‘Oh, he looks a little thin,’ and I hear, ‘You don’t feed your child.'"

Singer recalls an afternoon years ago when her two boys were young. "I was doing laundry with two toddlers nearby and I felt guilty because I wasn’t giving them "teachable" moments," she says. "God forbid you fold the underpants!"

Singer has since changed her tune, realizing that when your entire focus is on the kids, they think that the universe revolves around them. "You end up with the kid in college who doesn’t know how to order lunch," she says. In short, give yourself a break; it might actually do your kids some good, too.

Back to Basics

Doing what you believe is best for your children and your family makes you a good mother, no matter if it fits anyone else’s standard. There will always be decisions you make that others will be able to find fault with. "I think a lot of mothers need to get with the fact that their true allegiance needs to be with their kids," Hicks says. "When you’re comfortable with your decisions, you need to just stand in them and own them and recognize that the only one you have to answer to is your child later. I don’t have to answer to other people. It takes a little bit of guts, but it’s liberating."

Linggi says that slowing down the day-to-day juggling and negative self-talk lets her be in the moment with her son. That’s when the self-doubt fades and it becomes easy to tune in to what really matters. "We laugh and I look into his eyes and I see the sparkle, and he gives me a hug and I know he loves me. I feel that this is a solid, loving, bonded mother-child relationship and it feels good."

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