Does your mom or dad keep telling you that you’re raising your children the wrong way? Do your parents keep telling you to get a better job than the one you have now? If the answer to these rhetorical questions is yes, you may be dealing with critical parents.

If your mom or dad never seems to have anything nice to say about you, you might need to keep reading this article. You’ll find out how to keep your parents’ unreasonable criticisms at bay

The Effect of Hyper-Criticism on Children

According to this study, overly-critical parents can have a detrimental effect on their children. Their children may become depressed and have issues nurturing loving relationships. 

The study revealed that children with critical parents might avoid looking into their parents’ eyes to lessen their exposure to harsh feelings or words. While some children can adapt and learn to ignore only negative emotions, they may fail to notice positive ones. The blocking of positive emotions can affect their relationships. They may also have a tendency to develop anxiety and depression. 

The study also emphasized that what people experience affects the way they react to information in the future. These experiences cause them to develop biases to different emotional stimuli. 

So, overly-harsh criticism can cause a child to develop as a cynical, critical adult. 

11 Signs of an Overly-Critical Parent

All of us know that overbearing parents are less than relatable. The problem is deciding if your parent is giving constructive parental feedback or criticizing just because he or she can. Here’s how to tell. 

1. Parents who are overly-critical have mood swings

First, if you have an overly-critical parent, you’d almost always be waiting for the other shoe to drop. The fear that you might have said something offensive would be palpable. You’d be walking on eggshells all the time; emotional intimidation is abusive behavior.

Parents who are overly-critical seldom, if ever, have anything positive to say about their children. If you have such parents, you’d feel like nothing you say or do are ever good enough. Critical parents are not confident in their children’s abilities. 

2. Such parents mock

These parents will criticize your looks, and your failures (these would be mountainous). They might mock you and deliberately raise issues that make you uncomfortable. These can lead to severe self-esteem issues

3. These parents are dismissive

Harshly critical parents are almost always dismissive of their children’s’ feelings. An example of such behavior is telling their kids that they are too sensitive to a person’s remarks when these are hurtful. They chide their children for trying to get attention instead of offering comfort. To add, they are disrespectful and don’t treat their kids with kindness.

4. Controlling

Abusively-critical parents need to feel in control all the time. They want to have the upper hand. They take you on guilt trips with their criticisms and make you feel less than worthy. 

5. Critical parents are Passive-Aggressive

Such parents are often aggressive or passive-aggressive. They’ll expect you to second-guess their intentions correctly. If your parents are outwardly pleasant but verbally harsh behind closed doors, it is a sign of emotional abuse. 

6. Toxic parents are typically anxious

Parents who have overly-critical personality traits seldom react to their children calmly. Instead, it’s with the expectation that they’ll do something they shouldn’t. These overly-dramatic reactions can lead to heightened levels of cortisol and related health problems. 

7. Toxic parents are emotionally absent

Are your parents good at providing but difficult to approach if you have problems? Are you afraid that they’d criticize you for mishandling your issues? If the answers to these questions are yes, you probably have hyper-critical parents. 

8. Your parents were over-involved

All children want their parents to be present in their lives, but in a positive, balanced way. Hyper-critical parents are too involved in their kids’ lives because they feel that their kids are incapable of making appropriate decisions.

9. Your parents have no boundaries

Hyper-critical parents have few boundaries when making unkind remarks. Put differently, they lack tact and will comment on anything and everything.

You’ll find them commenting on everything in someone’s home. They’d make suggestions about everything, saying, “You should add this,” “You should put this here,” or “You should decorate the hall this way.” The word “should” almost always appears in their statements. 

10. You blame yourself for the awful behavior of others

Also, you would think that people misbehave because of your actions. You’d think that your parents mistreat you because it’s challenging to put up with you. And these dynamics transfer into other relationships. 

11. You are also self-destructive

The negative feelings that come up because of your parents’ critical feedback may make you lean towards self-destructive behavior. You may not have the coping skills to handle their extreme negativity. 

How to Deal with Your Parents If They Are Overly-Critical

1. Set Boundaries

Hard to believe though this may be, critical parents may think that they are trying to help. But they may be making the situation worse or preventing you from making healthy, independent decisions. 

Unhealthy parenting patterns like this seldom stop until you set emotional boundaries, albeit tactfully. Tell them that you’ll let them know if you need their help. 

The situation may be more difficult if you are your parents’ caregiver because the overbearing ways may intensify. Try the BARB strategy:

  • Behavior: Describe their unwanted behavior. Eg. “Mum, please don’t give me advice unless I ask for it.”
  • Affect: Tell your parents how their behavior affects you. 
  • Request: Tell your parents what you prefer. For example, let them know that you’d prefer to ask for their advice. 
  • Benefits: Tell them how the change in their behavior will benefit them. Perhaps, “I’ll have a better relationship with you if you let me make my own decisions.”

If this fails, seek the involvement of a third party, like a trusted aunt, who may be able to help you and your parents reach compromises. 

2. Accept your Parents 

Your parents may be overbearing or verbally mean, but they may love you to bits. It’s just that cynicism is a way of life for them. Remember their positive qualities and that deep within, they do realize yours. Accept them for who they are. 

3. Stop Comparing

Don’t compare your parents with others. All that does is magnify your unhappiness. Understand that your parents may show their concern for you in other ways. 

4. Avoid your parents’ criticisms

Your overly-critical parents probably comment on the same things whenever they meet you. Know what they will criticize you for and avoid stepping into the firing range. To understand the motivation behind your parents’ criticisms, first, realize that there are different kinds of critical parents

5. Change Yourself

While your parents may criticize too much, their words may be valid. If you realize this, work on yourself. That way, they’d have no reason to criticize you. 

6. Don’t seek your parents’ approval

Your parents will seldom have anything nice to say, so don’t expect them to do so anymore. Remember that you are responsible for your actions, happiness, and life choices. Your survival doesn’t depend on their acceptance. Your approval of yourself is what matters.

7. Don’t take your parents criticisms personally

You may be aware of your parents’ histories and the reasons for their critical behavior. If you are, you’d know that you aren’t the monster they’ve made you out to be. Remember that their critical remarks are weightless, and don’t believe them. 

Critical parents are a challenge, but one you can put up with on your terms. Reflect on what these are and move forward with these tips. 

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