How to deal with judgmental parents
Why are parents so judgmental? Sometimes it feels like judging their children is practically baked into their genes. You’re supposed to go to a certain school, get a certain degree, find a certain job, date the right people, not date the wrong people, get married before a certain age, have a certain number of kids…
When does it end? Will it ever end? Unfortunately, when it comes to judgmental parents, you can’t really change their nature. What you can do, however, is find ways to make having a relationship with your judgmental parents more bearable.
First, stop getting in the ring with your parents
When your parents are being judgmental and cold toward you, your first instinct is probably to push back. You want to fight them and their misguided views. Otherwise, who’s going to stand up for you and what you value?
Unfortunately, escalating fights like these serves as a one-way path to nowhere town. In the end, both of you will simply end up digging in harder and solidifying the views you already held. Instead, the next time you feel an argument coming on with your parents, try something different.
Try being vulnerable. Decline the offer to fight, and instead reiterate how much their opinion means to you. Let them speak their mind, and if you disagree with what they have to say, thank them anyway for sharing. In some cases, this can actually reduce the severity of someone’s opinion — once they feel heard and seen, they may not feel as strongly committed to their position as they once were.
Next, start the change yourself
Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t take two to tango. Someone can mix up the steps in the dance at any time. In other words, you can choose to change at any time, regardless of whether or not your parents do, and once you’ve set an example, they might follow your lead.
The next time you’re in an argument with your parents, try things completely differently than you have before — whatever that means for you. Maybe that means making your relationship with your parents a bigger priority than arguing with them over your life decisions. Or maybe it means choosing to no longer be around your parents when they start discussing your life. Whatever the case, remember that you always have the power to create a “new normal” in your relationship with your parents.
Accept that you can’t always get certain reactions out of others
What does it mean to get water from a wall? In short, it means that you just can’t get certain behaviors out of certain people. If your mom or dad has always been judgmental, continuing to expect them to change isn’t going to make them change.
Instead, letting go of the need to make them change — and instead seeing the beneficial traits they do possess — can positively contribute to your mental health and wellbeing. Sure, maybe your parents are judgmental, but are they there when you need them? Are they kind? Do they help you financially?
Think of all the good things your parents do provide, and then list them out. It’s not going to make them less judgmental, but it will make you more appreciative of who they are as people.
You might not have perfect parents, but you can have the essence of a healthy relationship
Like we mentioned, it’s not always possible to change your parents. They have to want to change. So, instead of focusing your time and energy on moving an immovable object, it’s better to look at what you really want out of an improved relationship with your parents. Is it freedom? A lack of criticism? A safe environment?
Perhaps the bigger question is: do you need the source of non-judgment to come from them? Sure, it’d be nice, but if they won’t change, it’s not worth getting frustrated and angry about. Instead, what if you came to a particular friend, coworker, boss or relative to receive non-judgmental advice? Is there a world where you could get your emotional needs sated by this person, instead of your parents?
Try leaning into a broader support system and see how it helps. Again, you might not be getting non-judgmental advice from your parents, but getting it from friends, colleagues and romantic partners can be enough.
And if it’s not? Keep reading, because we’ve got you covered.
Need mom and dad advice? We’ve got you
Not every parent is the same. Neither is every parent-child relationship. While we can cover a lot of ground in the span of an article, it’s nowhere near as in-depth as working one-on-one with each other.
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