Accepting Feedback From Your Children is Healthy and Needs to be Normalized

Receiving feedback about parenting from your children needs to be normalized. Whenever we are doing a different job or anything else in life, feedback is a natural part of the process and it needs to happen. Only if you don’t parent in a way that is effective or healthy for your child, it can have lasting consequences. 

My Experience Giving Feedback to My Parents

It is no secret that my upbringing was abusive. I was always afraid to say something to my parents, especially my father. I was really scared of him, even as an adult. Even as an adult he was always talking down to me, yelling at me and being verbally aggressive. He loved the control he had over me. 

When I was pregnant with Roo, my husband finally got it through my head that I did not need to be treated like this. He told me that I was pregnant and we did not want to continue to toxicity with our kids. He was right. When they were down in Florida, we met at thier house (they are snowbirds) to all go together for Chinese food. It was my aunt, uncle and cousins. I went up to his office and told him that I didnt want to be talked down to anymore. I was as respectful as I could be. I really tried. He said OK in a cold tone. 

After we got seated at the restaurant, he made an announcement, “Amanda does not know the meaning of family.” I was very pregnant, on extra hormones to make the pregnancy stick and was in flight or fight. I ran to the bathroom. Later I found out Nick yelled at him. He told him he thinks he is a big man for bullying a pregnant person. He got mad. He was able to comfort me in the bathroom and went back to eat. If we had our own car there we would have just left. This was before Uber or Lyft. We were stuck. This was the beginning of the end of my relationship with my biological family. 

Telling My Kids That I Want Feedback

After this incident, I vowed I would be a better parent than what I grew up with. It was not easy. I was modeled very toxic parenting and I consciously vowed to change. I had to put everything I did and said under a microscope so to speak. 

When my kids all got older, I was always concerned about whether or not I was doing the same things my parents did. My kids seemed happy so I thought I was doing a good job. My husband would give me feedback on what I was doing so I can stop. 

The thing is I am very sensitive to tone. This is due to my childhood. I react to certain tones and I try to change it but I cannot. I get very defensive when certain tones are used and it just has been that way since I was a kid. 

When the kids got older, around 8, I told them that if they see something that I am doing I want them to tell me, but to watch the tone so I don’t get defensive. I wasn’t trying to tone police them but I wanted to make sure that I did not react in a certain way that could be harmful. 

My Kids Giving Feedback

After a lot of trial and error I figured out what worked. I had to unlearn all the toxic parenting that was done to me. I will admit that I did spank towards the beginning and then I did research on it and saw how harmful it is was and I stopped immediately. I felt like shit, I won’t lie. In my mind, I was being just like my parents and I needed therapy to get past that. My husband was very supportive and we took a more gentle approach. 
After we got his siblings, got to know one another and they saw the truth about thier biological parents, we had a good groove going on. I sat them all down and gave them the same conversation. I told them that if I and doing something that bothers them to tell me but I am very sensitive to tone so the tone cannot be in an angry tone because of my own upbringing. They understood. 
They have done this more than once and I have been able to curb my parenting. They have told me because we are open to feedback their time as a child has been better. My oldest J came to us when she was 9. She was removed from her home when she was 6. She is the only one who really has someone to compare it to. She told me about things her mother and father would do and it was horrifying. She would try to speak up and it did not end well. She thanked me for being open to feed back. 
Things that have changed:
  • We don’t punish
  • We listen to our kids
  • We try not to raise our voice but sometimes we slip up
  • show more patience
  • when patience is running low we separate ourselves into a different room, get composed and then go back and talk with the kids
  • We give them autonomy. We don’t go through their phones but they have the understanding when something gets weird or doesn’t feel right they are to show us right away. They are thier own people and need to be respected as such. This is why they don’t get identified on this blog or any of my social media. It’s to respect them as individuals. 
When they mess up, we talk with them and tell them how they can do better and if they need any support they can come right to us. They are really open with us. 
Just last night, J and I were siting in my bedroom and we were talking. She told me she is happy that we are open to feedback because her parents were not open to this. She told me it has made her experience as a child so much better and thats why she is open to help as much as she is. We don’t always let her but sometimes we do take her up on it and we let her know her help is very much appreciated. She is 15 so she isn’t really young. If she has something she wants to do with her friends, that comes first because she is a child first. The other children here should never be her responsibility because she didn’t ask for them but if we need help every once in a while she is willing to do so. Considering what she went through as a child, this says a lot about her and I am very proud of her. 
Hearing this made me feel great as a parent and that I am doing the right thing. I always have a fear that I will do the wrong thing and my kids will not want to see me again and that thought really kills me. I am happy this is not the case. 

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