Have you considered that almost from the time we learn to toddle we are taught to find fault and criticise those around us, our parents and siblings? It seems the most intense criticism lies in families, from the people who know us best. It appears that in the space of the home we feel we are entitled to criticise those closest to us thinking it is being loving rather than question the intention behind the comments. There are plenty of articles that talk about criticism and why it could be our go-to language, so we are going to concentrate on a different way of approaching it here.
Could it be, the antidote to criticism they hear at school, in the playground, from friends and teachers lies in backing each other?
That means putting the opinion about what another person is doing to one-side, the part of us that thinks we 'know better' or have a 'better idea', even if we think we are completely right - are we open to the potential that the other person may have a different perspective? It is crucial for any child growing up to feel they are heard and backed to the hilt. Yes, our children have to learn consequences for their behaviour, and they will, by learning for themselves through noticing the outplay of their decision - just as we have over the years. We maintain boundaries and do not step away from making sure those boundaries are clear and understandable. But we also need to learn there are consequences for our behaviour and that criticism can be felt as a form of unseen abuse we just ‘get used to’. Any form of abuse is not acceptable towards another, so why would we not do everything to eradicate it from our home?
Recognising and stopping the abuse in our family is to refuse to criticise, refuse to say mean or critical words or have thoughts about another. To challenge that version of 'normal' where we constantly look for faults. What if we flipped that and instead looked for everyone’s value and backed that value, recognising how incredible we all are, taking responsibility for every move we make because we know how important it is to support each other, to appreciate the gold around us so deeply, to appreciate how important it is to have a family where everyone feels they are backed. We all then take that out into our various lives in the world.
Hence, we can see how important it is to back each other in a wider world that does not value people, so easily dismisses and demeans children and parents.
Backing creates an opportunity for children to go out into the world feeling confident because 'someone' has their corner, someone has their back. They go home at the end of the day and know someone will listen to them before criticising them. That might be rare but it could be the new 'normal'.
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