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Is Being a Critical Parent Ruining Your Relationship?

Never giving your partner the opportunity to enjoy life the way they enjoy life can snuff out the joy of living for that person.

Is one of you constantly telling the other how to behave? Do you find it difficult to simply allow your partner the right to make decisions that differ from what you think needs to be done? Perhaps then, you are acting as a “critical parent” to your adult partner.

It’s one thing when an actual adult is parenting an actual child, but it’s an entirely different dynamic when an adult is treating another adult as a child. Making critical remarks like “that’s not the way to do that”, or “let me show you how to do that right”!

We are all different. We process information differently. We have different coping skills and different strengths and weaknesses. We have immensely different backgrounds and upbringings. If you don’t think so, why not take a personality test. You can take one at

My partner is very organized and likes structure in all that she does. It brings her security and a sense of peace. I like to be spontaneous and unstructured. So when we take down days together or mini-vacations we find that we unwind very differently.

Criticizing one another or never giving your partner the opportunity to enjoy life the way they enjoy life can snuff out the joy of living for that person.

There is more than one way to arrive at the sum of 9 than just 8+1 and they are all correct. 4+5, 6+3, 2+7 all equal 9. They are not the same way but they arrive at the same conclusion.

Likewise in relationships, there are many ways to arrive at the same point without there only being one way of getting there. Doing laundry, cooking meals, grocery shopping, house cleaning, parenting, holidays, all provide situations that can lead to critical parenting.

Pointing fingers, one-upping, blaming, criticizing, won’t lead to intimacy and deep respect. It usually just leads to hopelessness and frustration, and feelings of never being good enough.

Why not learn to value your differences?

My partner and I have learned to use our strengths to benefit our relationship. We understand that there may be some discomfort or fear when we let go of control. We also understand the long-term effect it has on each of us as we respect our partner and ourselves.

Rather than just criticize or control the other person, we oftentimes discuss our wants and needs. We can set goals and objectives and then share strategies and methods. We can share or split responsibilities and allow for the other to do things as they see best. Even if or when the other falls short of the goal or objective, there is no need to beat the other up. We can still be grateful for the experience and effort made by our partner. We can learn to be gentle and in return be treated gently when we goof things up.

We learn more about the other. We come to value the diversity in our relationship. We come to appreciate the way the other handles life differently. We have more fun, more variety, more stories to tell and share with friends.

Why not give yourselves the 30-day “critical parenting” challenge. See if you and your partner can go 30 days without correcting, second-guessing, arm-chair quarterbacking, criticizing, “just being helpful”, or treating each other as if one of you were a child. For 30 days, agree to allow the other a chance to be their best adult self!

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