close
close
Carolyn Hax: A mother sees her son’s parenting decisions as personal criticism

Carolyn Hax: A mother sees her son’s parenting decisions as personal criticism

Carolyn Hax: A mother sees her son’s parenting decisions as personal criticism

Adapted from an online discussion.

Hi Carolyn, My mother tends to take every decision I make as a criticism of her parenting unless I’m doing it exactly the same way she did in the 80s and 90s. This is even though I have repeatedly reminded her of all the ways my children’s childhoods are different than mine – different generation, different health issues, different culture, different human beings. This results in her feelings constantly being hurt by things that shouldn’t be taken personally. Any suggestions?

Father: Ignore her behaviors completely, consistently, without explanation or reminder and with a blithe disregard that borders on absurdity for the sideshow of her hurt. Do what you want, smile, and move on, without explanation or defense. She can gloat or get over it, it’s her choice, but you’re okay with it all and ready to greet her warmly when the message that she needs to get over it finally reaches her brain.

And, because you’re a good person who clearly wants your mom in your life, and because not all parental information expires in a five-year cycle, look for opportunities to welcome her expertise. Every genuine contribution will reduce her desire to compete with you, which can bring you both closer to the “I’m over it” position, if you both want to be there.

If, instead, you read each inch as a mile, then hold firm and cheerful to the inch marker.

Dear Carolyn: My partner and I have been together for seven years and have lived together for three of those years. We are not married yet, but we probably will be soon.

She just got a great job offer and wants to know what I think. There are a lot of good reasons NOT to take it, including that she would have to leave a job she loves, take on a much more rigorous work-life balance, and need additional training in her field. But she would be making almost double what she makes now, which would give us a lot of options, especially if we have kids someday.

I feel a lot of pressure from everything I say about this decision. Telling him I want him to take the job seems totally selfish. I don’t want to come across as a gold digger who just wants him to make more money at any cost to his emotional health. Plus, we’re not married yet and there’s always the chance one of us might decide we don’t want to be. For the record, our finances are separate for now and I make a bit more in a related field.

Held down: Listen carefully and repeat it back to yourself. “I hear you arguing for or against (Option X). Am I hearing you correctly?” “I hear you convincing yourself that you should or should not choose (Option Y). Is that fair?”

Or, make the process easy by not giving opinions. For example, keep the pros and cons list or limit yourself to asking direct questions.

When he wants firm opinions: “I don’t want to influence your decision, even by accident, or involve my own interests.” If he wants your own interest, then he can ask for it.

Or: offer radical transparency. “I don’t want to come across as a gold digger who just wants you to make more money at any cost to your emotional health.”

· Take a serious look at the company’s stability before you make the jump. Doubling your salary sounds great, unless the company is going to be bought out or significantly reorganized in the near future. The last ones hired tend to be the first ones fired. If you’re happy with your current position, there’s a lot to be said for a lower-paying, less-demanding job if you have kids on the horizon.