Motherhood: You are criticizing me!

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

“Mom, I am doing what you want me to do but you are still criticizing me,” said my almost 10yo son.

Let me paint you the setting.

It was Saturday morning, in the dining room. My husband made breakfast for the kids – including my picky-eater, 10yo.

What’s in the breakfast menu? Scrambled eggs!

Sitting, with not a trace of a smile on his face, my almost 10yo was staring at a plate with freshly cooked scrambled eggs -- golden yellow and folded neatly like an omelet, a side of sliced apples and a glass of 1% milk.

I wasn’t exactly sure what’s going on in my little crumbcatcher’s mind, but he surely does not look happy.

So he took one bite after 5 minutes, drank from the glass of milk and took a bite of the apple. My ever energetic, super active, nonstop moving child seemed like on a slow motion pace at this moment.

So after 30 minutes of waiting for him to finish the eggs, I commented, “How come it’s taking you forever to finish a small plate of scrambled eggs? You seem to survive from the first few bites, the egg is so much better hot than cold.”


And that’s when he replied as his nose wrinkled, which is a sign that he’s controlling his tears,

“Mom, I am doing what you want me to do but you are still criticizing me. That’s why I don’t want to try new things because when I try you still criticize me.”

My husband heard our conversation and said,
“We love you little guy. It is our job to criticize you…and we will criticize until you get it right.”

Do you ever remember questioning your parents? I grew up in the Philippines and there’s no talking back – or even complaining, especially when you’re not even 10 years old…not even when you’re 21!

I think I started answering back only after I had children and moved out of the house – even then, I felt bad when I question my parents.

Maybe the new generation of children have been pampered and treated like their breakable. We can’t even tell them directly if they are not doing their tasks incorrectly. We have to learn how to coat the words so that they are not painful. We have to tip toe and be super sensitive to what we say because we might hurt their feelings.

Just look at the report cards, hard work aren’t graded in the first few years of their academic life because the educators feel that in doing so, we will be stomping on their confidence.

Are the new generation of kids going to grow-up so shielded from criticisms and with constant “pat-in-the-back” reinforcements that when they face the real world, employers, supervisors or managers have to be trained how to behave or communicate?

My parenting style is strict but compared to how I was raised, it’s pretty lenient. I asked my 15yo if he thinks I’m a “tiger mom” because I do expect nothing less than a A+, I make sure they practice piano, violin, saxopone or piano, there are no hanging out with friends on school nights, and only recently that I allowed “sleep overs”. My 2 older children (who are now in college) did not get to experience sleep overs. But like anything else, everything is within reason. As long as I see that my kids work hard and really adhere to the doing their jobs well (be a VERY good student, behaved and well-mannered), then we sort of “compromise”.

When my older son told us that he’s just a “B” student, that conversation did not go well -- especially we knew since my son was little, that he’s above average. So "B" does not relate to “above average”. It would have been different if that’s all he was capable of. So that was a tough fight!  I think he was grounded most of his teen life!

When my 15yo says,
  “Mom, this is the best I can do…and as our teacher said, we shouldn’t be so focused on the grades. A "B" on Honors class is actually an "A" and a "C" is actually a "B"," --

my blood boils and I reply with my Filipino-ewok tone which seems to come out every time I get angry,
   “Tell that to the colleges and scholarship grants! Especially when you get a "C" because you didn't do your homework.”

So when I confronted my 15yo, “Do you think you are being raised by a Tiger Mom?”

He replied with a laugh, “Are you kidding me. No way. I am being raised by tiger parents!”

“And then he continued….but the “cool” tiger parents.”

So going back to my youngest, who according to my three older children, has gotten away with a lot of stuff since he IS the baby : My 10yo took an hour to finish his breakfast!

He cried when we didn’t say he did a great job for tasting the eggs. I told him that we’re happy that he finally finished the scrambled eggs but it would have been better if he finished it in less than 1 hour.

And he said, “See, you are criticizing me again.”

And we replied, “because it is our job as parents.”

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  1. to be fair, you are criticizing their behaviors--not them. in fact, i would say it is more like constructive criticism--actions that can lead to a better outcome. even as parents we are striving to do our best--for our children and also for ourselves. i think parenting my boys has been life's greatest teacher. i don't always pass the test, but i know i am truly giving it everything i've got:) i know you are too, sweet momma!!!!

  2. deborah - you're right. it's the behavior and not them. that's a great point!
    thanks to you, too, sweet momma.
    (my 19yo just let me know that he loves me even though i'm a tiger mom..sweet!)

  3. I do think kids nowadays get away with much more than we did during our time. J always complains that I "always tell him what to do" and he doesn't like it. I tell him that that's my job. Ahh, the conversations we've had about this!

  4. I wouldn't dream of talking back to my parents when we were kids. I would have been slapped! But then of course, I was never as close to my parents as my boys are with me. I guess being talked back to means our kids find us approachable and I take that as something positive.

  5. I agree. Kids these days think they can argue and debate. As soon as I hear my kids doing that, I nip it in the bud. I have to tell my older kids that they are not my "equal." Oh my gosh, if I ever talked back to my dad when I was younger I would get a spanking for sure!!!!!!!

  6. Honey,
    There is a lot of humor in this blog - Jonathon's answer about "tiger parents" got a lol response, as did Josh's answer after he finished eating that egg.
    I can just see that face - I would want to eat him up! Miss my kids! Love, Mom

  7. @buckeroomama, i think that's why we get to blog about the kids :)
    @veronica & @alicia, different times..but same values;

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