Being over critical of things that don’t really matter, like table manners, personal grooming, age appropriate actions, and school grades tells the child that you don’t accept them for who they are or are trying to be.
I have met many men and women who have struggled with this very sort of family grooming. I know women who aren’t confident around the men in their family, because they will always think they are fat. Some father or uncle or brother mentioned something about their weight at an impressionable time in their life and they were never the same after. They could never feel completely accepted in the family again. Some of these women even started destroying their health by not eating.
I know men that have done the same. I know others who have become over-eaters because someone told them that they eat too much or are so big that they should stop eating so much.
Maxwell said people who love unconditionally, are people who have decided to love God with all their heart, mind, and strength FIRST. It can’t matter how the children make us look, we didn’t get children to look good. If we love God first, then we can accept our children more.
Being sarcastic or critical of anything can give a message of non-acceptance, so be careful. Everyone must feel home is the safest environment to make mistakes.
Before I leave this topic I want to address the other side of criticism. I have said that being too critical can damage a young person. But, never giving criticism can do the same thing.
Life is full of corrections. Part of having a safe environment to make mistakes is letting the children know that you already know they are going to make mistakes from time to time, because life is about mistakes. They need to be able to take correction for these mistakes. They should expect that there will be correction and teaching when they make a mistake, but they absolutely must know how to accept criticism and correction and improve.
Parents should not beat around the bush or shy away from correcting their children. The reason God gave children to parents was to be taught, corrected and improved, so that they could find their mission in life.
I have seen many parents try to protect their child’s feelings to the point that the child never gets the chance to recognize that they have to redirect their focus. I am not talking about being rude or sarcastic parents. Emotion has nothing to do with correcting.
This kind of correction is about good solid, honest, heart felt communication. Really tell them when they have made a mistake, so that they can improve and become ready to be a strong person and leader in the world. To lead in the world, is to improve constantly; to know that you are never “all the way there.” This means that we have to be able to see our mistakes. Without seeing first, we can’t improve upon them.