Parenting Your Spouse and Constructive Criticism

Long before I met my husband and thought about actually having kids, I knew I wanted to have three kids.  And I do have three kids who can be very wonderful but also very challenging at times.  I expected parenting to have its ups and downs, highs and lows, and good days and bad days.  However, what I was not expecting was to have to parent a fourth child … my spouse.  I am still undecided as to whether it is more difficult trying to teach him how to be a better person and set better examples for the kids, or trying to teach the kids how to be good people with all the bad examples they see on a regular basis.  Both are a pretty significant challenge, especially trying to deal with them at the same time.

At least the kids are still somewhat impressionable, but when you are a grown man and still think, act, make decisions, and react to things like you are a spoiled teenager, it’s not too likely that you will make any changes.  And if you don’t know any better because of how you were raised, that presents even more challenges.  It all comes down to whether or not you care about being a good person, making good decisions, doing the right thing, and how your actions and decisions affect those around you.  If those things are not in the forefront of your mind because you are self-absorbed as most children are, then you will never grow as a person.  And if anyone thinks they are perfect just the way they are and don’t need to make any improvements, then you need to think again.  We all have things we could improve on, and we should listen to those around us who may be trying to give us a little help as to what those things might be.

That leads me to a related topic…constructive criticism.  Some people are very open to constructive criticism and feedback or suggestions from other people about what they could do differently.  These people are generally aware that they are not perfect and want to be the best person they can be.  There are even people who are way more critical of themselves than they should be and seem to need constant reassurance from other people.  While I would hope those people eventually become more self-confident and less critical of themselves, I would much rather be around someone like that than someone who thinks they know everything, are always right, and think they are perfect just the way they are.  In other words, confidence is an attractive quality, but cockiness is not.

I obviously have a spouse who falls under the category of not being open to constructive criticism.  The thing is, whenever I bring something to his attention, it is in the spirit of trying to prevent the same negative pattern of behavior that is causing frustration, stress, or hurt feelings from continuing to repeat over and over again.  It is not to just “hammer” him about his numerous faults and shortcomings, as he puts it.  I often include suggestions as to what might be a more respectful or appropriate thing to do or say the next time.  If he doesn’t tune out as soon as he hears anything resembling a criticism and actually hears my suggestion (or even when he asks what he should do or say differently), his response is often something sarcastic like, “Oh right, like that would really work.”  I don’t know how I can possibly be wrong about what I would prefer to hear him say or see him do, but I guess he knows better than I do.

Because of the negative way he reacts to constructive criticism and so many other things, I now have three kids who often react the same way.  That makes life in my house so very pleasant.  Unfortunately, my spouse is reacting and behaving the same way his parents did, and now it is being passed down to our kids.  I am doing my best to try to break the cycle, but it is definitely not an easy task.  I certainly am not perfect myself and am trying to make improvements, but even that is much more difficult within my given situation.  I will keep trying though!

constructive criticism

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