Handling Criticism From Your Family


What do you do when an insult is hurled your way, privately or publicly? Do you pretend you didn't hear it, hurl an insult right back, or hold it in and cry when you're alone?

How we deal with criticism -- no matter who it's from -- will determine whether we develop a tough skin or let the criticism get to us.

When insults and criticism come from a loved one, it is even more hurtful. People tend to be at their worst with the people they love the most. People feel safe enough with family to just "let it all hang out."

Here are some tips for dealing with criticism and insults:

Don't Take Every Insult Personally

Though the insults are thrown your way, the reason behind them probably has nothing to do with you. An elder may be angry at their circumstances: growing old, losing their independence, watching spouses and friends die. This has nothing to do with family members, but unfortunately, they bear the brunt of the anger.


Pull away from the situation and look at it without ego, as if you were observing someone else's life. Is it possible you are being overly sensitive, or has someone treated you like a doormat for no reason? A clear sense of which it is will help you find the best solution.

Realize You Can't Please Everyone

You can be the best caregiver in the world, but people -- be it your elderly parent, siblings or friends -- can always find fault. It's human nature. Someone will find something that you do wrong, or tell you that you aren't doing something right. It's a fact of life and we can't change it. Accept this and you'll be a happier person.

Accept That No One Likes Criticism

No one likes to be told that they are wrong. Yet, every single person has, at one time or another, been criticized for something. Realize that it's a normal part of life. You might receive some harsh criticism, but it doesn't mean that you are dumb, or incompetent.

Stand Up For Yourself

If an elder or family member becomes abusive, you can calmly say you won't be treated like that and walk away. Once they see they aren't getting the desired outcome -- to get you riled up -- they might "cease and desist." Another way to stand up for yourself is to remove yourself from the situation. Find home care for your parent. Having a stranger who isn't quite as caring, or familiar, might make the elder realize how much they want and need your help. Let the family member step in to the role of caregiving. Once they've experienced how hard it is first-hand, and walked in your shoes, they likely won't be nearly as critical.


Smiling, even a false smile, can help us relax. It creates a more positive vibration and diffuses the situation. It will definitely help you psychologically. It's hard to be upset or hurl back insults when you're smiling.

If you can learn how to cope with criticism, you can eliminate the stress and anxiety over what people think, and be happier and healthier.

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For me, it really on what said criticism is, and what it's about of course.
I like to think I know constructive criticism when I hear it, but then again I like to think I'm charming, personable, & pretty damn handsome too, and that all dogs love me...oh, and they do ya know! ('cept Poodles, I don't know what it is 'bout them Poodles..language barrier pehaps)
But when it's been comments made as to the whats, how, whys and such, of the care I give to my wee little Mama by some family members, who aren't involved in any way whats-so-ever in the daily everyday minutia of helping her grow old with some dignity (and as much high quality entertainment a fifty year old goofy doofus can provide), well let's just say it's best they carefully word their comments and supposed advice.
Kind of like a contestant on Jeopardy, it's wise to bloviate it more in the form of a question if one wants to win me over perhaps, and not phrase it like they're good 'ol Alex, and act like they have all the answers right there in front of them on some big board of most valuable knowledge...gee whiz, wouldn't it be swell if life was like that, or is it just not me?
A fairly standard response to a snark dripping "thought", goes something akin to this...
"Bite me!, If you have some great insight, master plan, or somehow in your glaringly non-involvement, have a perceived, or possibly even real problem, in how I handle or am handling (whatever it is), then step the hell up and get the #^%$ involved, or take it on back down the road where you prefer to be!...Next!"
Or something like that...now ain't that disarmingly charming and oh so personable?..see, I just knew I was ;-)
Now I do so love, even crave, good solid advice and helpful suggestions, but there tends to be a tone, a way it's worded, maybe even a body language that tells me it's from the heart, but coming from the brain, and not from some scratch & dent psyche bin at the superficially judgmental superstore (by mental coupon clippers no less).
I guess what I'm sayin' is I really don't mind hard advice at all, I do resent unconstructive criticism, and I don't have a problem making it clear, especially to those that ain't in the game.
Great article thanks. When someone was critical of me, or the way I took care of my mother, I would simply say "When YOU are doing this, we can have a debate about which is the best way to do it". I did this without yelling or being aggressive. This put an end to that line of conversation rather quickly.
I have no intention of putting on a fake smile. Adults should act like adults and be civil towards one another....and if they can't, then I don't need them in my life. Hurt, hurts. What happened to "The Golden Rule"? Abuse is abuse and if you give an inch, they will take mile. They've got the problem...not you. Save yourself.