DEAR SOMEONE ELSE’S MOM: I know I’m not perfect, and I was always very careful not to come down hard on my daughters when they were growing up if they made what I thought to be mistakes. They are both smart, sensible women and I usually didn’t feel the need to hold my tongue too often through their growing up, and now they are fully-grown young women.
One of my daughters moved back from college after she graduated last spring. We get along well overall, but she has become a critical person, and for all the things I do right, at least in her opinion, all it takes is for me to do one thing wrong, as she sees it, and she goes off on me with sharp criticism and ridicule.
I try to take it patiently and hope this is just a stage she is going through, like all the stages she went through growing up, but it hurts me sometimes that she can be almost cruel to me, often for something I didn’t even know I was doing or saying wrong according to her.
She almost never says anything to me when I’ve clearly done something right in her opinion though, which would be helpful in some ways to give me an idea of what is right by her. There’s also the way she talks to me when she isn’t happy with me. It makes me feel even worse.
Sometimes I want to say something to her about how unfair or unkind she is being, but do you think that will just make things worse? --- TRYING MY BEST
DEAR TRYING MY BEST: I think it’d be a good idea to directly discuss with your daughter how her criticisms and the way she expresses them make you feel, and how they reflect back on her. For one thing, her behavior towards you is possibly being extended to other people with whom she has relationships, and not too many people enjoy being criticized for perceived “shortcomings.”
It sounds like your daughter is perhaps not quite the fully-grown young woman you believe her to be. She has yet to learn to cut people slack for falling short of her definition of perfection.
Part of being an adult is learning how to deal with all sorts of people respectfully and patiently. It sounds like you tried to teach your children that golden rule by your own example of refraining from criticizing them when they were younger. Your daughter may now benefit from a direct lesson from her mom in how to treat people better.