Criticism is something I am quite familiar with.
The worst kind of criticism I usually receive is threat based.
They might say “if your children live unstructured, they will fail as adults to hold a job”.
Or they might say “if your children aren’t restricted in their access to food, they will become unhealthy”.
Or they might say “if your children have unlimited access to you, their caregiver, they will have separation anxiety and no independence”.
Or they might say “if you neglect to control your child’s access to screens, they’ll become addicts”.
And it can be so tempting to reassure them. To explain yourself in a way that comforts the things they value and their perspective. Something I have wasted way too much time doing myself.
“Don’t you worry stranger, we do meet your expectations, it’s all good”
And that is exactly what they are seeking.
They don’t actually hold concern for you and your family, they hold concern for what your reality could confront within theirs. They want you to defend yourself by their standards because it means those things are still relevant and valid and important enough to inform their decisions.
I’ve come to realise that, usually, whatever they are stating or asking can be summed up in one simple phrase; how dare.
How dare you make access to life unrestricted for your children.
How dare you shun your social conditioning and society’s expectations.
How dare you make a different choice than I did, than I felt I had to.
How dare you not be afraid.
And when I consider it from that perspective, I can’t help but feel pretty empowered and actually kind of just want to affirm their accusation.
Yes, I dare.
Every day, every moment, every chance; I dare.
And it no longer feels like a criticism when people point that out.
Yes, I dare. And you know what, I double dare you to too.
*There is of course a time to explain. There are spaces where somebody is genuinely confronted by information because it is new and they are confused and curious and seeking to listen. But that time to explain is not when a person is suggesting that you do not deserve to make your choices for you; when a person is questioning your right to dare.