The Danger of a Critical Spirit


Yesterday morning, I sent my older daughter out the door to school with a kiss and a criticism. Not the way I usually send her to school, especially on a day when she has a test she's nervous about. The worst part is, I criticized her for something she didn't do. Not one of my finer mommy moments.

I often find myself quick to jump on my kids' mistakes. I let my own critical spirit make a mess of their day. And that's not really fair.

Sometimes, our kids deserve to be corrected. Sometimes, they need to be guided. But our kids never need to be picked apart by our own critical spirits. Our kids never need to be subjected to a microscopic inspection of their every move. They never need to be criticized because of our own insecurities.

Yesterday, I fussed at my daughter because I was running late, I was nervous about how my day at our moms' group kickoff was going to go, and I was tired. None of those things gave me license to nitpick my daughter's actions. Even worse, I nagged her on the way out the door because I was worried she would be late to her carpool and that would reflect poorly on me.

Our kids need our guidance. They need our discipline. They do not need our criticism.

Our homes should be the one place our kids can go where they know they won't be unfairly judged. It should be the one place where they know they are loved no matter what. When we allow our critical spirits to take over when we are trying to guide or discipline our kids, we rob them of that one safe place.

It's so easy to let criticism rule and justify it as discipline or education. We tell ourselves we're just correcting errant behavior or we're teaching them a lesson they need to learn.

The truth is when we use judgmental criticism as a discipline tool, all we're doing is crushing our kids' spirits. All we're accomplishing is taking a teachable moment and turning it into a wounding one.

Our words have more power to touch our kids' hearts than anything else. We can choose to guide and teach or we can choose to be critical and angry. Our choice will determine how our kids react. And it will determine how they treat others because we are their example.

Jesus had plenty to criticize others for. He was, after all, perfect. Everyone else probably got on His nerves a bit with their imperfections. Yet, we never find Him criticizing others because for their imperfections. Jesus got angry. Jesus meted out some discipline. But He never did it with an angry, critical spirit. And that's the model we want to follow when we're guiding and disciplining our kids.

Judgmental criticism has no place in our homes. When we judge and criticize our kids, or even our spouses, we lose the teachable moment and we simply teach them to be judgmental as well. Matthew 7:2 says, "For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

I know that I don't want to be judged with the same measuring stick I used on my daughter yesterday morning. So, I'm going to be working on letting God show me how to be less critical and judgmental and instead be a parent who guides and disciplines without criticism. Won't you join me?