caregiver responding to criticism

“You never…”

“You should…”

“Don’t do it that way!”

As a caregiver for an older parent, you work selflessly to offer care for your loved one. What happens when you’re giving it all you have, but your all is not good enough? Negative feedback is never easy to hear, but it is especially hard when a family member critiques your caregiving. Relatives and friends who are not involved in caregiving may not see the full picture. Their suggestions might be well-intended, but misguided. Additionally, there could be some difficult family dynamics at play. Whatever the source of the feedback you’re receiving, it is important to know how to respond effectively.

What’s the Best Response When a Family Member Critiques Your Caregiving?

Before you respond, pause for a moment. Take a deep breath and count to ten. Set any angry or resentful thoughts aside. When you are prepared to answer calmly, try following these tips:

Acknowledge and question.

Repeat back what the person is saying, even if you don’t agree with their viewpoint. Clarify your thinking about the issue being criticized, then ask the person what they would suggest instead (even if you do not wish to hear it). As an example, imagine your sibling says, “Why did you make Dad that greasy hamburger for dinner? He should be eating healthier food!” A good reply would be, “I hear that you are concerned about Dad’s health and diet. It has been difficult to get him to eat lately, though. His doctor suggested preparing whatever he feels like eating. What are other sorts of foods that you think might appeal to him?”

Use “I” statements.

It is vital that you let the criticizer know that their remarks hurt. Craft your response in a way that focuses on how you feel. In the case above, for instance, you might say, “I feel hurt when you question my decisions in meal selections for Dad.”

Respectfully defend yourself.

After explaining the way you feel, you can tactfully and calmly defend your actions. This can help the person start to see the situation from your viewpoint and hopefully think twice before critiquing you again. Continuing with the example above, you can say, “I care very much about Dad’s health and am implementing the doctor’s orders to ensure he’s consuming some nutrients each day.”

It can also help to remember that this is a hard time for everyone who loves the senior in need of care. Each person may be struggling with the stress and worry differently. A little forgiveness and grace goes a long way toward reaching your common goal: ensuring the very best care and comfort for the senior.

If you’re providing the majority of care for your older parent, it’s vital to build a network of support that allows you time for self-care. At-Home Care Company offers fully trained and experienced caregivers who can work with you to make sure you get the breaks from care you need to rest, relax, and recharge. Contact us at 515-292-2650 for more information on our in-home respite care services in Ames, Story City, Nevada, and surrounding Central Iowa communities.