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Parents openly critical of daughter’s parenting


Two years ago, my husband left my daughter and myself. We moved in with my parents four months ago because of our financial situation. My parents both have counseling degrees, which they think gives them the right to tell me that I am parenting my daughter incorrectly. It is undermining my authority with my daughter. She does not listen to me, but instead turns to my parents when she gets in trouble. 

I have tried talking to my parents, but they will not change. They believe that they know better. I am at my breaking point and feel trapped because I cannot afford to move out. I have lived on my own for 12 years, but now that I am back in my parents’ home they treat me like a defiant adolescent. What can I do?



This type of living arrangement can be very stressful. It takes adjustments on all parties’ parts. But you are the mother and her father is not living with your daughter, so you are and should be her primary parent. As such, you are the one making all of the major decisions in her life. You should be the one to implement consequences and to reward positive behavior.  

Do your parents criticize your​ parenting in front of your daughter? Do they make negative comments in front of her? If and when the three of you differ on parenting techniques, this disagreement should not take place in front of your daughter.   

Talk to your parents at a neutral time when your daughter is gone or asleep.  Remain calm and tell your parents that you need to be your daughter’s sole parent. Have reasons to back up your rightful claim. It is important that you remain calm. 

If you feel that you can’t have this conversation with your parents, is there another adult who is removed from the situation who could serve as a mediator?  You could seek help from a counseling agency perhaps. Since moving out is not an option right now, you must find a way to live peacefully with your parents.  

How adults interact with each other teaches our children how to interact. Your daughter looks to you and your parents for role modeling. Do keep in mind that your parents are not required to take you in. You could live in a shelter, which would be very trying.