What to Do When Our Kids Give Us Feedback

Katieann Browning

Lately I’ve been learning a lot about feedback and how important it is for our relationships. Feedback gives us an opportunity to understand how those around us are experiencing us and our actions. It’s crucial to have feedback when establishing a culture of honor. Having the chance to make sure we are sending the message of value and love requires the ability to humble ourselves and hear from others around us.

But what happens when we get feedback from our kids?

Did My Daughter Just Call Me Out?

Recently an opportunity arose for me to hear from my oldest daughter about how she was experiencing me. Let me tell you, it wasn’t easy.

My husband and I were working on a project around the house. We had gone back and forth between his idea and my idea on how to fix it. Finally, he decided to go with my idea.

Thinking I would be funny, I simply said sarcastically, “See—if you wouldn’t be so difficult and just do what I said, we would be done by now.”

Even now, it makes me chuckle because I was simply being silly. My husband even chuckled when I said it! I was in no way being serious. I knew it, and he knew it.

My daughter Rylee, however, did not see it that way. She responded with, “Mommy, you’re the one being difficult.”

Oh, the look of shock—no, horror—that must have been all over my face!

Did she just tell me I was being difficult? How in the world does she even know what’s really going on? She’s just sitting there sketching in her art book. Did she just call me out? She can’t call me out! She can’t talk to me like that! Did her dad hear what HIS daughter just said to me? Oh no, she didn’t just say that to me. I’m her mother! That disrespect will NOT be tolerated! She has no clue what she is talking about and she spoke out of turn. Oh, heck no.

Finally, I picked up my jaw off the ground and turned to face her. She looked up from her book and said, “What? It’s true. You are the one being difficult.”

What? She said it a second time? Has she forgotten who is talking to? I’m the mom and she is the daughter! How dare she continue with disrespect.

Remembering My Goal

Thankfully, I didn’t say any of those things. Instead, I took a deep breath and quickly reminded myself what my goal with my daughter is. Is it to be powerful—or is to teach her only one us has the power? Will she learn to have a voice—or will she grow into an adult who gets walked on because when she did speak up, she was shut down and told she was being disrespectful?

I can tell you that my goal is to raise my kids in an empowering, punishment-free home. By making that my goal, I now get to choose to humble myself and hear feedback from my own children.

This is hard as a parent, because most of us have been trained that anything corrective coming out of our kids’ mouths is inherently disrespectful. But I had to admit there wasn’t any disrespect in Rylee’s voice. She wasn’t out of control. She was simply stating how she was experiencing me.

I sat down next to her and began to apologize for the way I was behaving. I explained that I said it to be funny, but it’s not funny if she thinks that I’m being difficult to her dad. Thanking her for her honesty, I asked her if there was anything else she needed to say to me. She responded that she didn’t.

Putting Connection Over Pride

Hearing feedback from your co-workers, friends, and adult family members is one thing. Hearing feedback from your kids is another. It’s so important that you know what you will do with yourself when your pride gets triggered. Because that is exactly what happened: My pride got offended. Thankfully my desire for a strong heart-to-heart connection overruled my pride. I want my kids to feel safe enough to tell me what they think about things, even if I may not like it.

Do you know how you will handle yourself when your kids give you their honest feedback? Will you take it as disrespect? Or will you fight for connection and understanding even if you are the one being addressed? What will your response be?

My hope is that we raise this next generation to be powerful carriers of honor and unconditional love. It starts with us. It’s starts with the way we respond when our pride and fear get triggered by their words and actions. It starts by living out the fruit of the Spirit in our home, with our children and spouse. It starts when we actively live out the message of the priority of our connection. It’s hard when you are a parent. It seems easier to be “more” right then our kids, but when we do that, we miss the point of our connection.

I pray that you read this, you’ll hear Holy Spirit and allow Him to reveal any areas where there may be pride issues. It’s never too late to pursue connection with your kids!

P.S. Katieann will be joining us for our next LOP Summit in Minneapolis! Join us and get tickets here!

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  1. Hmmm what if the feedback given is not true? I don’t fully understand this as my upbringing was if you talked back you were punished. I grew up feeling like I was a bad kid and I still struggle today with feeling like I’m not a good person. I don’t remember being told what I did right more disciplined if I did the wrong thing. This lead me to believe that if i do what is wrong I will be punished if I am not being punished then what I’m doing is ok.

    1. Good morning, Holly. I think just like in the story the feedback I was given was not true to what was actually happening, but was true for my daughter. And that’s what feedback is-how someone else is experiencing us. In creating a safe place and prioritizing our heart-to-heart connection, it allowed me to look at what she was saying and value her heart, even though I felt like I was far from being difficult. I also grew up the same way, if I had talked to one my parents like that, I most likely would’ve have gotten in trouble, but we have an opportunity to learn new tools that protect our connection with our kids and remove punishment.

      Hope this helps a little.

  2. This is great, unfortunately I am raising my 3 grandchildren & I was a single mom who raised my 3 kids. I came from a household that yelled instead of talked…. I can say I made many mistakes with my children that I see affect them greatly as an adult. So with my grand babies I feel I have another chance to make it right & I am more mature & financially not stressed like when I raised my children. Thank you for these helpful hints I want to raise my grand babies to be powerful children with a kind voice & knowing who they are purposded to be in Christ

  3. Excellent perspective!! Will we go with the "never talk back to an adult" paradigm, or will we cultivate a practice of assertive, respectful feedback? Challenging, but oh so worth it. 🙂

  4. Well said Katieann!! Key being starting as early as we can with the tools of connection vs disconnection…Win Win….LOP!!!!! I love the value you placed on your daughter’s heart as you listened to her..Just the explanation that although it wasn’t true for you it was how she experienced you…knocked pride out of the park on that one…thank you again…

  5. Just want to know where in Scripture God receives “feedback” from us and offers an explanation for His behavior or actions? I do believe that children should be respectful and obedient; and it is not their place to “correct” their elders. I do not see that backed in Scripture. God bless 🙂

    1. Awesome article Katieann. To answer your question Caley, I can think of three examples. 1) When God told Abraham He was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah (ad explained His reasons), Abraham convinced God that if 10 righteous people were in the city He wouldn’t destroy it.

      2) God told Moses He was going to destroy the Israelites, and make Moses the father of the nation. Moses argued that this would cause God to go back on His promise, and God relented! Even when God said He would send an angel instead of Him to lead them, Moses convinces God to go with Him.

      3) God sent word through Isaiah that Hezekiah should get his affairs in order, Hezekiah prayed, and God granted him 15 more years.

      From these examples I feel that God is very willing to listen to our advice and arguments, and even change course based on them. God bless 🙂

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