Monday Q&A | Negative Comments and Painting Kitchen Cabinets

Every Monday, I answer a few of the questions that my readers send me. If you have a question you’d like me to answer in a future Q&A post, just leave me a comment here or email me (thefrugalgirl [at] gmail [dot] com) and put Q&A in the subject line.

(note: This first question hit my inbox before the most recent spate of unhappy comments happened here on my blog, and I blithely typed up my advice, intending to publish it a few Mondays ago. Given that I totally let the comments get under my skin this time, though, I certainly cannot claim to be an expert. So, fellow bloggers, take my advice as coming from one who’s in the trenches with you and is just as susceptible to discouragement as you are! And know that I fail to follow my own advice sometimes. Ahem.)

I recently started blogging and just got my first negative comment! It was a letdown. The person had read my post and responded to it unkindly (and unfairly), I thought. I have comment moderation enabled so I just deleted the comment rather than posting it. But it kind of brought me down this morning!

What’s your advice for dealing with unkind comments?


I’m so sorry to hear that…I know firsthand how much negative comments can sting. People can be surprisingly unkind on the internet. It’s almost like they forget that there’s a real live person on the other end of the blog, a person with feelings.

When I first started getting negative comments, they bothered me even more than they do now, so be hopeful! Your skin will probably get thicker with time. I tend to be a people-pleaser, so dealing with negative comments has been a good growing experience for me. Painful, but good.

Here are a few tips for dealing with negative comments.

1. Take some time before you respond.

My first instinct is to type up a defensive response, but I usually can produce a more level-headed comment when I’ve had some time to ponder the negative comment.

2. Win the commenter over with kindness.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen it happen here on my own blog…when I respond to a rude commenter with kindness and patience, 9 times out of 10, that person comes around and answers back politely. Resist the urge to sink to the level of the rude reader! You may win over that commenter, and your readers will respect you for your restraint.

3. Don’t feel like you have to defend yourself indefinitely.

This is a temptation I’ve given in to far too many times (cough*that infamous couponing post*cough. Sometimes defending yourself can just complicate matters, and a wiser response is something like, “I’m sorry you feel that way, but I’m doing what I think is right for my family.”. That sort of ends the conversation.

4. Humbly look for a nugget of truth in the comment.

Sometimes rude comments do have a valid point couched in unkind words, so don’t be too quick to dismiss the whole thing. If there’s something to learn from the comment, take that to heart.

5. Remember that you can’t please everyone.

No matter what you do, someone, somewhere on the internet will be upset. For example, people have criticized me both for not feeding my children enough fruits and vegetables AND for not feeding them enough rice and potatoes.

People may also make unreasonable demands of you and expect you to tailor your blog just to their liking. You’ll exhaust yourself if you try to keep up with that, though, so stay true to your goals and beliefs, and don’t let demanding people derail you.

6. Consider the source.

If a negative comment comes from a long-time faithful commenter, you may want to take it seriously. But if it’s a comment from someone who seems to be a troll or who hasn’t been reading your blog for long, recognize that comment for the ridiculous thing that it is, and brush it off.

For an example of this, check out the following recent comment (I didn’t change the spelling on anything!):

SIGH, another, dime a dozen, stay at home “frugal” (read husband pays for everything, while god zombie mombie pretends to stay busy)mom who will delete any commetns that dont kiss her butt and whorship at the alter of the boring, mombie

I just let those kind of comments slide right off my back…they’re so crazy, you have to laugh at them! Being called a god zombie mombie is downright hilarious, wouldn’t you say?

7. Talk to someone about it.

Poor Mr. FG has to listen to some of my negative comment rants, but talking about it with him really does help me to feel better, and he also helps me to see if the comment has any validity.

If you’re a Christian, it’s also a good idea to talk to God about it…I try to pray for wisdom, and for help to be patient and kind when I respond.

On a separate note, there are a few things you can do to help reduce the number of negative comments you receive.

1. Don’t pretend to be perfect.

When people see someone who is trying to appear flawless, they’ll be on a sharp lookout for any fault to point out, but if you own your imperfections, people will be less anxious to talk about your flaws.

2. Try to see things from other people’s point of view.

When you blog, remember that your post can be read by anyone in the world. When I remember that, it helps me to think more carefully about what I’m saying and how I’m saying it…I put more thought into my words when I blog than I do when I’m just shooting the breeze with a group of like-minded friends.

3. Don’t be all “My way or the highway!”

Or at least don’t be that way when you’re talking about stuff that doesn’t much matter. What you do may not work for everyone else and it’s good to point that out.

Hang in there! I think you’ll find that most blog readers are just lovely people….I know that’s certainly true of my readers.

Love your blogs…have painted furniture following your suggestions. Now I want to repaint my kitchen cabinets. Have you painted previously painted kitchen cabinets? If so…I’d appreciate your guidance. They are white now although you can tell the paint has soaked right in and they are kind of rough to touch. I want to repaint them white so need advice on what kind of paint and basic instructions.


I haven’t painted mine (I’m stumped on color or I would!), but I’d treat those cabinets the same way I treat furniture, except that I wouldn’t stress about sanding them down to bare wood. Just sand them enough to make them smooth and to take the gloss off of the finish. Also, I wouldn’t use the spray primer I recommend, unless you can take the cabinets outdoors. Spray painting inside is a bad idea! Just use the brush-on primer that Rustoleum makes.

I strongly recommend using the exact Rustoleum brush-on paint I recommend in my How to Paint Wooden Furniture post…using other paint will give you a rougher, less professional finish.


Today’s 365 post: I’ve been shooting in manual a bit more.



  1. Lucy says

    I discovered your blog late this past summer and have read back through all the posts and comments. I really admire the way you handle negative comments. I have seen #2 above in action and it’s amazing. The couponing debacle – yep, I was so hooked reading those comments I burned the rice (stir fry on toast, anyone?).

    Ah, kitchen cabinets! I suggest removing the hardware, cleaning thoroughly with TSP (home improvement store or WalMart), sand a bit, prime with a Zinsser product (they have a lovely chart telling you which one to use in your situation), then paint. I don’t paint anything anymore without priming with Zinsser; I have had excellent results with, and expensive disasters without! It covers all manner of grodieness and improves adherance greatly.

    • Elaine says

      Lucy’s advice is pretty much the same as the 3 or 4 websites I’ve investigated on painting kitchen cabinets. I want to do mine ONCE, so I did a lot of research.

      Karen, if you want to email me, I’ll send you the two best posts I’ve found.

  2. Molly says

    This made me laugh on this Monday morning:
    “For example, people have criticized me both for not feeding my children enough fruits and vegetables AND for not feeding them enough rice and potatoes.”
    Because THAT’S realistic. :-)

  3. says

    First of all I love your answer to the negative comments! Well said!
    Secondly I have a question for you. I notice you do a lot of things to keep your grocery budget low, but from what I’ve seen on your grocery posts you don’t shop at any warehouse stores like Sam’s Club or Costco. I’ve been able to save a lot of money from Sam’s Club. I was just wondering if you have some reason you don’t like warehouse stores, or if there just aren’t any in your area.

  4. EngineerMom says

    I also like the way you respond to negative comments. It’s a good reminder to me not only on the internet, but also in real life to look for the truth in the criticism, rather than immediately get defensive! If we all thought exactly the same way, what a boring world we’d live in.

  5. Jean says

    Negativity and unkind comments seem to be rampant on the internet. We are able to hear a lot of ideas from a lot of sources through the internet. Not all of the ideas may be fitting to our lifestyle or that we may like; but they may help someone else. It would be good to comment/compliment someone on what we like and leave out what we don’t like or say instead of that I do this. Reading negative commentary can be very depressing to me–I wonder how the person who is making the commentary feels?

  6. Aubrey says

    For kitchen or bathroom cabinets, I would suggest you check out Rustoleum’s Cabinet Solutions. I’ve seen tutorials and read independent reviews of it online, and it sounds really great. It takes out a lot of the more laborious steps and even works on laminate cabinets.

  7. priskill says

    Ah, so THAT’S what you’re doing all day, “pretending to be busy.” :) I’m guessing Jean is right — that was a very unhappy person with no idea of how much work parenthood really entails, never mind homeschooling and making your own yogurt. I agree that it can be useful to hear another opinion and even criticism (not my forte, by the way :) ) but there’s a limit!! I always admire your willingness to engage positively with commenters to figure out what the issue is in such a calm and non-threatening way. And Engineer Mom is so right on — it’s good advice for the whole rest of my life.

    Mombie Zombie — I want that on a tee shirt!

  8. says

    Negative comments are the bane of every semi-successful blogger’s existence. However, by the time I put together a carefully worded response, my readers have usually pick up the slack with their own responses, and all I have to write is “Thank you.”

    I do have one reader who consistently writes in rude comments, and I’ve just started deleting them. Because I can. And seriously, if you hate The Non-Consumer Advocate, then why on earth are you reading it?!

    Katy Wolk-Stanley
    “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”

        • Sophie van Wijnen says

          Katy, that is what I say… mostly in my head. Whenever I meet someone who acts particularly unfriendly I reason that I only have to deal with their unfriendliness just this time, but their life is filled with it every single day! Makes me feel better… most of the time…

  9. says

    I have been waiting (im)patiently for a nasty comment on my blog because I think you haven’t made it until someone wants to insult you! I did get some awesome spam the other day (it involved fem-nazis) and left it up because it made me laugh.

    We’ll be painting our kitchen cabinets and are planning on using the Rustoleum kit. But that’ll be next year, so the plan might change.

  10. says

    I would love a Mombie Zombie tee shirt! How hysterical would that be?! Thank you for yet another wealth of information! Sometimes dealing with negative comments is rough, but I guess it comes with the territory. Sometimes I have to remind myself it might not be aimed at me personally….maybe the poster is just having a bad day and I was the first available target…this is where your kindness tip comes in and usually saves the day!

  11. Jackie says

    I’ve been reading your blog for awhile and enjoying it. Just wondering if you and your family do Christmas cards of any kind and if so, how you keep the costs low?

    • Kristen says

      I’m a total fail at Christmas cards, so I have no good advice. Other than maybe, “Start a blog and have all your family and friends read it. That way they’ll be up to date on you and your family all year long and you won’t have to send cards at all!”

      That’s probably not very helpful. ;)

      • Melissa Z says

        I’m also a total failure at sending Christmas cards, but I’ve seen quite a few offers of 25-50 free or inexpensive prints, like from snapfish or walgreens ( posts the free offers).

  12. Lori says

    Your advice about dealing with negative comments is great, and much nicer than my strategy for dealing with negativity on the internet, which has two parts:

    1. Haters gonna hate.
    2. You are not the jerk whisperer.

    I tend to think that if you keep those two things in mind, you can happily ignore about 99% of the negative comments you see online (such as any about being a “god zombie mombie”), even when directed at you. :)

  13. says

    If you have old painted cabinets (1970’s or older), you should be aware that they may have been painted with lead paint. You do not want to sand these down because this will release lead paint dust everywhere. In two minutes of Google searching, I haven’t found a good article about how to handle this situation… maybe this is a question for your local hardware store staff.

  14. Raffaella says

    Bwahahah! “god zombie mombie”. You should rename the blog. Hey, the commenter thought hard about this, to his/her credit :) :)

  15. says

    Offering another POV…

    I took my first negative comment as a compliment! It meant my readership was wide enough to attract people who both agree and disagree and that I was posting about something thought-provoking enough for people to disagree (albeit meanly – someone from my own religion suggested I should leave my religion!)

    Photos-of-my-kids-dressed-up-for-Easter blogs don’t get negative comments (except maybe by crazy people) but interesting ones do.

  16. Margaret says

    This post is helpful for dealing with any kind of criticism, thank you! LOL! You should definitely make a t-shirt with “Mombie Zombie” on the front and “pretending to be busy” on the back, I’d definitely be buying one! It’d be a humorous reminder to me to take time to respond, laugh and be kind! You are an encouragement to so many, keep up all the hard work and kindness, what an inspiration.

  17. Jess says

    This comment is mostly for Karen – make sure to buy the best paint you can afford for the top coat of the cabinets, I didn’t and wasted a lot of time, it looked terrible despite sanding and tsp and adhesive primer. Then, sanding and washing again, and one coat of really good paint from Benjamin Moore and it looks great. It was $60 but worth it in the end.

    Love this blog, it really fits with my life beliefs. Also your bread receipe is the best I’ve ever used. Thank you for your hard work.

  18. says

    I appreciate your responses to your comments Kristen, you are full of thought in those tough situations. It is neat to see the change of people so often when you respond in kind, isn’t it? Thanks for sharing. :)

  19. says

    Thanks for posting your tips on dealing with negative commenters. I try to treat my blog like my own home…and when I visit other peoples blogs, too. I really treat people the way I would want to be treated, even in blogland. These tips are really good. Thanks for taking the time to write them out for us :)

    Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather :)

  20. Maggi says

    How funny! Kristen, I just emailed you today about painting and I had said that we just repaired our cabinets.

    My cabinets were a walnut stained and just ugly. We used a bit of paint thinner to clean the cabinets (it is stinky, just have good ventilation) which, as a solvent took off any grease and oil that would hinder the paint fom bonding. Then, we prime with an oil-based bonding primer and then oil based paint. He rule of thumb is, the higher the sheen, the higher the durability so we went with gloss paint. We painted them white, changed the hardware and WOW! what a difference!

    Best advice I can give is to use thin coats of paint. We did three thin coats. Looks beautiful! But, if you can, I recommend spraying the doors with a paint sprayer (you can rent one like we did) and the finish will be smooth and fine.

    • says

      Maggi, thanks for sharing your great tips. Just don’t forget to sand in between coats! This will improve your chances of getting that smooth finish you mentioned.

  21. says

    Yet another informative, helpful, compassionate post! Thank you so much for your response on managing negative comments. While my blog has a small enough readership that I don’t get them often, I will absolutely keep your thoughts in mind when I receive the next one. Thank you!

  22. Erin says

    I would add that’s important to not take the negative comment and put it on display, either in the comment section or in a separate post. Yes, the comments can sting. And no, those people shouldn’t be making those comments. However, I don’t think it’s right of other people to start making fun of the commenter or call out their fallings in life. It makes us no better than the initial commenter because we’re being just as negative as they are. The bible tells us to turn the other cheek..I don’t think that means get a good laugh out of the ludicrous, absurd comment AND THEN turn the other cheek. I think it means turn the other cheek immediately without giggling to our girlfriends about it.

    • Kristen says

      I guess I’m of two minds about that. If it’s a sincere comment, I feel differently about it than I do about a comment that’s clearly from a troll (like the one I quoted in this post).

      But I can appreciate your perspective.

  23. Ross Kennedy says

    Congratulations on your first negative feedback Kristen! While it might seem counter intuitive at first, there’s actually a few pluses to getting your first verbal bruising. (1) People with negative feedback follow only two actions – they leave and never come back or they write stuff (usually nonsense). If your traffic hasn’t fallen lately, and you’ve only gotten ONE piece of bad feedback, then it shows you’re audience overwhelmingly approves of your message. Congrats. (2) Some information outlets (media) make a living out of upsetting people. If your feelings got hurt from a single piece of bad feedback then you’re obviously not one of those groups who create a message just to offend, shock, or upset. Again, congrats, you’re not an idiot.

    Keep up the great work Kristen.

  24. Christina says

    Thank you so much, Frugal Girl, for responding to the question I posed about negative comments. I really appreciated your thoughtful advice as well as that of all of the folks who added their two cents. I’ll be referencing your list of ways to respond/deal with the meanie comments as well as the great advice from your readers. Many thanks.

  25. April AKA Dancemommadrama says

    I read this post at the perfect time! Tha k you so much! I’m expecting probably a firestorm of negative comments, as I’ve opened my blogs up to the big mean world of Twitter. People can be so rude and negative…but I’m hoping my skin is thicker than their poor attitudes. (In “real life” I’m an ER nurse- I deal with docs with God-complexes, gang bangers, and crack heads… Hopefully my experience dealing with these folks has thickened my skin enough to deal with online meanies!)

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