Being a part of a critique group is a wonderful thing. Without them my writing would flounder, but with them it has grown. I have been a part of a group that is specific to children's literature. I can't even begin to tell you how helpful it has been.
Do they always say what I want to hear? Absolutely not. If they did, how would I grow? They say things that are very helpful. For example, when I think I have written a scene that I think is clear. They tell me when it isn't. And not only that it isn't clear, they tell me why. Often I think the scene is all in place because it's so clear in my ehad. The problem is that the reader doesn't have the benefit of my mind to look into. They can only see what's on the page. Imagine that.
Most surprising is when something I've done is spot-on. They laugh in the right places, gasp when the main character is in danger, or cry when a favorite lesser character dies. That puts me into orbit.
The best thing is that they are people who will tell me the truth. As a writer I can fall into the trap of believing that my work does what I want it to do. Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't. I can always count on this group of writers to tell me what really is. That is worth more than I could ever say. And it is because of that truth that my writing grows.