Parenting may be the best job in the world, but it is not without its pitfalls. No doubt that (most) parents have their children’s best interests at heart, but we can’t deny that even parents with the best intentions can make mistakes – sometimes unwittingly.
Here are some of the most common parenting mistakes and tips on how to avoid them.
Not maintaining a solid front
While parents may have common core principles, they still are two different people with differences in approach and opinion. In some situations, the mother may have a stand that is the opposite of the father’s. One common mistake in these situations is the parents openly showing their differences in opinion, confusing the children and potentially driving a rift within the family. If this persists and the parents eventually get a divorce, it may complicate custody matters.
You don’t want to go so far as getting a divorce, but if this persists that may very well be where you end up. Worse, if you don’t see eye to eye on custody issues, things will get even more tangled, thanks to the children’s experience with your “broken front”.
Tony Dunne, a family lawyer in San Diego, says, “Children’s opinions of their parents play a large role in custody cases, and these perceptions can be traced back to how the parents handled discipline as a couple while married.”
What to do: From the get go, decide that you will not argue about your differing opinions/approaches to child rearing in front of the kids. Do this in private, and decide how to handle specific matters together, reaching a compromise so that the kids will see that you both are “on the same side”.
Worshipping the kids
Praising our children, telling them when they have done a good job, and giving them rewards is not wrong. It is another matter when you heap praises upon them indiscriminately, however. By doing this, you make your children believe that the world revolves around them and that they can do no wrong. They’ll turn into maladjusted adults with narcissistic attitudes.
What to do: Give credit where – and when – credit is due. Reward them when it’s appropriate. Make sure your kids understand that, while they are loved and are special, they need to work for certain things and that the world doesn’t revolve around them.
Wanting to become best friends with the kids
There’s nothing wrong with being friends with your kids, but realize that there is a line. Some parents go all out in being that “BFF” who is the cool one. They let their kids do whatever they want, even when it’s not appropriate at times. They give their children what they want because they feel the need to be liked.
So what’s wrong with that?
Children forget to recognize your authority as a parent.
What to do: Love your children, make them happy, and be their friend; but do not hesitate to draw the line and put your foot down as a parent. Yes, you are the parent, and you need to do the hard things even if it means your kids dislike you at times.
Discouraging imagination and creativity in the name of safety
You may not realize it, but you may be an overprotective parent. Some behaviors include:
- Limiting risk-taking – don’t go out in the yard by yourself…
- Controlling “weird” behavior – what are you doing rolled up in the grass like that? You’ll get allergies!
While it is understandable to be protective of kids – especially with the dangers out there – you don’t want to dictate and monitor every single thing they do. Doing this will only have negative results like being overly sensitive, scaredy cats, and limited imagination.
What to do: Let the children play. Let them pretend they’re rabbits playing in the grass. Let them play ball out in the yard without you hovering over them every second. Let them hang out with friends without calling them every half hour.
Solving every problem for the kids
This is one of the most common parenting mistakes that is so simple and yet overlooked as something negative. Some examples:
- Brushing their teeth (when they are of an age that they should be able to do that on their own)
- Tying their shoelaces
- Doing their homework
- Making their beds
- Telling off their friends when they have fights – basically meddling
This results in children who do not know how to stand on their own two feet. Who can’t think for themselves. You may think you’re helping them, but you’re doing the exact opposite.
What to do: Step back and analyse what you do for your kids. Can they do it on their own? Maybe with some guidance from you? Don’t be afraid to let them try and fail. They’ll learn, and it’s better than having them rely on you for everything.