Becoming an even better parent starts right here.
Here are five of the most common mistakes parents make. With more awareness, we can work on avoiding them.
1. Bubble-Wrapping Kids
Children require independence to flourish. They need to write and rewrite reports, stay up studying and use their time wisely, work on science projects, and earn their A’s and B’s. The moments they fail a test, strike out in a baseball game, don’t get the part in the production or are unhappy with the class they were placed in are opportunities for growth. It’s okay for them to struggle, figure out how to do better next time and open hearts to people they’d never normally sit with at the lunch table in school.
Children need to fall in order to learn how to get up and stand on their own two feet. We can't protect them from pain, disappointment and rejection. The more we try the less they can handle. They need to learn how to cope.
Self-esteem comes from discovering their inner strengths and knowing that "I can do this", "I will not fall apart."
2. Weak Discipline
All children require discipline to understand standards of behavior and learn self-control, especially today.
But we make the mistake of believing that discipline means punishment and negativity. Some parents are afraid that saying ‘no’ will push children away. Not true.
Good discipline means that I don’t wait for the problems to arise. Instead I have created a bond with my kids, we communicate well, I am present, they know what is expected and accepted. When they run off course (all children will at some time make mistakes or test us), I do not ignore the problem, yell, become overly emotional, hit, or put my children down. Instead I use natural and clear consequences, remain calm but strong, take the time to listen, and teach my children to take responsibility for their actions. I approach the relationship with a positive spirit and try my best to be present in my children’s lives to show that I care.
Problems occur if kids see that we don’t carry through, are not serious about our standards, are inconsistent, or believe that screaming means discipline.
Too many times we say ‘no’ but convey ‘maybe’ or ‘I’m not sure,’ which breeds confusion. They read our hesitation and pounce on our doubt. If I believe in myself, am consistent, clear, stand firm in my parenting standards, and balance discipline with loving times spent together, my ability to discipline becomes strengthened.
3. Fearing Unhappiness
What do you want for your children?
The most common response I get to this question is: "I just want them to be happy."
If this is your reply, it becomes easy to fall into the "happiness trap." We keep buying, look away at bad behavior, overindulge and go against our better judgment all in the name of happiness. We confuse the idea of loving children with constantly doing for them and making them happy.
Happy children is not our ultimate parenting goal. Good character, grit, resilience, sensitivity, honesty, respect, strong work ethics, and high values are all part of our mission. There will be times that our children will be unhappy despite our best intentions. They will get upset with our decisions. But sometimes the answer is no. As hard as we try we will encounter their tears. This does not mean that we are bad parents. It means we are doing our job and teaching our children that they can’t always have everything they want. Life holds disappointments. Growing desperate for approval and children’s smiles denies us the power to parent with purpose.
4. Peter Pan Parenting
Children need role models. Where should they learn responsibility, spirituality, compassion, respect and priorities if not from their parents?
Sadly, there are mothers and fathers who don’t want to grow up. They still want to dress, drink, party, speak and act like they did before having children. Responsibilities feel choking, hindering their freedom. Life does not feel fun anymore. Like Peter Pan, they want to remain in Neverland.
With parenting comes responsibility. We are not our children’s BFF’s. We cannot expect more from our kids than we expect from ourselves.
5. Forgetting to Show Love as Kids Grow
It’s easy to show love to an infant. We cuddle, kiss, hug and sing lullabies. They climb on our laps and we wipe away their tears. But what happens as they grow?
We give orders more and show love less. We forget to say "I love you." We don’t connect as easily. They are in their world and we in ours. We get lost in our phones, Instagram and daily pressures. We stop laughing and sharing conversation. Talks are usually reserved for misbehavior, admonishment, and asking if they took a shower and did their homework.
We realize too late that we’ve left words unsaid and wonder how many more hugs and kisses could have been given to nourish a hungry soul.
Decide today that no matter how busy you are or complicated life has gotten, you will not allow another day to go by without communicating love to each child.
Children are a precious gift. Let’s take the time to cultivate souls, nourish hearts, build character and create a path for the next generation. Believe in yourself as a parent.
What an incredible mission we have.