By: Angie @ Kids Matter
When you are about to become a parent, you see the world through a complete fog of happiness. You dream of being the perfect parent and how amazing your children will be.
Once the baby gets in the house, you live in a sleep deprived fog ranging from "look at how amazing and beautiful my baby is" to "Honey, it's your turn, I got up the last time!!"
As you start your parenting trek with a small baby, it can be hard to picture the choices you make in parenting that will make a life long influence. You just feed the baby, change the baby's diapers and snuggle up to smell that baby smell. As that baby grows though, you will make many decisions every single day that will influence the way your child interacts with the world. The best advice that I ever received was from my Granny. She told me "Raise that baby so that EVERYONE can love him, not just you and your husband". My Granny was very wise! She knew that if I spoiled my child, other people would just tolerate him, not love him for all of the wonderful things he has to offer the world.
Without further ado, here is a list of parenting mistakes that every parent (including me) makes at least once, but you have to be willing to change your ways!
Mistake #10: Already have a vision of what our child will be like. Each person is unique. Just because a parent or a sibling is never shy, does not mean another child will not be shy. You cannot go into parenting with a preconceived notion of what your child will be like. They say that no one ever really changes, but I think that is untrue. I am very different as a "40ish" Mom than I was as a "20ish" fun loving girl and that is because my parents cared enough to let me grow up. Let your child be the person that they will be. It is your role to accept and love this person, not to change her.
Mistake #9: Always trying to be your child's BFF. This is a biggie. Some days it can be hard to be the adult, but we still must complete that task. If I was just my kid's friend, homework would never get completed, he would probably start ditching school in kindergarten and he would never have the chance to blossom into the wonderful person that I know he will be. We all want our kids to love us and to sing our praises from the highest mountains, but if I do my job correctly there will be days that he loathes me, rolls his eyes at me and prays that he was switched at birth and his real parents will rescue him any day. If you need approval so desperately, seek it elsewhere. You have to make tough decisions to raise a child and trying to be the BFF will always affect your decisions.
Mistake #8: Judging other parents and kids. We have all been there. You are in the grocery and there is a parent walking through the store with a screaming child and the parent does NOTHING! You think to yourself, what is wrong with her? Why can't she control her kid? If that was my kid, he would NOT act like that. Really? Your kid has never cried in public? You always have your kids under control all the time? Kids are vocal and they cannot always figure out how to process emotions. Does that mean we let our kids act like hooligans in public? No, we just do the best we can and we understand that other parents are doing their best too. Back to that screaming kid in the grocery: Maybe the Mom is in a daze because she is a single parent and was just terminated from her job? Maybe the child just lost someone close to him and he is traumatized? There are any number of things that could be going on. If you do not know the journey that family is on, cut them a break and maybe some day other parents will cut you a break too.
Mistake #7: Reliving YOUR youth through your child. You had your chance! Now you need to sit back and let your child make her choices. We have all seen the parents that think they have the next World Class Ballerina, NBA Pro, MLB All-Star, etc. Just because they have a little talent does not mean they need to be pushed to be a champion every single second, of every single day. Let your kid enjoy the HOBBY they choose. If you are always screaming at them to be better, to work harder, to just try; do you think they are having fun? Allow kids to have fun and enjoy themselves, there will be plenty of competition in life, let them savor childhood.
Mistake #6: Never let them make mistakes. People learn from the mistakes they make. If you always tell your child how to do something correctly and then ensure it is correct, they have learned nothing. If your young daughter whines about doing homework every single day and then tells you that she didn't have any homework today, choose to let her learn. The next day, she will be the one facing her teacher and admitting that she neglected to do her homework. After that embarrassment, maybe the tune will be different at home when it comes time to do homework. I am not saying, let her fail a grade by never doing her work, but at some point kids have to learn cause and effect.
Mistake #5: Practice what I preach, not what I do. Parents have tried this for eons and it still doesn't work. Kids see everything and you have to practice what you preach. If you always tell them to share their things with others and then they see you hoarding the chocolate chip cookies to be eaten after they go to bed, they will not believe in sharing. If you tell them to always be kind to people less fortunate than you and then they see you lie to get out of some charity event, they no longer feel the need to be kind. If you make them eat all of their vegetables, you better eat yours too.
Mistake #4: Always being in a hurry. There are times to be in a rush to get someplace, but you have to slow down sometimes and let your kids be kids. Adults today are wired to be in a hurry, kids are wired to meander. An adult goes straight from point A to point B, without interruptions. A child starts at Point A and wanders through most of the alphabet before he finally arrives at Point B. Take time to savor the explorations of your child. Take time to enjoy the awe and wonder of the world through the eyes of your child. Whatever age your child is this very second, is the only time he will ever be this age! Take time to enjoy it!
Mistake #3: Not understanding the developmental stage of our kids. I have seen parents that are distraught that their kid seems to be behind physically. The child has an advanced vocabulary so they expect her to be advanced everywhere. That is not how it works. Each area of each child develops on its own time frame. As a parent of a child with a disability, I can assure you that kids cannot do everything. In my house we have a burst in physical improvement and then we have a burst in vocabulary improvement. He cannot put all of his efforts into all things at once. Accepting that was the best thing I did for may parenting skills. Having said that, only my son can decide which skill (physical or speech) he will focus on for now. I am just along for the ride and encouraging him all the way.
Mistake #2: Always believing that your child is perfect and not at fault. It can be so difficult to hear anything negative about our child. We tend to see the intent, instead of the action. We also think that our child has friends that are a bad influence, the teacher is terrible or hates our kid, the other parents are jealous, etc. Sometimes you have to put the ego aside and realize that there could be times that your kid may be the instigator and not the victim. If your child fails a test, maybe he didn't study. If a parent calls and says that her son came home sobbing because your child was bullying him, you have an obligation to look at the situation without your ego and with clear eyes.
Mistake #1: Making empty threats. This can be one of the hardest things in parenting. Your kid will not pick up the toys all over the floor and so in a moment of anger you declare. "If you do not pick up these toys, I am taking away every single one of your toys!" He still doesn't pick up the toys and you just made a threat with several layers to it: 1) Now you have to pick up the toys. 2) Now you have to gather up all of her toys. 3) Where are you going to put all of these toys if she can't play with them? 4) You will have to listen to her whine all day and night for every single day that she has no toys.
If you make a threat, you have to follow through with the consequences. Kids will learn at a very young age when you are bluffing and they will then call you out every single time. Do not make big threats and the ones you make, you have to be willing to follow through with them or you will lose your household to anarchy!
Parenting is not the easiest job in the world, but it can be the most rewarding! Give it your all, try to avoid the big mistakes and you and the kids will come out better on the other side!