Parenting is a tough job, no one's going to dispute this fact. Think about it: you have the responsibility of affecting a person's life and if you do it wrong, guess who's going to get blamed?
Too bad that there's no standard guidebook for parenting. Yes, there are books on the topic but no "one-size-fits-all" methodology will work, unfortunately. There are just too many variables to consider. Some of these include the personality characteristics of the child, threshold tolerance of parents, social environment and number and age of siblings. There are many more as well and these are just icing on the cake. Unfortunately it's impossible to know what to do to be the perfect parent who will be the reason behind the perfectly successful, well-loved and well-revered adult.
That being said, there are parenting methods that are known to be detrimental if not downright damaging to a child. Try doing these and you'll more or less guarantee that your child will grow up to be a person who, let's say, won't be the most well-liked or respected in their social circle.
The following are the top five parenting mistakes that parents can't afford to make.
1) Inconsistency - Saying one thing, doing another, or changing gears mid-stream is a huge no-no when it comes to raising kids. First off, kids remember everything, so don't count on the fact that your actions will be yesterday's news anytime soon. In addition, kids want their parents to be the deciding force behind important (and not-so important) decisions because they don't have all of the answers. You have more experience and wisdom and they know it. Wavering or second-guessing yourself is never a good idea and kids will notice it if you try. What will likely follow is your weaknesses being exploited. Never good, don't give them the chance.
2) Never Saying "No" - Your child is not your friend. They're your child and they want boundaries and parameters. Though it may seem that they want you to agree with everything, they don't. No one wants to have a Patsy as a parent, including children. They want a strong role model with clear indicators about what should or should not be done, or what is right or wrong. Say "no" when you need to say no, and don't be swayed by guilt, fear of them not liking you or that you're making the wrong decision. You're not, and your kids will thank you for your ability to be the voice of reason when they get older.
3) Being Too Sensitive - This means not having a thick skin. When tween and teen years roll around, you'll need all the strength - both emotional and physical - that you can get. Kids wear you out at every age and they can get a bit of an acid tongue when the teenage hormones hit the scene. Conversely, younger kids are not immune to being hurtful with "I don't like you" and "I'm not your friend" being popular sentiments amongst the toddler and preschool set. Toughen up and remember that your kids will get through their various phases eventually. And while they're going through it, don't take anything too personally.
4) Spoiling Your Child - Indulgence in our precious children is one thing; spoiling them is another. By spoiling, think of overindulgence on steroids. Giving your child everything that they ask for and more, giving in to their every whim and request and never saying "no" is a recipe for disaster. Parenting is difficult, no doubt and often it may seem that it's easier to give your child what they want, rather than saying "no" or giving them something they need (and don't necessarily want). Don't do it. Your child will become a better person who is much better able to handle the difficulties of life when they're older. Spoiled kids grow up to become spoiled adults, and we all know how successful and well liked they are. The type of person that a spoiled child grows up to be is never one that is invited back to the dinner party, amongst other things. Don't spoil your children. It's never in their best interest.
5) Overprotectiveness - We all fear for our kids. After all, it's a big old world out there. That being said, we've become an increasingly more world-weary and suspicious society on a whole, and it's affected our children. Gone are the days where kids are told to "go out and play and don't come back until dinner" and as a result, we've fostered a new generation of fearful, timid and generally trepidatious kids. Whereas once upon a time, a parent would rejoice in the fact that their son was gone all afternoon, collecting bugs and other creatures from various spots in the vicinity, now we're horrified at the prospect of our child exerting any display of independence. We've got to stop the Helicopter Parenting, and stop it now. We're not doing our kids any favors. As a matter of fact, we're instilling irrational fears in them unnecessarily. A nervous and anxious child afraid of their environment grows up to be a nervous and anxious adult. We've got enough of them already. Enough. Let kids be kids, keep a reasonable rein on them and let them do what they do best: explore. They'll survive and will be better for it.
This article also appears at www.multiplemayhemmamma.com