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And how to stop making them.
Here are the three common parenting mistakes many of us make that produce over-indulged, ungrateful children.
1. The ‘As Long as they’re Happy’ Attitude
When I pose the question, “What would you like for your kids?”, the most common reply I receive is: We just want them to be happy. Big mistake.
Happiness is not the goal. Character, kindness, ethics and moral children is the end game. When all we desire is happy children we’ll do anything not to deal with their whining, tears and tantrums. We bend the rules, ignore better judgment and look away at bad behavior all in the name of happy kids.
These are the parents who stop all conversation as their 5 year old enters the room. While on the phone they allow themselves to be constantly interrupted. When the children are little, mothers and fathers stuff the kids with treats and prizes, giving in too easily to nagging and kvetching.
As children grow, we become reluctant to ask kids to help out. Not wanting to deal with their anger we stop guiding them to sweat more, give more, and do more for others. When faced with the challenge of showing kindness to those they would rather not be with, they opt out or respond with snarky remarks.
Solution: Stop defining good parenting with happy kids. Your child in tears does not mean that you are a bad parent. The answer to a happy life is not prizes, toys or never experiencing discomfort. Pleasure and joy come when there is a feeling of contentedness. Learning to be satisfied with what we have and gratefulness for what we have been given creates happiness. Making children feel as if they are the center of our universe from the time that they are little creates arrogance.
Don’t be afraid of children’s tears. Resolve not to give in to tantrums because they make you feel unsure of yourself as a parent. Allow your child to see that others can come first. It’s not the end of the world when asked to be uncomfortable or go out of your comfort zone. These are the moments where character is born.
2. The ‘Best Childhood Ever’ Parent
Parents who want to give their children all the luxuries and experiences they never had growing up often go overboard. They indulge and pamper. It becomes difficult to set limits. Sons and daughters binge on too much material sugar. Thinking that they are being great parents, moms and dads keep over extending. Kids begin to feel as if this is just the way they live and stop appreciating.
You find two year olds with their own devices, kids in designer clothing, and teenagers living on endless credit cards. Extravagant vacations, tweens dressed in inappropriate clothing, and bar/bat mitzvahs that defy imagination are all part of the ‘best childhood ever’ package.
When given too much, children grow bored easily. They stop appreciating. Parents must constantly feed their expectations with more and better.
Solution: Be consistent. Discipline wisely. Create limits and stick to them. Don’t allow children’s bullying to make you cross lines you are uncomfortable with. Resolve to look at needs versus wants. Stop overindulging. Concentrate more on time together and less on things.
Children who are given it all lose their sense of wonder. The magic of this universe, awe at this incredible world we live in are emotions that keep us growing. When dullness sets in because we’ve ‘been there, done that’, we forfeit passion. There is nothing to look forward to. Everything is boring.
3. The ‘Fix it All’ Parent
There are kids who can’t pick up after themselves. They are missing homework assignments, forgetting books, and sleeping through the morning alarm clock despite talks and threats. They come down in the morning and ask where their lunch is but they are highly capable of preparing their own.
Parents are rushing to school with books left at home, writing excuse notes, bringing mitts to the baseball field and calling the coach to demand better positions on the team. While their child is sleeping, parents are typing the book report that is due in the morning. The dog that was begged for is never walked. The clothing is scattered until mom hangs it all up. What’s wrong with this picture?
These children don’t know the meaning of consequences. They assume that parents will always be around to remedy the situation. Responsibilities are not taken seriously. After all, if mom and dad will take care of it, why should I?
But this is not real life. At some point the child will have to be away from home, answer to higher authority, and be a husband, wife and parent who must take care of others. These children can’t possibly stand on their own two feet. They will cave in to the pressure of deadlines, late night feedings and stress that life and relationships bring. We are not helping our children when we constantly step in-in fact, we are harming them. They are clueless when it comes to handling real life. Disappointments become overwhelming.
Solution: Stop fixing. Instead work on helping your child find solutions. Allow your children to make mistakes, experience failures and see how natural consequences happen. Recognize their efforts at doing better. Try not to express impatience if they are working at a slower pace or don’t keep up with your quicker ways.
Take a step back. Speak about study schedules, house rules, and maintaining agreed upon responsibilities. Being part of a family means that everyone is required to pitch in and help. Do not allow children to get away with laziness because it’s simply easier for you to just do it yourself than chase after them. Responsibility leads to respect.
Parents, have the courage to say no. Realize that happiness comes from within. Allow children to taste success through hard work and sweat. You will find children who contribute more, appreciate life’s blessings and bring goodness to this world.