It’s no secret that parenting is one of the most difficult jobs out there. And as a matter of fact, millennials are breaking new ground when it comes to raising children. We have it pretty hard these days. But something else that millennials need to know is that there are some things they need to work on when it comes to their parenting skills. Every generation of parents does things a bit differently, so they all have their own unique struggles. New-age parents are struggling in a lot of different areas.
No matter how conscientious and careful a parent may be, they’re bound to make mistakes here and there. Well, parents don’t usually start out wanting to make mistakes. Too often though, they only rely on their ‘parenting instincts’ and don’t try to get help on common parenting issues and problems. Unfortunately, many of us aren’t instinctively able to know what to do in each and every situation that we face as parents, and we can all make mistakes from time to time.
While there’s no set of instructions for proper parenting. As every child and family is different, there are certain mistakes parents make unknowingly and need to work on correcting them.
Are you guilty of any of them?
10 Common Parenting Mistakes & How To To Correct Them
1. Failing To Lead By Example
A parent may have the best advice in the world for their child- tips for how they should treat others, suggestions for how to be a better person, what’s right or wrong and so on. But it does little good if they simply tell their child to do these things, rather than showing them through their own behaviour.
Kids tend to mirror their parents’ behaviour more than they listen to what they tell them. If parents want their children to engage in healthy behaviours, such as treating others with kindness, it’s imperative to model the behaviour for them.
2. Not Making Enough “Me” Time
You can’t pour from an empty cup – heard this before? Well, this holds absolutely true when talking about the most common mistake we parents make, mostly unknowingly.
Millennial parents do not appear to be taking enough time for themselves. There’s so much that is consuming us – social life, virtual life, professional commitments. In the race to be ‘perfect parents’, we often miss out on giving importance to ourselves. And this is the worst thing that you can probably give to your children – an unhappy, frustrated parent.
While it may seem counterintuitive, a parent needs to take care of themselves before they can effectively take care of others. One of the best things a parent can do for their children is to schedule in time for themselves each and every day. That “me” time allows parents to avoid getting overwhelmed and frustrated by the demands of parenting. It helps one collect one’s thoughts and recharge a bit, which is essential for parents. It gives them the physical and mental energy and clarity that they need when they are raising a little one.
3. Comparing Your Child With Others Or Siblings
Another most common occurrence in the parenting journey is comparing your child with others. While millennials have definitely learned this from their previous generations, comparing siblings with each other is still an area to be worked upon.
We need to understand that one size does not fit all. Period.
Each child is unique, and this holds true even for siblings. By telling your child that their older or younger sibling is good at something, you are only breaking the child’s confidence and creating a rift between you and the child.
4. Never Letting Them See You Fail
Failure has always been seen as taboo. Going back to our own childhood, I am sure you would agree that fear of failure ties down the mind. But the pressure of keeping one’s image as a “Super Dad” or “Supermom” will only do harm in the long run.
Please remember, avoiding failure in life is almost impossible. And the process of making and learning from mistakes is an extremely valuable life skill because learning involves risking.
If we do not model this in front of our children, how will they embrace failures and misses later on in life?
We as parents need to erase the idea that ‘mistakes are bad’. I think a more powerful life lesson is when children see their parents mess up and then handle that mess up with dignity and integrity. That could mean confessing to wrongdoing, apologising for hurting someone, working to remedy a situation, and/or finding ways to grow stronger from it.
And yes, sometimes this means apologising to our own kids when deep down we know we’ve failed them in some way.
5. Projecting Personal Aspirations, Goals, Fears & Limitations On Our Children
Parents want what’s best for their children, but sometimes they might lose perspective of the fact that what “best” means for them is what’s “best” for their kids. Whether it’s career aspirations, sports and extracurricular activities, or social interactions, parents can push their kids to do the things they wish they did in their youth, instead of leaving their kids the space to figure out their own wants.
Often this mistake is rooted in the fact that we start thinking about our children as our ‘second chance’ to succeed in accomplishing those goals. This makes kids feel torn between what they would like to do and what their parents want them to do. When you want to give your child advice about making life choices, just check with yourself to make sure you are setting your own goals aside and being present for him or her instead.
This holds true in the case of our individual fears too. Since children look to their parents to model emotions and information about safety, extreme reactions may garner a sense of fear about specific objects or the world in general. For example, “don’t go close to the insect, it might bite you”.
This fear may remain with the child throughout their life. This way the child will refrain from connecting with nature or even explore the world around them.
6. Resorting To ‘Snowplough’ Parenting
This generation of parents is parenting in an ‘age of anxiety’. We are a generation of parents who not only over-focus but overprotect our kids by fighting their battles for them. Like a snowplough clears the snow off the street, a snowplough parent removes any obstacles in their child’s way. This type of parent does not want their child to experience any discomfort or problems, so the parent intervenes and fixes it for their child.
The result – poor problem-solving skills in children, trouble dealing with frustration, lack of self-efficacy and increased anxiety in children. Being overprotective is never a good thing. Kids who have overprotective moms and dads usually do not have the freedom they need to find out what they do and do not enjoy doing. Snowplough parents block their children from the struggle by either pushing and promoting their child or withdrawing and letting them quit.
Millennial parents should work on this.
Be a ‘big-picture parent’ and prepare kids for adulthood by gradually pulling back and giving them the opportunity to think independently and solve problems for themselves.
7. Not Growing Or Learning As A Parent
As parents, we sometimes forget that as children are growing, so is their need of more freedom and space. It’s crucial to give children increasing room for independence as they age. These boundaries should expand over time. Though doing so may initially cause fear for both parties, letting children “slowly build their independence” is more effective than expecting them to learn it all at once in adulthood.
8. Keeping Some Discussions Still Hush-hush
Oftentimes when a child asks their parents about sex, we get so caught up in our anxiety that we don’t give them the information they’re looking for. This teaches a child that they can’t look to their parents for answers, meaning they’ll search for less reputable sources. In addition, if they feel they’ve done something wrong by asking, they may start to become embarrassed or ashamed about their bodies or sexuality and that can do serious irreparable damage to them in the long run.
Similarly, parents often miss out on discussing money matters with children. We forget that money or financial skills are essential 21st-century skills and the foundation of these can be built only over time. This is the most common mistake we parents do unknowingly that results in children being raised who are ignorant to this crucial aspect of life.
9. Giving In To Demands
If a child doesn’t get what they want, they often try, then try again, and again, kicking off an endless cycle. However, it’s important that parents don’t give in to their demands just to help create connection. If the child is angry, so be it; giving in teaches children that they can manipulate to get what they want.
10. Doing It For Them
Like many toddlers, my son loves to help Mommy and Daddy around the house. Of course, his definition of ‘help’ is usually my definition of ‘make more work for me’. There’s a constant temptation to take over because, come on, if I really let him help with the laundry it will take twice as long and I’ll have to redo it anyway!
But taking over our children’s tasks for the sake of time or ease or doing it right is doing a great disservice to their burgeoning sense of independence. We need to let them try and mess up and try again. It’s okay for them to make mistakes, learn from them and try again.
So, how do we become the ‘perfect parents’? Well, that’s the catch!
Do not try to be a ‘perfect parent’. Children need happy and supportive parents more than the perfect ones.
And remember, you’re not a bad parent by any stretch of the imagination. And yet you could always be a better one, right? We all have room for improvement.