10 Parenting Mistakes That Hurt Children

Once I was the perfect parent.  I knew everything about parenting and how to make the right decision in every situation.  Then I became a parent!  I'm sure you can identify.  Parenting is one of the most challenging and rewarding jobs you'll ever undertake.

And being a parent is a lot of pressure, isn't it?  Especially when you realize that you're the primary shaper and influencer of the person your child will grow up to be.  While all of us make mistakes as parents, there are some big ones that can cause children to have problems later in life.  Let's take a look at 10 of them.

Making our children the center of the home.  This is when parents revolve their entire lives around their children.  They treat their kids like they are the center of the universe.  While we should love our kids, they should not be the center of the home.  We should first and foremost strive for a God-centered home.  And second most important is the relationship of dad and mom.  The best parenting tool is a good marriage.  

When we get this out of order, kids can grow up to be self-centered and selfish.  The best way to love our kids is to love God first, our mate second and our kids thirdly.  This will help kids grow up with a healthy balance and in the long run is the best way we can love them.

Acting like our children are perfect.  This involves parents who never want to hear anything negative about their kids.  Their kids can do no wrong and when someone points out something wrong their child has done or raises a concern, they attack the messenger, even when the messenger is coming with a heart of love and wanting to help the child.  When we usurp authority, we are doing our children an injustice, because this is not the world they will live in as adults and they will have a hard time with work and other relationships.

Though we always want to support and encourage our children, we must also realize that they do make mistakes and have faults.  Yes, hearing the truth about our children when they do wrong, is not pleasant, but is necessary.  When we listen with an open heart and mind to the messenger, our kids are the ones that will benefit long-term.  If we don't, our kids will grow up not accepting responsibility for their actions.  Their growth as a person and follower of Christ will be stunted because they refuse to acknowledge and overcome their sins, weaknesses and blind spots.

Our actions not matching our words.   Kids don't always do what we say, but they always imitate what we do.  They watch how we treat our spouse, how we react to adversity and conflict, how we follow Christ,  whether we keep our promises or not, how we interact with people, etc.  Our actions should match our words.  This doesn't mean we will be perfect, but it does mean our kids see the sincerity and authenticity of our heart.  When we don't practice what we preach, kids may grow up to be cynical and have trust issues.

Focusing on accomplishment more than character.  Character matters more than trophies, awards, report cards and other accolades.  Who your child is, is more important than what he or she accomplishes.  If our children will be who they are supposed to be, then they will do what they are supposed to do.  Honesty...character...
this is what we should focus on.  While there's nothing wrong with celebrating and honoring our kids' accomplishments, we should value their character more.  Good character is the foundation for long-term success.

When we focus on accomplishment more than character, our kids will grow up with a shaky foundation that will eventually be exposed as they do whatever it takes to "win" or "get ahead."  Or if they do achieve success, it may be short-lived without the character needed to sustain it.

Being more of a friend than a parent.  Yes, we want our kids to like us.  But we must remember that first and foremost, we are parents.  When we try to be our kids' best friend, we often end up making decisions that are not best for them due to wanting to make our "friend" happy.  It causes us to not step up to the plate to do the hard things that have to be done at times.

Yes.  This means your kids will get upset with you.  You may lose their "approval."  But in the long run, they will thank you.  Don't let your need of approval from your child stand in the way of you being the parent they need you to be.

Putting work before your kids.  We live in a "busy" culture.  We have lots of plates to keep spinning, don't we?  The work plate, the friend's pate, the hobbies' plate, the duties of every day life plate and the kids' plate.  There are times when we have to drop a plate.  That's okay.  Just make sure it's not the kids' plate.  Every time we choose work over our children, it impacts them negatively.  Yes, there will occasionally be times when we have to burn the midnight oil.  But that should be a rare exception and not the norm.  There is nothing you can buy your kids with the overtime that is more important to them than the time you spend with them.

Not allowing our kids to fail.  As a parent, it's painful to see our kids fail.  Our first reaction is to sweep in and rescue them from the unhappiness of failing.  But when we do this, we shortchange them and cause them to miss the many valuable lessons that can only be learned through failure.

In the book The Gift of Failure, author and psychologist Wendy Grolnick says, "Kids who were raised by controlling or directive parents could not contemplate tasks on their own, but the kids who were being raised by autonomy-supportive parents stuck with tasks, even when they got frustrated.  Kids who can redirect and stay engaged in tasks, even when they find those tasks difficult become less and less dependent on guidance in order to focus, study, organize and otherwise run their own lives."

Being over critical.  A small amount of criticism can help kids if it is balanced with praise.  But when parents take criticism to the extreme, they can cause kids to become anxious, resentful and lack confidence.  Kids begin to feel like they can never measure up and may even begin to stop listening and go against the parent's advice out of anger and spite.

Make sure your ratio of negative to positive comments stays in check.  You should be giving your child more positive comments than negative ones.

Losing it and Yelling.  Yelling at our kids, triggers their stress induced "flight or fight" mode.  They shut down and we can yell until we are blue in the face, but we won't get through to them.  It will have the opposite effect of what we want and they will become even less likely to listen and cooperate.

This can cause damage to your connection with your child long-term.  And you will teach them by example to react with anger and shouting.  This can hurt them in all of their relationships when they grow up and model this behavior.

One-sided communication.  When kids feel like they can't talk with their parents and approach them with questions, concerns and problems, they will turn to others first for advice and comfort.  And many times, it will not be the best advice or help since it is from their peers. 

It's important to let your children know they can come talk to you about anything without being judged or condemned.  This will create an environment where open communication happens rather than just a one-sided lecture. 

If you are a parent, realize we all make mistakes.  If you find you're making some of these mistakes now, don't lose heart.  Be honest with your kids.  Let them know you've blown it.  Start making changes today.  You and your kids will benefit for the rest of your lives.