As parents, you will make mistakes. You will. It can’t be avoided. Whether that’s every day or multiple times a day, your emotions will get the better of you. No matter how hard you try, we all have a breaking point. The moment where hormones override logic, and you say or do something you instantly regret. If the look of devastation, fear or hurt spreading across your child’s face isn’t enough punishment, the negative self-talk will finish the job. Whatever the case, it feels like you’re always having to scrape yourself off the floor.
It’s ok to crash and burn. Being a parent is hard work, and failing is just part of the learning curve. You’re only human. Not perfect by any means. So remember to take a deep breath, regroup and keep going. Recently, we discussed the top tips to successful parenting. For this week, it’s time to delve into the top worst parenting fails.
Fail #1: Giving in to whining
A child’s screams and cries are hard to ignore. As soon as they begin, the knee-jerk response is to do whatever it takes to get them to stop. To smile and be happy again. Whether this is through giving gifts or bending to their whims. But don’t. Giving in is an example of a worst parenting fail. Why? Kids won’t learn to be responsible or nice if they are rewarded each time they throw a temper tantrum or act out. That’s a one-way ticket to raising a disrespectful, self-centered little human.
Things don’t just magically appear because we want them to. If they did, we’d be living a much different life. A lot of us, for instance, could be debt free and supporting our families more comfortably. As hard as it might be, it’s important to not give in to your child’s whining. Don’t deprive them of life’s joys either. Instead, keep their best interests at heart. Explain why they can’t have whatever it is they ask for, and work through the situation together.
Fail #2: Over indulging
Along those same lines, kids learn quickly what parent they can wrap around their little finger when it comes to making requests. It’s amazing how many grade school children I see running around with the latest iPhone or wearing designer clothes. How many babies are plugged into iPads in highchairs of restaurants, completing oblivious to the world around them. Parenting fail.
Your son or daughter will have more years as an adult than a child. Don’t make them grow up any faster than they need to. This includes what they are exposed to and when. Determine what’s right for you and your family and space things out. Even if your child fights you. They aren’t the parent. You are. Through this, your child will learn the power of responsibility and how to be more grateful and respectful.
Fail #3: Shame in front of others
Never ever scold or discipline your child in public. Not in the grocery store, park, zoo — anywhere. When your child has a meltdown, it’s natural to want to deal with it right then and there. Especially when you are frustrated or feeling embarrassed. It’s easy to lose control of your emotions and respond in kind if you aren’t careful. But, is that truly effective? No, not at all. Wait until you get home. Or, at the very least, back to the car. Shaming them in front of others will do more harm than good. You have to stay strong. To show your child that even in hard times they can muster up the strength to get through it.
Fail #4: Empty threats
You’ve heard it before. Perhaps even used the technique many times yourself. “I’m going to count to three, and if you don’t listen I’ll… One… Two…” Three never comes, does it? As soon as you begin counting, the misbehaving child calms down and life moves on. If this is your answer to every display of disobedience and you never follow through, your child will learn to not take you seriously. That they can walk all over you. So, unless you plan on following through with whatever you are telling them, don’t utilize this worst parenting fail.
Fail #5: Living through your kids
We all wish we could have a second chance at something. A do-over. But using your child to accomplish this is one of the worst ways to attempt this. You cannot correct or appease your regrets through influencing your child to do what you did. Your child is not a robot or your clone. They are their own person, with their own hopes and dreams. So, don’t treat them as your second chance. It won’t go over well. If your child follows in your footsteps — great! If you end up sharing similar hobbies — wonderful! That creates bonding opportunities. But don’t force them, and end up failing them as a parent. Let your son or daughter decide on their own terms. It’s their life. Not yours.
Fail #6: Avoid having hard conversations
It’s natural to be anxious about discussing certain topics with your child. Relationships and sex are always at the top of that list. However, letting fear cause you to avoid the conversation altogether is not good. Instead of having your child become pregnant accidentally or to spite you, open the lines of communication. Let them know that they can come to you with questions. That they can trust you. Particularly when in situations of peer pressure, it will be important for your son or daughter to know that you are in their corner and can help them solve the situation appropriately.
This goes for all difficult conversations that will come up. Don’t shove them under the rug and become a family of secrets. Assure your son or daughter that they can trust you. That you’ll be there for them, and not judge them.
Fail #7: Being too strict or overprotective
When it comes to how you raise your son or daughter, every parent has their own style. Some can be more overbearing than others, while others let emotions lead and try to keep their child away from every potential danger possible. Although there’s nothing wrong with wanting to protect your son or daughter, it’s important to find a balance. Being too strict or overprotective can drive your child away, and ruin any chance of a healthy relationship.
Fail #8: Invading their privacy
A quick way to land yourself in the worst parenting fail category is by invading your child’s privacy. Rifling through their things when they aren’t around. Looking through every email and stalking their computer history. Reading their journal. The list goes on. You wouldn’t want your child doing this with you, so don’t do it to them. Especially if you want to have a loving and trusting relationship with them at any point.
Fail #9: Missing out on big moments in their lives
Baseball games. School plays. Music recitals. Graduation. Weddings. There are so many major moments in your child’s life. Milestones and accomplishment that they will meet. Missing out on any of those will cause your son or daughter great disappointment and to lose faith in you. They will question if you love them, or if they are important to you. This is especially true when it comes to adopted children. Rejection is on the core issues they struggle with every day. If you want your child to know that they are loved and valued, make their big moments in life a priority. This will show them that they can trust you, and your bond will deepen.
Epic Parenting Fail: Not saying “I love you”
I had someone just the other day tell me that her dad didn’t say “I love you” until she was forty years old. It came as such a shock and pleasant surprise that she immediately had to record it in her journal. Hearing a parent say “I love you” is huge. To an adoptee especially, it means the world. Not only do these words express love and affection, but they also impart acceptance. Through these seemingly simple words, you are telling your son or daughter that you accept them just the way they are. Not for who you want them to be, mind you. But who they are. The good, the bad and everything in between. That they belong with you.
The Top Worst Parenting Fails
It’s ok to make mistakes. It’s ok to crash and burn. Being a parent has an incredibly steep learning curve. Your mistakes and failures don’t define who you are as a parent. What defines you is how well you rise after falling. So, be patient. Don’t beat yourself up. Give yourself time to adjust, process and regroup.
The above list is non-exhaustive. There are many more worst parenting fails. If you know of some, be sure to let us know in the comments below.
Adoption Choices of Nevada
If you are currently in the process of adopting a baby and have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact, Adoption Choices of Nevada. You may visit the website here or contact us by 775-825-4673 (Reno Office) or 702-474-4673 (Las Vegas Office). Our hours are Monday through Friday, 9am-5pm PST.
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About the Author
Rachel Robertson is a published journalist, book editor, certified Publishing Specialist, and aspiring novelist. She graduated from Central Washington University (CWU) in March 2011, having found her writing voice within the Creative Nonfiction genre and grew to work as a freelance book editor for small presses all across the United States.
In June 2018, she embarked on an internship with Virginia Frank and came on board with Adoption Choices Inc., Not for Profit 501(c)(3), in December 2018. Between her mutual passion with adoption and surrogacy, and her own personal history with adoption, Rachel is excited to research and share topics each week that will spread awareness and better serve the faithful patrons of Adoption Choices Inc.
When Rachel isn’t haunting her local Starbucks or Barnes and Noble, she’s avidly pouring over her Writer’s Digest subscription or cozying up with a cup of tea and book. She currently resides in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her beloved wife and Border Collie.
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“I’m A Family Psychologist And These Are The 20 Most Common Parenting Mistakes I See.” Fatherly, 13 Mar. 2019, www.fatherly.com/love-money/20-common-but-harmful-mistakes-parents-make/.
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“The Top Parenting Fails And How To Avoid Them.” Betterhelp, www.regain.us/advice/parenting/the-top-parenting-fails-and-how-to-avoid-them/.