Parenting is the toughest, most rewarding job in existence. No other job causes the most physical and emotional stress or reaps the most benefits. Parenting is also the most crucial and important job you will ever have, because the choices you make when rearing your children have a ripple effect for years to come.
I’ve made my share of parenting mistakes along the way. Some were early on and others are more recent. I am the type of person who tries very hard to consider the repercussions of my choices and actions. This can be a good thing until you let it cause you to worry.
Once a mistake is made, it’s already out there. You can’t take it back. However, you can take stock, evaluate, study God’s Word, pray for His guidance, and decide how to remedy the situation and what to do differently next time.
Here are 10 Parenting Mistakes to Avoid:
1. Not following a schedule or routine. Children crave routine. Early on they need predictability in their lives to give them security. As they get older they need to learn that the world revolves around a schedule. Routines teach children that someone or something bigger than them is in charge as well as guiding them.
2. Not reading to or talking to children. It is important even at infancy to talk to your child about things you are doing and to read to them daily. They crave communication even though they may not be able to understand what you are saying. We read to our children from the day we brought them home from the hospital. We talked to them about everyday things bath time, foods, colors, numbers, all sorts of things. You may feel silly, but they absorb like sponges. You would be surprised how quickly their communication and language skills develop simply by reading and talking to them. Here are some of my children’s childhood favorites:
3. No chores or responsibilities. Children need to be given chores and responsibilities early on according to their age and ability. Even toddlers can handle the task of cleaning up their toys before pulling more out of the toy box. As they get older they can help you fold towels, feed the pets, wipe the kitchen table, entertain the baby or bring you diapers and wipes. Children love feeling needed and the crave the feeling of accomplishment. Here are some chore and discipline charts that would be beneficial to help you keep all of this organized:
This one is just for one child but I love it!
This one is for up to three children.
4. Paying for good grades, personal responsibilities, or other things required of them. I see no problem with paying children for chores above and beyond their own responsibilities, but children shouldn’t be paid to get good grades, make their own beds, brush their teeth, clean their rooms. They should be paid for going above and beyond what should be required of them. It shouldn’t be a child’s immediate response to ask “what’s in it for me” when they are told to take care of themselves and their belongings or to get good grades. Children should NOT be bribed to do what they should rightfully do on their own. On the other side of the coin, don’t treat your children like slaves. Nothing bothers me more than to see parents say “go get this”, “go do this”, because they are too lazy to get up and do it themselves!
5. Assuming children are just naturally boisterous. I call it the “boys will be boys” syndrome. Just because society has had a mental and spiritual lapse in good manners and social etiquette doesn’t mean it is acceptable. Too many children these days are not taught respect, manners, and decency. I cannot tell you how many children I run into on a daily basis whose main topic of discussion is toilet humor. They assume they are entitled to whatever everyone else has. They don’t even utter the words please and thank you. They help themselves to your pantry. We need to teach children to keep their hands to themselves instead of walking into a public place or someone’s home picking up and touching things that don’t belong to them. Table manners are important as well. It’s one thing to sit by a small child who smacks, but no one wants to sit at the table with an adult who shows everyone their “seafood”. Children shouldn’t invite themselves to join in on activities either. It puts people on the spot and makes them uncomfortable. Children should wait until they are invited. There is a difference between being boisterous and being disrespectful. Please give your children more credit than this. They can have good manners and be respectful of others. They can follow the Golden Rule. Be sure your children know there are times and places to run around and be loud. There are times to be still and quiet. You wouldn’t take them into your office and allow them to run around like chickens with their heads cut off. You would expect them to walk through with respect and an indoor voice. If your children are taught these things at home, then they will mimic them outside the home. That’s not to say they shouldn’t feel comfortable enough in their own home to express themselves in any way they choose, but there are times and places for everything and they need to be taught that. Children are multifaceted, intelligent, and very complex creatures. Please don’t underestimate the ability of your children. Give them some credit. They are capable of self control and respectful behavior. If they are spending their days in public schools or daycare, they are learning their social skills from other children who may not have the same rules and values so those are things you will have to deprogram the poor manners they pick up. Bottom line is it is NOT “cute” when our children are disrespectful or rude. It will definitely not be cute when your teenager doesn’t know how to wait their turn, keep their hands to themselves, and publicly expresses their entitlement syndrome. Then it’s just obnoxious!
6. Negotiating and begging. How many times have you seen a parent in the store trying to negotiate with their screaming child? “Now Sally, please stop screaming at the top of your lungs in the store. If you stop, I’ll buy you something.” There should be no negotiating. When your child is doing something wrong, you need to pull them aside and tell them why it’s not acceptable. Lay out the consequences of continuing the bad behavior and let the chips fall where they may. Don’t stand their begging your child to behave and don’t reward them for misbehaving in the first place. Be the adult. You are creating a vicious cycle you’ll never break.
7. Not following through. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Don’t threaten your children that they will lose a privilege if you are not willing to take it from them. Children are smart. It won’t take them long to figure out that you don’t really mean what you say. If you tell your daughter she will lose her favorite toy if she hits her brother, then be sure that toy is taken if she chooses to hit her brother. If we don’t show children the consequences of their actions, then they will continue to disobey. We are in their face every day. If we don’t show them the consequences of disobeying our rules, how will they ever obey God’s rules when He is not in their face everyday and the consequences aren’t as tangible? A good practice is to use God’s Word for instructing our children on right and wrong. They can memorize and write Bible verses that pertain to their actions. We should also pray with our children asking for God’s guidance and forgiveness.
8. Not choosing battles wisely. Choose your battles wisely. That doesn’t mean don’t ever discipline your children. It just means be sure the battle you’re waging is worth fighting for. Arguing with your child over mismatched clothes really isn’t worth fighting for. However, if your child is doing something that is detrimental to herself or others then it’s definitely worth the battle.
9. Too much criticism, not enough praise. When you are running around trying to take care of all of your responsibilities, it’s can be hard to remember to praise your children. They deserve to be praised when they make good choices. Many times that is the only reward they will receive. Instead of coming home and complaining about everything they haven’t done, how about praise them for the things they have done. When we are too critical, our children will stop trying altogether. They’ll find that nothing they do is good enough so why bother.
10. Not including God in your home. I saved the most important for last. The biggest mistake is not including God in your home. Now I don’t just mean not going to church. I mean not including God in your home as part of your family. A few hours a week at church is not enough. You need to incorporate God in everything your family does. Your children need to see you saying more prayers than just the mealtime blessing. They need to see you praying for them and their struggles. They need to see you turning to God for your struggles. God’s Word tells us to teach of Him morning, noon, and night. God isn’t an accessory to our life. He should be the center of our life. If you simply seek God first in everything, you will probably avoid mistakes 1-9, because obedience and surrender to God encompasses all of these things and more. Here are some wonderful devotions to help you invite God into your home:
I hope and pray this list of top 10 parenting mistakes to avoid is beneficial to you. Praying you and your family have a year that is abundantly blessed with growth and God’s favor. Hang in there! Don’t beat yourself up about your mistakes. Learn from them, change bad habits, and grow. Parenting is a difficult job, but it is soooo worth it!