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10 Bad Habits Parents Need To Break Immediately

Posted on May 28th, 2015 @ 2:30 pm in Family by Kim Stern
10 Bad Habits Parents Need To Break Immediately

Hey, nobody’s perfect. Raising kids from birth to adulthood is a long, arduous journey and we’ll make plenty of missteps along the way. But there are certain things that are not just spur-of-the-moments bad decisions; they are ingrained habits that will change the way our children view the world and the adults they will become. See if you recognize yourself in any of these ten habits to ditch.

  • Giving them everything they want. This one pertains not only to material wants such as toys, games, and clothes, but also optional things (dance lessons, sports team participation, activities with friends, social media accounts) that you may not be able to afford easily, may not have time to incorporate into your life, or simply do not approve of. It will not leave them permanently scarred if you have the courage (and perhaps the humility) to say, “Honey, I’d love for you to take lessons but we just can’t afford it right now.” And don’t let their pouting or sulking manipulate you. They don’t have a clue of what it’s like to pay for the roof over their heads or the food in their mouths, so don’t let anyone so inexperienced intimidate you.
  • Being a maid. It’s not cooking or cleaning for them that’s a problem—it’s letting them get the idea that you exist to serve them. Some parents are very organized about getting kids to participate in the chores while others prefer to do the work themselves in the manner that suits them. Either way is fine, but it’s disrespectful for kids to throw their clothes on the floor when you’ve provided a hamper, to leave dirty dishes in their rooms when you’ve requested them to bring them to the kitchen, etc. Also, don’t jump up to provide a snack or meal every time a child snaps his fingers, as long as you’re providing regular meals, and they know where the refrigerator is.
  • Doing the pointless “count of three.” Want to annoy all of the other parents at the playground or pool? Simply say to your child, “Tommy, stop doing that. 1….2…..”  Be sure to do this repeatedly. We all know that Tommy is going to wait until you get up before he stops doing whatever it is, and that you’re then going to sit back down and do nothing. Stop it. It’s ineffective and you’re just making a loud show of what a disciplinarian you think you are.
  • Misdirecting your anger. Sure, you’re tired, you’re stressed, you might have a horrible boss or a bad relationship. But why should your child feel the brunt of it all? My feelings are still seriously hurt over things my mother said to me when I was probably six, and even though I now know how unhappy she probably was, it doesn’t change anything. Deal with your stress directly. Don’t relieve it by blowing up on your kids because you know they can’t retaliate.
  • Not treating them like real people. You have expectations and standards, of course. But your children are not dolls who came to life. They have their own preferences, their own will, their own desires and goals, their own personalities. They are not little copies of you, nor are they your chance to create the person you wanted to become and never did. Let them develop their own interests and be who they are.
  • Showing other people how it’s done. Do you think we don’t all see that you’re just trying to show us your kid is better than ours? Do you think your children don’t resent being pawns in your game of one-upmanship? If you are too caught up in presenting the perfect image for the world to admire, your children will be the ones who must always look perfect, behave perfectly, earn the top grades, and excel at everything they try, or you’ll be disappointed. News flash: people might admire your child for being awesome, but we’re still judging you on your own merits. Including whether you’re a pushy, show-offy parent.
  • Having the last word. The truth is, you do have the last word when it comes to your kids. But it discourages communication when they come to you to discuss something and it seems a decision has already been handed down from the holy heights of Mount Parenthood. Be open to things that were not your idea. Even though your children are younger and have less life experience than you, you don’t necessarily know best about everything.
  • Being sarcastic or passive-aggressive. Nothing makes a kid want to lash out more than a smart-mouthed parent, and do you know why? It’s because when you roll your eyes and say, “Nice job cleaning your room like I asked a million times,” you’re putting yourself on their level. Be calm, be fair, but be authoritative. Everything they have is because you gave it to them. You hold all the cards. There’s no reason to use sarcasm, the weapon of the powerless. If you didn’t perform your duties at work, can you imagine your boss rolling her eyes, saying, “Nice job,” and then doing the work for you? I don’t think so.
  • Sharing their issues with the world. It was frightening and humiliating enough, when we were kids, to overhear our parents gabbing on the phone about our acne, bad grades, behavior issues, or whatever. Nowadays, even though the way you chat with your friends might be to post your thoughts on social media, by doing so you have effectively told the whole world. It’s a horrible breach of confidence for which there is no excuse. Just don’t do it.
  • Sharing too much. It’s comforting to feel that your child is your best friend. Maybe he or she is the person you love most in the world, but your child is not really equipped to be your friend in the adult sense of the word. Therefore, be careful what you share. You may feel relief in spilling your guts to someone you trust to love you unconditionally, but your child does not need to hear your marriage woes, your financial concerns, or your deep personal history. Be your child’s parent today, and help him to become an adult who can be your best friend down the road.
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