The parent’s strongest wish is to be good at it. Sometimes, they mistake being the best parent for having the best child. When they evaluate their children, they confuse the evaluation with that of their parenting. As if the child would be the extent of their actions and nothing else.
Children aren’t parent’s continuity, nor their way to do it well this time. Children should not be the way parents accomplish themselves and their lost dreams. They are individuals that have their own personalities, wishes, and lives. A good parent is a parent that is there for his child, no matter what that child becomes.
Hoping that they’ll never be wrong and our children would be nothing less than perfect is the road to perdition. You’ll never be a perfect parent, and your child will never be perfect. And this is the start line for the most common mistakes parents make, having their children’s best interest at heart.
Mistaking the minimizing of feelings for encouragement
It’s hard to see a child being scared, or sad. Parents feel the urge to make those feelings go away from their children, knowing they’d be better without. The most common way to address them is by telling them “don’t be so sad about it, it’s not a big deal.” The intention might be to make them see that the subject causing them those reactions isn’t worthy of their pain.
But what parents fail to see is that being sad or scared is what reality means to their child. It is the way they feel it. And children can’t make the difference between the reality of their feelings and the objective reality seen by the parent. Children perceive reality as an extension of themselves. They don’t perceive themselves as a distinct individual, they aren’t self-conscious.
When the reality is minimized so are the children’s feelings. What they understand is that their feelings aren’t a big deal. They are told that the way they understand the subject is wrong. But for them, that means they are wrong. We make this “mistake” even when we are adults. When we are told that what we feel is wrong, it feels like we are being considered wrong.
What to do instead? Admit those feelings. Don’t be smarter than they are. Let them feel sad and scared. This way you help them become aware of what they are. Children are what they feel. “Don’t be” is the negation of what they are.
So, first confirm them who they are and tell them that whatever they are it’s alright: “you are scared, or sad. It’s alright to be so.” Then, help them find a way to overcome those feelings on their own, by asking them what would make them feel better. They will know what they need to get better, without feeling they are wrong on top of feeling sad or scared.
Not letting them fail
This is one of the things that build character. Children need to know that it is alright to fail. When parents always let children win every game they play, and when they protect them from an argument with another child by saving them and giving them the feeling they were right, or not letting them make mistakes and always be there two steps ahead warning them from probable obstacles, those are all shields that parents steal from their children.
Failing is the only way that children learn to build shields to protect them from a life that will never be kind to them. They won’t always win. And when they don’t consider failure an option, they will become either tyrants that always get their way, or people scared to try anything on the fear they won’t make it.
Let them fail and be there for them when they do. “You failed and it’s alright. We all do. You’ll learn and get better at it.” Don’t mock them, don’t be harsh, don’t tell them what they should’ve done. Ask them what they need to try again, and give it to them. Don’t give advice just because you think they need it. Ask them if they do.
Overindulging by thinking you give them everything they need
What children don’t know is that they need boundaries. They need discipline. They need to give in order to get something. When they don’t have those things, they lose interest in pretty much everything. They have it all too easy, their strength isn’t put to the test. This is how they start searching for tasks that do so. They behave badly and even become violent. Not just violence generates violence. Overindulgence does too.
Male rules and help your child follow them. Let them have what they want in exchange for something. They can play video games after they read five pages of a book. They can go out after they cleaned their room. They can have a bike if they take the garbage for a week. It doesn’t have to be hard work, but they need to work to get what they want. This is the only way they won’t by-pass social rules and even the law when they become adults.
Make room for negotiation, but don’t let them manipulate you. You are their parent, and you need to remain that. And parenting means authority. Until the authority is internalized and your child becomes his own authority, you need to play that role for him.
Searching for perfection instead of adjusting expectations
The truth is that no child is perfect and no parent is either. As long as we are humans, we are blessed with being imperfect. With being wrong. When it comes to humans, only the way we look at each other can make us perfect.
Help your child set goals for themselves. Don’t set them yourself. Those are your goals, not your theirs. Instead, help them fight battles they can truly win. Fighting for realistic goals that are adjusted to their abilities and working to improve those abilities – this is what perfection means. Untouchable goals can wreak havoc their spirit.
And when they can’t win, go back to no. 2 and help them see failure as a step ahead. Help them see what they’ve accomplished with this apparently unsuccessful try. It’s called experience.
Conclusions? Teach your children to be the imperfect human beings they already are.
Don’t adjust them to match your ideal figure of a son/daughter, don’t make them feel guilty, don’t let them believe there is a better version of themselves. There isn’t. At the end of the road, there is just an unhappy adult expecting them to become something they are not.
Do you want to be a good parent? Make sure you are fighting for your own dreams and wishes and then you’ll be able to help your child fight for theirs. Take care of yourself, and he’ll do the same. Dream and he’ll dream too. Go easy on you when you make a mistake, and he’ll do the same for himself. You’ll both eventually fail. And it’s alright. Just make sure you are there for each other. That’s the only thing you shouldn’t fail at.