7 Mistakes Parents Make With Older Kids

Learn the parenting mistakes to avoid and what to do instead to prevent rebellion or pushing your kids away.


As our kids get older, the way we parent should change. Oftentimes parents make mistakes with older kids because they don’t adjust their parenting as their kids start to grow up and mature.  When they are older there should be less control, with more encouragement and guidance.

The process should be one that moves from lots of parental control, to more self-control, and eventually to the point where their growth in self-control enables them to let God be in control of their decisions.

Sometimes this transition is hard because we are so used to the control we placed on the kids when they were young. Often we don’t see them as the young adults they are becoming, but still view them as a child. As a result, without meaning to, many parents make mistakes in how they parent their older kids.

7 mistakes parents make with older kids by the character corner

Here are 7 Mistakes To Avoid When Parenting Your Older Children:

1. Treat them like they are still a child, rather than a young adult.

We should always treat our kids with respect, regardless of their age. However, once the kids are older we can show this respect by how we respond to them. We should spend more time listening to them, and shouldn’t be quick to give negative feedback concerning their ideas or plans.

They need to feel that it is safe to share their heart with us, and their values.

2. Never be happy with their decisions.

As our kids get older, we don’t want to give the impression that they can never please us. Yet often, without meaning to, that’s exactly what we do! Even though they may do things differently than we might, or may choose something different than what we hoped they would, we need to encourage them.

Be sure to let them know you are proud of them, and be happy for them when they are excited about something.

What are some common mistakes that parents make?

3. Criticize them to their siblings.

What parents should avoid? Nothing is more hurtful to our kids than them hearing us talk negatively about them to their siblings, or to ANYONE, for that matter. If you are unhappy with something they are doing, talk about it to your spouse PRIVATELY, and if needed, talk to them about it privately.

4. Don’t make them feel cherished and accepted.

Our kids, no matter how young or old, LONG to please us and make us happy. They want to know that we love and cherish them because they are ours. Don’t just assume they know that. Make a point of showing it by actions, and expressing it with words.

5. Act as if helping them is a big inconvenience; grumble and complain about it.

Families are meant to work together and to help each other. It’s a way of showing we love and care about each other. When the older kids need help in some way, give that help cheerfully. It will go a long way towards keeping a strong relationship with them.

What Parents Should Not Do

6. Treat folks outside of the home with more respect, patience, and kindness than you do them.

Our kids will quickly lose respect for us if we treat others outside of the home better than we treat them. It’s a double standard, and if anything, our kids should get the best.

7. Have a poor relationship with them, but still try to advise them when you don’t know their heart.

If we don’t have much of a relationship with a teen, that kind of takes away our right to give them unasked for advice. For one thing, if the relationship isn’t close, you don’t know their heart. That makes it easy to assume wrong motives, making it difficult to give appropriate counsel.

7 Mistakes To Avoid When Parenting Your Older Children

What would you add to the list of mistakes to avoid when parenting older children?

As Christian parents, we long for our children to have an unshakable faith and deeply personal relationship with the Lord. We purpose to do what we can to teach them God’s word and train them in godly character. But parenting mistakes inevitably happen. Often, we find ourselves learning right alongside them as they grow.

The trouble is that some of the common parenting mistakes we make can end up pushing our kids away,  leaving us with damaged relationships.

We hope and pray that this won’t happen in our homes, but at the same time how can we avoid these parenting mistakes if we aren’t aware of what they are or the effect they can have on our children’s hearts?

Pin this! Parenting Mistakes that Push Your Child Away eBook on the Character Corner

mistakes parents make with older kids

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18 Responses

  1. hi!,I love your writing so a lot! proportion we keep in touch extra
    approximately your article on AOL? I need a specialist on this house to
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  2. A motivating discussion is worth comment. I do think that
    you should publish more about this subject, it may not be a taboo
    subject but usually people do not speak about these
    issues. To the next! All the best!!

  3. I have found myself in a similar place as Tracey (above). I appreciate your advice so much. In addition to this advice, are there any books that you would recommend to repair a relationship with a teen? He is my first, and I’m discovering I have made many mistakes that have pushed him away. Thank you.

  4. Hi Tracey! We do tend to parent the way we were parented, don’t we? I think the key is to be intentional daily in your parenting. Determine what you want to accomplish, and then how you are going to do that. For example, if you want to keep (or win back) your child’s heart, plan specific things to do daily to nurture that relationship. I’d also suggest sitting them down and telling them you are sorry for the mistakes you’ve made and that you want to do better, and keep the relationship strong. Ask them what they’d like to see. Often that begins an improvement in the relationship as they see you are willing to admit your mistakes, and that you want to do better. Above all, seek God’s wisdom daily!

  5. Thank you for this post…..I seem to be parenting in many of these ways as I was parented like this……I am trying my best to change but not without struggle. Do you have any suggestions to help the process to change speed up.

  6. #5 Really hit me hard. I need to be more conscious of my reactions when my kids ask me for help, even if I’m in the middle of a deadline. Thanks.

  7. I agree – our kids aren’t like us, and we need to study them and their personalities, seeking God’s wisdom as to how they need to be raised.

  8. I’ve heard children complain often about their parents being hypocrites, this ties into showing respect for them. But one big mistake parents d is to raise their child as if their child is exactly like them. Or even to repeatedly do the same thing that brings negative results.

  9. Aw, thanks Ruthie! I appreciate those encouraging words. 🙂

  10. These are all wise tips. Going through this myself now, so I need to remember them. Thanks for sharing at Woman to Woman, your posts are always well thought out and full of wisdom. 🙂

  11. Thanks Gwen. Your extra point is a good one!

  12. I hear ya on the late at night! 🙂 Seems that was when my teens always wanted to talk. But those were some great conversations!

  13. Miranda, I’m glad to hear you are working through your issues. Sometimes it’s hard to parent right, when we havent’ had the best example from when we were young! And admitting shortcomings ALWAYS goes a long way with keeping a good relationship with your kids.

  14. These are very good suggestions, and as a parent of a teenager I totally agree with you. I struggle with a few, because my mom and I had a very horrible relationship, but I am prayerfully working through my issues and admitting my shortcomings when they happen. I think all parents should read this, and I am sharing!

  15. As our children are growing up, I have been realizing that they need time with me than I sometimes realize… that relationship is so precious… and they need to be listened to… many times late at night. 🙂 What a blessing this time is, though.

  16. This was a really helpful post! I would also add ‘avoid failing to give them more responsibilities’. Our eldest is approaching 14, so we are just starting to learn all this older child stuff, so I appreciate you sharing this 🙂

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