Mom, you are not alone. We all make mistakes while parenting our kids, but we can learn from each other and avoid making the same mistakes over and over again. In this post, I will share the top parenting mistakes that I have made or have heard of, in hopes that it will help you to do better for your children.
Top Parenting Mistakes We Should Avoid
What are some mistakes parents should definitely avoid in raising a child?
1.) Having Unrealistic Expectations For Your Children
It’s easy to get frustrated with our kids because we are unrealistic in what we expect from them. They each develop at their own pace, so we need to make sure our expectations are based on their abilities.
It’s also important to realize that each of them are different with unique personalities and abilities. Expecting one child to act like the other sibling or siblings is a form of comparison that isn’t fair to that child. Embrace their differences, and accept them for who they are.
It’s also important to keep in mind that kids are in training and aren’t going to develop the character we’d like them to have overnight! If you are unrealistic in your expectations in this area, you will discourage your kids and cause them to feel like they can’t please you, or will never live up to your expectations no matter how hard they try.
What Parents Should Avoid In Tense Moments
2.) Being Inconsistent
Being inconsistent is probably one of the most common parenting mistakes we as parents make.
It’s easy to get tired or get caught up in what you are doing, and then let wrong behavior go unaddressed. Then we get frustrated when the kids keep showing the wrong behavior. But we resign ourselves to it, thinking that it’s not worth the time and energy to deal with it.
By being inconsistent we teach our children to take chances, and it’s not fair to punish them one time for a behavior but not the next. Wrong behavior needs to be dealt with every time, and you need to consistently get to the heart of the issue rather than ignoring it, hoping it will go away.
Is it too late to fix parenting mistakes? Probably not. But remember that the longer or more often you let those “little weeds” grow, the deeper the roots will get in your child’s heart, and the harder it will be to then root them out.
3. Using A One-Size Fits All Approach When Parenting Your Children
In Proverbs 22:6 the Bible tells us to train a child in the way he should go — not the way his brother or sister should go.
It’s a mistake to try to treat each situation with each child in the same way! Each child responds differently, and we need to know our kids and understand them to know how to best teach, train, and love them.
Ask God to give you the wisdom to know what each child needs, and how to deal with one in the best way so they feel loved, while also getting the training they need.
Is It OK For Parents To Make Mistakes?
4. Psychologically Damaging Parenting
I’m not talking here about the parent who gets mad every once in a while and yells at their children. All of us would admit to having done that from time to time. It’s not going to bring your children to ruin if you occasionally respond wrong and yell. It can, however, ruin your relationship with your kids if you act out towards them and then fail to make it right.
When we repeatedly yell and speak harshly to our kids, and fail to make it right, it will cause them to harbor hurt and bitterness. That often then causes them to close their hearts to you. Yelling also intimidates our kids into subjection, rather than encouraging them to look at the heart issue causing the wrong behavior. They may change their behavior to make you stop yelling, but the change is temporary because the heart issue wasn’t addressed.
5. You Need To Listen To Your Childs Heart
When my kids began a conversation with “Please don’t say anything until you’ve listened to what I’m going to say, and let me finish,” I realized that often I wasn’t REALLY listening to them, and they didn’t like it!
While they were talking I was often planning my response rather than really paying attention to what they were saying, and listening to their hearts. That in turn made them feel like I didn’t care about what they were saying, or even what they thought.
As parents, we don’t want our kids to ever feel that way, but often when we fail to listen we send the message that we don’t care. They then quit talking to us and go talk to someone who will listen.
When we are not listening to our children, we lose the opportunity to encourage them and shape their values, and often we also miss out on having a close relationship with them. Simply closing our mouths and opening our ears to hear our children is an easy way to turn from parenting mistakes we should avoid.
Stop what you’re doing, stop planning what you’re going to say back, and really listen to their words and their heart. Use these moments to grow closer to your child and learn to win their heart.
6. Let Experience Teach You While You Teach Your Child
This is something that I say often because it’s so important to always keep in mind: our kids watch what we do and that influences them much more than what we say or teach. Our example talks more than our words. So we MUST set an example of what we are teaching our kids. If we want them to be honest, we must be honest. If we want them to be kind, we must be kind.
What do you do when you make parenting mistakes? How you react will speak volumes to your child! Do you apologize with humility? Or do you avoid admitting that you even made a mistake? Imagine how your child will mimic your behavior in their own social situations. Then use your own parenting mistakes as an opportunity to teach them how to admit fault and apologize.
When we say one thing or require it from our kids, but we don’t do it ourselves, our kids will see that and think we are hypocrites. That lessens their respect for us, hurts our relationship with them, and limits the influence we have in their lives.
As parents who want to point our kids to God and help them walk in obedience to His Word, we must be an example for them to follow. Yes, there will be times when we mess up because we are human. When that happens we humbly admit it to them, letting them see that even though we fail at times, we strive to do right just as we encourage them to do what’s right.
How Do I Forgive Myself For Parenting Mistakes?
Sometimes the most difficult part about making mistakes as a parent is forgiving yourself. But this is where grace comes in. It can be difficult for us to forget what we’ve done, and we might spend a lot of brainpower going over all of the ways we messed up.
Give that to God. Pray about your mistakes, and ask Him for His supernatural grace to cover the situation. Apologize humbly to the child you may have hurt, and then strive to be better next time! God doesn’t expect perfection, but He wants our best. So next time you are in this same parenting situation, remember what you did wrong, how you learned from it, and do better. It’s a process, but growth happens in these moments. Both in you and in your children.
From the book Parenting is Heart Work:
The greatest parenting tip we can share wtih you is this: maintain a strong connection to your heavenly father. He offers spiritual guidance and direction to help you work through your own heart issues so you can become effective with your children. Ask God to show you the real issues your son or daughter is facing, then PRAY.”
Parenting mistakes are inevitable but don’t waste them. Learn, grow, teach and repent. Prepare your heart to do better work next time. And use tense moments to see your child’s heart, no matter what it’s feeling, good or bad. This way, even mistakes can have a positive result!
What about you? What are some of the top parenting mistakes you’ve made and will avoid in the future?