The biggest one is trying to be your child’s friend.
Written by John Rosemond
A journalist recently asked me for the single biggest mistake being made by today’s parents. I was tempted to say, �Having children,� but stopped myself because even if I’d followed up with �Just kidding!� my bon mot would have gone into print. Oh my gosh! It just did!
I don’t know how one would determine biggest in a list of common parenting mistakes, but the one that causes the most problems for all concerned is the present proclivity for two parents to occupy the roles of mom and dad such that the roles of husband and wife become akin to the Cheshire Cat in �Alice in Wonderland�: that is, mostly invisible. It is an unarguable fact that in a two-parent family, nothing puts a more solid foundation of security and well-being under the feet of a child than the knowledge that mom and dad are in an enduring relationship.
Along those lines, another bigly mistake is paying children entirely too much attention, effectively promoting them to center stage in the family and making idols of them. Children don’t handle idol-hood well at all. Let’s face it, adults don’t either. As does the citizen, a child thrives best under libertarian circumstances, meaning that he is managed minimally (allowing lots of trial-and-error) while being held completely responsible for the mistakes he invariably will make.
Today’s parents tend to ascribe significance to their children’s emotional output. As a consequence of talking to their children about every emotion they experience, they risk causing their children to become emotionally driven individuals with little if any emotional resilience. My mother was fond of telling me that I was making mountains out of molehills; that there were children in the world who truly had problems; real problems, like not having enough to eat. She wasn’t about to lend credence to a complaint about not being given a turn, called a name or some such trivia. For that (among many other things) my mother receives my enduring gratitude.
How about the habit today’s parents have of assuming a servile squat when they talk to young children? You know, that absolutely absurd �getting down to their level� thing as if they are bowing to royalty. And then, to add the ludicrous to the absurd, finishing what they believe to be an instruction with �Okay?� So what if it isn’t okay?
Last one: trying to discipline a child who has misbehaved without causing the child emotional discomfort (guilt and remorse) and inconvenience. That attempt annuls the attempt to discipline, which goes a long way toward explaining why so many of today’s parents complain that nothing they do by way of discipline works.
That’s because they are doing nothing.
Visit family psychologist John Rosemond’s website at www.johnrosemond.com; readers may send him email at [email protected]; due to the volume of mail, not every question will be answered.
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