Parenting begins as an absolute mystery. You can read every book, talk to friends and family for advice and even take classes, but nothing really prepares you for the day you need to handle things yourself. There’s no real guidebook, and nothing can take the place of real experience. You start out with the best intentions for your child, and grand ideas about how you will be the most amazing parent ever seen. But life intervenes, and reality all too often falls short of those lofty expectations. There’s a balance, but you will inevitably make some choices, use ugly phrases or even do something worse that you’ll regret over time. All you can do is try your best, but keep in mind these five common effects of bad parenting on children, to help you remain just a bit more patient in trying circumstances.
You want the best for your child, but if you give him absolutely everything he wants you could end up raising a demanding child with exaggerated expectations. There’s a line to be drawn between giving your child everything he ‘needs’ versus everything he ‘wants’. It’s just not healthy to receive absolutely everything that ever catches your eye. You’ll end up spoiling your child, creating an immature expectation that the world should just hand him things. Sometimes your child has to hear ‘no’. Otherwise those demands will continue to expand, and your child will lose all perspective.
Along those same lines, your kids cannot be protected from struggle. Life isn’t meant to be easy. There should always be fun of course, but if you hide your child from all negatives he’s going to have a rough time when you aren’t around to protect him. Failure is an important part of growing up. When things come up that aren’t easy, that’s the perfect opportunity to teach some life lessons. Share how difficult it is to earn money for what you can bring home. This will help your child appreciate the rules, and work within societal boundaries without becoming lazy.
On the flip side of that coin, if you make everything in life a competition you are encouraging an unhealthy anxiety in your child. Today’s parents think they are falling behind if they don’t get their child enrolled in the absolute best kindergarten program, playing multiple sports and learning several instruments as soon as they can walk. You love your child and think he is perfect, but he isn’t going to excel at everything. Encourage his likes, pick him up when he falls down, but don’t expect first place finishes every time out. Otherwise your child could obsess over success and failure, constantly compare himself to others and become seriously depressed when things don’t go perfectly.
As the stresses of daily life build up parents make all sorts of promises to their children, just to get them to behave when it’s needed. If you constantly break these promises your child’s trust in you will erode. Always consider your promises carefully, and if you have to renege make sure they understand the circumstances. The whole “because I’m your mother, that’s why” thing will never truly satisfy. Constantly broken promises will encourage bad behavior, and possibly create a cycle of lying that will be seriously detrimental.
Perhaps the biggest parenting fail is not providing your child with discipline. You definitely want him to grow up trusting his instincts, but he’s going to have to prove his maturity to you at the various developmental steps along the way. You don’t need to crack down like a prison warden until your child shows you differently, but make sure he understands that trust is earned, and should be respected. Otherwise your child won’t generate self-reliance, and the sort of leadership skills that are so valuable out in society.