As parents, it is a great challenge to raise kids with all the influences going on around them, the different environments they are exposed to and wanting what’s best for them. But as they grow, parenting becomes more difficult. This article is very important because it allows other parents to deliberate about their parenting skills.
Mistake #1: Forgetting our actions speak louder than words. Sometimes when my kids ask a question, they’ll say, “Please answer in one sentence.” They know me well, for I’m always trying to squeeze life lessons into teachable moments. I want to fill them with wisdom, but what I forget is how my example overshadows my words.
How I handle rejection and adversity… how I treat friends and strangers… whether I nag or build up their father… they notice these things. And the way I respond gives them permission to act the same.
If I want my children to be wonderful, I need to aim for wonderful, too. I need to be the person I hope they’ll be.
Mistake #2: Believing our children are perfect. One thing I often hear from professionals who work with children (counselors, teachers, etc.) is that parents today don’t want to hear anything negative about their kids. When concerns are raised, even concerns voiced out of love, the knee-jerk reaction is often to attack the messenger.
The truth can hurt, but when we listen with an open heart and mind we stand to benefit. We can intervene early before a situation gets out of hand. It’s easier to deal with a troubled child than repair a broken adult.
As a Children’s of Alabama psychiatrist recently told me when I interviewed her on teenage depression, early intervention is key because it can change the trajectory for the child’s life. She said that’s why she enjoys child and adolescent psychiatry — because kids are resilient, and it’s a lot easier to intervene effectively when they’re young instead of years later, when the problem has gone on so long it’s become incorporated into part of their identity.