Mistake #10: Worshipping our children. Many of us live in child-centered communities. We’re raising our kids in child-centered homes. Our children love this, of course, because our lives revolve around them. And for the most part we don’t mind either, because their happiness is our happiness. It thrills us to do for them, buy for them, and shower them with love and attention.
Mistake #9: 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.
Mistake #8: Living vicariously through our children. We parents take great pride in our children. When they succeed, it makes us happier than if we’d done it ourselves.
Mistake #7: Wanting to be our child’s BFF. When I asked a priest to name the biggest mistake he sees in parenting, he thought for a moment and then said, “Parents not being parents. Not stepping up to the plate to do hard things.”
Mistake #6: Engaging in competitive parenting. Every parent has a competitive streak. All it takes to stir this monster in us is another parent giving his or her child a leg up at our child’s expense.
Mistake #5: Missing the wonder of childhood. The other day I found a Strawberry Shortcake sticker on my kitchen sink. It reminded me how blessed I am to share my home with little people.
Mistake #4: Raising the child we want, not the child we have. As parents we harbor dreams for our children. They start when we get pregnant, before the gender’s even known. Secretly we hope they’ll be like us, only smarter and more talented. We want to be their mentors, putting our life experiences to good use.
Mistake #3: 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.
Mistake #2: Judging other parents — and their kids. No matter how much we disagree with someone’s parenting style, it’s not our place to judge. Nobody in this world is “all good” or “all bad”; we’re all a mix of both, a community of sinners struggling with different demons.
Mistake #1: Underestimating CHARACTER. If there’s one thing I hope to get right in my children, it’s their CORE. Character, moral fiber, an inner compass… these things lay the foundation for a happy, healthy future. They matter more than any report card or trophy ever will.