Although I’ve never met a perfect parent, I have met some who were pretty wise and I’ve learned a lot from watching them parent. And although my kids are grown, I’m always on the lookout for parenting wisdom from other sources. Even as a parenting and family life coach, I certainly don’t know it all!
I recently came across a book called 12 Huge Mistakes Parents Can Avoid by Tim Elmore and I’d like to elaborate on those mistakes over the next 12 weeks.
Honestly, I’d suggest that you read the book to get all the wisdom it has to offer. Elmore does an excellent job of talking about each mistake and offering extensive advice on how to avoid it. He begins the book with a Parenting Quiz to help moms and dads evaluate their own parenting styles and the likelihood of them making any of the 12 mistakes.
You may be reading this and saying, I’m a good parent. And if you were to give yourself a grade, you may even think you deserve an A or B. You also may have given other parents a D or F. What does that say about us as parents?
Simply this: it’s hard to be objective. You are very aware of other people’s kids and how badly they behave, but it’s easy to miss it in your own kids.
So hopefully, you will use this list as a motivator to start taking notice of your own parenting style and become more aware of the mistakes you are making.
Although you may not want someone telling you that you are making a mistake, I urge you to be open. Wouldn’t you want someone to share with you if you were driving a car wrong or messing up a recipe? Of course you would! You’d want someone to keep you from making a mistake that could get you in an accident or make the food taste awful.
I share these mistakes with you, not to judge you or make you feel inadequate; I share them with you to help you become more self-aware and to make your family happier and stronger, to make your kids grow up to be people that you enjoy being around and people that others like to be around.
So, let’s get started. This week:
Mistake #1: Parents Don’t Want to Let Their Kids Fail
It’s painful to watch your children fail. Whether it’s in sports or school or in a task they’ve been assigned. Given a preference, I think you’d all admit that you’d like your kids to succeed all the time. It’s much easier to watch.
But Elmore claims that “We fail when we don’t let them (your kids) fail.”
Far too often, adults intuitively feel we will ruin our children’s self-esteem if we let them fail. They need to feel special–to believe they are winners–and we assume this means we can’t let them fail. Actually, the opposite is true. Genuine, healthy self-esteem develops when caring adults identify children’s strengths but also allow them the satisfaction that comes only from trying and failing. Effort, failure, and eventual triumph builds great emerging adults.
It was so hard for me to watch our kids fail in sports. I wanted so desperately to fix things for them, and make it all better. But thankfully, my husband helped me pull back and today, I am so thankful that I learned to do that. At 26,29, and 32, they have become strong, resilient adults who have worked through many larger failures and I’m sure will face more in the future.
Unfortunately, there’s a tendency for parents today to worry so much about their child’s self-esteem that they want to keep their child from failure because it may crush them. Elmore says this:
I agree with promoting self-esteem, assuring safety, applauding participation, and providing head starts, but I believe we’ve given kids a false sense of reality. We’ve set them up for a painful wake-up call as they grow older. Social scientists agree that our emphasis on winning has produced highly confident kids. Sadly, they also agree that this ill-prepares them for the world that awaits them.
Parents, it’s okay to let your kids fail. Your job is to let them learn how to fail well by providing a safe place to fail and showing them the benefits of failing.