10 Things effective parents don’t do
No one is given a manual on how to be a good parent. It is one of the most rewarding jobs but can also be one of the most frustrating. As parents, we are responsible for shaping the attitudes of young minds. Our children constantly learn from us through observing our behaviour. They watch us and see how we deal with life. The way we treat our children will affect how they see themselves and the world around them. I have put together a comprehensive list of the things that successful parents do not do:
1) Effective parents do not take their frustrations out on their children
Energy awareness is a vital skill for enjoying a calm and healthy life. Knowing the difference between positive energy (joy, enthusiasm, passion) and negative energy (stress, anxiety, anger) is the starting point. We are all susceptible to the stresses and strains of daily living. What we do with that stress can have varying consequences. When we take negative energy, such as frustration from our work, and project that onto our children, we allow our stress to affect those around us. Wise parents realise that they must find constructive ways to release their stress. Instead of picking on their children and creating petty rules as a legitimate way to project their stress, wise parents do their best to shield their children from their own negative energy. negative energy has to go somewhere and when we project negative energy onto our children they need to find an outlet for it too. This can manifest as anger, depression, and/or bullying others at school.
2) Effective parents don’t have too many rules
Parents that are too strict will ultimately create angry and frustrated children. There is a big difference between being an authoritarian parent and an authoritative parent. The ideal parental style involves an authoritative approach whereby there is “freedom within limits”. Being authoritative parents means that there are rules but that there is a lot of freedom and a fair amount of independence as well. On the other hand, an authoritarian parent acts more like a dictator using phrases such as “you have to do this because I said so” or “what you want does not matter as I am in charge”. Authoritarian parents do not review their children as young people that require respect and should be entitled to their own opinion. When a child is not allowed to have an opinion, express negative emotions or feel valued they will act out in some way. They may become extremely rebellious or begin to display defiant behaviour. Effective parents are good at prioritising discipline and do not create rules for the sake of rules. When rules and discipline are implemented they involve the children in the process.
3) Effective parents do not live vicariously through their children
I see it all the time, parents trying to live out their ambitions through their children. When a parent is blinded by their own needs and wants instead of what is best for their child, they stifle their child’s natural talents and abilities. For example: the mother who never quite made it to the ballet academy who forces her daughter to attend ballet lessons religiously despite the fact that her daughter does not enjoy activity. The father who was never captain of the football team ensuring that his son achieves this even when his son is not as passionate as he is. Parents who are caught up in their own fantasies and ambitions and ignore the innate talents that their children possess do their children a disservice.
4) Effective parents don’t offer their love, acceptance and approval upon certain conditions being met
Unconditional love is a precious thing. Parents owe it to their children to love them as they are. Children who are led to believe that they are not good enough because they have not achieved the right grades at school or are not as sporty as their siblings tend to grow up feeling inadequate. Love your children for their strengths and weaknesses. When parents show unconditional love they promote high self-acceptance in their children.
5) Effective parents do not belittle or criticise their children
Constructive criticism can be beneficial, accentuating the positives reinforces children’s strengths. A negative approach does not benefit children in any way. When corrections need to be made, ensure that they are delivered sensitively and our resolution focused.
6) Effective parents don’t try to force their children to do their bidding
Many parents seem to forget that their children are unique and individual people. They are not possessions or objects that can be owned. Treat children with respect and allow them to have an opinion. I am horrified when I hear stories of parents who do not allow their children to express natural emotions such as anger. Suppressing natural emotions is very damaging and can lead to lifelong emotional and mental health issues. Of course if anger is out of control that is another matter but anger in itself is healthy. Some parents are veryÂ pushy and make their children engage in activities that they do not want to do. What many parents do not realise is that the more they force the children to regularly participate in events and activities that they do not themselves enjoy, the more they are conditioning their children to accept that life is all about doing things that you don’t particularly enjoy. This level of conditioning could lead to children settling for jobs that they do not like or marrying the wrong person due to pressure from others. They are so used to being told what to do they become attuned to listening to other people’s opinions more than their own and come to accept that life is full of things that are unpleasant without realising that they have the power to change them.
7) Effective parents don’t try to change the fundamental characteristics of their children
There is a lot of pressure on parents to have clever, sporty, academic and popular children. As a result many parents feel let down or disappointed when their children do not fit these preconceived “boxes”. Instead of accepting the child they have and accentuating their child’s positive attributes, parents try their hardest to make their children clever, sporty, academic or popular. Every child has a unique talent that’s trying to get a child to be good at something that they are not naturally gifted at can be hugely counter-productive and can cause low self-esteem.
8) Effective parents don’t push their own opinions onto their kids
As we grow older we tend to adopt more rigid ideas and beliefs about the world. On many occasions we may be wiser than our children but at other times it is best to allow our children to explore and find out for themselves. examples where it is best to allow our children to make their own judgement are: religious matters, political ideation, morals and values. Children naturally learn from their parents but parents should allow their children to explore naturally and to be open-minded about the world.
9)Effective parents don’t allow their children to stagnate in their development
Parents who discourage their children from exploring the world and being adventurous, learning new things and accepting that failure is part of life do not do their children any favours. The only way to grow in confidence and to find out about our strengths and weaknesses is to test our abilities and regularly extend ourselves beyond our comfort zones. Encourage your children to develop an enquiring mind and to be open-minded about things that they do not know much about.
10)Effective parents don’t give up their whole lives for their children
Parents are humans too and I believe they should also honour themselves and their need for rest and relaxation. I have come across many parents who seem to have given up their own identity in order to become a parent. They no longer have anything interesting to say and their interest in the world diminishes. This is very shortsighted and in my view, unhealthy. It does children good to see their parents in many different lights, not just as a caretaker. Unfortunately society does place pressure on parents and there’s a lot of guilt associated with parents wanting to be selfish at times. I think this is essential, as a parent who never takes time out for themselves and their interests will ultimately become resentful and will be less competent as a parent.
There are so many aspects to being a good and effective parent.Trust your instincts and do your best to honour your child’s natural strengths and abilities. Every parent makes mistakes but as long as you are self-aware enough to learn from these, you’re doing just fine.