1. Praising talent instead of effort. Studies show that repeatedly praising a child for being smart, beautiful, or talented does not improve their self-confidence or self-esteem. It actually has the opposite effect and makes them more insecure and afraid to try new things. (Mindset by Carol Dweck is a great resource for understanding the research about this and how to help your child have the right mindset for growth). Instead of saying to your child, “You’re smart at math”, praise her for her hard work figuring out a tough problem.
2. Emphasizing achievement over character. At the end of the day, what will bring your child the most happiness and satisfaction in life is not the size of her paycheck or the number of degrees after her name but the kind of person she has become as well as the quality of her relationships. Poor character qualities will lead to a failed life even if you look successful on the outside. Proverbs 16:23; 20:11; 23:23.
3. Giving freedom without requiring responsibility.Adolescence is a tough time to parent and sometimes it’s easier to give into our child’s tantrums than to hold her accountable to fulfill her responsibilities. One of the most important lessons parents much teach their child is to be responsible and take responsibility for her own choices and behavior.
4. Trying to be super-mom or dad. Stop doing for your kids what they should be doing for themselves. As they age, give them more responsibility such as time management for homework, cleaning their room, doing their own laundry. The goal of parenting is to work yourself out of a job so that your child doesn’t need you anymore.
5. Not helping your child see you are a person, not just a parent. Along with super-parent syndrome, I find a woman may tend to over-function in her role as a mother and fails to teach her children that she is also a person who has her own dreams, needs, and feelings.
As our children mature, the parent child relationship ought to become more reciprocal with a child showing more consideration for her parent’s feelings or needs. Doing this models healthy relationship skills as well as reminds your child that life is not all about her and what she wants all the time.
6. Not following through on stated consequences. If we don’t teach our kids when they are young that there are consequences to their choices and behaviors they will experience a painful awakening when they move into adulthood. Today many people are miserable and perpetually angry that life and other people have not given them what they deserve instead of understanding their decisions and behaviors have consequences. Proverbs 19:3
7. Being too busy to give unstructured or uninterrupted time to your child. It pains me to watch entire families in a restaurant together all checking their cell phones. Your child learns social skills and gains emotional intelligence through interacting with real people in family life. A child needs to feel that she is important to you and when you give her your time, energy, and uninterrupted attention, she feels it.
8. Giving them too much stuff. “Mom please, please, please, buy me this one thing. I won’t ever ask for anything else. Just this iPhone or video game and I’ll be happy forever.” What parent hasn’t heard that plea? And yet a week later, your child wants something more.
Overindulgence sends a wrong message. It tells your kids that things will make her happy. It teaches her that having more satisfies and yet the truth is, more doesn’t satisfy. More just makes us hungry for more. Instead teach your children to be content and grateful for what they have instead of always pining for more.
9. Not practicing what you preach. If you say something is important to you like God or faith or integrity or family and yet your actions show something different, your children will do as you do and not as you say. Life is caught and not taught and when you live a double life, your children are smart enough to see it.
10. Not praying enough for our children. I know it’s hard to pray. It can feel dry, even boring. But God says to pray and pray without ceasing. I wish I had prayed more for my children. There is so much in life that is completely out of our hands. Yet God loves our child more than we do and he wants us to pray for their safety, their growth, as well as their spiritual awakening and development. Prayer makes a difference and therefore, commit daily to pray for your child.
If you see yourself in some of the top ten mistakes, it’s not too late to change. God is always in the process of waking us up to something so that we can be conformed to his image. Don’t let Satan accuse you.
Instead thank God and the Holy Spirit that he has opened your eyes to some things you need to change, and then with God’s help, change them.