Mom life can kind of suck. Okay, so mom loves her kids and she's totally happy that she has the family she's always wanted. But (and it’s a big one here), she kind of always feel like she's doing it wrong.
Babies don’t come with an instruction manual. Um, yeah that might not be 100 percent true. Between the books, blogs and everything that every other mama posts of Facebook, most women probably get plenty of parenting advice, how-to’s and what to do’s. What does that mean?
To start with, we’re incredibly well-informed. And, that’s the good part! Now on to the not-so-good part – we’re constantly thinking, “Am I doing it wrong?”
Seriously. Every parent wonders this at some point or another. Some moms and dads think about it (or assume it’s true) more than others. Most of the time we’re really not doing it wrong. Yeah, we might be parenting our way (in other words, not the way that the books say is the “right” way), but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s wrong.
Okay, so we’ve got our own parenting styles. It works for our families. That said, we second guess ourselves along the way. Hey, that’s life. Sometimes everything works out, other times it doesn’t. It’s not like we’re intentionally parenting poorly. Raising kids isn’t easy and there’s no “perfect” parent.
Even those seemingly serene pics that our best mommy-friends post on FB and IG with hashtags such as #bestfamilyever or #parentingdoneright aren’t all the time occurrences.
For moms who wonder whether they’re doing it wrong, check out these parts of parenting that plenty of moms and dads really don’t get right!
15 Doing It For Our Children
Your preschooler’s teacher sends home an assignment. Yes, an assignment in preschool. Your kiddo is supposed to color in a pretty little flower printable – which will then be displayed at the school’s spring at show. She decides the whole thing absolutely, positively needs to be pink. That would be okay.
But, you’re worried that your little artist’s picture won’t um, win any awards (and yes, apparently there is an actual award that the best flower pic gets from the pre-k teacher).
What do you do? Well, you could let your child express her artsy self and color that flower in however she wants. Or, you could just do it for her. Wrong! That said, when you get to the pre-k art show you see a dozen perfectly colored little flowers hanging on the wall. All done by the moms and dads.
From creating projects to finishing homework, parents are constantly “doing” for their kiddos. While it might seem innocently helpful, it’s not. Whether your child wins, loses, succeeds or fails, she needs to do it on her own. Obviously, you need to stand by to support her. But, there’s a major difference between helping and taking over.
14 Handing Out Trophies
You’re a winner! Err, maybe not technically a winner. But, you’re a seventh place finalist who deserves a team spirit award and an “I showed up for three out of six games” trophy. Participation awards and trophies are parenting gone wrong to the zillionth degree.
There used to be a time when only the winner got a trophy. Okay, maybe the second and third place runners up also scored a gilded guy or gal. But, all 23 players on the team sure didn’t get a big, shiny medal.
Even though handing out participation trophies is an inclusive practice and helps children to understand that they’re important, it also goes too far. Instead of saying, “try” it says, “show up.” It’s not like the kids who don’t win need to feel like failures. No one’s saying that mom and dad need to get on their child’s case just because she didn’t place in the school swim meet. But, at the same time she also doesn’t need a trophy.
13 Being Friends, Not Parents
Your little guy is totally your buddy. Right? Kind of. Yes, you enjoy hanging with your kiddo. But, you’re the parent – not the friend. It’s one thing to pal around with your child when he’s a tot. It’s another to keep the game up as he gets older.
Everyone wants to be liked. At least, most of us do. So, it’s no wonder that you want to be your child’s BFF. When you’re on your child’s level, he kind of seems to like you even more than he usually does. You want to keep it that way, so you act like a friend.
Instead of setting a bedtime, you let him stay up late and watch a movie. Wouldn’t a friend do that? And, instead of making him eat his spinach, you tell him to take a pass and start in on the massive cookie cake that you bought him. Again, that’s a friend thing, right? As your child gets older you need to draw a clear line, set boundaries and make sure he knows you’re his parent – not his friend.
12 Taking Too Many Pics
Okay, so taking plenty of pictures of your precious little baby is perfectly normal for any parent. Your baby is taking her first steps, sitting on Santa’s lap or dressed up for Halloween. And, you want to save these memories forever. No problem. But, when you become her very own personal paparazzi, things won’t necessarily go right.
How can taking too many pictures turn into parenting gone wrong? Having your camera (or rather, your cell phone’s camera) glued to your face means that you’re missing out on the fun that’s happening. Sure, you’re capturing it. But, you’re not taking part in it. Go ahead and put the camera down.
Yes, it’s difficult to give up those Facebook-ready photo ops. That said, making the memories is the important thing here. Most kids would rather have mom or dad chasing them around the playground, jumping into the swimming pool or trick-or-treating with them instead of acting as a roving photographer.
11 Believing The Hype
Your computer is filled with eBooks on everything from the two-day potty training miracle to ways to get your picky kid to eat veggies. Whether it’s the latest, greatest parenting trend out there or it’s a fairly believable (but kind of fantasy-like) how-to, you want to believe the hype. Doing this is a major mistake.
Parents need to believe the facts (real research-based ideas that professionals and experts agree on), and not the trendy ideas.
This isn’t to say that all strategies, techniques and styles aren’t worth investigating. But, when a parent blindly believes in something just because it’s the popular thing to do, everything can go drastically wrong. You need to do what works best for you and your child. Fad parenting isn’t always the way to go.
And, if it sounds too good to be true – it probably is. So, don’t take that instant potty training technique, supposed super-easy sleep method and the would-be colic cure as facts. Think of them as possibilities that you meet with at least some sort of skepticism.
10 Not Teaching Independence
At some point your little one is going to be a big kid. Beyond that, at some point she’s going to graduate from high school, move out, go to college (hopefully) and have to take care of herself. If she turns 18 without ever having made as little as a grilled cheese sandwich for herself or doing a load of her own laundry, you’re doing it wrong.
Yes, you want to provide the best for your child. You want to help her, nurture her and make sure that she’s taken care of 24-7. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with that. But, when she has absolutely no sense of independence, you’ve got a problem. The temptation to take over and baby your child well beyond her early years is there.
Doing this won’t help her in the long run. This means teaching your child the basics of everyday life (such as grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning and self-care). Don’t stress. You don’t have to turn her into a Top Chef-worthy cook by age five. Your job is to take a step back and give her the confidence to do some things for herself.
9 Forcing An Agenda
You played soccer in kindergarten. You played soccer in elementary school. And you kept your soccer “career” going through middle and high school. Now it’s your mini me’s turn. The only problem here is that your child doesn’t want anything to do with soccer (or any other sport for that matter). But, you’re so into the idea that she’ll be the next Mia Hamm that you can’t see the fact that she can’t stand soccer.
Whether we’re talking soccer, baseball, football, cheerleading, ballet, tap, chess or anything else, forcing your own agenda on your child is never a good thing. Yes, you want your child to try new things. That doesn’t mean you should force her into an activity that she has absolutely zero interest in just because you want her to like it.
This won’t help you to bond with your child and it won’t suddenly make her into the athlete, artist, singer, actress or anything else that you’ve always wanted her (or yourself) to be.
8 Putting Them On A Path To Harvard
Someday your now-toddler will be a Harvard scholar. How do you know this? Well, because you want it to be so. Instead of letting your child learn at her own pace, you sign her up for every “early” lesson offered.
You’re so sure that your baby genius will someday attend an Ivy League school (or at least, you want her to) that you’re completely into her education. There’s no major issue in wanting your child to learn, grow and develop.
The problem creeps up when the desire for your child’s school success somehow transforms into an all-encompassing education monster. It seeps into everything you do and takes on a life of its own. Why is this so wrong? It makes success the number one priority from a way too early age. Sure, you want your child to do well in school.
Okay. But, pushing her to excel isn’t exactly necessary – at least, not when she’s not even old enough for pre-k. Kids need to be kids. That doesn’t mean yours can’t learn. Of course she can! But, you need to let go of the Harvard dreams that you have and let her create her own.
7 Constant Hovering
Hey helicopter mom (or dad), your child doesn’t always need you traipsing behind her like a shadow. Okay, so no one is saying that you need to close your eyes, put your feet up and take a nap instead of watching your young child. Kids need supervision. But, they also need to explore on their own.
Your young child is completely curious – to a fault. And, that’s what gets her into trouble. That’s why you have outlet covers, door latches and gates all over the house. Even though supervision is an absolute, you don’t have to hover.
How does supposed supervision (turned hovering) play out totally wrong? Take a look around the playground and you’re likely to see it in action. There’s a preschooler who is fully capable of climbing up the three steps to the mini slide. Even though she’s completely comfortable with climbing and sliding on her own, mom’s close behind.
Mom isn’t just close behind, she’s got both hands cupped behind the kiddo, just waiting for her to fall into them (which never happens). When it comes to the teeny, tiny toddler-sized slide, mom sits down first, gently puts the 4-year-old on her lap and slides with her.
6 Over-Scheduling Everything
Monday is packed with ballet, tap and swimming. Tuesdays are for soccer and art class. Wednesdays are a free day. Oh wait, nope. Wednesdays are karate and creative movement. Thursdays are reserved for soccer games. And, finally Fridays are t-ball and guitar. Whoa! That’s a packed schedule. Especially when it’s the schedule of a 4- or 5-year-old.
Yes, there are crazy ridiculous amounts of activities for kids to try. Between sports, the arts and everything else, it’s no wonder that parents feel the need to sign their kiddos up for everything. But, over-scheduling your child isn’t doing her any favors. Kids need time (at least a little of it) for themselves. They need to de-stress after school, not go straight into a sport.
If your child is younger (not in school), she still needs some time off. Unstructured play that requires your child to use her imagination or figure out what to do (without you, a teacher or a coach stepping in) can help her to develop creativity and critical-thinking skills.
5 Expecting Too Much Of A Child
Having high expectations isn’t exactly wrong here. You want your child to succeed, and in order to do this she needs lofty goals. Getting straight D’s or taking a break and sitting down in the middle of the basketball court aren’t really things we want to see our kiddos do. But, sometimes high expectations can go horribly wrong.
Setting expectations that are completely out of reach for the child’s development level, abilities or age is a recipe for failure. When a parent places crazy-high expectations on a child, it’s not likely that the child will ever succeed. No, your 2-year-old won’t be able to read chapter books in the next six months (it doesn’t matter how many flash cards you throw in her face) and no your first grader won’t master college-level calculus. Outrageously high expectations often equal low self-esteem. When the child can’t meet the goals (even though realistically the child shouldn’t be able to), her self-worth goes down.
4 Mom Expects Too Much Of Herself
Just like overly high expectations make your child feel bad about herself, the same goes for you. You want to be the best parent possible. That’s totally admirable. But, sometimes parents can put unrealistic expectations on themselves.
Maybe it’s over-scheduling yourself (you can’t possibly take your kids to and from school, bake cupcakes for your preschooler’s class, chaperone your first grader’s zoo field trip, plan the class Valentine’s Day party and volunteer as room reader in one day) or expecting that you can single-handedly get your toddler potty trained in one day.
Whatever your expectations are, tone them down – at least a bit.
Expecting too much from yourself (as a parent) will have pretty much the same effect on you as it does for your child. At best, it will make you feel bad. More likely, it will lower your self-esteem and shatter your confidence. Give yourself a break. You can’t be everything to everyone, and there aren’t any awards for being the top mom.
Is parenting a job? Yes. But, it’s one that should be filled with joy (and not worry).
3 Shaming Other Parents
We’ve all seen those stories on the news. Mom turns her head for a moment and the curious tot climbs over a fence at the zoo, runs into a busy road or does some sort of equally dangerous deed that puts herself (and possibly others around her) in peril. Yep, you know what we mean. And when this happens, what do other parents do?
Well, some think, “It’s so lucky that no one was hurt. I can totally imagine my toddler doing the same thing.” Then they think back to yesterday when they closed their eyes to sneeze and their 2-year-old had bolted into the mall elevator, pressed all of the buttons and took an unattended two-minute ride.
Then there are the mommy (and daddy) shamers. These parents put themselves on a pedestal and assume that it could never happen to them, they could never be so careless and they are in every way a better parent. Not only do the shamers think they’re better, they have no problem telling everyone about it.
They’ll give you a dirty look at the mall when your tot throws a tantrum and they’ll anonymously snark at you as they comment on your FB post. When it comes down to it, parents should help each other and lift each other up – and not put everyone else down.
2 Stepping In
Conflict. No one likes it. But, it’s a fact of life. Whether it’s when your 3-year-old is faced with another preschooler who doesn’t want to share the building blocks or when your 10-year-old doesn’t agree with her friend’s idea to paint their class project pink, conflict is something that kids have to deal with.
It’s tempting to step in and mediate every time that your child has to face some sort of conflict. But, what will that do? Your well-meaning intentions aren’t helping your child’s social skills to develop. Kids need to learn how to negotiate, mediate and handle conflict – for themselves.
If mommy or daddy is always there to take care of the conflict, they’ll never develop the ability to solve these kinds of social problems. This doesn’t mean that you sit back while a kindergartner bullies your 3-year-old on the playground. There will be times when you do need to step in and directly help out.
Parenting goes wrong when moms and dads continuously stop all conflicts, whether the child is capable to help herself or not. Instead of being the problem-solver, you need to give your child the skills she needs to handle stressful social situations herself.
1 Special Snowflaking It
Yes, yes, we all know that your child is the smartest, sweetest, most creatively, imaginatively amazing person ever. There has never been a person in the history of the human race that has ever been (or will ever be) her equal. She’s certainly a special snowflake, and that makes her entitled.
The special snowflake’s parent typically doesn’t feel that the rules apply to their child. And, that spells trouble at school, at home, in social situations or just about anywhere.
Okay, so that’s overstating it. Sure, you want your child to know that you think she’s special. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. You praise her talents, and she builds self-esteem. That’s a parenting win. But, when a parent starts insisting that their child deserves (or requires) special attention or treatment, problems come up.
Self-confidence is something that every child needs – just not in crazy amounts. Do you want your child to know she’s awesome? Yep. Do you want her to think that she’s better than everyone else? Nope.