Becoming a parent doesn’t come with a one size fits all, or a step by step hand book with a bunch of “How To’s”. We learn to parent mostly from our own parents (or lack thereof), and from what we see in society. We may see parenting from siblings, friends, movies or books. But when it gets to the nitty gritty of parenting, it really comes down to learning as you go.
And every family is different. Some parents are more lenient with their kids. Some are more strict. Some have a very clear boundary of friend vs. parent, and some tend to lean more toward friend. How ever you choose to parent your children is up to you, but there can be some common mistakes to avoid.
According to Barbara Greenberg from Psychology Today, some of the common mistakes parents make are:
- 1.Under or overdoing it with your kids
- 2. Not getting to know your child
- 3. Believing that worrying about your kids will keep them from harm
- 4. Maintaining expectations that are too low or too high
- 5. Not being the best role model yourself
1. How involved should you be in your kids lives? Parents can either over do it when it comes to their kids space and individual lives, or they can under do it. Greenberg states that the deciding factor in how under involved or over involved you are in your kids lives, usually depends on how you were parented growing up. Were your parents strict? You might feel like you should do the opposite. Were your parents relaxed, and not around much? You might feel the need to insert yourself in every aspect of their day. It is very hard to find this balance, and as you go you will learn what works for you and your family. Remember that there are situations where it is okay to be strict, and there are those where it is okay to back off.
2. Greenberg warns about having assumptions about your child, and how dangerous that can be. If you are constantly assuming how your child feels, or why they are acting the way they do, then you will be doing yourself and your child a disservice. Many parents feel they know their children simply by observing them and comparing them to themselves or to their siblings. The way you really get to know your child, is to talk to them. Engage with them, ask them questions, ask them their opinions, talk to them about what they’re feeling. You might be surprised how forthcoming a child can be when they feel you want to participate in a conversation with them instead of at them.
3. Worrying is something that is second nature when you have children. You can worry yourself sick about your kids if you let yourself. Part of raising well developed and adjusted kids, is to let them learn and grow independently of you and your spouse. You cannot protect your child from everything in the world. You can equip them with the best knowledge, reactions, morals, ethics, manners etc, but when you worry about your children constantly it shows them you are anxious and not confident in their abilities to navigate the world. It also teaches them that you are afraid of everything, so they should be too.
4. When you compare your kids to each other, or to yourselves you’re setting them up for failure. When you label them in a certain way, it’s impossible for them to grow and learn. If your expectations for the family and for each children are too high, the kids will feel like they can’t do anything right. If the expectations are too low, they might loose motivation or drive to do or be more in life. The balance is hard to find, but there is a balance between teaching your kids to be independent and dependent.
5. Having kids is a big responsibility. But if you take on your role as a parent as the only role, you are ignoring your self care time, which could inadvertently be hurting your kids. If your kids always see you stressed or exhausted, and always involved in everything but taking care of yourself, they will see parenthood as a stressful choice. They will see that becoming a parent means giving up your life for your children. Remember to take time to take care of yourself and your spouse, so that everything can live a healthy and happy life together.
Read more on common parenting mistakes at Psychology Today.
What is a ‘co-parent’?
According to Dictionary.com the definition of a co-parent is:
- a divorced or separated parent who shares equally with the other parent in the custody and care of a child.
- to share equally with another parent in the care of (a child)
- to act as a co-parent
Coparenting can mean a variety of different things. If a couple is separated or divorced, it might mean how to best take care of the children as individuals but also together successfully. Coparenting also occurs in a family where the parents are still married. Each parent shares the responsibility for the child or children equally, and their ultimate goal is to provide the best possible care as a cohesive unit.
No matter what your family looks like, communicating in a positive and effective manner is always the best way to achieve healthy family dynamics.
What are the effects of having a single parent? We all know someone who grew up with a single parent, or we might have even grown up with a single parent ourselves. The idea around the modern ‘nuclear family’ is that a family is one that consists of children and their respective parents.
Does this mean that children who have only one parent, are more susceptible to possible negative effects psychologically, socially, as a family, etc? According to some studies done in Sweden, children who have only one parents have double the ‘incidence of psychiatric illness, apparent suicide attempts, substance abuse issues, and lower self esteem’.
It is said that children who are in a single parent home might not have the stability that a double parent home would have. The single parent won’t have the other parent to bounce ideas, strategies, decisions, and be able to take breaks with. And in turn, the children will see the single parent suffer or struggle more in these types of situations.
If the parents are going through a divorce, are they able to keep the tension, arguments, and possible resentment away from the children? Are they able to still keep the other parent in a positive light to benefit the children? One of the biggest problems families going through a divorce is the parents will let their anger or sadness paint a negative light on the other parent, and the children will pick up on that. Being able to not speak negatively or aggressively about the other parent to the child (or in front of the child) is key to their adaptation and acceptance of the divorce.
There is a wonderful in depth article over at How Stuff Works on all of the psychological effects of having just one parent, where they give tips and solutions on how to weather the storm if you’re struggling as a single parent.
Were your parents divorced growing up? Or did you experience your parents getting divorced as an adult? Has this changed or affected you in any particular way?
Everyone has a divorce experience. Whether you have gone through one yourself or know someone who has gone through one. And when there are children involved, it can easily complicate things. It’s hard to figure out if doing what is right for a marriage, is also right for the family. The most important thing is to realize how this will affect everyone in the family, instead of just the couple in the marriage.
Divorcing can have long term impact on children as they grow up. Sometimes children can suffer academically, socially, or can start to suffer individually and not know how to speak up about what they are feeling. There are ways to make sure that you are going through your divorce with the right steps, ensuring that you and your spouse are communicating effectively and cordially.
There is an excellent article on Psychology Today called ‘Quality Parenting Needed Most During Divorce’. It starts with list of questions to ask yourself about your decision to divorce as it relates to your children. It goes on to give great advice on how to navigate the sometimes difficult road of divorce. If you’re going through divorce, thinking about it, or know someone who is, take a look at this article today!