This concludes my three-part series on the Ten Biggest Mistakes Parents Make (and how to stop making them!). For the first two columns in the series, go to johnrosemond.com. The mistakes covered to date include:
1. Explaining oneself to one’s children. This common blunder is why so many children are called “argumentative” when they are doing nothing more than taking advantage of opportunities provided by their parents.
2. Placing relationship with one’s child in front of providing leadership (authority) to one’s child. You want your child to like you? Don’t you have enough adult friends?
3. Giving children lots of choices. The more choices I must contend with, the more stressed I am. Do you think that might apply to children as well as adults?
4. Believing that people with capital letters after their names know what they are talking about when it comes to children. Said letter-mongers have been giving bad advice since the American parent began listening to them. No end is in sight.
5. The self-humiliating practice of getting down to the child’s level when addressing a child, also known as the “sycophant squat.” Children do not obey people who look like lackeys.
6. Ending what parents think are instructions to their children with the question, “Okay?” Children do not obey people who sound like lackeys.
7. Using consequences that are meaningless, otherwise known as time-out and other forms of flailing at charging elephants with flyswatters.
Picking up right there, Number Eight (these are in no particular order, mind you) is putting your marriage on a shelf in a seldom-visited closet and “parenting.” This is also known as acting like you took this vow on your wedding day: “I take you to be my husband/wife until children do us part.”
It may sound paradoxical, but husband and wife do a much better job of raising kids than do dad and mom. In a family, children should come no less than third — as in, marriage, parents, children.
The ninth Biggest Mistake Parents Make is using recreational time (e.g., vacations) to do what children want to do. Consider that visiting a foreign country may cost less for a family of four than going to Dizzy World and bulldozing through crowds of people, many of whom are rudely pushing two- and three-wide strollers. Cost includes the stress of such insane activities to otherwise sane adults.
There are plenty of peaceful places in the North American hemisphere that are both enjoyable and educational. Name one ride at Dizzy World that is as stunning as the Grand Canyon (where children can learn basic geology) or Mount Rushmore (where children can learn American history). You can’t! For lasting learning, try Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia (until they were on-site, our kids were convinced they would hate it). Ask yourself: Who earned the upcoming vacation? YOU did! Need I say more?
And the tenth Biggest Mistake — Ta Da! — is causing children to develop Vitamin N deficiency. This nutrient — the most powerful two-letter word in the English language — is essential to the development of emotional resilience, which is widely recognized as key to good mental health.
A lack of Vitamin N accounts for the proliferation of “safe spaces” on college campuses where run spoiled rotten snowflakes who become “triggered” when confronted with a world that does not recognize their specialness. Vitamin N builds strong character, which builds strong communities.
And NO, if you haven’t figured out what I mean by Vitamin N, there’s NO way I’m going to tell you. Get it?
How does one stop making the Ten Biggest Parenting Mistakes? One simply stops making them.
[Family psychologist John Rosemond: johnrosemond.com, parentguru.com. Copyright 2020, John K. Rosemond]