Last week, we considered 5 Things Parents Need to Stop Doing FOR Their Kids. If you haven’t read it yet, I’d encourage you to check it out. This week, I’d like to emphasize 5 things parents need to stop doing TO their kids.
Have you ever watched a parent get on to their child for something that seemed unreasonable, or maybe even embarrass their child in public, and it made you cringe? Let’s face it, we’ve all been guilty, even sometimes without realizing it.
However, there are a number of things that many parents habitually or inadvertently do to their kids that they really need to just STOP doing. Things that are often squelching their child’s God-given personality and potential. Are you guilty of any of these 5 things?:
- Making your child feel guilty for choosing to be generous. How many times has our child given something away out of the kindness of their heart, and we reprimanded them for it? Maybe even talked them out of it, or made them feel terribly guilty for wanting to give something away that we paid for. (I know that I’m guilty as charged.) At a time when our children are most naturally developing the skill of generosity, we squelch it and don’t even realize it. I understand that there needs to be a good balance here, but why do we instantly feel the strong urge/need to suppress our child’s generosity towards their friends and others rather than praise them for it?
- Expecting them to act like an adult when they’re not. Comments like you just need to “grow up” are almost always less of a help and more of an insult to our children. Yes, we need to have expectations for our kids, but they need to be realistic and age-appropriate expectations, not expectations of perfection, because not even we could live up to that. And when those realistic expectations are expressed, our kids deserve to hear it in a positive, reinforcing way, not in a degrading manner.
- Assuming they are okay with getting the leftovers of our time and attention. Kids are amazingly resilient, even when we fail them time and time again. However, if they’re hounding us to play with them or come take a look at something that they’ve made, they’re smart enough to realize when we’ve put everything else before what is most important to them. Phrases like, “wait until my show is done” or “let me finish this” take priority, and our kids see the pattern. While it may not be realistic to drop what you’re doing every time, there should still be a good handful of times on a regular basis when you do drop everything just for them. Because our kids should get the best, not the rest, of our time and attention.
- Embarrassing them in public situations. Making fun of family members is a part of family life, and can even have a healthy place in a family setting. But when it carries over into public life outside of the family, much harm can potentially be done by causing resentment, anger, and frustration. Especially if it becomes a regular routine where parents are trying to “make a point” to their kids in front of others by aggressively saying things like “why can’t you just behave?” or “what in the world is wrong with you?”. If your kids are doing something wrong and need to be corrected, give them the respect they deserve as your child. Correct them without intentionally embarrassing them, and whenever possible, correct them in private.
- Telling them they have to wait until they’re older. To serve… to give… to help… to work… to cook… to do yard work or dishes. Kids are eager to be involved and to imitate you in the “big” things of life. But if all we see is that they are just kids, we are selling them far short of their full potential in life. We need to view them as the future servants, leaders, and workers that they are. They are in life-training to become great husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, and servants of the Lord. And every day we have a window of opportunity to cultivate their heart and prepare them for life and service. And if we don’t give them opportunities to do those things when they’re still young, they might just not ask again when they get older.
But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children. I Thessalonians 2:7
Mom & Dad, which one of these 5 things do you need to stop doing to your kids? Which one hits closest to home for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts.