We hear it all the time. The most recent generation of children to enter adulthood are spoiled, entitled, and basically still children parading around in grown-up bodies. Research done by anthropologists in recent years has come to the conclusion that American children in our current generation may be the most indulged and spoiled kids throughout history. So what can parents do to reverse this trend and raise responsible, productive kids? A good start would be to avoid the following parenting traps that even well-meaning moms and dads often fall into.
5. Comparing Your Child
We’ve all heard parents boast about their child walking at 9 months or learning to read before kindergarten. While there are children who develop early in certain areas, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re more intelligent or that they’ll accomplish more in the long run. There are many intelligent, well-adjusted children who simply don’t learn or develop at the same rate as other children. The strict adherence to the belief that children must master certain social and academic skills by specific ages and grade levels has caused quite a bit of damage through the years.
Walk into any fourth grade classroom and you’ll see a wide range of heights, weights, and overall physical development. Some girls go through puberty at 9 or 10, while others not until age 13 or even later. Most doctors will tell you that this is all within the normal range. Why then do we expect intellectual and social development to happen to every child within a thinly prescribed time range? Obviously there are some developmental delays we should be concerned about, but in general, parents need to understand that children develop and grow at their own pace.
4. Wanting to Be Your Child’s Best Friend
Of all the mistakes on this list, this is the one you’d almost never hear about in our parents’ generation. Part of this stems from the baby boomers wanting to stay forever young themselves. As much as they love their children, many from this generation had a difficult time taking on the role of adult and learning to be an authority figure to their own children. Most children will have lots of friends throughout their lives, they’ll only have two parents. Once a child is an adult, a parent can ease into a different relationship that involves a friendship. But while a child is still growing up, a parent must assume the role as an authority figure in the child’s life.
3. Believing Your Child is Perfect
While it may be difficult for even the best parent to see their child’s shortcomings, good parents will at least admit they have them. This is increasingly becoming a problem in school districts across the country. While teachers aren’t perfect and do make mistakes, parents who automatically side with their child over every dispute in the classroom are setting the child up to have trouble dealing with authority figures for the rest of their lives. Seeing your child objectively is not easy, but necessary for good parenting. Recognizing our children’s weak areas and shortcomings will put us in a position to help them deal with their flaws and make improvements. Ignoring them or pretending everything is someone else’s fault is doing no one any favors, especially our children.
2. Not Spending Enough Time With Your Child
Don’t fall for the quality verses quantity argument. Parents convince themselves that doing something intense or something the child really enjoys for an hour makes up for the prior week they barely acknowledged their child. Using the “quality time” logic we could marry someone after only a few dates or be ready to take a test after only a few minutes of studying. “I only studied for 15 minutes, but they were quality minutes.” Of course that’s as ridiculous as it sounds. Quality and quantity are part of the same equation. It’s highly unlikely to achieve a quality relationship with your child without first putting in an adequate amount of time.
1. Solving All Their Problems
In the age of helicopter parenting, too many parents want to swoop in and save their children from every type of difficulty, pain, and heartache that may come their way. In the quest to shield our children from the rough patches in life that inevitably come, our generation has left millions of young adults woefully unprepared to deal with even the least bit of adversity. Solving all their problems also includes stepping in and taking care of the day to day drudgery as well. Handling the logistics of everyday life is overwhelming some college freshman because mom and dad have taken care of every detail for their entire lives. Ann Landers is quoted as saying, “It’s not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings.”