Parenting is wonderful and fulfilling. There are times of exhilaration, and times of frustration. We all make mistakes, and as parents it can be stressful thinking of how our mistakes are affecting the children we love. No one is perfect, but when we have made a mistake we should never feel that it’s too late to turn around and say we are sorry, or change the direction things are going. What are some common parenting dilemmas, and how do we fix them?
1. Being Too Strict
We all want our children to succeed. We know their great potential and we want them to meet it. But at times this can come across as unyielding and demanding. Although we don’t want our children to feel as though our rules are more important than they themselves, it can be easy for them to view it this way. The problem is not that we don’t love our children. The problem is when something is lost in the communication of it.
What should a parent do when a child expresses that they are feeling crushed by the weight of too many rules? Have a heart-to-heart talk with your child and try to put aside your own frustrations, even if it feels like your child simply wants to do as they please. Your child is an individual person with their own feelings, hopes, dreams, and hurts. Find a way to compromise and lighten up in any possible areas. Find out once again what you have in common with your child and focus on those areas.
2. Being Too Lenient
Being too strict may harm a child, but so can being too lenient. Our children need rules and absolutes. They need structure and routine. They need support and the knowledge that their parents have high hopes for them and expectations that match. Helping our children set goals and work towards them is not only a good idea, but also necessary.
Sometimes rules can cause conflict. For many parents, it can feel overwhelming and cause us to relax the rules to an extent that rules cease to exist. This is damaging to our children’s self-esteem and something we need to correct. Sit down with your child and explain to them that you are not trying to push them to the point of exhaustion, but you love them and want them to fulfill their potential. Make a list together of suitable expectations and discuss all feelings towards it, whether negative or positive.
3. Bringing Negative Childhood Experiences into Parenting
A wise man learns from his experiences. The past can teach us to be better and avoid obvious mistakes. However, we need to be careful not to get so wrapped up in our past that it negatively steers the course of where we direct our children.
Perhaps your parents lived vicariously through you and you now avoid giving your child any new experiences for fear they may think you are doing the same. Or maybe your parents’ expectations were too demanding so you have set the bar insultingly low for your own child. Stop living in the past and be the parent that your child needs right now. Make decisions based on your child’s best interest, not what the little child you used to be wished he could have.
Parenting is a tough job, but so rewarding. Take care to avoid these dilemmas and repair the mistakes you have made. Your children will be all the better for it.