35 Parenting Mistakes You’re Probably Making
Everyone parents differently. Today, we even have names for the different parenting styles out there — free-range, helicopter, lawnmower, to name a few. But what we don’t have is a parenting how-to guide. Instead, we all adopt our own unique ways to raise our kids and do what works for us. While it’s good to embrace the differences in everyone's parenting style, there are also some unspoken rules that parents should really consider.
Some of those rules come down to basic tact. Others are about becoming a more seasoned parent — we’ve all made rookie parenting mistakes. And then there are others that, if not abided by, can have some serious repercussions. What are they exactly?
Well, here are 35 mistakes you’re probably making and don’t even realize it.
Kids go through so many different stages in life, and some of them are downright dreadful. That means we might feel closer to one of our children at various times and a little more distant from another.
Still, it’s our job to keep things as even as we possibly can and to continue showing our love to all of our kids, even when it’s tough.
Assuming Everyone Likes Your Kids
As parents, we adore our kids. But the thing is, not everyone is going to feel that way about the tiny people you brought into the world. Even close friends may like your kids in small doses but may not want to be around them all the time.
As parents, we need to take note that we generally like our kids more than everyone else, even if they are really pretty awesome.
Letting Your Kids Be Rude
Parents understand their own kids’ behaviors better than anyone. We know what they might be struggling with or why they might be acting out at a certain time. That said, when our kids are old enough to understand that being rude to others is not acceptable, it’s our job to enforce consequences when our kids are out of line.
Because honestly, there is nothing more annoying than a child being rude to you and watching a parent laugh it off.
Giving Parenting Advice to Other Parents
Unless someone asks for your parenting advice, don’t give it. It’s as simple as that.
Just because you’re a parent doesn’t mean you know what’s best for someone else’s child. Period.
Not Reciprocating Offers for Playdates or Rides
Being a parent is tough, and that’s why it’s great when someone steps up and offers to give your kid a ride somewhere or to have them over. Teamwork helps us all be better parents.
However, if someone is repeatedly helping you out, it’s time to step up and reciprocate the offer. Don’t assume they’re just being nice — they might just be waiting for you to help share the burden.
Letting Kids Play on Devices in Public Sans Headphones
It’s annoying in restaurants, on airplanes and pretty much everywhere. If your kid has an iPad or similar electronic device, do the greater public a favor and make sure they have some headphones to go with it.
Don’t make us all suffer unnecessarily listening to Baby Shark for the umpteenth time.
Judging Parents for Their Baby’s Habits
Chances are, if you had a baby, you had strong opinions about how your baby should be fed and where they should sleep. That doesn’t mean that you should judge other parents for the choices they make, though.
All parents have their own set of standards. More than likely, they are doing the right thing for their own family.
We’ve all been guilty of this one at some point or another. Our kids do amazing things, and we want to share it with others!
But the truth is, bragging about our kids isn’t cute. It’s annoying. Social media might make it easy, and it might mean that almost everyone is guilty of breaking this rule. But it’s still pretty obnoxious.
Only Talking About Your Kids
Listen, we all love our kids dearly. But not everyone wants to hear about them all the time. It’s definitely a rookie parent mistake, but forgetting that you have other interests (and things to talk about!) beside your kids happens from time to time — especially when there are big changes going on.
Do your friends a favor and reinvest in yourself a bit. That way, you’ll have something else to talk about besides diapers and spit-up.
Comparing Your Kid to Others
It can be all too easy to fall into the trap of comparing your kid’s ages and stages to another kid their age. We do it at home in the form of worrying and fretting that our kid isn’t doing all of the things that they should be doing. And we do it while talking to other parents.
Recognizing that kids are completely different beings and have their own schedules and agendas can take a big weight off of your shoulders. Plus, no one wants to listen to you compare milestones all the time. It’s not a competition!
Forcing Your Kids Into Activities That Only You Like
Honestly, the world doesn’t need a miniature you.
The more you pressure your kid to do something they don’t want to do, the more they’ll resent you for it.
Solving All Your Kids’ Problems for Them
Watching your kids struggle is tough! That means it’s very tempting to try and fix everything for your kids.
Still, learning to navigate challenges is a major part of growing up and one that will help them in the long run. Remember, you’re not always going to be there for every adversity they face.
Posting Other People’s Kids on Social Media
In this day and age, it can be easy to assume that no one minds their kids’ faces appearing on Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat. But not everyone is comfortable with their kids being on social media.
Don’t make this assumption and start posting away without asking first.
Not Listening to How Your Kid Feels
No matter how small they may be, kids have thoughts and feelings of their own. As a parent, it can be easy to overlook those feelings because sometimes they don’t seem so important.
But while a clothing dilemma or a glass of spilled juice might seem insignificant to us, it’s important to recognize that small problems might feel big to our little ones. Letting them know we hear them can help alleviate a lot of unnecessary stress.
Letting Your Anxiety Take Over
Parental anxiety is par for the course. We all experience it from time to time, but letting anxiety dictate the majority of your parenting choices isn’t good for your kids.
It gets easier to go with the flow over time and learn that not everything is under your control when it comes to caring for your kids.
Falling into a couch parenting routine, in which we basically say commands from the sofa and expect our kids to listen, happens sometimes. We can’t always be 100 percent on and engaged with everything our kids are doing, especially when we’re tired or are struggling with something stressful in our adult lives.
However, kids feel when we are distant and not going to follow through with consequences or discipline. Getting on our kids’ levels is important, and simply talking to them while doing something else, like sitting on the couch or staring at our phones, doesn’t go very far.
Being Overly Critical
Kids are imperfect beings, and that’s OK. As parents, sometimes we think it’s our job to point out what they are doing wrong. The truth is, being a gentle guide or a more positive presence is a better approach than telling them everything from a critical viewpoint.
Kids will even end up feeling like they are always failing. Try instead to focus on what they are doing right, and encourage them to continue doing those things, rather than pointing out the negative.
Being Too Hard on Yourself
We all have times as parents when we feel like we’re screwing everything up. Practice being gentle with yourself instead of being your own worst critic.
Kids are resilient, and even when we do screw up (because we do), it’s not the end of the world. Breathe, apologize and do better tomorrow.
Not Letting Your Kids Make Their Own Choices
Allowing kids to make their own decisions is tough, especially when we don’t like the choices they are making. But kids are their own unique people. They need to learn to make their own choices because learning to deal with consequences is an important part of growing up.
Small mistakes, like dyeing their hair a color they end up hating, will teach them to think before they do. So, allow it!
Treating Them Like Tiny Adults
Some parent-child relationships are very close, and that’s great! But it’s important to remember, at least while your kids are young, that they are not your best friend.
They are your child, and they shouldn’t have to feel your adult stress. Vent to a therapist or a grown-up friend. Let your kid be a kid.
Being a Know-It-All Parent
We live in a time when we are totally immersed in parenting information. You may have a ton of knowledge about kids, parenting, education and so on. But no one likes a know-it-all.
Don’t assume everyone wants an answer to everything or wants to take your word as an absolute fact. Let other parents do their own research and come to their own conclusions.
Copying Your Kid’s Style
We get that VSCO girls are cool, but we’re too old for scrunchies.
Being a Drill Sergeant
There is nothing more obnoxious than listening to a parent berate their child from afar. What’s more, talking down to a child is harmful.
Kids can be frustrating, no doubt; however, a steady stream of anger directed at a child is not good for their self-worth. Plus, it will make everyone around you uncomfortable.
Not Being on the Same Team as Your Co-parent
Whether you are married or co-parenting with another parent in a separate household, parents need to be aligned. Of course, there are bound to be some differences in how you do things.
But, overall, kids should know that their parents are on the same team and have the same goals.
Assuming Everyone Wants Kids
Don’t be the person who is always asking your child-free friends when they plan to procreate. Not everyone wants kids.
Likewise, families with one child might be perfectly content with their situation. Don’t ask when they plan to have baby number two, or three, or so on. All families are unique, and there is no perfect dynamic.
Buying Your Kids Everything They Want
We all want to give our kids everything. An occasional non-holiday or birthday gift is a fun way to show our love, too. However, constantly gift-giving teaches kids that they can have everything they desire.
That doesn’t leave a lot of room for them to want to work for what they get one day. It teaches entitlement, so even though it’s fun, we have to challenge ourselves as parents to show love in other non-material ways.
Being Notoriously Late
It can be so hard to be on time all of the time when you’re a parent. Kids make everything take twice as long.
Still, everyone with kids has the same struggles as you do. Being late once in a while is one thing, but always using your kids as an excuse for your lateness gets old.
Being the Party Parent
Most parents enjoy a glass of wine among friends from time to time. And in our culture, it’s not uncommon for parents to have a drink during playdates.
But don’t be the parent who is overindulging and leaving the actual parenting to everyone else while you have fun.
One-upping Other Parents
When someone wants to discuss something their kid did well, it might come from a place of really needing encouragement from other parents. Be in tune with that instead of trying to “one-up” them with how your kid did the same thing even better.
It can be tempting to share our own parenting wins, but make sure you aren’t always trying to outshine other parents.
Doing Everything Yourself
Teaching kids responsibility is so important. It can be easier sometimes to do everything yourself because kids aren’t always the best at sticking to their tasks or chores, like keeping their rooms clean.
Still, if you constantly jump in to do everything yourself, they’ll never learn to help out around the house or be able to take care of their own home one day.
It’s good to tune out once in a while, hop in the bath and just ignore everything. But getting in the habit of too much tuning out means our kids don’t feel us being present with them.
Try setting a specific time to tune out of your parenting duties (if help in the form of another parent, screens or ages of your kids allows you to do so). The rest of the time, your kids should feel that you are available when they need them. It’s OK to take time for you, but make sure you do it thoughtfully.
Gender Stereotyping Your Kid
We’re living in a world that is starting to recognize that gender does not always come down to a person’s biology. That means assuming your child’s gender, or interests based on that gender, is not always the best practice.
A better idea would be to watch your child to discover who they authentically are and what they like.
Gender Stereotyping Other People’s Kids
Likewise, this unspoken rule should translate to other people’s kids as well. Don’t assume you know exactly who they are until you get to know them as an individual.
And better yet, make sure they know that, however they identify, they can be themselves in your home.
Assuming Your Child’s Sexuality
Let’s take the gender stereotyping one step further. As early as infancy, sometimes we see parents talking about their son’s baby “girlfriends” or being a “lady-killer.”
Sure, it might seem funny when your kids are very young, but when they’re old enough to pay attention, those messages and expectations might not be so easy to ignore.
Neglecting Your Other Relationships
Being a parent is demanding and often relentless. There are times when we simply can’t do much more than handle our parenting tasks. However, the demands of parenting come in waves. There will be hard times, and undoubtedly, there will be easier times.
When the easier times hit, make sure you check in with the other important relationships in your life. You are a parent, yes, but you are also so many things to so many other people. You need your family and friends, so make sure you reach out when you’re able. Chances are, you will be a more content parent for it.