there are as many types of parenting as there are types of kids. of course, we all think our way is the right way. there is really no one right way to raise children. however, there are a few inevitable consequences of certain parenting choices.... here are a few!
~giving your child gifts constantly for no reason produces children who think they should wait for nothing. if they want it, they should have it! many parents go wrong on this one thinking that if they just make the kid wait a few days before giving in then it's still teaching them something. it is. it's teaching them that they can have everything they want. and never have to work for or earn it. and guess what? your little darling will think the world owes them the same.
~always taking your child's side, no matter what. newsflash! sometimes our kids are wrong! i know, it's hard to swallow. our innate nature drives us to preserve them from pain at any opportunity. to always take their side. however, while our kids need us to advocate us for them they also need us to teach them how to handle being wrong. that requires us as parents to be open to our children being imperfect. sounds easier than it is sometimes :)
~ being their best friends. there are lots of parents that think this one is ok and there are lots of parents who don't but still do it! part of parenting is being the bad guy. but if being the bad guy for a few years means raising a healthy, productive adult then so be it. we have their whole adulthood to be their friend. we only get one chance to raise them.
~ allowing your children to run the show. whether that is major battles at bedtime, not being able to have a phone conversation or never going out to dinner because your kids misbehave in restaurants. so many parents forget who is in charge. you are. or at least you should be. you decide what bedtime is. (that doesn't mean they have to sleep but it does mean they have to stay quietly in their rooms!) you decide when they are allowed to speak and when they need to be quiet. you decide what they eat and when they eat it. i have heard many, many times parents say that (fill in the blank) discipline method just doesn't work with their child. well, find something that does! i can bet a 5 year old who continues to disrespect you despite the punishment will get the hint really quickly after a few nights of going to bed straight from dinner to an empty room. does that seem harsh? or is it better to raise a kid who thinks yelling back at his parents is an acceptable response to anger?
~ media, media and more media. ask yourself honestly how many hours a day your children spend in front of a tv, computer or video games. i'm not against tv. i love tv. it's the only way i can clean the bathroom! but it's also easy to substitute tv watching for parenting. and i can tell you from experience that the concepts they may be picking up on those media sources are not necessarily as innocent as you may think. just wait until your 8 year old thinks she's fat.
~ putting your kids before your marriage. if anyone knows how hard it is to juggle parenting young children and marriage it's me. but someday those kids are going to be gone and you want to still like this person you married when that happens. i know i harp on this one a lot but it's that important. we have a weekly date night. i know that is not feasible for everyone. but if it's a priority then you will make it happen. in our house, putting our marriage first means no kids in the master bed, early bedtimes, no interrupting mommy/daddy time (from 8:30 on!), no interrupting any time mom and dad are having a conversation, etc. the best place for your children to see what a healthy marriage looks like is at home. that means keeping kids in their place. trust me, some day they'll thank you for it.
~ over committed, over involved kids. kids don't need to be in sports and music and youth group and girl scouts all at once. they need time to be kids every day. they go to school all day long. they come home and do homework. if you fill all of their "extra" time with activities they never get time to just be. and it's not good for families either. are you sitting together around a dinner table most nights of the week? or are you eating fast food in your minivan four nights out of seven while driving to various activities? let's be honest, the odds of your kid being a pro athlete are slim. the odds of them hitting their teens disconnected from their families and over stressed are a lot higher if family is not a priority. i'm not anti-sports. i'm anti-over doing it. our policy is on activity per kid per year. yep, that's it. and they're pretty well rounded! amazing :)
this concept also applies to entertaining younger children. don't let the mommy guilt make you think you need to have activities, crafts and entertainment planned for your three year old all day long. it's good for kids to learn to entertain themselves. they'll find something to do. i promise!
~ buying into the american dream. this is a loaded topic, for sure. what do i mean by the american dream? i mean bigger house, bigger car, better clothes, more vacations, etc. i mean having to work harder and longer to acquire things that at the end of the day mean nothing. we all want to live in a nice house. we all want to drive a nice car. but the question is: what are we willing to sacrifice to get it? in 20 years, are you going look back and think "well, i missed my kids childhood but we sure did live in a nice house!" obviously, we all have to work. and in this economy, we all have to work harder just to meet the basic necessities. but when it's all said and done, if you died tomorrow, will you have wished that you spent more time making money? if your spouse died tomorrow, will you regret that you didn't get that expensive car? or will you have missed out on the every day blessing of loving each other? of spending time together? of getting by on less to gain more of each other?
~and lastly, second guessing all of our parenting choices against what experts/friends/family/bloggers/media say we should be doing. because at the end of the day, how we raise our kids is a personal choice. and there will always be someone telling us we're doing it wrong. but we have to be able to look ourselves in the mirror and our kids in the eye one day and say "i did the best i knew how to do and i loved you the most i knew how to love". when it's all said and done, that's all that matters.