Every parent – including myself – hopes they’re doing it right. However, because raising children is an ongoing process, you never know if you’re making the correct decisions. It’s much easier for me to identify parental behavior that feels wrong.
The hard part? Remembering what feels wrong and choosing to implement the right behavior when I find myself stuck in the heat of the moment with my kids.
Along the way, I have compiled a “Don’t” list that I try to follow. I am not always successful. The heat of the moment is stressful. And sticky. And maddening. And embarrassing at times.
When I fail, I feel ashamed. Why? Because I know better. It is my job as the parent to behave like an adult. It is the job of my kids to behave like children. When the two roles get confused, I end up making both jobs more difficult.
Following are the “Don’ts” that I believe will lead to the most trouble for my kids if I fail to incorporate them into my daily parenting:
Don’t be afraid to say “No.” My children will forgive me, and learn to be appreciative when I say “Yes.”
Don’t make excuses for ill behavior. Being rude or throwing a temper tantrum is never okay. Not even when my kids are tired or hungry.
Don’t be a hypocrite. Kids are smart. They’ll see through my phony words and learn to ignore them.
Don’t cushion every blow. Life isn’t fair. My children must learn to cope with disappointment.
Don’t label them. They will use the labels to their advantage now, and to their detriment later.
Don’t pity them. I must teach my kids how to hold their heads high when faced with adversity.
Don’t solve their problems. Instead, it is up to me to teach them the language and tools necessary to stand up for themselves.
Don’t entertain them every moment of the day. They need to learn how to find comfort and peace when they are alone.
Don’t be afraid to zap them with doses of harsh reality. The best lessons are learned the hard way.
Don’t ignore them when they speak to me. Someday I’ll want them to feel safe talking to me.
Don’t tell my kids to “Shut-up!” It’s not nice. “Not nice” is a learned behavior.
Don’t placate them. Everything will not be okay. Life is hard. It’s healthier to prepare my kids with gentle honesty along the way.
Don’t lie to them. The truth always surfaces. I need my kids to trust me and they need to be able to do so.
Don’t put off or avoid the hard truths. My kids will learn them one way or another. It’s safer and more accurate when they come from me.
Don’t set bad examples. I have no one to blame but myself when my children follow them.
Don’t be upset with them when they behave just like me. I must admit my weaknesses and encourage my children to grow better.