The occurring hit me light a bolt of lightning….leaving me weakened in the knees. I was reviewing some notes from numerous sessions I had facilitated. After flipping through page after page, seeing time and again how interactions with parents were now crippling these adult children, I thought of my own kids and my interactions with them.
We want only the best for our children and would never knowingly do anything to hurt them. Yet I saw instances where my own interactions with them were eerily similar to devastating consequences I was seeing in adults I am now working with.
When pondering what I was seeing in these adults I could easily define the 5 biggest errors parents unknowingly make that can sabotage their children later in life.
Parenting Error #1
Criticizing and judging your child’s behaviour.
Whenever you say things to your children like, “What’s wrong with you?”; “Don’t you think you should have …?”; “How many times do I have to tell you?”, or whenever you make those disgusted faces–your child walks away feeling “less than.“
The beliefs they are likely to form are: I’m not good enough. There’s something wrong with me. I’m inadequate.
Parenting Error #2
Getting upset and angry when your kids make mistakes or fail; telling them that if only that had listened to you they wouldn’t have screwed up.
If you do they likely will conclude Mistakes and failures are bad and If I make a mistake or fail I’ll be rejected. Other common beliefs include I’m not competent and I’m not capable
Parenting Error #3
Spending time worrying about what others think and telling your children that people’s approval is important.
Do you remember how much your parents worried about what the neighbours or the people in the store or restaurant would think when you didn’t do what they wanted you to do?
When your child has the belief “What makes me good enough is having other people think well of me” the results are devastating. Rather than doing “their life” they’re trying to please others and they end up sacrificing their satisfaction and joy in life.
Parenting Error #4
Telling children not to cry or be upset. Telling children it is not okay to show anger.
Most parents don’t want their children to be upset, sad, or angry. Frequently when our children are sad or angry, we often tell them not to be. We mean well but these comments send a message that having certain feelings and expressing them (especially anger) is not okay.
When your children are told things like, “Big boys don’t cry,” “There is no reason to cry,” or worse “I’ll give you something to cry about,” they conclude things like, Crying is not okay, Men don’t cry, It’s not okay to show feelings, or My feelings don’t matter. Many people also have the belief that it’s not okay to express anger.
Some consequences of these beliefs include people not standing up for themselves and going through life with a fear of conflict. This leads to adults not saying what they think or feel and not getting what they want. People also suppress their feelings and go though life dead to their emotions. When you shut down feelings, you shut down happiness in addition to sadness.
Parenting Error #5
Reading the newspaper, playing with your cell phone/ computer or watching TV when your child is talking to you.
Imagine talking to an adult friend who is playing with his cell phone while you talk to him. If you really want to get a sense of what your child feels, take a moment and really imagine this. … How would you feel? What would you conclude?
Here is what most kids would conclude:
I’m not important. What I have to say is not important. People aren’t interested in what I have to say.
These are but the tip of the iceberg. Every minute of a child’s day is filled will child/ parent interaction that have the potential to either propel your child forward in life or be their loadstone.
I write this, not to make you feel bad about past interactions….but to enlarge your awareness for future interactions. As adults we operate, communicate and interact thru Incidental Childhood Programs installed in us by our parents. The first step to rewriting our own negative reactionary programs is to be aware of them. So with that awareness, give your kids a hug and tell them you love them.