I have two kids and one on the way. I am not a perfect mom; far from it. I make mistakes daily. Sometimes, they are tiny, so I just dust them off and keep it moving. But sometimes, those damn mistakes make it hard for me to fall asleep at night. I stay up wondering if I did the right thing… if I made the right call.
But I try my best to not let it get to me too much. No one ever promised that motherhood would be easy. It’s hard as hell, and all moms know it.
Yet, as much as I think moms are too hard on themselves and that we all need to show ourselves some more grace, I have to admit that there are some parenting habits that just need to go. They don’t serve our children well and they also harm us.
Just because parenting is hard doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep striving to give it our best. I think once we decide to become moms, we owe our kids that much. They deserve our best effort.
So, moms, here are five parenting habits that you should consider kicking to the curb. You and your family will be better off if you do.
I hate yelling. I also really hate the fact that I have yelled at my kids before. And as much as I would love to tell you that I never yell anymore, I can’t. It still happens sometimes. But it happens a lot less than it once did.
When you yell all the time, your children are more likely to not follow your instructions. They get accustomed to your yelling and just view it as your way of communicating with them. It also teaches your kids how to communicate with others, so don’t act shocked when you catch your kid yelling at his or her siblings. That behavior was learned from you.
We typically resort to yelling because we are angry or frustrated, but we have to think of the consequences before we raise our voices. It leaves you feeling drained, and it doesn’t show your kids anything positive about how to get a point across to the people they love most. I think all of our homes could use less yelling and more love.
When I was a child, I was constantly being compared to my brother. I am sure my mom and grandmother didn’t mean much harm by doing this, but it had a pretty significant impact on me as a child. Admittedly, I can still replay all the comparisons in my head. It was hurtful.
Now you may mean well, but comparing your child to siblings, other kids or even yourself as a kid isn’t helping at all. Let your child be who he or she is and just deal with any issues without the comparisons.
Comparisons make people feel like who they are is flawed and maybe they’d be better off if they were someone else. Don’t let your kids feel that way. Spend each day reminding them that they are special and that their flaws are simply a part of the human experience, not some defect in who they are as people.
Disciplining from a place of anger
I don’t spank my kids. I have many reasons why, but getting into that would require another blog post. But this is not about spanking or not spanking. This is about not implementing any form of discipline from a place of anger.
Discipline is designed to teach your children why something they did was wrong. There should be a valuable lesson involved. When you start disciplining just because you are mad, the lesson gets lost. You are simply being emotional. And we are human, so I get it. We get angry. We react.
But as parents, we have to do better. We have to try and check our anger. We have to calm down before we determine what the best course of action is once our child has stepped out of line. If you can’t do it from a place of calm, maybe ask the other parent to intervene, but just don’t discipline when you are red in the face. It never helps.
Failing to lead by example
The popular phrase “Do as I say and not as I do” is played out. You can’t yell all day and expect to have kids who don’t yell. You can’t eat a bunch of crap and expect your kids to eat veggies and water like they love the stuff. You can’t keep a terribly messy home and wonder why your kids are so darn messy. Your kids are going to do what you do. It’s really that simple.
Expecting them to only do what you say is unreasonable. Sure, many will follow the instructions of their parents out of respect, but please know that even those kids are getting meaningful lessons from what they see you doing, not just what you are saying. I think all parents, myself included, can do a better job at making sure our actions are in alignment with our words. It increases our credibility with our kids, and it also makes it a lot easier to have teachable moments when our kids choose to do something other than what we said.
Being partially present
We have to try harder when it comes to limiting the distractions in our lives. Our kids need us to be fully present when we are with them. They need that more than anything else. So whether it’s social media, your devices, your work, the television or constant phone calls from drama-having family members, try to limit how much you allow these distractions to take up precious time with your children.
Eat dinner together. Talk to each other. Put the devices away. Set boundaries with extended family and work responsibilities. Let your kids know that nothing is more important to you than they are. Let them see when you are with them, you are truly with them, not focused on something (or someone) else. They deserve that time with you and you deserve it, too.
BMWK family, what parenting habits would you like to kick to the curb in 2017?