As parents, we want our children to be happy and healthy. We want them to grow, succeed, and blossom. We love them with every fiber of our being, and we want to do it all right all of the time. But we are human, and we make mistakes. Sometimes, our love for them is so overwhelming that we find ourselves doing too much for our kids. It often isn’t intentional. It may be because we want to help them or think we can do things better ourselves. Here are a few things that parents should not do for their children.
1. Don’t Do Your Children’s Chores
Look, we know that this is a tough one. Every parent likes things done a certain way. Towels need to be folded like this, or you should really use this much detergent and not that much. As tempting as it may be to do it yourself, it just isn’t a great idea. Kids will have a much more difficult time becoming independent and learning life skills if we constantly step in and do things for them. Instead of taking over, help. Praise them for what they are doing well and make suggestions for improvement. This will help them to have pride in doing a good job and encourage them to keep up the excellent work.
2. Don’t Speak for Your Child
Children have beautiful voices. Let them use them. If someone asks your child how they are feeling or asks what is their favorite subject in school, resist the urge to tell that person all about your child — let them do the talking. It is important for children to be able to speak to adults confidently. Being able to carry on a conversation is a life skill that will stay with them when dating, interviewing for jobs, and just day-to-day casual interactions.
3. Don’t Apologize for Them
Another thing that parents should not do for their children is apologize for them. Kids can be stubborn, and they sometimes don’t like to admit when they are wrong. However, it is not a parent’s job to step in and apologize. First of all, you likely have nothing to apologize for. And secondly, your child isn’t learning to take responsibility for their actions. Even if it takes a bit of time and prodding, make that “I’m sorry” come from their mouth.
4. Don’t Do Your Child’s Homework
Who hasn’t sat at the kitchen table after a long day and wanted to pull their hair out over a math or phonics worksheet? We have all been there, and as tempting as it may be to blurt out the answers, that isn’t going to help anyone. Maybe instead of waiting until everyone is out of steam for the day, try to do things a bit earlier. Or, if you have someone else in the house who can help, call on them for assistance. Kids will never learn the necessary skills if we do things for them. Academics are important, and kiddos have to do things themselves to stay on the right track.
5. Don’t Decide Their Likes and Interests
Just because you were a dancer and took dance classes doesn’t mean your daughter wants to follow in your footsteps. The son of the star quarterback may have no interest in football, either. And you know what? That’s okay. Kids are amazing creatures, and every one of them has unique talents and gifts. Give them the opportunity to explore lots of different things and allow them to choose what is best for them. A child with a genuine interest is much more likely to give it their all than someone forced to do something they don’t love.
6. Don’t Schedule Every Minute of Every Day
Sometimes we feel the need to do it all. We want our kids to be in a sport, music class, ballet, etc. And that can be a lot for little bodies to handle. We must remember that our kids are kids, and they need some downtime too. While it may seem like they are having fun at all of their activities, they would probably enjoy laying on the couch with you watching a family movie just as much as gymnastics. Instead of scheduling every hour of every day, give your kids (and yourself) a break.
7. Don’t Fight All of Their Battles
We never want to see our children hurting, and it may seem simple to step in during a conflict and help them resolve things. That isn’t always helpful. Kids need to be able to stand up for themselves, fight for what they believe is right, and learn that sometimes they are wrong. Resist the urge to text another parent when things are tough between your children. At least give them a chance to work things out before stepping in.
8. Don’t Step in When They Struggle
Kids are going to have tough times. Those tough times may come in the form of doing homework, riding a bike, or struggling with one of their friendships. It isn’t always appropriate to step in during those struggles. It’s good for them to struggle. We often have to stay on the sidelines and watch our children learn and grow. If things have gotten to the point when they are out of control, then, of course, a little help from mom and dad is okay. But if they can conquer a mild struggle on their own, let them build that self-esteem, confidence, and tenacity.
9. Don’t Try to Choose Your Child’s Friends
It is easy to want our kids to be friends with the children of our own friends. Doesn’t it seem dreamy to have playdates with adults and kids who all love each other and get along all the time? While this may sound like the perfect scenario, it doesn’t always work out that way. Your child may love the kid with the lizards, even though you don’t want to be within 10 feet of the slimy buggers. Let your kids gravitate to and build friendships with the people they enjoy. Don’t force on them who you believe are the perfect friends for them.
10. Don’t Take Credit Where It Isn’t Due
If your child has just scored the winning goal at a soccer game, don’t say things like, “He learned that from me,” or, “His dad was a superstar in his day.” Let your child’s light shine on its own. While you may have played a part in that success, you weren’t the one doing the work, and we must give credit where credit is due. Kids work hard at school and with all of their activities. Let them take in the accolades and be proud of themselves. They deserve it.
Yes, being a parent is hard. Stopping ourselves from doing all the things all the time is even more challenging. But there has to be a balance. We want our children to grow up to be accomplished adults who will take on this crazy world and conquer it. That kind of strength and confidence starts with us. It is okay to do, just don’t do too much. Yes, you can say yes, just not all the time. Guide your children down life’s path, but don’t take the steps for them. It is vital to allow them to explore this fantastic world and make their mark. One day, they will thank you for the love and guidance, even when some of it was tough love. And if you are lucky, one day, you might see some of your wisdom passed down from them to their children.