Our most recent parent outing highlighted yet again a topic that we constantly find ourselves providing counseling around. We often take for granted our insights being an outside and unbiased perspective and although it seems obvious to us where you messed up as a parent, we wanted to take the time to highlight those areas for you so if you’re the parent of a struggling young person you can reference this article to review what you are doing wrong. Make sure you read them all, I’m 100% confident you are doing or have done at least 10 of these things wrong!
What You Did or Are Doing Wrong
1. *You were too strict, it made them resent you.
*You weren’t strict enough, they have no respect for authority.
2. *You gave your kids what you didn’t have growing up.
*You gave them very little to teach them the value of earning things.
3. *You were too involved in their personal life.
*You weren’t involved enough.
4. *You pushed them towards academics and they would thank you later.
*You didn’t push them academically so you wouldn’t stress them out.
5. *You pushed them towards extra-curricular activities so they would socialize normally.
*You didn’t push them towards extra-curricular activities because they are introverted.
6. *You accepted it when they told you they were gay.
*You didn’t accept it when they told you they were gay.
7. *You instilled discipline at home, now they resent you for it.
*You didn’t instill discipline at home, now they have no respect for you or anyone.
8. *You let them choose their own college, now they have a substance abuse problem.
*You didn’t let them choose their own college, they’re not invested in school now.
9. *You needed to approve of all their friends, now they can’t determine good vs. bad influences.
*You didn’t approve of their friends, if you had they wouldn’t have got in with the wrong crowd.
10. *You told them about your hardships early in life, it pushed them away further because you compared them to you.
*You didn’t tell them about your hardships early in life, now they are following the same path as you because you didn’t steer them clear.
11. *You talked to them about drugs and alcohol, this normalized the behavior.
*You didn’t talk to them about drugs and alcohol, they experimented too much as a result.
12. *You advocated for them in school about their problems, now they expect special treatment in all aspects of their life.
*You refused to advocate for them in school about their problems, they feel you are not understanding of their problems and dismiss them.
13. *You let them have unlimited screen time, now they only find joy in electronics.
*You didn’t let them have unlimited screen time, they were alienated from their peers as a result.
14. *You made them go to therapy sessions, this overcomplicated and stigmatized their problems.
*You didn’t make them get professional help, now the behavior and thoughts are engrained.
15. You made them eat their vegetables… Ok, I haven’t heard that one yet, but close… You get the point.
Your Score as a Failing Parent
So, how did you do? In what seemed like a tedious exercise, I assure you it was necessary for me to prove my point, any action you take or don’t take may result in you second guessing your parenting style or decisions you have made or are in the process of making. We find ourselves reassuring parents quite often that feeling guilty about what you have or have not done, or could have done differently is entirely unhelpful. In fact, all it serves to do is shift the burden of action back onto you as the parent of a struggling young person, when as a young adult, that person needs to take control of their own destiny. As a parent, your job is to support things you personally feel are important and helpful, not to take personal responsibility for the actions of another.
Repeat after me… “I am not perfect.” “I do the best I can.” “I make decisions based on the information I have.” “I only offer opportunity and learning based on what I know worked for me and others I’ve talked to.” “I am not responsible for other people’s decisions.”
I know these words must be spoken by parents, because I often have to repeat them to myself in my profession… What I have learned in more than a decade of doing life skills and counseling, is that you must accept that we are imperfect and make less than ideal decisions. More importantly however, I have learned that what is a good action to take with one person, does not work for another and that there is no way to tell in advance. If you’re still feeling uneasy about decisions you are making or have made for your kids ask yourself this question. If there was always a “right” answer that created perfect outcomes for everyone, would the entire field of psychology exist?
So, go back out there and “fail” as parents if that’s how you choose to look at it. Personally, I’ll continue to look at you as the ROCKSTARS you are, full of compassion and support, and in the face of adversity, and continuing to improvise, adapt, and overcome… Counselors need heroes too, and you’re it!
Rory K. McLaughlin, CEO
Great article Rory. I’ve often thought what if …; what if I parented our son in a way conducive to him? I was proactive and did what I could or what I felt was the right thing to do at the time. It’s a challenge to overcome the thoughts of what if…. but at the end of the day, we know that right now our son is at the best place. Great saying for us parents to repeat! Thank you for all you’ve done for our son. He’s got a bright future a head, thanks to you and your team.
Thanks Rory! This was good to hear…..again! It is indeed the hardest job you’ll ever love. As always, thank you for what you have done for ours and continue to do for others!