I called my mom the other day and shot a dicey question at her. “What do you and dad regret most about how you raised us?”
She let out a soft cackle (mom always laughs when about to shrug off a topic). After a few minutes of coaxing, she let it off her chest.
“I at times feel like your dad and I shuffled your schools too much. You guys were always distraught after every move.”
For the record, I think all five of us turned out fine, the dizzying school shuffling notwithstanding.
Now that I am a parent, I have deep-seated respect for my parents. I know firsthand that parenting is not easy. It’s a ride peppered with experiments, advice, google searches, intuition, experience, and other stuff I may discover along the way.
Parents just do their best and pray that their kids become the salt of the earth.
Do you wonder what your guardian/parents regret most about how they raised you? Do you have the spine to prod them? This article explores 5 common parenting regrets.
#1: I Wish I Didn’t Yell at My Kids
Did we strike a raw nerve there? Did you just yell at your son 5 minutes ago?
Breathe in. Now breathe out.
Let’s be honest, most of us hold the view that yelling at our kids is inevitable. We consider it a powerful parenting hack.
Granted, kids do a neat job of driving us up the wall. Is there a way of grabbing their attention without summoning our lungs?
Well, older parents regret shouting at their kids, and for a good reason. They claim that it caused a rift between them and their children.
Child experts warn that yelling at kids inspires fear, not respect. Yelling is abrasive and condescending. All your child wants to do at that moment is flee.
Imagine having a boss who shouts instructions at you all the time? How would that make you feel? I am sure you would spend every waking moment devising ways of ditching that job.
Maybe it’s time to slip into your child’s teeny weeny shoes. Maybe it’s time to picture how your sweet tot feels as you bellow at them for touching your couch with soiled hands. It’s just a couch for Pete’s sake!
Key Lesson: Yelling at a child cows them. It makes them retract into their shell like a turtle at the sight of a predator. It may also make them more aggressive verbally and physically.
#2: I Wish I Didn’t Compare My Kids
“When your sister was your age she didn’t wet her bed!”
“Your cousin can easily solve this math problem unaided!”
The above two remarks may seem harmless. They may come across as little nudges to help a child step up.
But in actual sense, these remarks are laced with venom. Hurling them at your tot is like thrusting a sharp dagger into their self-worth.
Older parents hang their heads low in shame for pitting their kids against their peers. They now realize that it was counterproductive.
“I would constantly urge my daughter to emulate her brother who excelled in his studies and was exemplary in public speaking. I assumed doing this would skyrocket her performance. She instead wound up with a tattered self-esteem” Nancy, a mom of two laments as she knuckles away a tear.
Comparing kids not only rips their self-worth apart but also aggravates their anxiety. They are conscious of their parent’s expectations and constantly fret over not meeting them.
Key Lesson: Each child is unique and is endowed with special abilities. Stacking kids up against their peers snuffs out their confidence and turns them into a bundle of nerves.
#3: I Wish I Encouraged My Children to Explore Their Talents
The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire − Ferdinand Foch.
As a little girl, Cathy loved watching her mom cook. She would follow her like a puppy, prodding her, itching to try her hand in the meals. At 12 years, Cathy would effortlessly whip up mouthwatering dishes for her family.
When time came for her to join college, Cathy naturally wanted to study culinary arts. She nursed dreams of working as a chef and eventually starting her own restaurant.
But her parents had ‘better’ plans for her. They dissuaded her and sent her to law school.
Cathy abhorred studying law. She made it to the graduation list by the skin of her teeth.
As she walked up the stage donned in her graduation gown amidst her family’s roaring applause, she was certain of one thing – she would not practice law.
She would shed off the law degree just as she would her graduation gown later in the afternoon.
Two weeks later, after the festive dust around her graduation had settled, Cathy enrolled in culinary school. Like a magnet, her love for the kitchen drew her in.
Many parents regret shrugging off their kids’ gifts and talents. They beat themselves up for not nudging them towards careers in line with their gifts and talents.
Natural abilities are like shadows in the early morning sun. They hunt you down and clutch at your conscience like a needy toddler.
Key Lesson: Encourage your kids towards their gifts and talents. Allow them to savor activities that make their hearts sing.
#4: I Wish I Didn’t Ignore Cues from My Children
Carol’s 7-month old baby would cry incessantly every time she handed him over to the baby sitter. It bothered Carol a lot, puncturing her peace at work.
Carol figured she would be greatly inconvenienced if she pulled the plug on her baby sitter’s contract. Besides, Jane, her best friend had highly recommended the baby sitter. Carol tucked away her misgivings and sailed on with her life.
Months later, she spotted them.
Glaring red marks on her little tot’s body. A clear sign that the babysitter had been assaulting her child. She plummeted headfirst into a state of grief and regret.
Many parents have trudged this road. They regret not acting on the cues their kids shoved in their faces. They were too busy making ends meet. They had no wiggle room for the little pockets of intrusions that often sprung up.
Key Lesson: Does your child get restless in the presence of a certain relative or neighbor? Do they suddenly want to avoid riding on the school bus?
That may be your cue that something stinks. Drop everything else and get to the root of the problem. You owe that to your child.
#5: I Wish My Kids and I Were Friends
“Your child should not be your friend” – Has that warning been hurled at you yet?
Some people hold the opinion that nurturing a friendship with your child is an abomination. They claim that it compromises your authority over them.
Older parents however wish they had forged friendships with their children. They wish their kids were free to talk to them about their fears, high school crushes, bullying, peer pressure, and other issues.
They wish they connected more with their children by spending one on one time with them, listening without judging, and making their kids feel accepted despite their flaws.
They wish they didn’t have to constantly speculate what their kids were up to.
Key Lesson: Granted, every parent should draw a line in the sand while forging friendships with their children. The sanctity of the parental role should not be watered down.
It however helps to keep the communication lines open with your kids. It helps to have your kids see you as their safe escape from life’s brutal punches.
When we are old and our hair grey, we all hope to nurse the feeling that we did a good job raising our kids. We hope that our children will become responsible adults who will leave a positive mark in the society.
By taking note of what older parents regret most, we can hopefully dodge some parenting pitfalls. Do you have some parenting regrets yet? We would love to hear them. Please indulge us in the comments section.