The Ultimate Parent Fails


The Ultimate Parent Fails
Typical mistakes we make as parents, and how to avoid them.

By Barbara Greenberg, PhD, Teen Parenting Expert

Yep, we all do it. So let's have a little fun looking at our "parent fails"- those moments of parenting gone awry where we had the best of intentions but no guide to tell us exactly what to do. Those "oh no, did I just do that or say that? moments are inevitable if you are a parent who is deeply immersed in the parenting game. And, during this game wrong and awkward moves are bound to happen, REPEATEDLY.

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Parent fails can and do happen in a variety of ways and fall into a number of categories. My observations and work with teens and their parents lead me initially into the land of "Did I really just say that?" The minute the words leave your mouth you find yourself wishing that you could stuff them right back in but it's too late and the words have already left an impression on your sweethearts. Let me also reassure you that even though you may try to repress what you have said that your kids will be all too happy to remind you, maybe even for years after, about exactly what you said. Perhaps, a time will come when the two of you can laugh looking back though. I sure hope so.

Related: Five Most Controversial Parenting Stories

A. What are the most common phrases that you'll regret ever having said? Consider this partial list:

1. "You are too sensitive." Really, she was just tormented by her peers and you are handily dismissing her bruised feelings. Bad idea. She is unlikely to open up to you again about her vulnerabilities.

2. "Just ignore him." You think it's easy to ignore. Have you been able to do that? It is not the human condition to ignore things and to not take things personally. If something is said to us then it is usually intended to reach us on some visceral or emotional level.

3. "Because I said so." What exactly does that teach your child? Are your words that powerful or are you simply letting them know that you are tired of dealing with them. These words sound rather dismissive to me.

4. "Your brother got straight A's in that class." So, you are trying to foster sibling rivalry. Way to go. You are on the right track. Keep it up and your kids will start hating each other.

5. "I don't know where you came from." Honestly, you don't know where your child came from. Well, whose fault is that and you are trying to imply that you had expected a better child? YIKES.

B. What are the things that you will assume about your child that might also fall under that rubric of parent fails?

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1. "My child would never be mean to another child." Hold on. Just as parents make mistakes so do kids. And, if we acknowledge that they, like us, are less than perfect then we can help our kids with behavioral corrections and adjustments.

Related: What to do When Your Teen is the Bully or the Bad Boy

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