You’re a good parent, I know you are.
I know because if you weren’t, you probably wouldn’t be hanging around parenting blogs like this one.
You’re probably not abusive, neglectful, or in the habit of making parenting choices that could get you on the evening news.
You’re not a bad parent by any stretch of the imagination.
And yet you could always be a better one, right? We all have room for improvement.
Here are 12 big mistakes even good parents make—most of which are made either A) completely unintentionally, or B) purposefully but with nothing but good intentions.
Are you guilty of any of them?
12 Big Parenting Mistakes Even Good Parents Make
1. Dismissing our children’s emotions.
As bona fide grown ups, we know there’s no valid reason to be scared of the big sliding board and that, in the grand scheme of things, it really doesn’t matter that they’re out of the pink donuts with purple sprinkles.
So when our children express strong reactions of fear, disappointment, or frustration to such menial or illogical situations, we tend to brush them off.
But while we have the perspective of what’s legitimately scary and what isn’t—and what’s a big deal and what isn’t—our kids don’t. What they’re feeling in that moment is very real and big to them.
While it’s important that we teach them perspective, it’s also essential that we acknowledge and validate their very real emotions.
2. Never letting them see you fail.
I’ve chatted with other adults who distinctly remember the moment they first realized their dad wasn’t Superman or their mom wasn’t perfect—and that it shook them to their core.
Should such realizations really come as such a shock to kids?
I think the more powerful life lesson is when children see their parents mess up—and then handle that mess up with dignity and integrity. That could mean confessing to a wrongdoing, apologizing for hurting someone, working to remedy a situation, and/or finding ways to grow stronger from it.
And yes, sometimes this means apologizing to our own kids when deep down we know we’ve failed them in some way.
3. Being more of a friend than a parent.
Most of us want our kids to like us, sure. But in the end, our title is parent, not best buddy.
When our focus is more on wanting our children to like us than it is on wanting our children to become respectful and responsible adults, that’s about us, not them. That’s about our need for validation. And it isn’t doing our children any favors in the long run.
4. Refusing to seek outside help when it’s warranted.
Many of us parents want to be the end-all-be-all for our kids. We think we should be the ones to fulfill their every need because, come on, we’re their moms or dads!
But that perspective can lead us away from seeking outside professional help, even when such help is desperately needed—be it for the toddler who should see a speech therapist for her developmental delays or the sixteen-year-old who needs to talk to a counselor about his worsening depression.
The job of a parent is less about fulfilling our child’s every need ourselves and more about having the wisdom to know when others can fulfill it better than we can.
Katie M. McLaughlin, M.S., is the mom of an energetic preschooler and a very hungry newborn. When she’s not wrangling her children, she’s also a freelance writer and blogger. Katie believes that moms can do anything, but not everything, and she writes about it on her site Pick Any Two.