Updated: Oct 10
Part of becoming a parent means that you're going to be feeling guilty, at least part of the time, no matter how good you are.
You might accidentally tread on your child's finger, or leave their favourite toy at the supermarket. Or even drive home, and forget to pick them up from daycare.
You may do much worse.
Usually parents want the best for their children and their long term motives for them are good.
But there are some bad parenting mistakes parents who have good intentions can make if they don't have balance in their parenting styles. Protection, correction, organization and freedom are great parenting attributes. But if any one of these attributes are the dominant parenting style the results can become damaging.
So let's look at the motive behind the mistakes first:
Anyone who has ever had a child, is afraid that something bad could happen to them. But with some of the parenting styles I've highlighted below, fear can be the over-riding factor. And the consequences can be serious.
1. The Helicopter Parent: I want to protect my child from everything bad in the world.
This is the parent that will swoop in to make sure that their child's world is SAFE. They will hover, making all roads smooth, ensuring their child cannot be hurt in any way.
In an extreme, they wouldn't for example let a child jump around outside in case they fall over. Or they may not let them go to a birthday party in case they're exposed to junk food, germs or potential child predators.
And this hovering can extend to protect their children from any emotional falls as well.
CONSEQUENCE: The child's world becomes very small. They get little or no opportunity to explore and develop confidence. Or develop any resilience.
2. The Take Charge Manipulator: If I'm in control nothing will go wrong.
This is the parent that can't help taking control. They're the one who makes the children's beds for them because the children can't do it well enough. Or they answer questions directed to their children. They make all decisions: what movies to see, what clothing to buy, what foods will be eaten. Even solving problems for their child... without ever being asked.
CONSEQUENCE: The child gets little opportunity to make decisions and develop confidence. If this style is dominant the child can end up incapable of making decisions because they can become afraid to. They don't get the opportunity to develop confidence, to risk take, to develop resilience and to feel good about a decision well made.
3. The Perfectionist: If my child makes a mistake it can ruin their life and they have to learn to be vigilant.
This is the parent who has a discerning eye. They're quick to notice any error. And they feel it's important to share this information with his or her children, so they don't make a mistake.
CONSEQUENCE: While every child needs guidance, having a critical eye watching over every they do can be devastating to a child's confidence. And at an extreme, it erodes the relationship because the child feels they can't do anything right. They often give up... What's the point of trying if someone is only going to find fault.
4. The Free Range Parent: Often feels it's difficult (or unnecessary) to set many rules or boundaries assuming it'll all work out in the long run. These parents often want to be a friend to their child and may even fear rejection if they try to parent their kids.
This parenting style tends to be hands off. And although their child gets by, with good luck most of the time, sometimes this isn't the case. And it can be a disaster.
CONSEQUENCE: The child may be a little wilder than peers, have difficulty with limits, including schooling. Some other kids may not be allowed to play with them.
Yet, if you mixed the positive aspects of all of these styles together, in a balanced way, you would likely have a style suitable to successfully parent children?
By mixing the concern and the ability to foresee risk from the helicopter-parent, the organizational skill of the take-charge-manipulator, the ability to notice detail and set high standards from the perfectionist, and the easy going friendship of the freedom loving free-range-parent, it's possible to create a much more balanced and successful parenting style.
It's great that parents look out for their children, organize some structure in their kids lives, identify important areas that can affect long term health and well being, encourage high standards yet still provide the freedom for children to flourish.
Best of luck to you.
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Disclaimer: Best Parenting Advice provides some examples of what worked for me and you are welcome to use them as you see fit but you do so at your own risk. This site does not guarantee that information suggested will work in every instance or with every child.