When I was young my dad would take me to sports games. I remember the feeling of sitting in the stands, the smell of the food, and enjoying the company of my dad. Oftentimes at these games I would hear fans directing comments at the players such as, "How did you miss that?" or "You blew it." Some fans even had choice words for the coaches, "I can’t believe you are putting him in the game!" and "Bad move coach!" In sports, there are decisions for the coaches and the players to make, some decisions are immediate, and others take time and are thoughtfully planned.
The same pressures, from onlookers, and opportunities to make mistakes are present in parenting. John Gottman a parenting expert stated "Whether the challenge is infant colic, potty training, sibling warfare, or broken prom dates, your child looks to you for signals. So, you might as well put on the coach's cap and help your child win the game."
The first reason parents make mistakes
is found in the concept of "imaginary audience." Psychologist David Elkind coined this phrase as a result of studying adolescents, who seemed to have the mindset that everyone was watching them, even if no one really was. The nervousness that comes when we feel we are being watched is not an uncommon feeling.
Answer this question: How do you feel when your child pulls a temper tantrum in the grocery store? Does it feel like everyone is wondering about you? This is an example of a possible imaginary audience, which, in some cases, switches to an actual audience of onlookers. Whether it is an imaginary audience or a real audience, most parents feel pressure in situations like this.
Alfie Kohn, an educator and parenting expert, has a suggestion, "If you're in public, ignore everyone around you. The more worried you are about how other people will judge your parenting skills, the greater the chance that you'll respond with too much control and too little love and patience. This is not about what people think of you; it's about what your child needs."
As parents learn to look past their imaginary audiences more often, they will make few mistakes with their children because they are not making decisions based on pressure, whether real or imaginary.
The second reason parents make mistakes
is found in their stress load. Consider this quote from a child development textbook "Parents who are financially secure, not overloaded with job pressures, and content with their marriages usually find it easier to grant teenagers appropriate autonomy and experience less conflict with them."
Common sense would tell us that when we are burdened with life we take out stress on those closest to us. One of the mistakes that most parents make when they are rushed or stressed is found in this quote from several parenting educators, "We may be in a hurry, or maybe [we] are stressed, or today we want something done in a certain way. Helpful loving reasons all. So we dress the child or make the bed or do the chore or make the phone call. But, if we do that too often or to long we keep our children from flying."
By allowing ourselves time to slow down by relieving our stress load we will be less likely to make mistakes that we will regret because we were too rushed.
Let’s face it, parents make mistakes
But they don’t have to make as many. Now with only a few minutes spent reading, you have been provided with parenting information to help you make fewer mistakes.
Scott is a student whose love of teaching and desire to strengthen families led him into his current major of Marriage and Family Studies. He strives diligently to fulfill his role as husband and father of two children.