Seeing an article with the words, ‘#1 Biggest Parenting Mistake’ has got to be scary. Suddenly you think, yikes! Am I doing that? Maybe you rush to click on the link or maybe you don’t, scared by the real possibility that what ever it is, you might be doing it. Perhaps you’re worried you’ll wake up at night haunted by this secret mistake that you didn’t even know you were doing. Well, relax because finding out whether you’re doing it is the first step to actually stop doing it. Not only that, I can guarantee that if you are doing it, stopping will do your kids an immense favour.
It’s something we don’t even question
So what is the #1 biggest parenting mistake you can make? Well I’m going to bypass all the obvious stuff like not loving them, caring for them or feeding them and those kinds of things and focus on something that doesn’t even make it on to most peoples radar. That’s because you’re surrounded by a society who thinks what I’m going to tell you is the #1 biggest parenting mistake is actually good for your kids. Not only would its supporters suggest it’s good, but a large part of the economy rides on the fact that it’s good.
It’s politically incorrect but it’s also true
So today we’re actually going to question an ideology so pervasive, so engrained in your everyday world that you probably have never even thought about it. Ok, so what is it? It’s the idea that your children should be the focus of your activity. Sounds weird right? They’re your kids, surely they should be the focus of your life! This is where if I said this standing on a soapbox I could expect some rotten tomatoes and some nasty mouldy potatoes thrown my way. Luckily I’m hiding behind my site. Whew!
The secret is knowing children’s real needs
You see focusing your day around your children and entertaining them is guaranteed to make them unhappy. It’ll also do a number of other horrid things like contribute to them developing narcissistic tendencies as well but we’ll get in to that later. For now, I’m simply going to express that ‘entertaining’ or ‘focusing’ on your kids every day is a recipe for disaster, the same way adding too much flour and too little water will guarantee a dry cake. It’s baked in.
Kids are designed to watch, mimic and follow you and so if you hover about trying to entertain them you send a message. That message comes across as the fact that you don’t have anything to do with your day other than to try and make them happy. All the other myriad parts of your life, all the things you have to do to maintain the household and your life in general take a back seat to their entertainment.
Why do entertainments make them unhappy?
So why is this a destructive message? Well, because kids are designed to follow you and if you don’t have any other priorities, they can’t do that. Life is literally all about them. Can you see where the narcissism comes in now? Left to its ultimate conclusion and you have a bunch of children who think the world revolves around them because it does. It’s also I would argue, a very nasty, unfair and horrid shock when they find out when they’re adults, that the world actually doesn’t revolve around them. It also makes them less nice, less caring and less interested in other people. After all, why be interested in someone else if they aren’t doing something for you?
Does this mean you can’t have fun?
So does all this mean you can’t occasionally go to the zoo or play a game in the park? No, of course not. Some entertainment makes the world a nicer place. Does it mean you should ignore your children, stay glued to your i pad and just do what’s important to you? No, that would be selfish. What it means is that for most of the time with your children, you should strive to make children part of your activity but not the focus of it. That means when you do dishes, they help to. When you do laundry, let them sort the socks and so forth. When you go to the grocery store, get them to pick out the apples and bananas and help you carry the bags to the car. All these activities give children a grounding in time and space.
Let’s look at history
Go back 100 years and kids were helping to get the eggs from the chicken coup and dig up the potatoes. They were happy kids back then, other than when they might have met with the strap from dad, which luckily we’re not in to anymore. They felt important because they had a role, not just because they were breathing. To have happy, fulfilled kids you must give them a modern day equivalent and to make them care about others, they must learn to be part of something larger than themselves.
More doesn’t make them happier
So why does our society think entertaining kids is such a great idea? Well it’s become that way not because it was deliberate but because of growth economics, which has provided us with more entertainment, more choices and ultimately more leisure time to do what’s important to us. However, because we have the ability to spend time hovering doesn’t mean it will result in happier or more successful children. I know you’re told that if you spend more time attending to your garden, you’ll have a nicer garden. If you spend more time pursuing your career, you’ll be more successful. So why wouldn’t it work with your children? Well, I’m here to tell you it doesn’t and I’ve got 60,000 years of evolution to back me up. That and a lot of visits to homes with kids surrounded by all the entertainments they could ever wish for but missing the one most important thing they need. Need more help to zone in on your child’s real needs? Go here.
Ok, you can throw the rotten eggs now.