Home Success The Things Mentally Strong Parents Don’t Do
Success

The Things Mentally Strong Parents Don’t Do

SimiFebruary 11, 2018

How mentally strong are your children? Raising healthy, mentally adjusted children, who are able to deal with the challenges of life as adults can be a challenge. Modern parenting practices have changed considerably over time. The way your grandparents raised your parents, or your parents raised you, may be quite different from the way that you are raising your own children. There are shelves of books in any bookstore and countless titles available online from experts, to guide modern parents in their goal of raising mentally strong children. Modern parenting and traditional family roles have changed considerably over time, too. The traditional roles of a husband and wife have changed, too. It is very common in modern families for both parents to work full time. Is there a stay-at-home parent in your family? Do you or your partner, parent, full time? For most families, both parents need to work to make a living.

Depending on your joint incomes and strengths, it may be the case that one parent decides to fulfill the role of the primary parent while his or her partner is the breadwinner. Every family is different. Family structures and relationships have also changed quite dramatically over the past decades. There are many different kinds of families. There are family units with single parents or extended step-siblings, step-parents, and more complex family patterns. Traditionally, more old-fashioned parenting techniques have changed too, and now embrace a range of philosophies and styles that are quite different from previous generations. There are 13 things that mentally strong parents never do. Are you guilty of any of these?

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

1. Never Indulge A Pity Party

Teaching children to be resilient is one of the best things that you can do. Yes, Sammy is upset that she wasn’t chosen to be the lead in the school play, or, little David didn’t make the basketball team again this year. Children have a right to express their emotions and feel sad or be upset. However, allowing children to think that they are victims of life and have no choice, and are allowed to sulk, is not psychologically healthy. It’s far better to teach your children that they have options and as upset as they are, that there are other choices that they can make. Perhaps David can try another sport, or try again when he is a bit taller. Sammy has been chosen to be a part of the chorus and has a lovely singing voice. Yes, she is upset that she isn’t going to be the star of the show but, she needs to change her focus and see that she is a part of the play, and adjust her thinking.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

“10 Second Pity Party”…be firm. Teach your children that they are not victims of life. Life is full of rejections, and it is important to be able to understand that it is not personal. Your children may be rejected many times in life – from colleges, from romantic partners, from potential employees. Being able to bounce back from these experiences and being mentally resilient is an essential life skill. It starts with teaching children that they can take positive action to change their life and that sulking, and feeling sorry for oneself, is not something to dwell on. It is unhealthy to do this and children need to learn how to deal with rejection from a young age or risk believing they are victims of life, as adults. Never indulge in an extended ‘pity-party’ or sulky behavior.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

2. Never Parent Out Of Guilt

Modern life is full of demands. There are constant time demands; working parents have busy schedules, but mentally strong parents never parent out of guilt. Mentally strong parents never reward or overindulge children with gifts or bribes. This is a very unhealthy way to parent. It teaches your children all the wrong values. Modern life is time-pressured, and for many families, vacations are a time to relax and bond. Mentally strong parents never indulge their children, even on holiday. No, it is not okay to buy your son a vast selection of PlayStation games or lavish him with gifts because you haven’t seen him in two weeks. It may feel like generosity and love to you, but it is not psychologically healthy to spoil your son this way. Gift-giving is something that should be saved for birthdays or Christmas or for special achievements.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

What has your son done to deserve such generous gifts? But he is my son, you say – and I can buy him anything I like, surely? No, you should not. Why is this, you ask? Well, on a very basic level, a big part of life is working towards reaching our goals, whatever they may be. There are many types of rewards in life, from financial ones to praise or experiences. By simply giving your son gifts that he has not earned in any way, you are not allowing him to work for them. Simply put, you are not teaching him or her that they have to work for a reward. Life demands that people have a strong work ethic and teaching your children that they need to work towards that is important, even from a young age. Mentally strong parents never parent out of guilt or indulge children, as it does not promote healthy mental strength in their children.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

3. Never Indulge Egocentric Beliefs

Mentally strong parents do not believe that their child is the center of the universe. Perspective is important, and as much as you might like to prioritize your child’s wellbeing and education above all other needs, this perspective is very damaging to your child. An understanding that life is complex, and that there are many levels of focus and priorities in life, will help your child to understand that life is not only about their needs, wants, and desires. Mentally strong parents do not invest all their mental and physical energy into parenting their children and indulging their every desire. Yes, you love your children and want the best things in life for them, but you cannot make them the center of the universe. The reality is that there are other demands on your time, like work, and other commitments, that are also important. It is not only a question of time but also that focusing too much attention on your children can have negative consequences.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Does your life revolve around your children? Do you say no to your friends all the time when they want to meet for a coffee? Are your afternoons spent taking your children to and from clubs, sports activities, and school functions? Do you have any time at all for yourself? You may be investing too much time and energy into your child’s life at the expense of your own mental health and physical health. Balance is essential. Perhaps there are some activities that can be canceled. Children are egocentrically focused, generally speaking, and need to learn that not all their desires and whims can be met. This does not mean that you do not love or care about them, but that life is full of demands and choices and that there are other needs that have to be met as well. Mentally strong parents do not let their lives revolve solely around their children’s.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

4. Never Fail To Follow Up

Teaching your children that there are consequences to actions is one of life’s most important lessons. Yes, you have threatened little Melissa, and your youngest, Alex, that one of these days you are going to take their clothes away if they keep leaving them on the floor when you have asked them a million times to put them in the wash basket. What do you do when after carefully reminding them both to put their clothes away, you find them on the floor? A savvy parent has to make good on his or her words. In this instance, a mentally strong parent can take the clothes away and keep them. (As threatened, previously.) He or she can then tell the children that Mummy or Daddy will be keeping the clothes until they are brought back from their pocket money. This may seem quite harsh but it is essential to teach your children that there are consequences for their actions. It is not good enough to make idle threats; you have to follow up with action.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

As they say, talk is cheap. In this case, it is not. By asking the children to pay for their own clothes, you are teaching your children that there are consequences for their actions. Children do not like to disappoint their parents, and no doubt, this will be a very disturbing experience for your children. However, the lesson will be learned and never forgotten. Should that happen, you will need to repeat, and make good on your promises. Similarly, in life, there are consequences to our actions and words, all the time. Mentally strong parents never fail to follow up on their promises. Keeping your word is a very important lesson to learn for children. Learning to make a promise and what that means, too, is an essential part of life from our social relationships, to our work, and daily lives. Teaching children that there are consequences to their actions sets them up to be mentally stronger adults.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

5. Never Parent From A Fear-Based Perspective

Do you believe that the world is an unsafe place? Are you doing everything in your power to keep your children from being harmed? Would you say you are an overprotective parent? While protecting our children and keeping them safe is an essential part of parenting, it is possible to go too far. Children must not be raised inside a bubble. There are experiences in life that may be challenging and hurtful to your children. This is not a question of physical safety or risking your child’s health, physically or mentally in any way, but about letting them experience the world. Mentally strong parents understand that they will have to accept and tolerate a certain level of anxiety by having this perspective. Once again, it is not about putting your children at risk in any way, but about having a balanced perspective, when it comes to making decisions about your child’s movements, friends, and education.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

You may be thinking of Summer Camp for little Belle, but she has a nut allergy and is quite shy. You are worried that she will not make any friends and that, although the Camp knows about her allergy, that she may be at risk if you send her to a strange environment. Mentally strong parents do not allow fear to dominate their decisions. It is important to use a rational and logical thought process when making these types of decisions. Yes, you will be worried the whole time that Belle is there. But you need to trust that she is not going to come to any harm and that there are responsible adults there, who have her best interest at heart, too. Feel the fear, and do it, anyway.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

6. Never Let Children Have Power Over Them

Mentally strong parents understand that their children are not their friends, or, equals. Your children must not be allowed to dominate and control you. Ever. Never let them hold power in your decisions, daily life, and any part of parenting. This does not mean that you ignore their wishes, or listen to your children, but it means that you as the parent have overall authority and the final say. There is a strong boundary that divides you and your children, as close as you are. You are the adult, the person who is responsible, and you – and only you- make decisions. We are not talking about ‘what is on the menu for lunch’ type of conversations but decisions about more important matters. Giving your child too much freedom to make their own decisions may feel like you are giving them more responsibility. But it is not a good strategy to employ, overall. As your child grows older, you can gradually allow them to consult with you, but essentially, you are the parent and need to stay in control.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Parenting is not about friendship. Yes, you and your teenage daughter may feel like BFFs, especially if you have had your children at a young age, but you are not. You’re not friends, you are the parent and need to set clear boundaries. You are the adult and you need to remain an authority figure. Yes, there will be decisions that you make that will be unpopular and result in tears and arguments, but this is the job of parents, the world over. Mentally strong parents understand that in the parenting relationship, they need to hold power. Communicating decisions, taking responsibility for your child’s future, and more – all of these essential decisions you are making on behalf of your child, who is still learning about the world. You may consult them, but, the final word is yours.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

7. Don’t Expect Perfection

Mentally strong parents have a realistic understanding of their children’s abilities. Little Harris is a gifted musician, but his math skills are shockingly low. You send him for private lessons, but, there has been very little improvement, almost no change at all. Yet don’t give up. You just need to find the right teacher for him. You were very good at math and so is your partner – it must surely be the fault of his school. In fact, you’re also thinking of sending him to another school which has a stronger focus on academics. A mentally strong parent would consider, perhaps -and accept- that little Harris is simply never going to be an accountant, or very good at math. However, his musical talent may see him becoming a concert pianist, or, international singer. Mentally strong parents manage their expectations with regards to their children’s abilities and never expect perfection.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Expecting perfection places children under too much pressure. Your children may feel as if they have failed even when they have achieved a good result, but have not reached that high target that was set. This will rob your children of self-confidence, and their ability to set realistic and achievable goals. Reaching for the stars is always positive, but having realistic expectations is more beneficial to developing your child’s self-esteem. The ability to work hard and strive towards being the best that you can be is important. However, being able to balance your roles, needs, and desires, is mentally healthier, in the long term. Being perfect, grade A student, may seem like a noteworthy goal for your child, and pursuing academic success, his or her main priority. This may mean cutting out sporting activities and social time with friends. It’s healthier for children to be more well-rounded individuals, and future adults – with developed social skills – than it is for parents to concentrate on perfection in one area. Mentally strong parents do not focus on perfection but have a more dynamic view of what success looks like, for his or her unique child.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

8. Don’t Avoid Letting Children Take Responsibility

From a young age, children need to be taught life lessons that pertain to work, school, and home life. In many homes both parents are working, possibly full time, and there are chores that need to be done on a daily basis. Your family dog needs fresh water, every day; there are school lunches to make, and beds that need to be made. From a young age, you need to teach your children to take responsibility for household chores and develop their sense of personal accountability.  Do you do everything? In your home? Parents have a lot to do every morning. Are you juggling getting your children ready for school, getting breakfast on the table, and still making lunches? Mornings can be rushed, but depending on the age of your children, you can start by simply getting them to make their own school lunches. It does not take a lot of preparation or time to make sandwiches, or pack juice and healthy snacks into a lunch bag.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Similarly, you can delegate getting the breakfast table ready to your children. Encouraging them to take responsibility in the home teaches them positive, future life skills. Whether you chose to reward chores and good behavior with stars – or pocket money – is up to you. The main important principle that needs to be learned is about taking responsibility. If little Harris sleeps in too late, then he will not have time to make his lunch or help with breakfast set up. There are, depending on the age of your children, other ways that they can help out around the house. Regardless of your financial circumstances or help that you may have, you still need your children to be responsible for certain jobs. It may be as simple as laying the table before dinner or helping clear up. Mentally strong parents know that avoiding teaching children to be responsible will have negative consequences on their behavior as future adults. From small jobs, like helping in the garden to keeping their rooms tidy, children learn how to be responsible and make a positive difference in the home, and later in the world, at large.

9. Don’t Shield Children From Pain

It may seem like a very harsh and cruel practice, but by allowing your children to experience pain – emotional or mental – you help them to be mentally stronger, in the long term. If you never show anger towards your children or that you are disappointed or upset, you are not helping your child to mentally prepare for the experiences that they will have in the future. Shielding your child from upsetting experiences, criticism, and any negative emotions, maybe something instinctive for any parent. However, you need to allow your child’s mental and emotional responses – to life in general – to develop across a range of situations. Not everything in life is sunny, rainbows, unicorns, and happiness, all the time. Your child’s emotional capacity to tolerate the pressures of adult life starts in their formative years. By shielding them too much, you can stunt your child’s emotional growth.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

There are many challenges that children may face from an early age. Marriages fall apart; parents argue, siblings fight. Nasty words may be said in anger. This is not a carte blanche suggestion that you expose your children needlessly to emotional pain. It is essential that you are realistic about the degree to which you protect your child. Parents who are going through a divorce and have the support of trained professionals may learn a scripted narrative to share with their children when a conversation has to be had about future changes in the home. It is not possible to shield your child in this instance, to the reality that Mommy and Daddy are no longer going to be married to each other or share a home. Protecting your child is any parent’s natural instinct. The degree to which you shield your children from experiencing pain has to be balanced against a realistic view of life. You may choose rightfully, not to share that Daddy has been sleeping with his secretary and is leaving his family. Don’t pretend everything is okay, when it is not, as it’s more harmful to your children, in the long term. Allowing them to experience pain and not shielding them from the situation will allow them to develop into more resilient adults.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

10. Don’t Feel Responsible For A Child’s Emotions

Each child is unique and on any given day, will experience a range of emotions. Little Jack may be wildly jealous of his baby sister Katy, and a mentally strong parent will be able to see that he or she is not responsible for their child’s emotional response. No matter how many books you read him or how excited he seemed to be, at the prospect of being a big brother, he is not coping very well. Faced with the reality of sharing your attention, with a screaming baby, Jack has started to act out and often has temper tantrums. Are you responsible? It’s important to realize that responsible parenting entails preparing your child for the arrival of a sibling, but that you are not responsible for Jack’s emotions. There is a big difference between being a responsible parent, and feeling emotionally responsible for your child’s wellbeing. Mentally strong parents know that this is an unrealistic and unachievable goal.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

You will be banging your head against the proverbial doorpost if you try to make Jack happy. There are limits to your influence and the degree to which you can shape your children and their emotional health. Understanding that allows mentally strong parents to see that they are only one of the other factors that come into play. In this case, professional support may be needed for Jack, to help him adjust to his little sister. Trained therapists will assess and suggest behavioral changes that can be made to possibly remedy the situation. Mentally strong parents can see that their children, like adults, experience a range of emotions in response to a variety of situations. Essentially, parents here see that they are not responsible for their child’s emotions.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

11. Don’t Prevent Children From Making Mistakes

Mentally strong parents know that failure and making mistakes is an essential part of life. Preparing for adult life starts in childhood and showing your child how to learn from their mistakes is one of the best ways of learning. If someone tells you how to do something, you may understand, and be able to apply the knowledge. If someone shows you how to do something, you may be able to copy them. However, experiential learning, or, ‘trial and error’ is one of the most powerful teaching methods there is, across all ages. Little Lucy is learning how to jump rope. You watch her pick up the handles, and swing the rope over herself, but she forgets to jump. The rope hits her legs and she looks up at you, confused. ‘Try again,’ you say, encouraging her. Her brother, Max, can jump rope, and Lucy is eager to learn. She tries again and this time, she jumps over. Beaming with happiness, she does it again. While you may have been tempted to rush over and show her, exactly what to do, by standing back and letting her figure out how to do it, you have helped her learn, independently.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

The same learning pattern can be applied to many areas of a child’s life. Your child may be struggling with his or her math homework. You could do the algebra in two minutes or show your child how to do their homework. It’s tempting to do this. There is time pressure and nobody wants to watch someone struggling. However, long-term, this will not help your child to learn and improve their ability Staying objective, being neutral, and allowing your child to learn from his or her mistakes, is a challenge for any parent. However, this will allow your child to develop stronger mental health and have a higher capacity for independent learning as an adult. As difficult as it may be to watch your child fail or make mistakes, these themselves are important learning tools for your child. Don’t be tempted to do Max’s homework for him – he will never learn and that means, making mistakes. Many of them.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

12. Don’t Confuse Discipline and Punishment

Not only are there consequences to actions, but there may also be negative outcomes. Mentally strong parents understand that discipline means being firm, sticking to one’s words, and reinforcing words with actions. However, it is not the same thing as punishment. Discipline can include punishment, but they are two different concepts. What are the rules of your home? What are the consequences of naughty or rude behavior? How do you discipline children? How do you punish your children? There are many differing and often controversial opinions on these matters. Punishment can take many forms, but its main purpose is to reinforce good behavior and show that there is a negative consequence to bad. Little Lucy has hit her brother, who now has a bleeding nose. What are the consequences of her actions? She, you, and your partner decide, will have to be punished. You inform her that she will have to go straight to her room and that she has no access to her iPad, for a week. Lucy starts crying and you relent, if she says sorry to her brother and promises never to hit him, then she can have her iPad, back.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

This shows a lack of discipline on the part of the parent. Being strict and seeing your child upset is a part of being a parent. Lucy promises to never, ever, ever, hit her brother, and runs off to her room. By not following through on the punishment, your child will not respect your threats. If Lucy had had to give up her iPad, then she would have had an opportunity to learn from her mistake. A week later Lucy hits her brother, again. This time, you stand your ground, and Lucy is punished for her bad behavior. Punishment needs to be in proportion to the offense and something measurable. Being disciplined in your parenting means setting up rules and making sure that they are followed. Children thrive and need structure to develop. You can have star charts and reward good behavior, or any system that suits you and your family. Mentally strong parents know that discipline is essential and following through with punishment, is also an important part of the learning curve of life.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

13. Don’t Lose Sight Of Their Values

What are your family values? Which type of values do you teach your children in your home? What are they exposed to on social media and in the world at large? Mentally strong parents understand the value of keeping sight of their own beliefs, ideals, and reinforcing them in the home. Do your children understand the importance of sharing, being kind, and being good neighbors? Do they understand what it means to live in a community or to donate to charities? Educating your children about important values and encouraging them to act on these principles, is something that you need to do, starting in your home. You can show your children, for example, a Greenpeace website or video, and teach them that recycling is an important plan, but setting up your own recycling bins at home is much more powerful.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Similarly, if you have access to a garden, you can teach your children about growing vegetables and how important it is not to waste food. You could have a special jar at home which you use to collect coins for a charity, of their choosing. This helps to teach children that they are a part of a bigger society and helps teach good values like donating to charity. Too often digital entertainment and social media is all about fame and celebrity. Mentally strong parents know that it is important to teach family values in the home and to educate their children directly about certain issues. This responsibility should not be left up to educators, schools, or to the media, but, start in the home. Teaching your children important values, like respect for the earth or, donating to charities, starts with practical examples in your home. In the future, it will encourage them to be more responsible adults. Small changes, every day, in how you parent your children, can have a strong influence on their mental strength, and resilience as adults, and help them be more responsible, too.

Advertisement