Here are the top 10 mistakes first-time parents are most likely to make--and what you can do if you see yourself falling into them. (The reference for this list was taken from First time Mom by Dr. Kevin Leman)
1. A Critical Eye
What is your standard for behavior? Is it perfection? Is your goal to create a computerized mannequin that will do whatever you say, as soon as you say it?
If so, let me ask you a question. When is the last time you had a perfect day? When is the last 24 hour period that you didn't utter a single cuss word or respond a bit slowly to a request? When have you maintained a positive attitude throughout an entire day?
You've never raised a child before. You're thinking like an adult. Your tendency is going to be to try to raise a "perfect" child, and you may bury your son or daughter under your high expectations. Most kids are pushed too hard today. Early on, as soon as he/she can put away toys, you're going to have to choose what your standard will be. Is it perfection? Please, accept your child as he is. He isn't going to excel at everything.
This is one mistake I know I'm guilty of. Overcommiting myself and my child to more activities outside the home than we can handle. One of the problems with an overly busy home is that the most profound lessons get squeezed out for lack of time. Instead of talking about what's really important, like family dinners and spending quality time together as a family, you and your husband are talking about who's going to pick up which kid from where and planning your day around different activities like scout meetings and soccer practice. Don't get me wrong, most kids love to be involved in outside activities. But we as parents can sometimes overcommit our child's life to them. It's completely ok to let your child participate in sports and scouts and 4-H and things like that. But one thing at a time! I know parents who take their children to sports practices 2 or 3 times a week, karate another 2 or 3 times, then they have music lessons, 4-H and scout meetings! All in the same week! The security of home life is important to children. Home is a special place to be. When you choose to live an overcommited life, you are training your child to identify his/her heart with what is outside the home. Why do you want to do that?
3. Not Enough Vitamin N.
Maybe you've bought bottles of Flintstones vitamins to make sure junior gets enough vitamin B,C,D, and E. Maybe you prefer Sesame Street vitamins, or you just choose to go the old-fashioned route and make sure your kid gets a well-rounded diet.
Good for you.
Just don't forget vitamin N!
Vitamin N stands for No--not just the word, but the concept. First-time parents fall into the trap of thinking that they can make their child happier and better adjusted by what they give their child and the experiences they provide for their child. A lot of time, these efforts can backfire.
Not giving your kids things is very important. Too often giving our children things becomes a substitute for being their parents. We buy them movies and video games, buying time for ourselves but in the process alienating our family. The more things a kid has, the less time he usually spends with mom and dad. Kids don't need half as much as we give them. Most babies grow tired of toys after about 5 minutes. If you take your child to a friend's house and watch while they play with a friend's toy and then go out and buy it, thinking your child will have hours of fun with it, you're making a classic first-time parents mistake.. Toys last about as long as leftovers. Babies lose interest faster than you can believe. So put your energy and finances into spending time with your baby and interacting with her rather than giving her things.
Children need to learn how to handle denial: they need to learn how to work through disappointment. What better place to do that than home? And what better person to learn it from than their mother or father?
Over the next week, I'll be posting more mistakes that first-time parents can make until we've discussed all of the top 10. Make sure you subscribe to my blog so you don't miss out of the rest of this important series! Please feel free to comment on this post with your parenting mistakes and what you've done to remedy them. I'm sure my other readers would be anxious to read your comments too!
Have a great weekend and a wonderful Easter! I hope you'll be spending it with your family!
Until next time...