Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Games Parents Play

We all know that good parenting is a difficult game.  The hours are long, and the tasks are mentally and physically exhausting.  But when parenting is done right, the rewards are magnificent.  Parenting small children is more physical and older children more mental, but in my 10 years of working with parents and as a result of being a parent for 23 years, I have formulated a short list of the most common parenting mistakes I routinely see and hear about. 

1.  The Blamer:  This parent finds an external excuse for anything and everything that his/her child finds difficult.  Problems at school?  "The teacher doesn't like my kid!"  Child having social issues?  "My child is being picked on."  Child uses foul language?  "Where did he learn that fu#$%^@ language!"  This parent cannot turn the lens and examine any problem that may be caused by his/her child.  Unfortunately, the child learns this behavior and has difficulty problem solving for him/her self.

2.  The Angry Parent:  The Angry Parent (usually carries this parenting style from his/her upbringing) and cannot seem to have a conversation with the child.  Interactions often times, involve yelling, name calling and other insulting behavior.  This type of behavior damages a child's self concept and leads to many other issues.

3.  The Doormat Parent:  This parent has never learned the word "NO".  He or she cannot bear to bring even the slightest discomfort upon the child.  The child is in control of the household and although keeping the child happy is the ultimate goal of this parent, the child ends up pushing limits in an effort to find where and when the parent will finally draw the line.  Kids need and want limits.  Without them, they feel a lack of confidence and don't think that their parent's really care about them.

4.  The Shopper:  These parents love to spend money (whether they have it or not) to make up for the guilt they feel at being inadequate parents.  The thought process goes something like this:  If I buy you things, I am showing I love you and therefore you must appreciate and love me.  The problem lies in the fact that the parent is conveying love and happiness through material possessions and ultimately, there will never be enough to satisfy the child.  Someone will always have something newer, better or cooler that their child will covet.

5.  The BFF:  This parent wants their child to fill social and emotional needs that should be met by other adults.  Parents who play the role of the child's friend often continue in the role well past the point of mortal embarrassment of the child.  Healthy parents do not unload adult problems on to children's shoulders, nor do they engage in trying to cultivate the social life of the child and be popular with the children's friends.  It is important to know your children's friends, but not to be one of them.

Healthy and fulfilling parent/child relationships are not easily accomplished.  I have found myself tempted to fall in to more than one of these categories.  But ultimately, aiming for the balance of being the authority in your child's life and the primary nurturer constructs the foundation for long term success of you and your child in the game of life!

Photo Credit: Kelly Knize



  1. Awesome post! I think the doormat parent and the shopper often go hand in hand. Kids want and need to learn to take responsibility. They need to understand that they are not entitled to everything they want (beyond basic needs of course)

    My guess is that many parents who fit into the blamer category never took responsibility for anything as kids.

    All parents must also be mindful to set good examples for the behaviors they wish to instill in their kids.

    1. Agree, Agree, Agree! A lot of parents act out of guilt and have such a difficult time saying NO.