If you want to be a better parent, say goodbye to these 10 behaviors

Parenting is one of the most difficult things to do in the world.

After all, no one starts parenting with any prior experience or practice—it’s an entirely new challenge for everyone.

It’s complicated and stressful, and there are zero breaks from being a parent. It’s a 24/7 job.

But being a good parent and seeing your children grow up to be kind and loving people is one of the most rewarding things in life.

Unfortunately, many people still hold on to myths and misconceptions about what it means to be a good parent.

If you want to be a better parent, say goodbye to these 10 behaviors.

1) Not listening to their children

There are many reasons why parents don’t listen to their children enough.

Some parents are too old-fashioned, thinking that children should be the ones listening and that parents should do all the talking, teaching, and lecturing.

On the other hand, other parents just get drowned in the mountains of responsibilities they have.

Remember that being a parent involves far more than providing for them. You need to nurture them emotionally as well. 

Some parents “listen” but don’t do it properly. They hear their kids’ words but don’t give them the weight they deserve (because what do kids know, right?).

Listening properly means listening to understand their thoughts, feelings, and experiences. 

Listening properly means doing so with sincerity and open-mindedness.

Because if you don’t listen to them, you’re teaching them not to listen to you.

2) Judging them

As a parent, your kid should trust you more than anyone in the world.

Unfortunately, many parents are too judgmental about their kids. They say things like:

  • “You’re too fat/too thin.”
  • “You’re lazy.”
  • “You’re disrespectful.”

Surprise, surprise, most often, these judgments stem from a lack of understanding—a lack of listening.

Even if your kid is doing something wrong, reprimanding them in such a way will only make things worse.

Judging your child imbues your home with a hostile, tense, and negative atmosphere. They will not feel safe with you, and this will lead them deeper into dysfunctional behavior.

Instead, they’ll confide in other people, and you will only grow more distant from them.

3) Not taking care of yourself

You can’t pour from an empty cup.

A parent who neglects his or herself will not be a good parent.

Of course, I completely understand that our first instinct as parents is to always put our kids first. And this is a good adage to have.

However, this does not necessitate completely neglecting yourself. If we’re always running on fumes, we tend to become crankier, stricter, and less pleasant to be with.

Your kid will learn to fear or be irritated by your presence—which, in turn, will make you feel worse, too, no?

Additionally, remember that you’re the primary role model for your child. If they see you engaging in destructive behavior, they’ll learn to emulate that when they’re older.

Yes, parenting requires a lot of sacrifice—but don’t go martyring yourself. It’s not what your kid wants or needs.

4) Holding on to grudges

11 signs you have an unhealthy relationship with your parents 2 If you want to be a better parent, say goodbye to these 10 behaviors

Your kid will make mistakes. Your kid will piss you the hell off. Your kids will hurt you.

It’s the truth. 

As much as you love them…

As good of a job as you may be doing being a parent…

The time will come when your kid, intentionally or not, will cause you pain.

And as a parent, you need to learn not to hold on to that grudge. You need to learn how to forgive your kid unconditionally.

After all, I’m sure you have or will eventually hurt your kid, too in one way or another.

Showing them forgiveness will mold them into kind and forgiving people themselves. And, they’ll be far more likely to forgive you as well for your flaws as a parent.

5) Not fulfilling your promises

Children are suckers for promises.

Whether it’s a promise of…

  • A birthday gift;
  • A trip somewhere exciting;
  • A reward for doing well in school;
  • Making their favorite dish for dinner.

…trust me, they’ll keep it in their mind and wait for it with all the joy, wonder, and excitement in the world.

Of course, we’re all human, and life is complicated and ever-changing. Sometimes, an unexpected expense renders you unable to buy your child that birthday gift you promised.

But as much as possible, try not to promise anything you can’t fulfill without a shadow of a doubt. If there’s even a slither of doubt, it’s better not to promise anything.

And if you end up not fulfilling your promise, explain to them why in a kind way. This fosters open communication.

Remember, your child is also learning from you how much a promise truly weighs.

6) Being impatient

How many times did you say “What?” or “What now?” in an annoyed voice whenever your child asks something from you?

Being a parent is incredibly stressful (and that’s on top of the daily grind of work and other responsibilities). 

It’s typical for parents to often be on edge.

But should always be in the back of your head to be as patient as you can with your child. And while it takes a lot of will to constantly reign in your irritation to be patient with your child, it’s well worth it. 

It can be quite painful to your child if you respond to their innocent requests and call for attention with an irritated voice. They will begin to internalize that they are not worth your time.

It’s these small instances of impatience that chew away at your child’s affection and overall self-esteem.

7) Being indifferent

Nobel Peace Prize winner and holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel once said, “The opposite of love is not hate. It’s indifference.”

This is completely true for your kids. 

When it comes to parenting, I firmly believe that negligence is just as (or at least almost) as bad as abuse.

Your kids rely on you, not just for sustenance but for:

…And a whole lot more. Being indifferent or neglecting any one of these roles will affect the other aspects of your parenting as a whole.

That’s why I strongly advise people who want to become parents to get rid of any addictions or vices they may have.

Trust me, nothing hurts more than seeing your parent prioritize their alcohol or gambling addiction more than spending time with you.

8) Being a control freak

child is low key manipulative If you want to be a better parent, say goodbye to these 10 behaviors

Parenting is an intricate balancing act between being too strict and too lenient. There’s no art to it, really. It’s something we gauge and adjust based on our unique situations and children’s personalities.

And different parents will have different opinions about this topic.

However, here’s a tip you can use to determine if you’re being too strict. 

Ask yourself: how much of their lives do you control?

Of course, it’s a given that you’ll control most parts of their lives. But there are some things that you should give them free rein in.

Controlling behavior stems from a desire to protect our children and to ensure that they’re on the right path. 

However, being too controlling also stifles how they develop independence. I know that you don’t want your kids to make the same mistakes you did.

But making mistakes is how we learn—let them fall and learn how to pick themselves up again.

9) Not talking about difficult topics

Whether it’s out of a desire to spare their child’s innocence or thinking that their child is not ready or mature enough to grasp a certain subject, parents avoid difficult topics all the time.

They’re emotionally draining, and one might feel that having these conversations could affect your relationship with your child.

But it’s absolutely crucial to have these talks, whether it’s the awkward sex talk or explaining to your 10-year-old that you are getting a divorce

Of course, it’s completely reasonable to wait for the right time. And you should definitely explain it in a way that makes sense to their current level of maturity.

But I see too many parents stalling and stalling it—until they never actually talk about it at all.

Again, remember: talking to your child about difficult topics helps them learn how to talk about such things properly themselves. 

Not only does it foster open communication between the two of you, but it also makes them confident enough to confront people and enforce boundaries as well.

10) Making comparisons

How many times have we heard a parent say, ‘Why can’t you be more like him/her?”

Or “If they can do it, so can you!”

Often, it’s well-intentioned. Parents usually say it out of a desire to inspire their kids to reach their potential.

But again, intention is not as important as effect. And the effect of comparison on most kids is that it makes them feel insufficient.

And you know what?

I’ll say it out loud: many parents think they’re making comparisons to inspire their children, but most of them are also saying it out of resentment and jealousy that another person’s child is more X or less Y or has this Z trait.

If you want your child to reach their full potential or act in a certain way, focus on them and them alone—don’t bring any other kid into it.

Final thoughts

Parenthood is difficult and complicated. Parents are just learning as they go, and it can be tricky to be a good parent to their children.

But I think the list above is a great starting place for most parents.

After all, most parents know what they should do. They need to be loving, provide for them, listen to them, and listen to all that jazz—everyone knows this.

However, a lot of parents may not know how exactly to do this. In my opinion, we don’t talk about what parents shouldn’t do enough.

So, if you’re a parent and still do these 10 things, stopping doing them will help you forge a better, healthier, and more loving relationship with your child.

Picture of Eliza Hartley

Eliza Hartley

Eliza Hartley, a London-based writer, is passionate about helping others discover the power of self-improvement. Her approach combines everyday wisdom with practical strategies, shaped by her own journey overcoming personal challenges. Eliza's articles resonate with those seeking to navigate life's complexities with grace and strength.

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