5 Harmful Habits that Impede Children from Creating Healthy Relationships
How parents unknowingly hinder children’s abilities to form strong relationships later in life.
Young men and women are telling me about their frustration with the quality of relationships that they’ve been in. Issues with commitment, lack of responsibility, and an inability to give of one’s time wholeheartedly were all part of their dating experience.
It made me wonder if parents may be unknowingly doing things that hinder their children’s abilities to form strong relationships later in life. What can parents do while raising their kids that will help them create stronger commitments when they grow up?
1. Drone Parenting
This is “helicopter parenting on steroids.” Parents who shield children from pressure, over protect, and micromanage their children’s lives. Using technology to monitor remotely, parents are able to be involved by viewing children and tracking them from far. Children get used to parents being a constant silent presence, managing their lives and removing obstacles that create stress. Parents may do their child’s homework or dominate their school projects so that they get the best grade possible. There have been incidents of parents accompanying their adult children to job interviews, calling college professors about bad grades, and joining children at college orientations intended for students.
Children require the ability to act on their own, make real decisions and deal with life independently. How can young adults move on with life while parents have been hovering above? Learning to navigate relationships requires a sense of fortitude that comes with overcoming obstacles. Sometimes sweat and hard work is called for. If a child has not faced difficult circumstances, he will not be able to handle the ups and downs that every relationship entails.
2. The Teacher is Never Right
Too many parents automatically put down their children’s teachers, schools, and authority figures. While it is crucial to listen to your child, the way you speak about your child’s teachers will impact the way he learns to treat others. We live in a culture where, most times, the teacher/school/coach/principal is wrong. Arguing, disrespecting, and even yelling by parents have become normal behaviors that children observe. Children are made to feel as if they are always right. I’ve spoken to teachers who told me that they encounter students who flippantly say, “Just wait till my father speaks to the board about you.”
Marriage requires respect. Husband and wife must honor one another. No one is always right. There needs to be apologies in a relationship. If a child grows up believing that he is never wrong, think how a relationship can be destroyed. This behavior breeds arrogance which can kill a marriage.
3. Lack of Responsibility
How many children are given real responsibilities today? We’ve created an overindulged generation. Not wishing to deal with the complaining and griping, parents opt to do it all themselves. Or they harangue and scream the same lines over and over again. Seeds of selfishness sprout entitled young adults.
Relationships work when we feel responsible for our words and actions. The more we invest ourselves, the more we love. Giving time, energy, and being sensitive to the needs of others are crucial ingredients that forge lasting bonds. Relationships cannot flourish without selflessness; a dedication and devotion beyond oneself. Instead of asking, “What does he do for me?” we must teach our children to ask, “What can I do for him?” and “How do I make her feel?”
We need to give our children responsibilities that expand their ability to contribute and look beyond themselves.
4. Making Excuses
For a home to survive there must be found the qualities of loyalty, truth and faithfulness. I must keep my word and you must know that you can always count on me. Lacking truth, a relationship crumbles.
Parents are obligated to teach their children that when they say something, their words are taken seriously. We have been making too many excuses for children’s betrayals. Instead of confronting hurtful words and deeds, we say things like, “He’s tired,” “she’s stressed,” or “he had a hard day.” We look away at insensitivity. We blame others. We don’t teach children to apologize or we apologize for them.
If we want to help our children we need to stop excusing their faults and instead confront their limits and teach them how to grow into men and women who stand for truth and integrity.
5. Raising Takers
The world is made up of givers and takers. What is your child?
Givers are happier people. They feel more joy in life. They are not entitled. They live with a sense of purpose and mission.
Takers are never content. Whatever you give them, it is never enough. They always want more and they want is now.
When children sit as parents constantly do for them, they’re never given the opportunity to taste the vitality that comes with being a giver. They also believe that relationships are more about taking than giving.
Marriage comes with sacrifice. We sometimes must look away at our own needs and desires and think about the wishes of another. There are moments we don’t feel like doing what our spouse wants to do, but we do it anyway, with a smile. Why? Because we know that we are giving to the person that we love and that makes us happy.
But this will only happen if we practice a life of giving with our children when they are under our roofs. Once they are on their own it is too late to transmit this life lesson.
If we take the time to think about our parenting now, we can help our children succeed when they are ready to build their own homes with joy.