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Raising a Successful Child Is a Curse for Every Parent

Raising a Successful Child Is a Curse for Every Parent

It’s tough being a parent. Parents do their best to make sure the kids live healthy and happy lives. Despite the good intentions, sometimes parents miss the mark. One of the most common mistakes that parents make is that they hang their hopes for success on the kids without realizing it.

The well-known movie Little Miss Sunshine, is an example of this. The movie is built around a family’s journey to take their little girl Olive to a pageant. The family’s happiness seems to hinge upon Olive’s ability to perform in this pageant. That’s a lot of pressure for a seven-year old to bear. While Olive marches to the beat of her own drum, many of the other contestants’ parents are hyper-aggressive. They’ve set a standard that’s nearly impossible for a child to uphold.

    These kids’ happiness isn’t coming from a joy of competing. In many cases, though, their parents’ happiness comes from the success of their children. It’s wonderful to want our kids to be the best at whatever they do, but we must ensure that they’re doing these things for the right reasons.

    For the best of the kids?

      I don’t know a parent who doesn’t want their kid to have more opportunities and have a better quality of life than they had. Parents sign their kids up for classes, put together special outings, and demand that they have the best education. Parents want their kids to grow up to be the smartest, most artistic, most athletic, most compassionate adult that they can be.

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      When parents get into the mindset of raising “winners”, they run into trouble. Where there are winners there are also “losers.” It’s one thing for a child to feel competitive, but when parents become competitive, it can take the fun out of any activity.

      For example, if someone says that kid A plays the piano more beautifully than kid B, kid B’s parents might decide that he needs to practice more. Kid B attends more intensive piano lessons for longer hours so that he can improve. Just to assure that his musical superiority is without question, kid B’s parents also get him violin lessons.

      When kid A’s parents host the coolest birthday party of the season, kid B’s parent’s try to outdo them. They add more entertainment and invite more children so that kid B can have the most friends. In reality, kids A and B probably don’t care about fancy parties. This is about their parents.

      The unspoken war between parents

        Parents can be cruel to one another. When a parent doesn’t push their children to be involved in many activities, other parents may judge them. They may say things like, “Why aren’t they nurturing their kid’s interests by getting them into more activities?” or “Why are their kids so quiet? It’s like they don’t know how to interact with others because they never do anything.”

        The people who are saying those judgmental things may be genuinely worried, but the criticism may also highlight their insecurities about parenting. In response to this judgement, parents start to care too much about what others think of their children. They may feel that how people view their kids is a reflection on them.

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        The self-conscious parent judges themselves based on what people say about their kids. “She said my daughter lacks social skills. Is that my fault? Is it because I keep to myself so much?” We forget sometimes that kids have personalities all their own.

        The self-consciousness and judgement have nothing to do with kids’ happiness. This is only about parents feeling secure. It seems like the better a kid does, the more parents feel like they are doing the right things as parents. They place their value and self-worth as adults on the shoulders of their children.

        An endless chase to get ahead

          Growing up is hard enough without added pressure. Being a parent is already stressful without having impossible standards. Kids and parents suffer when they are locked into unrealistic expectations.

          Children are extremely sensitive and intuitive. They pick up on everything their parents do, and they genuinely want approval. If they place more value on pleasing their parents than on doing what they love, they’ll never be happy.

          When kids are forced to focus on their parents’ expecations, they don’t get the chance to think for themselves. It feels good to get attention and recognition when you are the best at something. Kids who can’t meet the standard will always feel unfulfilled and unhappy.

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          Parents who only take pride in their kids for their victories—whether those are sports trophies, good grades, or other awards—are missing out on a huge opportunity. Instead of teaching a child not to be afraid of failure, they show kids that their worth is outside of themselves. Their self esteem is built off external validation.

          Of course this is bad for the kids, but think about what it does to the parents. They run themselves ragged trying to make sure that their kids are always ahead of others. Children miss out on a childhood, but parents also don’t get to experience the joys of raising a child.

          Set an example by self-focusing

          Parents are often taught to sacrifice everything to ensure that their kids have the best opportunities. There’s nothing wrong with making sacrifices, but parents must remember that they have an identity outside of their children.

          Parents who are hyper-focused on their child’s success are unintentionally modeling a need for external validation. Instead of showing kids how important it is to be yourself, they make kids’ self esteem dependent on what other people think.

          Nobody intends to teach a bad lesson. Luckily, kids can bounce back from this sort of pressure if parents recognize that they are behaving this way. Parents can teach kids what true happiness looks like by making time to do the things that they want to do. Model balance and stability for kids, and you’ll be amazed at the good that can come from it.

          Let them fall, and let yourself fall

          When parents relax, they learn to take failures in stride. They can take some of the pressure off themselves and their kids.

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          We’re going to mess up and fail sometimes. We can’t learn unless we make mistakes. How great is it that kids can make mistakes in the safe environment of your home? They’ll be better at handling failure in adulthood if they haven’t spent their whole childhood being the best at everything. When children make mistakes, everyone learns too. Their mistakes can make you a better parent. You may have to help them problem-solve or learn a new skill to deal with the problem.

          For parents who’ve been living through their kids’ successes, changing this pattern can come as a real blow to the ego. Kids have to learn how to pick themselves up after falling down, and they have to learn that they won’t always be the best at everything.

          You might have been afraid to let them fail because you didn’t want them to be disappointed, but now you can teach them about resiliency. You can show them that they still have value–even if they fail. That inner strength will carry them through any challenges that life brings to them. It will teach them to pursue the things that they want rather than do what someone else wants them to do.

          You have the power to shape your child’s self-esteem and self-worth. As Mr. Rogers says,

          There’s no person in the whole world like you; and I like you just the way you are.

          The best thing that you can do for kids is to nurture their interests without losing sight of your own. Understand that they will make mistakes, and be there for them. Teach them what healthy competition looks like, but show them that they are more than the sum of external successes and failures.

          More by this author

          Anna Chui

          Anna is a communication expert and a life enthusiast. She's the editor of Lifehack and loves to write about love, life, and passion.

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          Last Updated on August 22, 2019

          14 Helpful Tips for Single Parents: How to Stay Sane While Doing it All

          14 Helpful Tips for Single Parents: How to Stay Sane While Doing it All

          According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over 27% of children under the age of 18 are living with a single parent.[1] That’s over 1/4th of the U.S. population.There is a common misconception that children who grow up in single parent homes are not as successful as children living in two-parent homes.

          One crucial detail that was often left out of studies when comparing single and two-parent homes was the stability of the household. There is a correlation between family structure and family stability, but this study shows that children who grow up in stable single-parent homes do as well as those in married households in terms of academic abilities and behavior.

          But providing stability is easier said than done. With only one adult to act as a parent, some tasks are inherently more challenging. However, there are a few helpful things you can do to make the parenting journey a little easier for yourself and stay sane while doing it.

          1. Don’t Neglect Self-Care

          Before anything else can be done, you must be caring for your own needs adequately. Only when you are feeling well-rested and healthy can you be at your best for your children.

          Many parents tend to put their kids’ needs first and their owns last, but that will result in a never-ending cycle of exhaustion and feelings of inadequacy. Make time to eat regularly and healthfully, get plenty of rest, and squeeze in exercise whenever you can. Even a short walk around the neighborhood will help your body get much-needed movement and fresh air.

          Your children depend on you, and it’s up to you to make sure that you are well-equipped and ready to take on that responsibility.

          2. Join Forces with Other Single Parents

          At times, it may seem like you’re the only person who knows what it’s like to be a single parent. However, the statistics say that there are many others who know exactly what you’re going through.

          Find single parents locally, through your kid’s school, extracurricular activities, or even an app. There are also numerous online communities that can offer support and advice, through Facebook or sites like Single Mom Nation.

          Although single moms make up the majority of single parents, there are more than 2.6 million single dads in the U.S. A great way to connect is through Meetup. Other single parents will more than happy to arrange babysitting swaps, playdates, and carpools.

          Join forces in order to form mutually beneficial relationships.

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          3. Build a Community

          In addition to finding support with other single parents, also build a community comprised of families of all different types. Rather than focus solely on the single parent aspect of your identity, look for parents and kids who share other things in common.

          Join a playgroup, get plugged in at a church, or get to know the parents of the kids involved in the same extracurricular activities. Having a community of a variety of people and families will bring diversity and excitement into your and your kids’ lives.

          4. Accept Help

          Don’t try to be a superhero and do it all yourself. There are probably people in your life who care about you and your kids and want to help you. Let them know what types of things would be most appreciated, whether it’s bringing meals once a week, helping with rides to school, or giving you time to yourself.

          There is no shame in asking for help and accepting assistance from loved ones. You will not be perceived as weak or incompetent. You are being a good parent by being resourceful and allowing others to give you a much-needed break.

          5. Get Creative with Childcare

          Raising a child on a single income is a challenge, with the high cost of daycares, nannies, and other conventional childcare services. More affordable options are possible if you go a less traditional route.

          If you have space and live in a college town, offer a college student housing in exchange for regular childcare. Or swap kids with other single parents so that your kids have friends to play with while the parents get time to themselves.

          When I was younger, my parents had a group of five family friends, and all of the children would rotate to a different house each day of the week, during the summer months. The kids would have a great time playing with each other, and the parents’ job becomes a lot easier. That’s what you would call a win-win situation.

          6. Plan Ahead for Emergencies

          As a single parent, a backup plan or two is a must in emergency situations. Make a list of people you know you can call in a moment’s notice. There will be times in which you need help, and it’s important to know ahead of time who you can rely on.

          Look into whether or not your area offers emergency babysitting services or a drop-in daycare. Knowing who will be able to care for your child in the event of an emergency can relieve one potential source of anxiety in stressful situations.

          7. Create a Routine

          Routines are crucial for young children because knowing what to expect gives them a semblance of control. This is even more important when in a single parent home.

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          If the child travels between homes or has multiple caretakers, life can seem extremely chaotic and unpredictable. Establish a routine and schedule for your child as much as possible. This can include bedtime, before/after school, chores, meal times, and even a weekend routine.

          Having a routine does not mean things cannot change. It is merely a default schedule to fall back on when no additional events or activities are going on. When your children know what to expect, they will be less resistant because they know what to expect, and days will run much more smoothly.

          8. Be Consistent with Rules and Discipline

          If your child has multiple caretakers, such as another parent, grandparent, or babysitter, communicate clearly on how discipline will be handled. Talk to your ex, if you are sharing custody, as well as any other caretakers about the rules and the agreed-upon approach to discipline.

          When a child realizes that certain rules can be bent with certain people, he/she will use it to their advantage, causing additional issues with limits, behavior, and discipline down the road.

          This article may help you to discipline your child better:

          How to Discipline a Child (The Complete Guide for Different Ages)

          9. Stay Positive

          Everyone has heard the saying, “Mind over matter.” But there really is so much power behind your mentality. It can change your perspective and make a difficult situation so much better.

          Your kids will be able to detect even the smallest shift in your attitude. When the responsibilities of motherhood are overwhelming, stay focused on the positive things in your life, such as your friends and family. This will produce a much more stable home environment.

          Maintain your sense of humor and don’t be afraid to be silly. Look towards the future and the great things that are still to come for you and your family. Rediscover and redefine your family values.

          10. Move Past the Guilt

          In a single parent home, it is impossible to act as both parents, regardless of how hard you try. Let go of the things that you cannot do as a single parent, and instead, think of the great things you ARE able to provide for your children.

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          Leave behind the notion that life would be easier or better with two parents. This is simply not true. There is a multitude of pros and cons to all family dynamics, and the one you are providing for your kids now is the one that they need.

          Don’t get bogged down by guilt or regret. Take control of your life and be the best parent you can by being present and engaged with them on a daily basis.

          11. Answer Questions Honestly

          Your kids may have questions about why their home situation is different from many of their friends. When asked, don’t sugarcoat the situation or give them an answer that is not accurate.

          Depending on their age, take this opportunity to explain the truth of what happened and how the current circumstances came about. Not all families have two parents, whether that is due to divorce, death, or whatever else life brings.

          Don’t give more detail than necessary or talk badly about the other parent. But strive to be truthful and honest. Your children will benefit more from your candor than a made-up story.

          12. Treat Kids Like Kids

          In the absence of a partner, it can be tempting to rely on your children for comfort, companionship, or sympathy. But your kids are not equipped to play this role for you.

          There are many details within an adult relationship that children are not able to understand or process, and it will only cause confusion and resentment.

          Do not take out your anger on your kids. Separate your emotional needs from your role as a mother. If you find yourself depending on your kids too much, look for adult friends or family members that you can talk to about your issues.

          13. Find Role Models

          Find positive role models of the opposite sex for your child. It’s crucial that your child does not form negative associations with an entire gender of people.

          Find close friends or family members that would be willing to spend one-on-one time with your kids. Encourage them to form meaningful relationships with people that you trust and that they can look up to.

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          Role models can make a huge difference in the path that a child decides to take, so be intentional about the ones that you put in your kids’ lives.

          14. Be Affectionate and Give Praise

          Your children need your affection and praise on a daily basis. Engage with your kids as often as possible by playing with them, going on outings, and encouraging open dialogue.

          Affirm them in the things that they are doing well, no matter how small. Praise their efforts, rather than their achievements. This will inspire them to continue to put forth hard work and not give up when success is not achieved.

          Rather than spending money on gifts, spend time and effort in making lasting memories.

          Final Thoughts

          Being a single parent is a challenging responsibility to take on. Without the help of a partner to fall back on, single parents have a lot more to take on.

          However, studies show that growing up in a single parent home does not have a negative effect on achievement in school. As long as the family is a stable and safe environment, kids are able to excel and do well in life.

          Use these tips in order to be a reliable and capable parent for your kids, while maintaining your own well-being and sanity.

          More Resources About Parenting

          Featured photo credit: Eye for Ebony via unsplash.com

          Reference

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