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Your Kids Don’t Need Your Protection. They Need This Instead.

Dr. Meg Meeker

Dr. Meg Meeker

One of the biggest mistakes I see parents make is parenting out of fear rather than strength. They do everything they can to protect their child from harm and difficulties. Then, when the child enters the real world, he is completely unprepared.

As Dr. Tim Elmore would say, parents are protecting rather than preparing their children.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Elmore for my Parenting Great Kids Podcast. Dr. Elmore is the founder of Growing Leaders, an organization with a mission to develop and equip leaders of the next generation. He often talks to parents about how to lead their children well and offers invaluable parenting insight in his book, 12 Huge Mistakes Parents Can Avoid: Leading Your Kids to Succeed in Life.

We talked about a few of these mistakes in our conversation, and I think Dr. Elmore’s insights could completely revolutionize your parenting strategy.

Mistake #1: We won’t let them fail.

We learn and grow the most not in our successes, but in our failures. Any adult understands this. It’s during the trying times that we learn to be resilient and stand back up. We return stronger than we were before.

However, it is difficult to imagine our kids suffering the heartache of failure, so we often go to great lengths to protect them from it. We do their homework, we fight their battles, we don’t let them try new things, for fear they may not succeed.

As Dr. Elmore explains this is called “over-functioning parenting,” and it really is an epidemic with parents today. Over-functioning parents think they are protecting their child, when really, they are doing the opposite. They are failing to prepare their child for adulthood and impairing their potential.

To fail to properly prepare your child for adulthood is to impair their potential.

Dr. Elmore encourages parents to stop preventing your child from experiencing failure and start preparing them instead. Allow them to try a new sport or activity that you know they will have to work hard for. Then, when they mess up, allow it to be a learning opportunity by asking questions like, “Why do you think that happened? How did that make you feel? How could you do better next time?”

Allowing our children to fail is one of the best ways to prepare them for adulthood.

Allowing our children to fail is one of the best ways to prepare them for adulthood.

Mistake #2: We prioritize being happy.

I think one of the worst things we can tell our children is, “I don’t care what you do as long as you’re happy.”

As Dr. Elmore says, “Happiness is a horrible goal but a wonderful byproduct.” When we focus on our child’s happiness, we set them up to look for happiness everywhere, in relationships, in shopping and in other activities that won’t actually bring lasting happiness to their lives.

Dr. Elmore suggests approaching our parenting goals differently: “I try to help my children identify their primary strengths and use them to serve the world around them, so they’re seeking purpose not happiness.” If they find that purpose, happiness always follows.

Mistake #3: We remove the consequences.

If we set a rule and then are too tired or exhausted to implement consequences when our children break that rule, we are sending a message to our kids that rules don’t matter and neither does our authority. I know parenting is probably the hardest job you’ve ever had, but when it comes to discipline, you must be consistent. Don’t let exhaustion get the best of you.

Dr. Elmore believes that when it comes to a child breaking a rule, parents will either lead from a place of relief or belief. Relief is the desperate attempt to just make everyone feel better. It’s lazy, really. And it sends a message to your child that you don’t expect much from them.

When your child knows you believe in him, there’s no limit to how he can succeed in the future.

On the other hand, when you lead from a place of belief, you show your child that you believe in him enough to expect him to live up to your standards and follow the rules. Implementing a consequence for each act of rebellion sends this message. And when a child knows his parent believes in him, trust me, there is no limit to how he can succeed in the future.

Parents, don’t be a victim to over-functioning parenting. Raise your child in a way that will prepare her, not protect her. Let him stumble and fall and learn that he can pick himself up. Teach her to pursue passions over happiness, and most of all, believe in her and her potential. Then, step back and watch her thrive.

I strongly encourage you to listen to my full podcast with Dr. Tim Elmore in the player above. He is full of wisdom in the area of leading children well and is the exact encouragement you need to make 2017 your Best Parenting Year!


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