Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when we avoid as many parenting mistakes as possible. We all know families that have wonderful children who grow up to take their rightful places in their communities. Sometimes, all of the children grow to be well-balanced adults who are blessings in their communities; sometimes, most of the children are well-balanced adults; sometimes, only one or two of the children grow to adulthood ready to take their place in society. What makes the difference in the lives of these young adults?
The most obvious difference is that each young adult is an individual with their own set of ideas about what is important in life and their agency to choose their actions. Agency is most likely the main reason why two children coming out of the same home and living under identical conditions and rules turn out completely different as adults; parents however can take actions to increase the rate of success with their children.
Randal A. Wright, an accomplished author with a Ph.D. in family studies, authored Power Parenting in the LDS Home where he shared twenty-five of the most common mistakes that parents make in rearing their children.
Mr. Wright shared five of those parenting mistakes with LDS Living Magazine: (1) “Failure to establish a home environment that reflects the gospel.” (What kinds of music, entertainment, artwork, etc. are allowed in your home? (2) “Failure to be at the crossroads of children’s lives.” (Are you home and awake when your children are coming and going?) (3) “Allowing children to associate too closely with friends who do not share their same standards.” (Parents have to decide what “too closely” means for them and where to draw the line. Is it only dating or simply hanging out together after a game?) (4) “Failure to express love and give appropriate physical affection to family members.” (You can never love – truly love – someone too much!) (5) “Allowing children to steady date during the teen years.” (This can be tricky to negotiate. I never mastered it. I think all my children dated only one person at a time.)
I do not know what Mr. Wright’s other twenty parenting mistakes are, but I would add one mistake that parents should avoid: Failure to counsel with your children about important decisions. I left home for the summer when I was seventeen years old with every intention of returning home for my senior year. I stayed with my older brother and his family to help my sister-in-law with her five small children and to earn some money for the next school year. As the summer drew to a close, I told my parents that I was going to stay there to attend school, and my parents simply accepted my decision! The fact is, I was not adamant about staying there and would have willingly gone back home if my parents had said “No. You need to come home.”
I did not get into any trouble. I got along fine with my brother and his wife; I even graduated from high school with honors. In fact, I did not think anything of the situation until I became a mother with teenagers of my own. It was only then I realized that children and youth need to be with their own parents until they become adults if at all possible. This is because no one loves a child more than their own parents. I believe that simply being at home with my own parents would have helped me to become a more secure adult. I believe that I should have gone home and graduated with my life-long school friends. It is one thing to leave home as an adult and quite another to leave home as a seventeen-year-old high school student.
I too have made this mistake. I failed to counsel adequately with several of my own children about their education choices. I gave all of them total freedom and responsibility to make their own choices as to which fields to train for. I believe that I should have been more involved and asked many more questions about why they made certain choices and how certain careers would or would not provide adequate money to pay expenses. I know that we can strengthen our families, communities, and nations by avoiding as many parenting mistakes as possible!