How not to raise your child

Raising children is one of the hardest things we will do as parents. Millions of questions throughout parenthood will arise and everyone has different advice. Kids don't come with manuals unfortunately, so how do we know how to raise children to become outstanding citizens? We don't. What works for one child might not work for another, so we are left hoping and praying how we are raising our precious children is the correct way in order to give them the tools they will need to succeed in life.

When my son was born I had no idea how to take care of him. I was an only child growing up and never had the opportunity to learn how to change a diaper, feed or even how to burp a baby. I was petrified that I might do something wrong.

I will never forget the first day he was born. After I had recovered from giving birth to my son a nurse wheeled his crib into my room and handed me a bottle to feed him and then left the room . I was scared to death, but knew I had to learn how to feed him if he was ever going to have a chance of surviving with me being his mother. My mother, thank God she was there, picked him up and handed him to me explaining how to cradle his little head and how to hold him. He instantly started crying bloody murder, as if he knew I had no idea what in the heck I was doing. With a trembling hand I picked up the bottle and gently placed the nipple into his mouth and instantly he started sucking the formula from the bottle. "Phew that was easy, maybe I can do this after all," went through my mind. About five minutes had passed when all of a sudden I heard a gurgling sound like someone choking, I immediately looked down at my new bundle of joy and panicked. Now as a first time mother and already petrified of the new responsibility I did the only sensible thing I knew, I tossed him across the room like a football to my mother as I was screaming, "Do something, he's choking." Luckily she caught him. I guess the jolt from being the first, and hopefully the last, human football cleared his airway and he started screaming bloody murder once again. My mother sat me down and explained that he was not a baby doll, then showed me how to pat him on the back if he ever gets choked again.

That was my first lesson in parenting, there were many more lessons to follow over the years of raising my son. Some were easily learned while others were heartbreaking and learned too late.

As a parent you want nothing but the best for your children, you spend sleepless nights tossing and turning trying to figure out if you are raising them right so they can grow up to be the individuals they are meant to be. Below are some hard lessons I've had to learn through the process of raising my son. Hopefully after reading this you will have a heads up and won't make the same mistakes that I have.

1. Don't let your child off the leash too early

Having your child around you all the time can be stressful and sometimes you need a break. Trust me, before they reach the age of thirteen, don't just drop them off somewhere like a skating rink or a movie house without a trusted adult to supervise them. Even then, be very leery of what friends they are going with and where. There are too many predators and bad influences in the world these days to expect your child to know what is good or bad.

I had a friend that would drop her child off every Saturday night at the skating rink at the age of six by himself. One night she asked if my son could go with her son to the skating rink, they were the same age. I didn't feel comfortable about it so I told her no, but my husband told me I was being overly protective so reluctantly I allowed my son to go. I continued to let my son go every Saturday night to the skating rink for years unsupervised. Years later I found out that was when he smoked his first cigarette, he was only six at the time.

Up until the age of thirteen your child still looks to you for guidance and approval, you are still their complete guidance system. If you give them free reins too early then you run the risk of others influencing your child before they have a firm foundation of what is right or wrong.

2. Don't just tell your child yes to get them to stop nagging you about something

When my son would start nagging me about wanting something in a store or doing something I would assess what he was wanting and then decided if I felt he needed or earned what he was asking for. Nine times out of ten if I said no and explained to him why I didn't feel he needed it he would start throwing a fit and begging me to change my mind. After a while I would just give in to get him off my back. All that taught him was how to be obnoxious and disrespectful. Years later, he still has no respect for authority.

If you continually give in to your child just to get them to stop nagging you about something, you are teaching them how to disrespect you and others. You have to stay strong even if your child is driving you crazy. After a while they will understand that when you say no it means no and they will respect your decision.

4. Don't give your child money unless he earns it

Allowance is a great way to teach your child how the real world works. You do chores around the house and you get rewarded with money. Under no circumstances should you give your child money for anything unless he/she works for it. If you do, you're teaching him/her that things in life are free and they will start thinking that the world owes them something and will never learn the concept of working for a living. Allowances can also give you a leverage to keep your child in line. You can set up boundaries, let your child know If he/she back talks, or acts out the allowance will be taken away for that week.

Whenever my son would ask me for money to buy something I would just hand him the amount he needed. I wanted him to have everything I didn't growing up. When he turned sixteen and I made him get a job he didn't have the work ethic he should have had and got fired or quit every job he held. Instead of letting him sit around the house being bored and driving me crazy until he found another job I would give him gas money so he could go see his friends. All this taught him was the world owed him something and he didn't have to put forth any effort in order to get something. Now at the age of twenty-three he is still having a hard time learning how to make ends meet and doesn't have a job.

3. Don't turn a blind eye

If your child is starting to act different and their grades are failing, or they are talking slower or faster than normal, you need to confront them about this issue. Don't just turn a blind eye because you don't want to deal with the issue or because you don't want to believe that your child might be doing drugs or using alcohol. This is when you need to get tough and fight for your child's future. Go through their room, search through their backpacks, coat pockets or any other place you can think of where they might be hiding things from you. You are the parent, you have the responsibility of raising a child and guiding them. You have every right to go through their room or other personal belonging if you suspect them using illegal stuff. Get them help if needed, there are lots of resources that can help you in this area. You can call your local police department anonymously to give you guidance in this area. There are a lot of great programs for at risk teens. You just might save their lives.

I didn't want to believe that my son was using drugs. I turned a blind eye, and now we both are paying the price because I didn't do what I should have. I needed to have taken control of the situation.

5. Don't settle for anything less than the best from your child

You are here to shape and mold your child into the best person they possible can be. The only way to do this is to expect the best from them in everything they do. For example, if you ask them to wash the car, and it's not done properly or they missed a spot, don't tell them they did a good job and finish it yourself. Show them where they missed and make them rewash the area they missed. If you continually tell them they did a good job when they didn't they will learn mediocre is acceptable and will never strive to be the best.

These are just some of the lessons I have learned over the years. They are not just suggestions, they are warnings. If you let your child run your life, in the long run both of you will be heartbroken and your child will not become the self sufficient adult he/she needs to become and they will continue to think that the world owes them something.

Until next time,

Karen Beth

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