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New Parent Mistakes

Updated on September 9, 2013
Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

Tracy has been working in the field of education for many years specializing in both Waldorf and Montessori methodologies.

Hind sight is 20/20 and never is this more true then when it comes to being a first time time parent. There are so many mistakes that parents make with their first child and avoid with subsequent children. Here are some that I have made and seen other first time parents making.

Buying too much stuff. There are so many gadgets ranging from bath tub temperature safety thermometers to cribs that mimic the mother's womb and the number of gadgets seems to be growing by the day. There are catalogs that are filled gadgets but so much of it is short lived and you really can do without most of it. Babies DO need a lot of things but not nearly as many as new parents are lead to believe. One example is a diaper genie which is a special pail for soiled diapers. I bought one because I thought that I needed it. I used it with my first baby but later realized that it was just as easy if not easier to throw the diaper out in a garbage bag, there really is no need for so many of these gadgets. Nursing clothes is another trap that I fell into. I thought that in order to be a great Mom I would need some pricey shirts and PJs to breast feed. Being a great Mom comes from love and devotion, not from money spent on stuff. All of the nursing shirts were a waste of money, they were ugly and no more useful than a regular shirt. I just think of all the money that I wasted on so many things that I thought were essential.

Better Use of Time. I spent so much time making sure that I was doing everything correctly with my first child that I did way more than was necessary. I considered and reconsidered everything that I did. Leaving the house with a new baby took forever since I was afraid that I might forget to pack something in the diaper bag. With my subsequent children I knew that I was doing the right thing and could relax and enjoy them much better. The child picks up on the vibes of this more relaxed parent and seems to enjoy life better too.

Pushing them to grow up too fast. I was somewhat guilty of this with my first child. It seemed so exciting when she could first walk or learn something new. I was thrilled with the accomplishments she was making since I knew she was meeting or exceeding her milestones. There is a downside to this since I was not completely content with enjoying the moment. There is no need to rush your child's growth, with your subsequent children you are more likely to savor each stage.

I remember a friend feeling angry towards her then four year old when the child wanted to quit ballet classes. The Mom wanted to teach her daughter a lesson about following through, she was expecting her daughter to behave like a much older child should. A four year old cannot commit to anything. The Mom as a first time parent had unrealistic expectations of her oldest child.

When subsequent children roll around the parent is better able to allow a child to 'be' at their realistic stage without wanting the excitement of the new stage or skill. Oldest children are known for being hard workers and expecting more of themselves then their younger siblings and this is in part due to unrealistic expectations that have been placed on them from the time they were born. This causes unhappiness for them as adults when they expect too much of themselves.

Stressing over stages like toilet training or sleeping through the night. These can be overwhelming stages where the parent feels that they have so much control, when in fact nature is the greater power at work with these and many other stages. I remember reading a handful of books on toilet training and the only trick that seemed to work was allowing the child to be naked so they can sense the need to get to the potty, I don't think I even read that in a book! Most importantly the child needed to be ready. I spent so much time wondering and being concerned about what seemed like an overwhelming task but when it came time to manage the same stages with my subsequent children I didn't stress about these things at all and allowed nature to guide me.

Knowing when to allow the child to make mistakes. Parents can be like hawks with their first child, and some with subsequent child as well. The term 'helicopter parent' has recently been coined, these are parents that hover over a child first physically, and later in other ways that prevent the child from learning from mistakes. In the early years they must learn how to hold a spoon and drink milk from a cup, these are all learned through trial and error. It is this trial and error that teaches some of the greatest lessons including patience, perserverence, and independence and later confidence to try and learn something new. If the parent is always 'doing' for them they miss the opportunity to 'do' for themselves. Allowing your child to make mistakes within reasonable safe settings is the mark of a seasoned parent.

Naive about technology. This is a new chapter for the parenting books. New technology such as computers and now phones with Internet connections pose a whole new world for parents to learn how to navigate.

I have made mistakes here as well. My daughter had a laptop computer that was needed for homework, this laptop had Internet access. When she was supposed to be doing her homework she would be playing an online game and would skip her homework. These technological devices have to be monitored and controlled. I had to activate parental controls and oversee her every move day and night. The monitoring and controlling needs to be ongoing so in ways when the child is supposed to be getting older and more independent you again have to monitor their time since there are so many distractions from what they should be doing. I trusted my daughter to be doing her schoolwork but I was giving her more trust than an 11 year old deserved.

When I relayed this story to parents of preteens everyone of them was sure that this kind of thing wouldn't happen to them since they either monitored their child or had complete trust in what they would be doing while using the internet. When sharing my experience with parents of teenagers they all could relate to my experience. It seems that parents need to learn the hard way when it comes to technological privileges for their child. With subsequent children these mistakes will most likely be avoided due to experience.

Knowing the difference between the adult brain and the teen brain. First time parents of teens seem so thrilled to have their child getting to the stage of independence where they can be left home alone and doing things independently. Studies show that the teenage brain does not in fact have the final maturity as that of an adult brain so they lack the ability to consider consequences. Examples of this are, posting damaging things on the Internet, driving recklessly or experimenting with dangerous drugs. Even though physically teens may appear to be independent and in control they still need a parent or guardian to carefully watch over them. Parents will likely make mistakes with their first child and be wiser with subsequent ones.

© Copyright 2011 Tracy Lynn Conway with all rights reserved.

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