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5 Things Parents Should Quit Right Now

If you’re ever questioning the job you’re doing as a parent, here are five things to quit that could totally impact some of your parenting choices:

By
Cheryl Butler,
Episode #482

image of parents fighting in background

I just celebrated a birthday this week. I’m the mother of eight, so I’m certainly not celebrating my 29th or even my 40th of special days, but I can tell you this: I truly love life, and though I may sport a few (keyword few!) more wrinkles, I am thrilled to be parenting at my age and have always felt that age is just a number. You’re as young as you feel!

I became a mom a bit later in life. This actually wasn’t by choice, but nature and my body had other plans for me. After six years of infertility, at the age of 29, we were finally blessed with our first child through the amazing experience of adoption. One year later, I gave birth to our second child and then...I had six more babies! My new favorite motto soon became “Be Careful What You Ask For!” and I never looked back.

Though I yearned for kids in my early twenties, I believe the Universe knew better as to the timing of when I should become a mom. Those extra years before kids allowed my husband and me to travel, purchase a beautiful home, and to focus on our careers, which by no means could replace a family—but because we were passionate about our work lives, we made it the silver lining of our infertility struggles.

Nearly three decades and eight kids later, I’ve experienced a multitude of parenting ups and downs, but overall, I’m so happy to have learned from sheer experience. I saw a wonderful quote last week from “Lesson in Life”—perfect timing with my birthday! 

As a mom in my early 50s, I found these five lessons very appropriate while raising kids. If you’re ever questioning the job you’re doing as a parent, these five things to quit could totally impact some of your parenting choices:

5 Things Parents Should Quit Right Now

  1.  You Can’t Please Everyone.
  2.  Don’t Put Yourself Down.
  3.  Don’t Live in the Past.
  4.  Don’t Fear Change.
  5.  Don’t Overthink Your Decisions

Here they are in more detail.

1. You Can’t Please Everyone

Years ago, if I were on a recorded loop whenever I was introduced to a crowd, you would hear, “My name is Cheryl Butler, and I am a people pleaser!” Honestly, that truly is still who I am, but after nearly three decades of parenting, I have absolutely learned the very important lesson that “You can’t please everyone.” 

When you’re someone who likes to keep everyone happy, the word that you’ll often hear escaping that person’s lips is “yes.” Whether it’s trying to accommodate co-workers, taking on yet one more role in the PTO, running constant errands for your spouse on top of caring for the house and of course managing all your children’s wants and needs, there comes a time when something simply has to give—before you give out!

People pleasers like myself would rather eat live toads than have to tell someone “no.” Truthfully, for me, it wasn’t quite as difficult saying no to my kids, as opposed to someone from work or in the various capacities I volunteered at, but I did get swayed more times than I care to admit into granting my kid’s numerous wishes because I hated to see them disappointed.

Because I have such a large family, and have always been outnumbered by my eight darlings, I did finally realize that saying yes wasn’t a bad thing when it was done for the right reasons, but not because someone was pressuring me to cave and get their own way.

In Are You a People-Pleaser? Why Parents Shouldn’t Always Say Yes, Susan Newman, PhD, believes that when children are told “no” they benefit in important ways. “When kids don’t get what they want, they learn resourcefulness, discovering ways to achieve their own desires and goals. They also learn resilience, initiative, and grit—abilities that help children overcome challenges throughout life.”

In 5 Ways to Say Yes to Your Kids, I share tips on when saying “yes” is a good thing and how to balance out the "yes"'s from the "no"’s. It’s human nature to want the best for our kids, but if we quit doing it just to placate or soothe them, we’re helping to build character for them when they get out into the real world.

2. Don’t Put Yourself Down

When my kids were younger one of our favorite ways to get ready for a nap or bedtime was to read a story from the Winnie the Pooh series. We’re big Disney fans so not only did we have all the books, we had the DVDs, posters, Pooh Bear Jammies, and of course, Pooh and Piglet stuffed animals. I just loved (and still do) Pooh’s innocent and optimistic take on life. Anything seemed possible when Winnie the Pooh was out and about in the Hundred Acre Wood. Of course, not all the characters in the series could find that silver lining when things weren’t going well. Eeyore, that cute but gloomy donkey always knew how to put a damper on things with his constant, negative self-talk.

If there’s one thing I find harmful and depressing to watch it’s listening to another person put themselves down. Some people don’t even realize they’re doing it, but very often their self-sabotaging remarks are being done in front of little ears—their own kids.

In Eight conversations you should never have in front of your children, child psychologist Laura Berk believes that it’s detrimental to speak badly of yourself in front of your kids because they could start mimicking this bad habit and start doing it to themselves.

I wholeheartedly agree and talk about nixing the self-talk in Busy Parent? 6 Ways to Maintain Healthy Self-Esteem. I used an example about a haircut I got. “Train yourself to dismiss the bad thoughts and instead replace them with a positive thought. For example, instead of framing my new haircut with 'I can’t believe I went back to bangs with such a round face,' instead tilt the perspective with, 'I like how my new bangs showcase my big, brown eyes.' It's a much kinder statement and much better at building self-esteem, especially when you get in the habit of nixing the negative and replacing it with something positive.

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