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Mistakes Every Good Parent Makes

Self-Therapy For People Who ENJOY Learning About Themselves

"DRIVERS"

"Drivers" are phrases most parents say to their children very, very often - at least once most days. They can be stated kindly or callously, quietly or loudly, but the message is always the same: "If you want to please me [your parent] you will do this."

Infants sense, from birth on, that their very existence depends on their parents. (Displeasing someone with life-or-death control over you is frightening!) The fear of displeasing the parent is always present - at least until the child leaves home.

THE FIVE DRIVERS

There are five drivers or phrases that all parents say, or imply, to their kids on a regular basis. They are: "Be Strong," "Hurry Up," "Try Hard," "Be Perfect," and "Please Me." In the saddest of families there is even a sixth driver: "Don't Be."

BE STRONG

Examples

Good Parenting: "Oh, it's only a scratch!" - "Relax. It's not that bad." - "You'll be OK, take it easy."

Bad Parenting: "I'll give you something to cry about!" - "You're just a big baby!" - "Grow up!"

It's important for children to learn that they can be strong sometimes and weak at other times. Parents teach them this by showing them that there are differences between big pains and little pains, and by demonstrating to them that they can survive nearly all pains.

It is also important for kids to learn that ACTING strong when you feel weak is actually BEING weak! And that ACTING weak when you are feeling strong is dishonest and tricky.

HURRY UP

Examples

Good Parenting: "It's time to go now." - "Let's hurry, or we'll be late." - "Mommy's waiting....."

Bad Parenting: "For God's sake hurry up!" - "You are so lazy!" - "Should I get the paddle?"

Children need to know that deciding how to spend time is a cooperative endeavor.


 


Kids need to learn too that both hectic hurrying and deliberate stalling are manipulations.

TRY HARD

Examples

Good Parenting: "You can do it." - "Do you want to do your best on this?" - "You really worked at that!"

Bad Parenting: "You're such a slug!" - "Don't stall on me young lady!" - "If you're get a low grade again I'll......"

Children need to learn that strenuous effort, deep relaxation, and everything in between are valuable.

A child only owes effort that is either freely promised or needed for survival.

BE PERFECT

Examples

Good Parenting: "You did a great job on that!" - "I like it when you do something so well! - "Wow!"

Bad Parenting: "Why can't you be like Judy?" - "C's are not OK in this house!" - "Don't you ever learn?"

Children need to learn that the pursuit of excellence in a self-chosen area is wonderful, and that doing your best is fun, but it is seldom a necessity. Perfection is impossible. The pursuit of excellence is a process. PLEASE ME

Examples

Good Parenting: All of the above PLUS a million forms of seduction ("promises").

Bad Parenting: All of the above PLUS a million kinds of threats.

EVERYTHING we tell a child to do shows them what pleases us. What they need to learn - and what we need to learn - is that we can love, accept, and be proud of them even when they don't please us.

Pleasing us and displeasing us are both options. Children need much experience at both to prepare them for adult life.

THE WORST DRIVER OF ALL

Physical abuse teaches children that their behavior is more important than they are. Abusive parents teach kids "Don't Be."


WHAT'S A PARENT TO DO?

Cut down on the number of times you say ANY of the "drivers" with your children.

FOR EVERY TIME YOU USE A "DRIVER" USE THE FOLLOWING "ALLOWER" AT LEAST TWICE:

For "Be strong." -----> "It's OK to be weak (sad, scared..) sometimes."

For "Hurry up." -----> "Take YOUR time."

For "Try Hard." -----> "Do."

For "Be Perfect." -----> "Take risks... make mistakes... learn..."

For "Please Me." -----> "Please yourself... Do It YOUR Way..."

"Don't Be." -----> "I want you to LIVE!...I'm so glad you are here!"

Notice which driver hurt YOU most in your life, then use the appropriate "allower" VERY frequently...

To YOURSELF, and With Your Children.

Remember: THE PERSON IS ALWAYS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE BEHAVIOR!


 


next: Teenagers

APA Reference
Staff, H. (2008, November 3). Mistakes Every Good Parent Makes, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, October 20 from https://www.healthyplace.com/self-help/inter-dependence/mistakes-every-good-parent-makes

Last Updated: March 29, 2016

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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