6 Life Lessons to Teach Your Kids Because There's No Instruction Manual

Updated on June 3, 2018
FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway is a psychologist, music lover, and awkward mom to a teenager.

Parenting: Where's the Instruction Manual?

So many activities require certification or licenses. Should parenting require an instruction manual? Would a license to raise another person to adulthood help?
So many activities require certification or licenses. Should parenting require an instruction manual? Would a license to raise another person to adulthood help? | Source

Parenting: License Not Required

Think about it. There really should be an instruction book for parenthood. Not that it would help everyone. But when kids go astray there'd be obvious rules to cite.

Seriously. You need a license to

  • own and operate a car, boat, or motorcycle
  • hunt or fish
  • be a lifeguard
  • own a dog
  • operate a daycare
  • cut someone's hair, clean their teeth and work in many other occupations.

Not everyone is permitted to

  • vote
  • rent a car
  • buy lottery tickets
  • get married
  • drink alcohol
  • have a parade
  • check out a library book or
  • secure credit in their own name.

There are rules for these things—maybe imperfect rules that need revisiting—but there is structure nonetheless. There are applications and guidebooks. Sometimes, there are even fines to be paid if you don't do it right.

However, when it comes to raising another person to adulthood, folks are on their own to navigate life's challenges. The responsibility is enormous and the ramifications if you don't get it right? Sheesh.

Parent Poll

Okay, parents, what's your worst parenting fail? (We won't tell.)

See results

What to Teach Kids When There's No Instruction Manual

I recall bringing my own infant home from the hospital 18 years ago. Like every first time parent, I was surprised that the nurses handed her over to my husband and me.

All I could think about was, "What now?" Even though I was married, over 30, and well on my way to becoming a psychologist, I felt in over my head. Shouldn't there be a parent boot camp or a certificate that authorizes people to parent? (I mean, Kim Kardashian and Britney Spears are mothers now!)

Here's Some Help

Since there is no instruction book, here are six lessons to share with your kids. Not everyone gets each parenting move correct, but most parents' hearts are in the right place—even if their minds are occasionally elsewhere. Sometimes seeing others' failures can make your own seem not quite so bad.

Parenting on Autopilot

Click thumbnail to view full-size
At least he's wearing a safety harness ... kinda.And you're wondering where she got her fear of grandma!Look, Dad, no hands!Forget somebody?They learn this behavior somewhere.  It wasn't you, was it?
At least he's wearing a safety harness ... kinda.
At least he's wearing a safety harness ... kinda. | Source
And you're wondering where she got her fear of grandma!
And you're wondering where she got her fear of grandma! | Source
Look, Dad, no hands!
Look, Dad, no hands! | Source
Forget somebody?
Forget somebody? | Source
They learn this behavior somewhere.  It wasn't you, was it?
They learn this behavior somewhere. It wasn't you, was it? | Source

Lesson 1: Entertain Yourself and Practice Self-Sufficiency

Parents frequently find themselves in multiple roles:

  • short-order cooks
  • launderer
  • tutor
  • chauffeur
  • personal shopper
  • secretary
  • motivational speaker and
  • public relations handler.

Playing all these roles can make you feel so needed. As tempting as it is to want to continue "doing" for kids as they grow, it's important to transfer that responsibility to kids themselves and to equip them with the life skills they'll need to become self-sufficient adults.

Teach children to manage themselves and to be accountable for their own results so they can be economically independent later. (Your wallet will thank you.)

Build their sense of personal responsibility and self-sufficiency. Find the sweet spot between hovering and disinterest. There's learning to be had in setting and working towards a valued goal. "Struggle" isn't necessarily a bad word.

Yikes: The Hazards of Unattended Children

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Kids over the age of 12, I could understand, but this seems a little harsh.So that's where clowns come from.Does that mean unattended parents get free cigarettes and a Valium?Oh, goody!  Krispy Kreme or Dunkin Donuts?
Kids over the age of 12, I could understand, but this seems a little harsh.
Kids over the age of 12, I could understand, but this seems a little harsh. | Source
So that's where clowns come from.
So that's where clowns come from. | Source
Does that mean unattended parents get free cigarettes and a Valium?
Does that mean unattended parents get free cigarettes and a Valium? | Source
Oh, goody!  Krispy Kreme or Dunkin Donuts?
Oh, goody! Krispy Kreme or Dunkin Donuts? | Source

Lesson 2: Stand up for Yourself

Part of developing social competence is learning how to assert one's views, needs, and basic rights. This takes years of practice as well as positive role modeling.

Teach your child body posture that projects confidence:

  • maintain eye contact
  • walk tall
  • hold your head up and
  • keep your shoulders back (no slouching).

Communicating confidence in this way can make them a less likely target for bullies.

Also encourage your child to speak with authority. Model good behavior yourself. Wimpy, watered down and gutless language kills personal credibility (e.g., "um," "ah," "uh," "like," excessive use of slang). It's easier to establish good habits originally than to unlearn bad ones later.

Help your child by exposing him or her to a variety of social situations and people without either forcing or rescuing him/her. Instead, present new situations as learning opportunities. They provide your child with chances to see that he or she can be accepted by an ever-wider social circle.

One must know how to deal with a wide range of people to do well in the world, especially those who are different from you or disagree with your viewpoint. Let your child learn that it's okay not to be 100% comfortable all the time. Even close friends can disagree yet maintain their relationship.

Show your child how to voice her views and needs firmly and with respect. Practice healthy methods for verbally pushing back when necessary.

In addition, encourage your child to include others in conversation and turn-taking without neglecting their own requirements. Get into the habit of role playing different scenarios so that your child becomes comfortable with rehearsing his or her new skills.

Discuss social situations in which others behaved either too aggressively or passively. Why did they choose to behave that way? What were the impacts on all the parties involved? How could the person have better achieved their objective?

Keep the lines of communication open so that your child will discuss any problems encountered in standing up for himself/herself. Bullying thrives in secrecy and shame, so the best way you can fight it is to keep talking openly with your child.

Bullying thrives on secrecy and shame.
Bullying thrives on secrecy and shame. | Source

Does Your Child Have Risk Factors for Bullying?

Risk Factors For Bullying Others
Risk Factors For Being Bullied
Aggressive or easily frustrated
Perceived as an outsider or different from one's peer group (e.g., overweight, LGBT, disabled/special needs, new student)
Low parental involvement or issues at home
Perceived as weak or unable to defend oneself
Difficulty following rules
Anxious, depressed, or has low a self-image
Friends with other bullies
Lonely, socially isolated, fewer friends
View violence in a positive manner
Perceived as annoying or needy for attention
Today's schoolyard bully.  Tomorrow's criminal?  For boys, research suggests a link.
Today's schoolyard bully. Tomorrow's criminal? For boys, research suggests a link. | Source

Bullying Basics

  • 1 out of 4 kids is bullied. 1 out of 5 kids admits to bullying others.1
  • In boys, being a child bully is a significant predictor of adult criminality.2
  • About 42% of kids have been bullied on-line.3
  • Every 7 minutes a child is bullied on the playground at school. In 85% of cases, there is no intervention by either peers or adults.
  • 8% of students miss one day of school each month because they fear being bullied.
  • Bullying peaks during the middle school years and generally levels off by 11th and 12th grades.

Yikes! Composure Lost

Click thumbnail to view full-size
"Ho, Ho, Ho" or "No, No, NO!" ... ?  This little girl is scared of Santa.Santa looks mad and weary.  You'd cry too, wouldn't you?This child will be afraid of the dark for years.
"Ho, Ho, Ho" or "No, No, NO!" ... ?  This little girl is scared of Santa.
"Ho, Ho, Ho" or "No, No, NO!" ... ? This little girl is scared of Santa. | Source
Santa looks mad and weary.  You'd cry too, wouldn't you?
Santa looks mad and weary. You'd cry too, wouldn't you? | Source
This child will be afraid of the dark for years.
This child will be afraid of the dark for years. | Source

Lesson 3: Learn to Exercise Emotional Self-Control

When you were a kid, did your parents ever tell you to ... ?

  • "tighten up"
  • "suck it up"
  • "get a hold of yourself" or
  • "don't melt down."

Some Parenting Fails Are Worse Than Others

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Who watches parents when the parents are watching the children?Hey, Smokey, not your best parenting moment.  And she looks old enough to tell.Better toddler spotter needed?  Kids rarely stay where you put them.This family of five daredevils crossed a fence and ignored a large warning sign to stand on that cliff.  Who's leading here?
Who watches parents when the parents are watching the children?
Who watches parents when the parents are watching the children? | Source
Hey, Smokey, not your best parenting moment.  And she looks old enough to tell.
Hey, Smokey, not your best parenting moment. And she looks old enough to tell. | Source
Better toddler spotter needed?  Kids rarely stay where you put them.
Better toddler spotter needed? Kids rarely stay where you put them. | Source
This family of five daredevils crossed a fence and ignored a large warning sign to stand on that cliff.  Who's leading here?
This family of five daredevils crossed a fence and ignored a large warning sign to stand on that cliff. Who's leading here? | Source

Maybe their methods were imperfect, but they were trying to teach you emotional self-control.

Children need parents' help in regulating their emotions. This includes learning to identify their feelings, coping with their emotions without becoming overwhelmed, and expressing themselves constructively (e.g., through one's words instead of one's fists).

Emotional self-regulation predicts success in both school and work life. Moreover, kids who are able to better regulate their emotions

  • work harder
  • pay more attention
  • achieve more in school
  • are better behaved and
  • are more caring towards others.4

As parents, we can help children gradually learn to exercise emotional self-control by providing a structured and consistent environment and by tuning in to kids emotionally, regardless of how busy our own schedules may be.

Reader Poll

How would you rate yourself as a parent? Be honest!

See results

Take Your Child to Work Day?

Can you do a split like that?  Whatever your talent, be proud of it.
Can you do a split like that? Whatever your talent, be proud of it. | Source

Lesson 4: Nurture Your Talents

Some of us have remarkable physical talents like strength, speed or agility. Others have special interpersonal skills such as persuasiveness or leadership ability, while still other people have intellectual or creative gifts. Talents come in all forms. What you do with them is up to you.

Encourage your child to find, embrace, and nourish his or her interests. She may bounce from soccer to karate to flute, but be patient. She's exploring who she is.

As a parent, you can provide the necessary resources and support. For areas where your child excels and/or is exceptionally interested, expose him or her to role models and mentors who can supply targeted performance feedback and skilled advice.

Also encourage your child to set specific, difficult (yet attainable) goals in honing his or her talent. Encourage personal excellence—not necessarily competitive excellence.

Talent often flows from hard work, and when you have a passion for something, work is much more enjoyable. Regardless of whether they win awards, being recognized as skilled and competent in an area provides a confidence boost that can benefit your child for years to come.

Fashion Faux Pas: Say This Isn't So

This little girl's rear reads "PARADISE."  Not the best fashion choice.  Should she even own this item of clothing?
This little girl's rear reads "PARADISE." Not the best fashion choice. Should she even own this item of clothing? | Source

Lesson 5: Dress for Success

We're each judged by our image and how we look. As kids become tweens and teens, they begin to make key fashion choices for themselves.

With options ranging from saggy and skinny jeans to spaghetti strap and midriff baring tops, young people need to know that it's not just adults who are being judged by how they look, dress, and carry themselves.

Level-headed parents can offer kids an important perspective. Here are tips in doing so:

  • Position fashion as a range of choices. Seek to understand what look the young person is trying to achieve—flamboyant, hipster, jock? Who are their fashion role models? (That should tell you a lot.) Understand how the teen wants to be regarded by peers, strangers, and others. (This should tell you even more.)
  • If you disagree about a piece of clothing, discuss the teen's selected garment in terms of appropriateness (i.e., for the occasion, audience, season, size, fit). Listen as well as teach.
  • Point out the practical impact of the teen's attire and discuss your perceptions. How does their "look" match how they want to be perceived? (i.e., "When you wear a skirt that short I can see your underwear when you bend over or sit down. Whether you mean to or not, wearing that skirt telegraphs a message that you are desperate for attention. Is that what you want?")

Although clothing choices are an age-old source of friction between parents and their children, maintain an open mind and open dialog. Use any disagreements as a chance to educate and model productive methods of working out conflict.

Not Fair but True: Appearance Matters

Don't shoot the messenger, but according to psychological research, appearance affects our self-perceptions, others' perceptions about us, and how we are treated.

  • Taller people are perceived as more powerful and more intelligent, and on average they earn an extra $789 per inch per year.5
  • Women who wear make-up are judged as more attractive, competent, likable and trustworthy.6
  • Unattractive people are more likely to be targets of bullying in the workplace.7
  • Good-looking people tend to earn more money on the job. For example, one study found that more physically attractive real estate agents had listings with higher prices and larger commissions.8

Lowered into a pen, this child becomes a tool to feed raccoons some bread.  Adults seem to be enjoying the experience.  But is he?
Lowered into a pen, this child becomes a tool to feed raccoons some bread. Adults seem to be enjoying the experience. But is he? | Source

Lesson 6: Be Kind to Others and the World Around You

Children need to know that although they are the center of their parents' worlds, they are also part of a broader universe that is in a constant state of change. Their behavior—choices both large and small—have indubitable impacts on other humans and the environment we inhabit, sometimes in ways that are hard to foretell.

Whether they purchase a plastic soda bottle or reach for a reusable cup matters. Whether they travel by car or walk/ride their bike matters. How they dispose of used items matter. These issues matter because people count but also because nature counts.

Parents must teach children that we are each one important thread in a social, economic, and environmental fabric of people, animals, and plants. We are all interconnected in our journeys. Children depend on parents lessons in treating one another with kindness and respect.

We all share an interconnected fate. Kids are one of your biggest chances to make a difference in this world.

Since There's No Instruction Manual, I Allowed Her to Go ...

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Since there was no parenting instruction manual, I used my best judgment and allowed my daughter to go hang gliding (with a professional, of course.)I've supported my daughter in a variety of experiences:  hang gliding, kayaking, rock climbing, riding alongside an Indy race car driver.
Since there was no parenting instruction manual, I used my best judgment and allowed my daughter to go hang gliding (with a professional, of course.)
Since there was no parenting instruction manual, I used my best judgment and allowed my daughter to go hang gliding (with a professional, of course.) | Source
I've supported my daughter in a variety of experiences:  hang gliding, kayaking, rock climbing, riding alongside an Indy race car driver.
I've supported my daughter in a variety of experiences: hang gliding, kayaking, rock climbing, riding alongside an Indy race car driver. | Source

Locations with Names Associated with the Many Roles a Parent Performs

A
cook:
Cook County, IL, USA

get directions

B
counselor:
Counselor, New Mexico, USA

get directions

C
chauffeur:
Rue du Chauffeur, Autricourt, France

get directions

D
drill seargeant:
Sergeant, Pennsylvania, USA

get directions

E
friend:
Friend, Nebraska, USA

get directions

F
laundress:
Laundress Lane, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom

get directions

G
mentor:
Mentor, Ohio, USA

get directions

H
seamstress:
Seamstress Lake, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

get directions

I
secretary:
Secretary, Maryland, USA

get directions

J
servant:
Servant, France

get directions

Summary

There are no official rules or application for raising another person to adulthood. No instruction book or certificate. Perhaps there should be, but for now, parents learn on the fly. Here are six lessons for navigating life's challenges:

  • Lesson 1: Entertain yourself and practice self-sufficiency.

  • Lesson 2: Stand up for yourself.

  • Lesson 3: Learn to exercise emotional self-control.

  • Lesson 4: Nurture your talents.

  • Lesson 5: Dress for success.

  • Lesson 6: Be kind to others and the world around you.

We All Have Our Moments

I'm that mom who enlightened my fourth grade child on the "real" pronunciation of Uranus ("your anus") when she was studying the solar system. I don't know who guffawed louder. And of course, news quickly spread to the rest of her class
I'm that mom who enlightened my fourth grade child on the "real" pronunciation of Uranus ("your anus") when she was studying the solar system. I don't know who guffawed louder. And of course, news quickly spread to the rest of her class | Source

Notes

1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014, April 9). Youth Bullying: What Does the Research Say? Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/youthviolence/bullyingresearch/.

2Sourander, A., Klomek, A. B., Kumpulainen, K., Puustjärvi, A., Elonheimo, H., Ristkari, T., . . . Ronning, J. A. (2011). Bullying at age eight and criminality in adulthood: findings from the Finnish Nationwide 1981 Birth Cohort Study. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 46(12), 1211-1219. doi:10.1007/s00127-010-0292-1

3Bullying Statistics. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.bullyingstatistics.org/content/bullying-statistics.html.

4Barish, K. (2013, September 9). How Do Children Learn to Regulate Their Emotions? Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kenneth-barish-phd/how-do-children-learn-to-_b_3890461.html.

5Britt, R. R. (2009, July 11). Taller People Earn More Money. Retrieved from http://www.livescience.com/5552-taller-people-earn-money.html

6Carollo, K. (2011, October 4). Cosmetics Make Women Seem More Likable, Competent, Trustworthy and Attractive, Says Study. Retrieved from http://abcnews.go.com/Health/cosmetics-make-women-likable-competent-trustworthy-attractive-study/story?id=14659706.

7ScienceDaily. (2013, July 7). Unattractive people more likely to be bullied at work. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130717164723.htm.

8ScienceDaily. (2013, June 3). More attractive real estate agents mean higher prices and profits. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130603133336.htm.

Questions & Answers

    © 2014 FlourishAnyway

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      • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

        FlourishAnyway 

        9 months ago from USA

        Joyette - What loving words of encouragement. Thanks for your comment.

      • Joyette  Fabien profile image

        Joyette Fabien 

        9 months ago from Dominica

        You raised some very insightful points here FlourishAnyway. Thanks for sharing. Perhaps many parents would have done better with a manual to refer to.

        Parenting is something no one can get 100% correct. We just have to give it our best shot and let God guide us through the process. If we turn out positive and productive individuals for the next generation, we have done well.

      • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

        FlourishAnyway 

        2 years ago from USA

        Rajan - Thank you for taking the time to read. I have interaction with a number of teens and thankfully many of them are well-adjusted, nerdy, sweet young people who want to change the world for good. That speaks so well for their parents and hopefully our future.

      • rajan jolly profile image

        Rajan Singh Jolly 

        2 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

        I agree with Bill that more often than not common sense does the trick in correctly bringing up a child. And having raised one, raising the second is almost a breeze though an entirely different experience as well.

        Your pointers are definitely worth putting into practice and parents to be/new parents would find these very helpful.

      • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

        FlourishAnyway 

        2 years ago from USA

        Tracy - Glad you enjoyed this! It should make us all feel a little bit better. My own parenting fail is so bad (and funny) my husband won't let me write about it.

      • Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

        Tracy Lynn Conway 

        2 years ago from Virginia, USA

        Thank you for really making me laugh! I have personally seen a baby in a car seat sitting at the end of a driveway. The baby was left there and crying while the mom went to get something.

        The problem is that if there was actually a manual, would any of these people even read it. Great hub!

      • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

        FlourishAnyway 

        3 years ago from USA

        moonlake - But he is still living to complain to you about it! Thanks for voting and commenting. Have a great week!

      • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

        FlourishAnyway 

        3 years ago from USA

        Mary - It is the hardest job, but I'd rather be a bit too strict than too permissive. Thanks for the vote, the comment and the share!

      • moonlake profile image

        moonlake 

        3 years ago from America

        My son still gets mad at me for not letting him jump off the bridge into the river the way the rest of the kids were doing. There were rocks and never a good idea to do that. He will be 51 this month and still talks about it. They never forgive us for the smallest things.

        I also think a bad parent is one that has tattoos all the way up his/her arm but can't even dress their kids in decent clothes.

        Voted up on your hub.

      • mary615 profile image

        Mary Hyatt 

        3 years ago from Florida

        Being a parent is the hardest job in the world (but the most rewarding). I wrote a Hub on why I think that is true!

        I find a lot of "failures at parenting skills" in today's society. Parents just seem to allow their kids to do whatever they feel like doing.

        I was an old fashioned parent and maybe too strict with my four, but they turned out to be grown ups I am very proud of.

        Wonderful Hub full of good advice. This could be a manual for raising kids!

        Voted UP, etc. and shared.

      • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

        FlourishAnyway 

        3 years ago from USA

        Larry Rankin - Thankfully everyone came out unscathed. When they start kindergarten they start really telling all the ways you fell short. Teachers happily announce to parents that they'll promise not to believe everything they hear about the parents if in turn the parents don't believe everything they hear about them (the teachers). I've got some doozies that are so off the wall my husband has claimed censorship, most of them in later years. Take care of yourself and that new baby, Larry, and thanks for reading!

      • Larry Rankin profile image

        Larry Rankin 

        3 years ago from Oklahoma

        I'm a relatively new parent, so I thought I'd give this a read. Wonderful article. Love the photos.

        All in all, I think my wife and I have done well, but yesterday we had an epic fail. We were headed out to a restaurant. My wife notices our daughter is moving around a lot in her car seat. We forgot to buckle her in:-/

      • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

        FlourishAnyway 

        3 years ago from USA

        Sheila - Thank you for stopping by and have a terrific weekend!

      • sgbrown profile image

        Sheila Brown 

        3 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

        This is awesome! These pictures have ne shaking my head. What were these parents thinking! Never mind, they were not thinking at all! I see "over scheduling" as a problem these days. Yes, it is important to keep your kids busy but they need time to relax and just be themselves too. You have some great advice here!

      • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

        FlourishAnyway 

        3 years ago from USA

        ezzly - And so is Britney Spears. What's next? Miley Cyrus? Justin Bieber? The world just can't take this. Thanks for stopping by. Have a Happy New Year!

      • ezzly profile image

        ezzly 

        3 years ago

        I love this article, so funny, great pictures and real! And omg yes Kim Kardashian is someone's mother! Also not over scheduling is a very important tip I sometimes look at parents who have their kids in everything and wonder when the kid has space to be himself ? Voted up and sharing !

      • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

        FlourishAnyway 

        3 years ago from USA

        C.V. Rajan - Thanks for stopping by. You make an excellent point there! Have a wonderful new year!

      • C.V.Rajan profile image

        Disillusioned 

        3 years ago from Kerala, India

        A very assertive and informative article. I liked your point about boredom. I used to tell my children that boredom is an important part and parcel of life!

        Another parental mistake is over-possessiveness and over-appreciation about their children. Children need appreciation alright, but appreciation given for mediocrity is not my cup of tea.

      • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

        FlourishAnyway 

        4 years ago from USA

        vespawoolf - Glad you enjoyed this! Thanks for reading and commenting. Have a great weekend!

      • vespawoolf profile image

        vespawoolf 

        4 years ago from Peru, South America

        Wow! These are 6 great lessons that parents should teach to their children. I agree, parents should require a license! It must be the most difficult job around. I especially like that you mention the need for emotional control and kindness to others, but all the point are excellent. Thank you for this useful information.

      • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

        FlourishAnyway 

        4 years ago from USA

        Elsie - Thanks for weighing in. It's especially interesting to know the age limits in different countries.

      • Elsie Hagley profile image

        Elsie Hagley 

        4 years ago from New Zealand

        I'm a great grandmother, have seen many things in my life and read a lot about what families should and shouldn't do when bringing up children.

        One thing I would like to mention that in New Zealand you have to be eighteen to vote, eighteen to buy alcohol. but you can be a parent as young as fourteen, something isn't right.

        Thanks for an excellent hub. voted up

      • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

        FlourishAnyway 

        4 years ago from USA

        tazzytamar - Your sweet little one probably didn't even notice. May you have many adventures of the good kind ahead with him or her. Parents are the most important influence in a child's life. In a child's eyes, you already rock.Thanks for reading and voting.

      • tazzytamar profile image

        Anna 

        4 years ago from chichester

        Some of the photos really made me laugh!! I have to say, I don't understand parents dressing their little ones in clothing that isn't "age appropriate"... "Paradise" and "Juicy" across the rear end of a 9 or 10 year old just seems a bit silly to me!

        Voted up and useful!

        Oh, and as for a parenting faux pas I can say my worst one thus far was dropping a few strands of spaghetti (not hot!) on my 4 month old baby's head whilst desperately trying to eat and breastfeed at the same time...

        Lesson learned.

      • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

        FlourishAnyway 

        4 years ago from USA

        Jeannieinabottle - I hear you. I didn't have the disposition for a house full of kids, so I had one and called it good. But I'm the aunt that the kids love to have visit and the adults roll their eyes about.

      • Jeannieinabottle profile image

        Jeannie InABottle 

        4 years ago from Baltimore, MD

        I am glad I don't have kids. I wish others would learn if they also have shortcomings and should perhaps not have kids, too. Some of those photos prove that! ;-)

      • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

        FlourishAnyway 

        4 years ago from USA

        Audrey - Thank you for stopping by and for your kind kudos. I cannot imagine them yelling at a new mother like that.

      • brakel2 profile image

        Audrey Selig 

        4 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

        Hi Flourish As usual, you are a hit with this hub. It is funny, on the

        mark, and good advice. People always say. "Instruction manual needed". I was bad in the hospital when my first chd was born and got yelled at for having long fingernails. Sharing this great hub. Blessings. Audrey

      • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

        FlourishAnyway 

        4 years ago from USA

        Mindi - Thanks for stopping by. Good parents aren't the perfect ones. They just keep it real, admit mistakes and move on. Glad to see you again. Have a great week.

      • stuff4kids profile image

        Amanda Littlejohn 

        4 years ago

        Funny, wise, troubling, thoughtful and so very true!

        I totally agree with all your suggestions for parenting. I'm reminded of the comment made by the famous psychologist Carl Jung (whatever you may think of his theories) who said something like, "Good parents are not the ones who do everything right. They are not the ones who do everything wrong. The best parents are the ones who are just good enough."

        I always found that comforting when bringing up my brood. I certainly think that teaching them self-reliance is a core principle to doing it right.

        Another triumph, Shelley! Voted up and shared. :)

      • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

        FlourishAnyway 

        4 years ago from USA

        Larry - It's the ride of your love. Truly fabulous but also exhausting and hard work, so much fun. Congratulations and I know you will do well.

      • Larry Rankin profile image

        Larry Rankin 

        4 years ago from Oklahoma

        Absolutely loved the photos. I'm less than 10 weeks from becoming a father for the first time and am just terrified:) I found your article very helpful.

        Wonderful read.

      • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

        FlourishAnyway 

        4 years ago from USA

        VioletteRose - Great advice there. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. Have a wonderful week!

      • VioletteRose profile image

        VioletteRose 

        4 years ago from Chicago

        This is very helpful for all parents! It is true that while we love our children more than anything else, parenting is never easy. I believe in not trying to be perfect, but accepting yourself as a person with limits and never forgetting your responsibility towards your kids. Also, I believe that loving a child can never spoil him or her. If they know that you always love them, I think they will be happy and confident.

      • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

        FlourishAnyway 

        4 years ago from USA

        Better Yourself - You never know when it'l come in handy. Thanks for reading.

      • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

        FlourishAnyway 

        4 years ago from USA

        Tashaonthetown - Thanks for weighing in. Foundation is everything. They return to it decades later.

      • Better Yourself profile image

        Better Yourself 

        4 years ago from North Carolina

        Excellent read and hub! No kids yet but great for future reference and still applicable being close with both of my nieces. Voted up!

      • Tashaonthetown profile image

        Natasha Pelati 

        4 years ago from South Africa

        Great advice and yes parenting is one of the hardest jobs I can think of. All I know is that they need rules, foundation to grow up in and they should be taught moral values, once they are teens you hope that what you have taught them will carry them into the future.

      • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

        FlourishAnyway 

        4 years ago from USA

        John - Thanks for stopping by. I'm sure you were a great parent. I found many of the photos funny myself. (I'm just glad not to be related to the people in the photos.) Have a great week!

      • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

        FlourishAnyway 

        4 years ago from USA

        Nell - Sometimes I suspect they grow up well because of us, and sometimes despite of us! Thanks for reading, commenting and voting.

      • Jodah profile image

        John Hansen 

        4 years ago from Queensland Australia

        Excellent hub Flourish, very informative and well researched. I even found many of the pics quite funny. I must have been a reasonable parent as they have all turned out ok, but I'm sure there is always room for improvement. Voted up.

      • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

        FlourishAnyway 

        4 years ago from USA

        Bill - Some of them make me shudder but thankfully most folks have their hearts in the right place. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. Have a great week!

      • Nell Rose profile image

        Nell Rose 

        4 years ago from England

        Hi Flourish, looking back at how I brought up my son I can honestly say that I was great at some things, not too bad at others, and appalling bad at some more! somehow my son has turned out to be awesome! lol! but yes I know a few that shouldn't even have a pet let alone a child! great read, votes all the way!

      • bdegiulio profile image

        Bill De Giulio 

        4 years ago from Massachusetts

        Great job Flourish. There are definitely some people who should not be parents. I think there should be a class to educate and inform people and even then some just won't get it right. But, everyone parents in their own way and there is no right path although there are definitely some wrong ways of parenting. I think it's a learning experience for everyone who has kids. Great job.

      • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

        FlourishAnyway 

        4 years ago from USA

        Sharkye11 - I was impressed at the dancer's agility. Apparently so is the grandma in the background of the photo. I think it also beats a plastic bag over the head. At least it doesn't pose immediate bodily harm. I'm sure the dancer is a professional and knows how to avoid clobbering the kids in the head with those heels.

      • Sharkye11 profile image

        Jayme Kinsey 

        4 years ago from Oklahoma

        Pretty sure all parents have had moments where they looked their worst, if they were sneakily captured on film, that is. Even super parents! Great reading, and I was cracking up at the pole dancer. I would much rather see kids there than in the grocery store with the bag on their heads!

        Voting up!

      • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

        FlourishAnyway 

        4 years ago from USA

        Cesky - Moms provide a lot of valuable help at all ages. Glad you've gotten through it with your little one. Thank you for reading and commenting.

      • Cesky profile image

        Cecilia Karanja 

        4 years ago from Nairobi

        When I delivered my little girl my mum came to help around the house and stayed with my husband and I for 2 weeks. When it was finally time to leave, I did not know what I was supposed to do with the baby. It was the most scary feeling.

      • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

        FlourishAnyway 

        4 years ago from USA

        Iris - Thanks so much for your support. Life is short; I don't want my daughter or me to look back and have regrets about adventures we should have experienced. I went hang gliding too that day but felt nauseous doing it while she couldn't get enough. We're all different people but at least we can check that off the bucket list.

      • Iris Draak profile image

        Cristen Iris 

        4 years ago from Boise, Idaho

        Flourish, first of all let me say that you are the only other person I've seen who cites their sources. This makes you credible. Your writing style and genuineness make you entertaining and informative. Voting up and sharing! It's awesome that you let your daughter hang glide. Parents should nurture a sense of adventure in their children. It helps them learn to trust themselves and be brave. My ex-husband and I had/have a mantra for raising our 2 children (17 & 20). We raised them "to be happy, confident, productive members of society". The jury's still out on the 17 year old but I trust that he'll find his way. Great article!

      • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

        FlourishAnyway 

        4 years ago from USA

        Alphadogg16 - I agree and unfortunately have seen a few. Thank you for stopping by!

      • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

        FlourishAnyway 

        4 years ago from USA

        MsDora - Thank you for your kind kudos. Yes, parenting is a challenging and enjoyable job and we learn along the way. Have a great week!

      • Alphadogg16 profile image

        Kevin W 

        4 years ago from Texas

        This was an interesting read FlourishAnyway. Some people are just not fit to be parents and there should be some type of classes/learning process.

      • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

        FlourishAnyway 

        4 years ago from USA

        PegCole17 - I cannot imagine how difficult it would be to be an instant mother in that way. I love your confession, too. Thanks for reading and have a great week!

      • PegCole17 profile image

        Peg Cole 

        4 years ago from Dallas, Texas

        This reality check for parents needs to be required reading like the films we had to watch in Driver's Ed with horrendous crashes. The pictures of the signs were hilarious. The photos of the kid with the bag on her head made me cringe along with the balancing beam and the Dad filming. I've often wondered about the clothing that parents buy for their children to wear, but sometimes it is self-explanatory when you notice what the adults are wearing. Good one here, Flourish.

        My confession is that as an instant mother who married a Widower, my language came back to haunt me more than once. That and seeing myself mirrored when my child disciplined the dog.

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 

        4 years ago from The Caribbean

        Flourish, your article is very creative--from your list of lessons to the map with names of roles parents play, to the photos. In parenting, we learn as we teach and as long as live we have the opportunity to improve where we failed before. Thanks for a great article.

      • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

        FlourishAnyway 

        4 years ago from USA

        Dean - Ha! Good one! My husband beseeched me not to fill this hub with my own parenting fails. A raccoon feeding tool can come in handy but the little buggers can be a bit noisy and require a lot of upkeep and maintenance. ;-)

      • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

        FlourishAnyway 

        4 years ago from USA

        Kathryn - Thanks for leaving such a great comment and for sharing. Parenting is really hard work and oh so humbling. I never understood until I was faced with constant feedback and frank discussion with my own child. It's mindboggling what you can learn about yourself and human nature from a mini-me.

      • electronician profile image

        Dean Walsh 

        4 years ago from Birmingham, England

        I've never really wanted children before, but now I find myself thinking that a Racoon feeding tool would come in handy...

      • Kathryn Stratford profile image

        Kathryn 

        4 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

        I am not a parent, but this is a fantastic article to read! It combined funny photos of "parenting fails" with silly ads and some really good advice. Wow. It's true, there are no parenting manuals. But you have provided some of the basic things parents should teach their children so that they will know how to transition into adulthood.

        Voted up and sharing.

        Have a great day.

        ~ Kathryn

      • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

        FlourishAnyway 

        4 years ago from USA

        Frank - There are plenty of parents who make bad choices for their kids that can have bad consequences. And you do have to wonder about the manufacturers of these clothes who even them available. Kids don't always understand the implications of what they are wearing, and it's important that adults step in and provide sound guidance. Thanks for reading and commenting. I worry about the world, too. Have a good week, my friend.

      • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

        FlourishAnyway 

        4 years ago from USA

        Suzanne - Well said! Glad you enjoyed it.

      • Suzanne Day profile image

        Suzanne Day 

        4 years ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

        There is an instruction book for kids if you happen to have it - your own folks! I learnt my parenting lessons from mine, who pointed out not to give in, to be consistent and to foster better communication. However, I agree with you that more info is needed for new parents as there's a plethora of books by parenting experts, many who have never had children! Voted useful and up ;)

      • Frank Atanacio profile image

        Frank Atanacio 

        4 years ago from Shelton

        wow some of the disturbing photos really make me sick.. young girls with shorts that say Juicy, Sweet, Pink, Paradise is not at all fun wear .. This hub should be as you published it .. a careful guide ... loving your children shouldn't be a task .. it should be safe fun.. and a guide to help...

        them learn life safely, I understand perfection is a reality that's impossible to meet.. you should strive for as much of it as you can as a parent...:) Frank

      • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

        FlourishAnyway 

        4 years ago from USA

        Linda - Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. Have a great week!

      • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

        FlourishAnyway 

        4 years ago from USA

        Pawpawwrites - Glad you enjoyed it. Have a good week and thanks for reading and commenting.

      • AliciaC profile image

        Linda Crampton 

        4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

        This hub contains some great advice that should help a lot of people, Flourish. As always, your hub is interesting as well as useful.

      • Pawpawwrites profile image

        Jim 

        4 years ago from Kansas

        Love the sign about selling unattended children to the circus.

      • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

        FlourishAnyway 

        4 years ago from USA

        grand old lady - Beautifully said. It's important to have a solid support system in place. Thank you for stopping by, and have a good week!

      • grand old lady profile image

        Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 

        4 years ago from Philippines

        Your points are very well researched. I remember the terror I felt when my baby first cried. I was thankful for some help from grandma and my sister in law. The first thing you have to deal with as a new parent is your internal fear which can lead you to make tons of mistakes. That's why the assistance of others who have been there, done that is precious.

      • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

        FlourishAnyway 

        4 years ago from USA

        Sha - It is a difficult job, especially to do well. With kids you don't always get one that meshes with your style and personality either. You just have to go with it; you get what you get. Have a great Sunday and thank you for reading and taking the time to leave a useful and insightful comment.

      • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

        FlourishAnyway 

        4 years ago from USA

        Vellur - Thank you for stopping by. It is all trial and error, and some of us have better experiences to work with than others. Have a great week.

      • bravewarrior profile image

        Shauna L Bowling 

        4 years ago from Central Florida

        Flourish, if there wasn't a parenting manual before, this article certainly should be the beginning of something big.

        When my son was an infant, I had a schedule for everything: bath time, reading time, afternoon walk time, etc. I guess I was pretty anal.

        I also never talked baby talk to my son. I spoke to him as I do anyone else and read to him every day. As the result, his vocabulary excelled that of his peers as he got older.

        Parenting isn't easy. In fact, it's the hardest job on the planet. Sometimes I look back and wonder how I did it!

      • Vellur profile image

        Nithya Venkat 

        4 years ago from Dubai

        Great hub, as parents we are not certified and it is all trial and error. Wish there was a perfect guide for parents to raise kids the best possible way. But then we all did just fine so I guess we can do without the perfect guide. Great tips for parenting, voted up.

      • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

        FlourishAnyway 

        4 years ago from USA

        Colleen - Glad you enjoyed it. Boredom can provide a need to entertain yourself and get creative in the right circumstances. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

        FlourishAnyway 

        4 years ago from USA

        Ann - Sometimes I cringe at what I see and hear about, although none of us are perfect. Thanks for taking the time to read and share. Have a great Sunday, my friend.

      • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

        FlourishAnyway 

        4 years ago from USA

        Faith Reaper - Leave it to our military to put that in writing! That's a fabulous story! Especially those first few months of all nighters, then the terrible twos and the teen years. Thanks so much for sharing and commenting and have a great week.

      • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

        FlourishAnyway 

        4 years ago from USA

        Jo - Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment. Have a terrific week.

      • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

        FlourishAnyway 

        4 years ago from USA

        Devika - It's definitely a challenge to find the sweet spot between coddling and indifference so that they grow up to be strong, good people. Thanks for weighing in. Have a great week!

      • Faith Reaper profile image

        Faith Reaper 

        4 years ago from southern USA

        Boy do I feel much better about my parenting after reading this eye-opener of a hub here, dear Flourish! Yes, a lot is common sense, and being my children saw that I was not super mom, but human and made mistakes, I learned real quick to confirm that I am not perfect and I make mistakes. I always asked for their forgiveness when I knew I failed them. In doing so, made us closer.

        I also remember when my daughter, my first child, was born and we were ready to leave the military hospital. They made us sign a statement saying that once we left the hospital, we could not bring the baby back LOL. I was just fine before I read that and started thinking, oh no, what do they know that I don't! I am assuming many first-time mothers brought their babies back when they were unable to figure out why they were incessantly crying.

        Up ++++ tweeting, pinning, G+ and sharing

        Awesome hub as always.

        Hope you are enjoying your Sunday.

      • Colleen Swan profile image

        Colleen Swan 

        4 years ago from County Durham

        Comprehensive article. I agree that children should be allowed boredom on occasion, and then encouraged to think and plan activity for themselves. Your examples are both the good and bad aspects of parenting which has made this an entertaining and educational read.

      • annart profile image

        Ann Carr 

        4 years ago from SW England

        This is all great advice. I wish I could hand out a copy to some parents I see around town, especially during the holidays when they seem to have had enough of their children.

        It's such a hard job. I think talking and listening are the most important things for us to do.

        Excellent. Ann

      • tobusiness profile image

        Jo Alexis-Hagues 

        4 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

        Flourish, another brilliant hub, hilariously funny with some real gems. I have to agree with all the other comments, this should be required reading for parents. Exceptional work as always.

      • DDE profile image

        Devika Primić 

        4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

        Hi FlourishAnyway, such an interesting topic. This is my opinion: Parenting starts at home and is mostly cultural. I have seen how some parents spoil their kids from the day of birth and as they get older are free to to do whatever they want to. Any parent is a role model for their child all starts right in the living room and most parents who lose control in raising their children think military will discipline that child so wrong. Often I hear of parents can't do it anymore with raising their children it is truly sad to hear such words from failed parents. Communication is key to all relationships including parenting.

      • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

        FlourishAnyway 

        4 years ago from USA

        Lucildoll - Thank you for the kind kudos. I appreciate your reading.

      • Lucildoll profile image

        Lucilda Evans 

        4 years ago from Ajax, Ontario

        This is a well needed article, every young family should get to read this it could be a good tool in their hand.

      • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

        FlourishAnyway 

        4 years ago from USA

        Karen - Even well into their thirties or forties sometimes. Thank you for commenting!

      • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

        FlourishAnyway 

        4 years ago from USA

        DealforALiving - Thank you for that extremely kind compliment. Have a great weekend.

      • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

        FlourishAnyway 

        4 years ago from USA

        Rachel - They made me cringe too. Glad you enjoyed them and the text. Have a terrific Sunday.

      • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

        FlourishAnyway 

        4 years ago from USA

        Brie - Raising a child is hard work, much less being a single parent. Well done. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

        FlourishAnyway 

        4 years ago from USA

        Jackie - I'm sure you did a fine job with them both. It's funny how some people parent in the way they were parented themselves while others are more reactionary and try almost an opposite style. Thanks for reading and sharing your experience. Have a great Sunday.

      • Karen Ray profile image

        Karen Ray 

        4 years ago from Oklahoma

        I second what billybuc said. Sometimes I think some parents still need parenting as much as their kids do.

      • DealForALiving profile image

        Sam Deal 

        4 years ago from Earth

        Every now and then I read something on Hubpages that I wish was required reading in schools, or in communities. This is one of those truly important and essential writings. Thank you.

      • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

        FlourishAnyway 

        4 years ago from USA

        Bill - Lincoln did say that the thing about common sense is it isn't so common! It's amazing some kids make it to adulthood in one piece. Have a good Sunday.

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        4 years ago from Olympia, WA

        Seriously, this should be required reading for would-be parents. Heck, I can think of quite a few real-time parents I know who need this refresher course. Common sense, most of it, but it's amazing how many times parent fail to fall back on common sense. Makes me very grateful I had the parents I had. Great list of suggestions my friend.

      • RachaelOhalloran profile image

        Rachael O'Halloran 

        4 years ago from United States

        Your pictures make me cringe when I saw what parents allowed and then had the nerve to capture it on film, for posterity of all things. Although I laughed, I know the article was meant seriously and took it as such. My kids are adults now, but I have grandchildren and I enjoyed reading all your points and suggestions. Voted up, awesome and interesting.

      • Brie Hoffman profile image

        Brie Hoffman 

        4 years ago from Manhattan

        I was/am a single parent. My son is now grown and doing well. The best book is "Dare to Discipline" by James Dobson. I would highly recommend that book.

      • Jackie Lynnley profile image

        Jackie Lynnley 

        4 years ago from The Beautiful South

        My kids were angels; they absolutely were; but I think I held back too much. I knew I wasn't perfect so it was hard to say they should be this way or that as far as religion or the future. Now I wish I had told them more of my feelings. I know now it is OK that kids know even parents can be unsure in life.

        The outcome was my son went on to be such a fine gentleman and is raising his little boy to be just the same. My daughter went wild and it is anything goes with her kids. So...go figure. Guess I wasn't half bad...or maybe I was!

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