When it comes to parenting, it’d be nice if there were some sort of playbook, but parenting is not a science. Even the best of parents have regrets, and while it doesn’t do any good to dwell on the past, perhaps a younger generation of parents can avoid those same pitfalls. Recently, we asked parents to share things they wished they’d done differently and what they’d tell younger parents to do instead. Here’s what they shared.
8 Dos and Don’ts From Parents Who Wished They’d Done Things Differently:
1. Don’t push your hobbies on your kids if that’s not what interests them.
When my son was in middle school, he wanted to play the drums, but I felt like drums were loud and took up a lot of space, so I encouraged him to play the trumpet (the instrument that I used to play). When he was a young adult, he had a hard time deciding what he wanted to do, and we did some career testing. As it turns out, he has incredible rhythm, and the career advisors told us he would’ve been an incredible drummer. I wish I would have encouraged him to follow his own dreams (not just the dreams I had for him).
2. Do make your teens get a job or volunteer.
I wish I had made my teenagers get jobs or volunteer more. I wanted their summers to be carefree and fun, but I really think they could have used the life experience and responsibility that comes from getting a job.
3. Don’t chase after perfection when it comes to keeping a clean home.
When I was raising my kids, everyone I knew had these immaculate homes. I felt this immense pressure to keep my house clean and orderly because that’s what everybody else did, but it all just seems like a big waste now. I missed out on a lot of opportunities to spend time with my kids. It sounds cliché, but they grew up so fast. I wish I could get some of that time back.
4. Don’t put off traveling.
I wish we would’ve traveled more as a family. We always talked about these trips we wanted to take as a family, but life just seemed to get in the way with school and soccer games, and things like that. We just kept putting it off, so now we tell our kids, “Don’t do what we did. Make memories and go on trips. It’s okay to miss a soccer game or school day every now and then.”
5. Don’t spoil your kids.
I see now that I spoiled my oldest. It didn’t seem like any big deal at the time. I just did his laundry and made dinner most nights — things like that. But now that he’s grown, he still seems to expect other people to just do everything for him, and it’s been a real problem for him.
6. Don’t let society tell you how to live your life.
We had a baby boy first and then a few years later we had a baby girl. Everyone said, “Great – a boy and a girl. You’re done!” It was pretty much accepted that if you had a boy and girl then your family was complete, but looking back I really wish we’d had more kids, regardless of what other people thought.
7. Don’t over schedule your life or your child’s life.
I regret letting my daughter do too many activities. I really should have made her choose just one or two. At one point she was doing cheer, gymnastics, piano, choir, soccer, basketball and Brownies –- and it really was just too much. I wish we’d had more down time and more family time, instead of trying to squeeze in all these different activities.
8. Do spend more one-on-one time with each child.
I’m the proud dad of three sons, but if I could go back, I’d spend more one-on-one time with each of them. I always liked looking at cars, and one of my sons loved cars too, so I spent a lot of time looking at cars with him because we had the same hobby. A few years after my youngest son graduated from high school, he said, “Dad, I wish we’d spent more one-on-one time together.” It never occurred to me that he would want to do something else with me. I’d always invited him to come look at cars, but that wasn’t what he was interested in doing. I wish I’d found something he was interested in that we could’ve done together.