Advice Column, Parenting

How to mess up your family in 12 easy steps

  • Natalee Holmes
  • Category Advice Column, Parenting

Say no, and make rules, but then give in because the whining is just not worth the effort of sticking to your guns. Teaching them you are the authority in your home and make decisions in their best interests is not important. Teach them that rules are made to be broken, and respect for your word is of no consequence.
Being consistent is one of the key controls of authority in a family. When you do as you say you will, children learn to listen and respect what you say. They learn to trust you, and trust that they can depend on your word. 

Put your children before your marriage. Allow them to interrupt your conversations and disregard your spouse, so that your spouse builds resentment towards you, and often towards the kids, resulting in them being impatient with the whole family. And of course more susceptible to the attentive colleague at work who has all the time and interest in the world for them.

Your children will wait while you make time for your marriage, but your marriage won’t wait while you make your children the priority.

Give your kids everything they want, when they want it. Especially if they throw a massive tantrum to get it. Then you should teach them that tantrums work and reinforce their use of them.

Giving your children everything they want, when they want it, creates a sense of entitlement, a boredom with life, and absolutely no work ethic or respect for delayed gratification. Giving in to tantrums is how you ensure tantrums will persist. 

Teach them things are more important than relationships and values. Teach them that keeping up with the Jones’, even if it means living in debt up to your eyeballs, is what matters. Dress them in the designer clothes they want, always, so that they learn what’s on the outside is key! Especially for girls – teach them that appearance is everything and beauty is only label deep.

How much we consider ‘things’ as an extension of our ‘selves’, depends partly on how confident we feel about who we are.  

Have a buffet at home – make meals for each individual and never allow them to expand their range of tastes so that they become fussy non-eaters who are a pain to feed. Give them non-nutritious junk just so that they will at least eat something.

You can train your palate to enjoy new foods. No child will allow themselves to starve – hunger is a primal instinct. If you want to encourage different foods and healthy eating, just perservere and don’t offer alternatives. 

Give up your own needs for theirs. Teach them to be entitled and self-centred. Teach them to ignore your desires and needs. Jump when they say jump – or bring forgotten tennis racquets and sports kit to school when they forget.

A child who always forgets has a parent who always remembers.  Your love may know no boundaries, but you must. 

Do things for them all the time. Finish their projects, pack their bags, tie their shoelaces, make their lunches. Teach them to be useless and dependent and incapable. That way you will ensure you are always doing things for them, forever, and can feel good that you are always needed. And then you can be the overbearing in-law when they are married too.

What you overprotect, you make weak. 

Keep them as busy as you can, 24/7, because being overstimulated and having no down time to just be children is wholesome. Make sure they never have to learn that sometimes it’s ok not to be in the A team, or make the provincial side, or to make sacrifices in some areas for other reasons. Live vicariously through them and be sure that they will get it right, and they will be on the A teams, and they will be the prefects…  even if you didn’t.

Give them time to process, to rest, and to just be. Don’t rob them of the time to imagine and create. It’s good for their souls. It’s essential for their brains. 

When they fight with other kids, don’t say anything. Teach them to be bold and get their own way, no matter what! That’s the only way to get ahead in this world… right? Teach that compassion and understanding, and the art of negotiation and win-win is less important. There have to be ‘the little people’ so that someone can get trod on once in a while – serves them right for not learning to stand up for themselves, right?

Children are essentially selfish beings. Teaching them to put themselves in other people’s shoes is an invaluable lesson in consideration and compassion. Learning to negotiate in a win-win scenario is a life skill everyone needs. 

Stand up for your children – always. Even if they are wrong. Even when a teacher is trying to teach them a life lesson. Back your child blindly so that they learn that no matter what they do, you will rush in on your white horse and save them. Even if they never learn accountability or responsibility, at least they will develop a self-righteous attitude and arrogant pride.

The principles of living greatly include the capability to face trouble with courage, disappointment with cheerfulness, and trial with humility (Monson).

Always pay them to do their chores. Teach them to put their hand out for everything and develop an attitude of ‘what’s in it for me?’ Teach them that even though they are part of your family, they should be treated as special, and not have to contribute simply because they are a part of the family.

A sense of entitlement will eventually guarantee you a seat at the victim’s table.

Buy at least two of everything for them – two rulers, two tracksuits, two scissors, two lunch boxes – just in case they lose one, so that they never learn to be responsible for their things or care about their stuff. And never make them dig into their own pockets to replace lost items. Heaven forbid you deprive them of their pocket money to teach them a life lesson.

The harder it is to get, the more you want to keep it. Children will take care of things that are precious to them, especially those that they have worked for, paid for, or wanted for a long time. 

Never have family time – forced or otherwise. Live past each other and never make time to ask about one another’s days. Don’t encourage closeness.

Forcing family time creates a space where children get to know each other in a positive way, and learn to be interested and care for all family members.

Be inconsistent. Be permissive. Be the nice parent who always allows everything they want, and never says no – not meaningfully anyway. Be cool. Be their friend.

Being inconsistent and permissive causes anxiety and insecurity in children. They will come to believe they can do whatever they want because you don’t actually care, and will either become total people pleasers, in the hopes of getting some sort of validation from your, or total rebels, trying to push the boundaries all the time to a point where you say, “Stop. No. I don’t want you to do that because I care.”

Follow these 14 steps for your family and you will be guaranteed to have issues for life, a family who is not close, a toddler who is a brat, a child who is self-righteous, a teenager who you will never be able to reign in, and an adult child who will never have respect for you.

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