13 Ways to Really Mess Up Your Children

Now here is a recipe for disaster!   Children_Church.jpg

Of course the last thing that most of want to do is to mess up our children. Yet, we can neglect some basic realities while we rationalize other behaviors.

So here it is: “Thirteen Ways to Really Mess Up Your Children.”

1. Break your promises to them regularly.  After a while, they will learn that they cannot depend on you. In fact, such regular promise breaking may even say something about where they fall on your list of priorities.

2. Be unavailable emotionally.  Many, many children grow up in homes where they have no real emotional connection with one or both parents. This seems to happen far too often between boys and their fathers. Fathers can mistakenly believe that boys just need to know how to catch a ball or how to fish. Helpful? Yes, but not enough. Boys and girls need an emotional connection with both parents. Children who do not have that emotional connection often grow up alone (emotionally) which does not prepare them for marriage or parenting.

3. Give your children no moral or ethical guidance.  Some parents do little or no teaching at home in the course of life’s experiences. The failure to teach at home coupled with little or no teaching within a community of believers results in moral/ethical illiteracy. Without such guidance, a child has little or no sense of moral boundaries. One parent came home to find her daughter and her boyfriend in bed. Her concern? Is he wearing a condom? Then there were the parents who allowed their daughter’s boyfriend to spend the night with her every Saturday night in their home. About noon the couple would come out of the bedroom in time to join the family for Sunday lunch. One friend asked, “Isn’t that awkward?” “Oh no, my parents are ok with it.”

4. Always do what you can to keep your children from having to experience the consequences of their behavior.  Pay their traffic tickets. Pay for overdue books. Pay their parking fines. Run interference for them. If their paper is late, insist that a teacher is unfair for picking on your child.

5. Ignore disrespectful behavior toward you or your spouse by your children.  Laugh while a child talks back to his mother. Sit in silence while a child makes fun of her father. Allow them to talk down to him.

6. Confuse your child through your humor.  Laugh at dirty, lewd remarks on television or in a movie. At the ball game, make a suggestive comment to a friend about an attractive woman seated nearby. Then wonder why your daughter will not listen to you as you try to talk with her about how she might conduct herself with a boy she likes.

7. “Go to church” but have no love for God.  Show your children that you will pay any amount to get the tickets you want for the big game. Yet, when a missions opportunity comes along, explain to your children that money is tight right now so we won’t be able to give.

8. Let your children hear you talk about how important God is in your life. Then let them see that being able to purchase the things you want is really what is most important to you.

9. Walk out on your spouse for another man or woman.  Let your child experience emotional abandonment even as they hear you say that you haven’t been happy for quite some time and now you have found someone who makes you happy. Meanwhile, they are left to sort through the wreckage of their family.

10. Quit parenting before your children leave the house.  Let them do what they want.

11. Be more concerned about being a cool parent than being a godly, encouraging, mature parent.  Be more concerned about what they think about you than simply being the parent that you need to be.

12. Never teach them responsibility.  Continue to do for them what they could actually do for themselves. Baby them. They will forever be overly dependent on you and will remain immature far too long.

13. Buy them anything they want.  Why should they have to wait or work? If you’ve got the money and they want it, get it for them! Tell them about the importance of waiting for sex while you also teach them that they don’t have to wait for anything they want to buy.


What else would you add to this list?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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11 thoughts on “13 Ways to Really Mess Up Your Children

  1. As a parent of two young kids, I appreciate this post. It reminds me of my urgent responsibility to model Christ’s values always before them.

    Thanks for challenging me!

    • Danny, thanks very much. When our parents were young, I needed regular reminders. I am glad this has been useful for you. Now, I have to be reminded of the importance of being a dad two two women in their twenties. 🙂

  2. As a mother of a little boy 10 years old, I find this post so accurate that surprises me! Sometimes I fear that I am too protective and helpful with my son. But as I tried to check on his behaviour and how he is dealing with others, I found out that he is mature for his age. I just must stop being so protective and over helpful with him. I believe that does not help him at all. He knows that if something goes wrong, I will be there to solve it. And that is not good at all…

    • Anasa, glad this post was meaningful to you. It is so easy to be overly protective of our children. My wife, who is a school teacher, told me the about talking with a young boy (about 8 or 9 years old) who had never played ball before. This child’s parents tended to be overly protective and consequently, he had very little confidence about his ability to do a number of things. She suggested to him that they play “catch,’ throwing the ball back and forth. His response was, “What if I get hurt?” She then said, “Well, you probably won’t get hurt playing catch. However, if you do, you just dust yourself off and try again.” They began playing catch and this boy was thrilled at what he could do.

      Sometime, the less we “help” our children (that is, not doing things for them which they can do themselves) the more we are actually helping them because they gain confidence and reassurance as they see what they are capable of doing.

      So many of us who are parents, including my wife and myself, had to wrestle with this same tendency when our children were young. It is very good that you recognize this now.

  3. Don’t ever go out on a date, show healthy affection to each other, give cards and gifts or say with your actions “we are in love and committed to each other.” One of the best gifts you can give to your kids is insuring you are investing in your marriage. This contributes to them having healthy security. Great list. Great reminders.

  4. Lannie, thanks for this good comment. You are so right. We can really mess our children up by first messing up our marriages. When genuine affection for one another goes way and when we no longer invest in our marriages (as you describe so well), our children are often the ones who pay.