8 Major Parenting Pitfalls You NEED to Avoid to Raise Strong, Independent Adults

We can make it easier for our kids to learn to adult by empowering them with the proper tools AND avoiding a few big parenting pitfalls

by Nancy Reynolds

This Post: 8 Major Parenting Pitfalls You NEED to Avoid to Raise Strong, Independent Adults

We live in a world that seems hell-bent on derailing our kids. From the competitive and combative world of social media to the pounding pressure to be academically gifted, athletic, and beautiful – it’s a lot for a young tween or teen to handle.

Add on the pressure of having to take on adult “ish” responsibility oftentimes long before they’re ready, and it’s enough to put any teen into a tailspin.

But what if we could make it easier for our kids to learn to “adult?” 

What if we could equip and empower them with the mental strength, independence, and resilience to make it in this world without us? 

What if parented with true intention with the end goal in mind – to raise responsible, caring human beings who can function in society on their own?

Well, we can… provided we avoid key parenting pitfalls that rob our kids of their ability to gain mental strength, that steal their ability to become more independent, and that withhold opportunities for them to develop self-confidence. 

8 Major Parenting Pitfalls You NEED to Avoid to Raise Strong, Independent Adults


How we parent our kids day-in-and-day-out plays a huge role in how well our kids learn to become independent adults. Here are a few major parenting pitfalls we all need to avoid to raise strong, capable adults.

1. Making Life WAY Too Easy for Them

We’re parents. We have an innate desire to pave a path for our kids that’s free of rocks, potholes, and sharp turns. It hurts us to see them struggling. So, what do we do? We remove every obstacle on their path that causes them discomfort. But we’re not doing our kids any favors by making life too easy for them.

Hurt feelings, sadness, and failure – they’re all part of life. If they didn’t make the team or didn’t get invited to the party or their boyfriend broke up with them abruptly – sure, we should offer them the gentle emotional support they need. But having to face those emotional hardships head-on offers our kids golden opportunities to begin dealing with discomfort in their lives. It teaches them the importance of brushing themselves off and getting back up. And, it instills the mindset that these struggles are temporary and that they will make them stronger and more resilient in the end. 

2. Making Excuses for Their Behavior or Circumstances

“My son is failing Algebra because the teacher doesn’t know how to teach.”

“My daughter doesn’t have many friends because ALL the other girls are jealous of her.” 

“My son didn’t make the team because clearly, the coach has his favorites.” 

While some of these things may be true, when we verbalize these thoughts to our kids merely to make them feel better, we’re letting them off the hook and preventing them from looking at themselves and taking ownership of their lives. 

Perhaps the teacher isn’t the best at teaching Algebra but the true problem is that your son hasn’t tried hard enough to learn it. Perhaps your daughter does and says things when she’s with her friends that make them shy away from her. And, maybe your son didn’t make the team because he was out-skilled by other players who tried out. 

Don’t rush to make excuses for your child. You’re not helping them prepare for adulthood. You’re crippling them with an “It can’t be me… it must be everyone else,” mindset which won’t serve them well in future relationships, in their career, or in life. 

3. Taking the Path of Least Resistance

Parenting is hard. There are days you likely feel so exhausted and “done” with your kids you wish you could escape to a tropical island where your biggest worry is what color mini umbrella to put in your fruity drink. With so much pressure, it’s easy to understand why you’d cut a few corners here and there… which is fine, depending on which corners you cut.

Throw in a pizza so you don’t have to cook. Encourage your kids to find another ride to the game. Both are healthy ways to make parenting a tad easier.

What you shouldn’t do is constantly cave in when your teen wants something because you’re too tired to stand your ground. Or, allow your teen to be disrespectful to you one day because it’s a battle you don’t have the energy to fight and then crack down the next day. 

When raising kids consistency is the name of the game! Someone once told me, “If we offer our kids half-hearted leadership, we’ll get half-hearted following in return.” Of course, be empathetic and compassionate, flexible and supportive, but be strong. You can’t expect your teen to follow you if you’re not a strong leader. 

4. Not Following Through with Consequences

You made it a rule in your house. Your son is responsible for taking the garbage out to the street every week. But for three weeks straight he hasn’t done it. While you don’t want to be unreasonable (things do happen), you made it clear to him that if he forgot again he wouldn’t be able to go out with his friends Friday night. Yet, rather than making him face the consequences of his actions, you keep caving in and buying into his “soft” excuses.

Here’s the thing, parents. It doesn’t matter if your teen forgot. It doesn’t matter if they didn’t mean to or if it was simply an oversight. They still have to answer for their actions. Every decision they make in life will have consequences… good and bad.

Of course, it’s always important to consider the circumstances, but it’s also important to recognize that the consequences we put in place will help teach our kids responsibility and accountability, and ultimately encourage them to make decisions more carefully and wisely in the future.

5. Rescuing Them Every Time They Fumble or Fall

It’s 10 p.m. and your son just realized (after a night of gaming online with friends) that he forgot he has a history paper due tomorrow. Rather than have him cram to get it done and miss sleep, you reluctantly tell him you’ll write the paper for him. 

Every parent I know has rescued their child on more than a few occasions, and that’s okay… on occasion. But tossing them a lifeline EVERY time they mess up or forget something is doing them a huge disservice.

Our kids need to feel some weight of the world on their shoulders to be able to carry it later in life on their own. They need to experience the consequences of their actions or inactions before they get to college or out in the real world. They need to learn to be responsible. And, they can’t (and won’t – after all, what’s their motivation?) if we’re their dependable AND predictable safety net. 

6. Giving Them Far Too Much Power

One thing teens crave more than anything is independence which is exactly why we need to fill their power bucket to the brim. There are countless ways to help your teen feel in control of their lives, including, how they choose to dress, how they decorate their bedroom, which extracurricular activities they choose to participate in, and when they do their homework and chores, to name a few.

However, when it comes to control, there needs to be “non-negotiables.” The rules you set in your home, how your teen speaks to you, the way they treat their siblings, whether they actually do their homework or chores, etc. There’s a fine line between relinquishing age-appropriate control and handing over the reins to our kids. When the chips are down, they need to know that they’re not the boss… you are

7. Allowing Your World to Revolve Around Them

We love our kids beyond measure and we’d do (practically) anything for them, right? While our world may very well revolve around our children, continually sending that message to them will only cause them to grow up to be self-absorbed, entitled adults who feel the world revolves around them. 

Rather than raising a child who feels the world owes them a living, we need to model the behavior we want to see in our kids. Teach them to be kind, caring, respectful, and giving. Mostly, reinforce the idea (time and time again) that they are part of something much bigger than themselves. 

8. Putting Your Parenting on Autopilot

I can’t tell you the number of parents I’ve spoken with who say things like, “My son is 18 now. He doesn’t need me anymore.” Or, “My daughter is pretty independent. I figure if she needs me she’ll come to me.”

Absent parenting – where you’re physically there, but not emotionally available for your kids – puts our kids at risk of losing their way and leaves them craving for emotional connection with you. The fact is, our kids may need us more now than ever.

They’re navigating more complex relationships, making big decisions, and coming face-to-face with temptation and risk. Now is NOT the time to put your parenting on autopilot and assume your teen has it all figured out. Plus, when we’re emotionally disconnected from our kids we miss out on our kids’ subtle cues indicating they need our help, advice, or guidance. Your teen NEEDS you – your warmth, your time, your guidance, your connection. 

Raising our kids to be strong, capable, independent adults is likely the hardest job we’ll ever have.

But if we avoid key parenting pitfalls, parent with intention, and focus our energy on things that truly matter, we’ll be far more likely to set our kids up for future strength, independence, AND success.

If you enjoyed reading, “8 Major Parenting Pitfalls You NEED to Avoid to Raise Strong, Independent Adults, ” check out these other posts!

Teach Your Teen to Have a Growth Mindset: Why it Matters and Powerful Strategies that Work

10 Things You’re Probably Doing for Your Teen That’s Preventing Them from Adulting

10 Secrets to Raising Confident, Capable Teenagers

What parenting pitfalls do you aim to avoid, parents? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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