5 Things Moms Need to Stop Doing for Their Kids

mom daughter coloring homework

Of course, we want the best for our kids and bend over backwards to give it to them. But is overparenting -- that is, giving everything you have to your kids (and leaving nada for yourself) -- really the best strategy? Ylonda Gault Caviness, a parenting expert for NPR, Today, and The Huffington Post has written Child, Please: How Mama's Old-School Lessons Helped Me Check Myself Before I Wrecked Myself as a warning for every "I just give in because I can't take it mom" out there: you need to stop. NOW!


When Ylonda's first child came along 16 years ago, she did what so many of us moms do: pulled out all the stops to raise her daughter's self-esteem, protect her feelings and build her brain power.

Same with daughter number two. But by the time Ylonda's third came along seven years later, she hit a wall. She was exhausted, grouchy, and so busy running from soccer games to talent shows that she had no time for herself.

At first, she worried it was her fault. Why couldn't she handle parenting? 

Then it occured to her: Love her kids though she may, maybe her world didn't have to -- and even shouldn't -- revolve around them. Ylonda started to rethink her own mother's loving but strict way of childrearing -- and began to see the value of doing it herself.

Here, in an exclusive with The Stir, Ylonda explains the 5 things we moms should stop doing for our kids.

1. Making them take lessons they don't like.

We can push our kids to learn languages, instruments, and sports. But if they're not really into it, the effects might be neglible. "For years, I had both my girls play piano. I even tipped them so they would practice," says Caviness. "I had a fish bowl on top of the piano and I would applaud and 'make requests.' But they weren't good and didn't enjoy it. Looking back, I should have saved myself the money."

2. Coaxing them to eat their veggies.

We can't expect kids to always know what's best for them, says Caviness. They simply don't have the world experience we do. "With both my daughters, I had long discussions about why they should eat their broccoli and how it was good for them," she says. With her son, she simply cut to the chase. "I basically said, "Get your butt over here." Done.

3. Sugarcoating how the world works.

Let's face it. We all think our kids have it going on. The rest of the world might not agree. Caviness thinks that rings especially true for black parents. "Because of the things we've experienced historically or in our lives, we know our children are going to be judged more harshly," she says. Instead of hiding this from her daughters, she tells them: "You've got to better than everybody else."

More From The Stir: 9 Things Kids Really Need to Learn the Hard Way

4. Ignoring our own needs.

Go ahead and be SuperMom, "but if you're doing so in a dingy t-shirt and tired sweats, what message is that sending your kids?" asks Caviness. When she realized she'd been ignoring her own needs, she started taking the kids with her to work out. "It was at 6 pm, which is a terrible time, but I brought coloring books and snacks and they sat outside my cardio kick-boxing class," she says."They loved it and they could tell I felt good afterwards."

5. Letting them think they can do no wrong.

"It's not our job to change our kids' strengths, but to help them see what they are," says Caviness. Recently, she listened to a child playing the violin at a senior citizens' center -- and hitting so many wrong notes that other kids in the audience began to snicker. "The mom got an attitude: "This was supposed to be a good experience for her!"," recalls Caviness.  "I thought, 'Why aren't you being honest with your daughter? Why aren't you saying, 'Yeah, maybe the violin isn't your thing.'" We don't like to see our kids hurt or upset, but we can't protect them from everything. "It's not a huge injustice if something bad does happen to them," Caviness says.

Do you catch yourself overparenting sometimes?


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