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8 Lies Parents Believe about Raising Kids

8 Lies Parents Believe about Raising Kids

Do you believe lies about parenting? Sometimes, we’re so focused on listening to the advice coming from all corners that we forget to investigate the counsel to see if it’s truth or lies. Many of the lies we believe about parenting sound like good recommendations, but closer scrutiny reveals the suggestions as false. Here are eight lies parents believe about raising kids—and why believing these falsehoods will derail your parenting.

1. If we make a mistake, our kids will be messed up for life. This is one of the biggest lies we can believe as parents. Believing this can paralyze us when it comes to making any decision related to raising our children. But the truth is that we cannot avoid making mistakes. Your parents made mistakes, you make mistakes, and your children will make mistakes as moms and dads. Mistakes are part of living in this fallen world. The best way to parent is to simply do the best you can at that moment. If you do make a mistake, you make amends if applicable and try again.

2. Love and discipline can’t co-exist. Many parents falsely believe that love and discipline can’t be present at the same time—that you are, at any given moment, demonstrating either love or discipline with your child. But parents do not have to pit one against the other because to discipline and instruct your child is to demonstrate your love for him. The child might not immediately feel love when consequences are leveled, but that doesn’t mean you can’t mete out discipline in a loving way and for the love of the child. It may be difficult, but it’s certainly more loving to endure the discomfort of discipline than to leave a child a prisoner of his own foolish and destructive impulses.

3. If we use the right method, we’ll get the right result. Beware of experts promising, “If you use this method, your child will…” Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a surefire way of disciplining or raising kids. Some methods will work with some kids but not with others. And since we’re raising adults, not dogs, we have to come to grips with the fact that we can do the right thing, and our children can still choose to do the wrong thing. That’s not to say we don’t discipline as consistently as possible, but we do so with the full knowledge that sometimes, it won’t appear to “work.”

4. We should explain our reasons to our children. This lie has its roots in something that sounds so logical to our adult minds: that a child can appreciate or understand our motives and reasons. But what parents fail to understand is that children are not logical beings—their brains are still developing and their thinking isn’t the same as an adult. That’s why even when you explain your rational reasons, your child is never going to say, “Gee, Mom, when you put it that way, I agree with you.” Children will appreciate and understand our reasons when they reach adulthood and become parents themselves.

5. We need to know the why behind the misbehavior. Parents spend a lot of time trying to figure out what made their child do the wrong thing. But we don’t need to know the why behind the misbehavior—we just need to address the misbehavior. While there may be times to sit down with a child and walk them through how they repeat the same misbehavior, most of the time, the child in question has no idea why she did what she did. Searching for reasons for the misdeeds simply wastes time better spent correcting the problem.

6. Punishing a child is negative. Yes, some parents truly believe that punishment of any sort is detrimental to the child’s well-being. But an unchecked child—one who never experiences the consequences for his actions—is a child who is insecure and unsure. Punishments do more than correct a misbehavior; punishments also teach a child how to get along with others and what’s expected of him in society.

7. Raising children is harder today because children are smarter. Not only do parents believe that children in general are smarter, but every parent of an entitled child thinks that his or her particular child is even smarter that the rest. These parents put way too much emphasis on how smart the child is and too little emphasis on their own responsibility as parents. All too often, these parents rush to interfere whenever someone “gets in the way” of their brilliant children. The result? These “smart” children grow up to be adult brats.

8. Boundaries stifle a child’s spirit and creativity. Do you know what children crave more than creativity or being themselves? Boundaries. Parameters gives a child a sense of safety and security. Yes, a child will test those boundaries, but when those boundaries stay firm, the testing will not last long. It’s when there are no boundaries, that a child feels the need for constant testing. 


A certified Leadership Parenting Coach,™ Sarah Hamaker has written Ending Sibling Rivalry: Moving Your Kids From War to Peace. Her blogs on parenting have appeared in The Washington Post’s On Parenting, and she’s a frequent contributor to Sarah lives in Fairfax, Va., with her husband and four children. Visit her online at and follow her on Twitter @parentcoachnova. 

Publication date: August 11, 2016