Everyone makes mistakes in life, and that includes parents. Sometimes parents say the wrong things, react the wrong way, or forget to teach their kids a certain lesson until it’s too late. These parents shared their wisdom about what they would improve on, if they could try raising their kids again.
Thanks to all the redditors who commented – check out the source at the end of the article!
I wish I had not been so diet and weight obsessed. I think my own struggle with my body has made it impossible for my teenage daughter to have a healthy self-image. I always said the right things to her, but the way I treated myself had more impact than I expected.
My dad has had this conversation with me recently, as an adult. He told me if he could do it all over, he wouldn’t be so concerned with always being on the move with us. My brother and I were very involved in extracurricular activities, therefore we spent a lot of time separated while we were at sports, clubs etc. He wished he could do it all over again and just enjoy more time together as a family, and actually regretted encouraging us to join so many things which, in turn, kept us all apart. My mother passed away over 10 years ago, so when he looks back on our childhood, he doesn’t see many “family” memories, it’s more so individual accomplishments, which at this point can’t be reversed.
I would have waited until they were ready before attempting toilet training. Sometimes it’s simply better to wait till they show an interest.
I wouldn’t stay with their mom for 12 years out of “doing what’s best for the kids.” Filing for divorce last summer was the best thing I’ve ever done for them, and I wish I’d known that before they suffered through our marriage.
Less of everything. As a father I went way overboard with giving him everything he wanted (big birthday parties, video games, toys, dinners just for him when he didn’t like what we were having, etc..) and now he is an entitled prick. Just like his dad.
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I would make communication a bigger priority. I know that when I was little, my parents left me to fend for myself and that practice transferred onto my own son during his childhood until early adulthood. I don’t know when I realized it, but communication is everything.
I would make sure my mother didn’t baby my oldest child so much. He is 7 now and I’m pretty sure he can’t find his butt with both hands. “Hey daddy where’s the DVD remote?” “Did you look for it?” “Yes I did”. Walk into his room turn on the light it’s laying on his bed. Didn’t even bother to turn the light on. Similar things happen alllllllll the time. 2 days ago I get the same question different remote I look up and the kid is standing on it.
My mum has this poem hung up in the Kitchen:
If I had my child to raise all over again, I’d build self esteem first, and the house later.
I’d fingerpaint more, and point the finger less.
I would do less correcting and more connecting.
I’d take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes.
I would care to know less and know to care more.
I’d take more hikes and fly more kites.
I’d stop playing serious, and seriously play.
I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars.
I’d do more hugging and less tugging.
I’d see the oak tree in the acorn more often.
I would be firm less often, and affirm much more.
I’d model less about the love of power, And more about the power of love.
A poem by Diane Loomans
More videos of them! I have thousands of pictures, but I wish I had more videos. These little dudes grow up too damn fast!
I would have not worried so much about my kids meeting milestones. I was obsessed with their development (teaching degree, background sped and child dev) and panicked if they didn’t know their letters by 4 or cut a perfect line with scissors in kinder or had reversals in second, or didn’t read fluently by nine. It took me until my third kid to realize the experts know nothing and kids develop differently. I spent a ridiculous amount of time worrying about how they compared to their peers and feeling a deep, deep shame when they didn’t match up.
Now I don’t care about their peers or the experts. I look at my kids, see that they are growing into amazing people with unique strengths and weaknesses and I support their growth as much as possible. Sadly my early mistake has caused my eldest to have self esteem issues and I feel very guilty because of it.
I would have breastfed my kids for longer.
And I wouldn’t have let anyone interfere with my parenting by telling me what I should’ve and shouldn’t have let my kids do. I wouldn’t have yelled at my kids so much for such insignificant things. It made us all miserable.
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No TV in their bedroom. It takes forever to get them to sleep now.
I wouldn’t have listened to my oppressive church that insisted that I have kids. My church held the view that “Mature Christians know that it’s God’s will to be fruitful and multiply”. That was wrong. I love my kids and would have still eventually had them, but not at 22, and not because it was supposed to be my “life’s work”. The girls that are my age are working on kids number 3, 4, and 5. I stopped at 2 (bad Christian). My vagina isn’t a revolving door, and my life is worth more than my ability to populate the church. My kids are still young, and I have been able to undo all the early exposure from my church, but really I just wish that I had waited, and had kids when I wanted to, and was (more) ready.
I wouldn’t have them.
What can I say, I am not cut out to be a parent. Unfortunately you can’t learn that until you already have kids, so I do the best I can for the two I have but I doubt it’s good enough.
I’m a gal now in my 40’s. I had parents who were completely detatched from me. My father ignored me, my mother grounded me anytime I did ANYTHING so that she didn’t have to deal with me. I spent much of my time alone in my room, reading, and listening to music. I don’t know if I naturally had anxiety or depression or if these issues developed from being alone constantly. Since they were not involved with me I didn’t develop communication skills and ended up being a loner and having horrible social skills. Sometimes my mother would “be nice” and play a game with me and would always win, over and over again. She would get so much glee in beating me at a game of backgammon, etc. So even something that would normally be a positive experience with my parents would end up being something that would intimidate me and make me feel worse.
They divorced when I was 12 – my dad took off and my mother went into her room and shut the door for years. I lashed out against the world as a teenager. God I was a mess. Again, with no one to talk to because my parents were involved with their own crisis of their own making.
Fast forward through years of alcoholism, bad relationships, pills and embarrassment. People ask me why I don’t have children? Because I don’t know how to talk to kids because no one talked to me. When I am around children I feel horrible, like I’m going to mess something up. Like the child is judging me as I sat in silent judgment. There are millions of people in the world more qualified than me to have children. I know I haven’t shaken those feelings from my childhood and I don’t want to do that to anyone else.
A lot of people feel like they HAVE to have children. I think I am doing the world a favor and my potential children a favor by not having any. I know for a fact that I would do a bad job communicating with a child and I want to break the cycle now.
Don’t have kids for the sake of having kids. You have to want them before you make them, not vice versa.
I think a lot of parents would like to redo their child’s 18-22 years. This is a delicate time when their children think they are adults and for the first time they actually are. I think a lot of parents drive their children away in this time by trying to insert the same control they used to have. Only problem is, they don’t have that control anymore. I think a lot of that stems from the fact that their children don’t depend on them financially anymore. Maybe it’s not so much an age group but more the time when a child is financially independent. Mom is no longer “right” in every fight for fear of having to pay your own car insurance. It’s a tough pill for most parents to swallow, but as your child grows into an adult the parents have to grow as well.
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New parent here! Two months in. I would have convinced my wife to ask for gift cards instead of specific items when she was having her shower. I have so much crap that I HAD to de-box and put together that we never use.
I also would not allow her to wash most of the clothing util we needed it. There are so many items my kid grew out of before we ever used them.
I would request simple white infant shirts and simple button sleeper for 90% of her clothing. The cute stuff is 90% of the time a pain in the ass. The majority of the stuff no one will ever see her in beside us.
I would recommend “Gumdrop” bottles to anyone, they are simple and she drips less with those than any other kind.
I would have gone with private school from the beginning. It’s amazing how kids can learn when teachers can be creative.
I would change the way I just took everything the doctors said as the gospel. When my middle son was 2, I insisted he had a problem. As he would have tantrums (like all 2 year olds) but his would last about an hour, and he would hit himself on the head or bang his head on things. He would also routinely have about 5-7 of these tantrums a day. All the doctors said he was fine. I have taken him to doctors for 14 years telling them he did things that were not normal and they all said he was fine. at the age of 14 I finally had a psychologist and psychiatrist evaluate him and it turns out he is autistic. He has severe sensory issues, OCD and is extremely introverted. All the other doctors kept telling me I was seeing things that weren’t there. Even had one doctor tell me I may be suffering from Munchausen syndrome. Now at the age of 15, my son has never had any behavioral therapy that could have saved him a lot of heartache. our family as well. Come to find out our youngest son is also autistic, but not as severely.
I’d buy a lock for my bedroom door.
I would demonstrate that it’s not an up/down relationship, it’s more linear, there is no hierarchy.
My children are now young adults and I admit that most of my mistakes were born out of a false sense of responsibility. By this I mean I thought I was responsible for protecting them from their feelings. I have been much better at allowing them to be themselves for the last ten years and I do have regret about not being so trusting, of themselves and me, for the first ten years. I only pay brief visits to regret, I do not live there.
I would not have gotten them each their own televisions and x boxes.
I would have put more time into them playing sports.
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I would have spent a LOT less time on the computer myself, and limited my kids’ time on it firmly. Now my kids are all sucked into the nearest screen any time they have a spare 30 seconds. They don’t have the attention span of a 3 year old child for any task that doesn’t involve a screen.
That said, I have great kids. I just wish I saw more of their faces and less of the backs of their heads.
Nothing much. I think I’ve done a pretty good job actually. For a while I thought I hadn’t because his pre-school teachers would complain about certain things but then I realized:
- He is 4
- He is allowed to be silly and be a goofball
Since I came to that realization, it’s been smooth sailing for us. I intend on making sure my youngest is just as goofy, silly, sweet and awesome as my oldest.
I wouldn’t hit them. Ever.
I wouldn’t yell. 🙁
I have not fathered any children myself (yet), but I am the father figure to my younger brothers. There is a large age gap between me and them. The only thing I would change is how I handled certain situations. Sometimes you can get lost in the moment, and your emotions can get the better of you. I have reflected on a few times where this happened, and I have to say it, but I just made the situation worse by not thinking before I spoke. Never let anger get the best of you. Your children will naturally emulate their parents, or authority figure. You need to set a proper example.
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I’d yell less and play more.
I would have stopped smoking cigarettes permanently. No matter what you say, they will smoke if you do.
Mine are still babies but I would have relaxed a little with my oldest. I just panicked over every little thing and missed a big chunk of her life. I would also have talked to a doctor about postpartum depression that I had. Seriously if you have it or think you do TELL SOMEONE!!!
My daughter is not biologically mine. I met her mother, Kat, when [her daughter] was 4 months old and the relationship started 2 months later.
How much of a father role I would take on wasn’t talked about. Her biological father kept saying he would be around and never was (She lived in Wales, him in Oxford), so the last thing I wanted was to be the reason why he never got involved with her. On top of that, I didn’t want to be seen throwing myself into the daddy role, and Kat didn’t want to come across as dumping the father role on me.
So, for the first 5 or so months, I kind of took a backseat approach. I fed her occasionally, got up with her once or twice if I stayed over, played with her, cuddled her if she needed it, but didn’t put myself out there too much, and Kat didn’t force anything on me. It all changed when she was 10 months old.
We went down to a small town near Oxford to stay with Kat’s Dad for a week. My daughter’s biological father lives 5 houses down from Kats dad, so we presumed he’d see her lots and I would sort of keep away, it would be the first time he’d seen her since she was 3 months old.
Well, Kat went down with the little one before I did, and I came down 3 days later (due to work commitments). When I arrived at her Dads house on the Monday, I was greeted by the most excited and cuddly little 10 month old the world has ever seen, she was so excited she literally squealed when I walked into the front room… Right in front of her biological Dad, who apparently got no sort of reception.
She didn’t want to play or sit with him at all. She would crawl from one end of the large L-shaped couch from him to me, I would try and give her to him, but she’d have none of it, she simply wasn’t interested. She wanted me.
Dinner time, her biological father feeds her, he can’t bathe her on his own, so needs Kat to help him (who drags me upstairs as well, making for a rather awkward situation), he dries her, gets her in jammies, and tries putting her to bed. Nope. Wants me. Biological father leaves.
We went to the pub quiz leaving Kat’s step mum at home with the little one, fun night, but the biological father brandishing a kitchen knife and threatening to stab me put a bit of a downer on the evening’s transgressions… but that’s a whole other story.
From Tuesday to Thursday, The biological father never showed up. We next see him in the beer garden of the local on Wednesday where we bump into him and his brothers (really nice guys) by chance and spend a few hours with them. He got an almighty row from Kat about how he behaved on the Monday, told to never pull a stunt like that again and all would be fine, so everything was dropped.
Aaand… That’s the last we see of the biological Father. We were down for a further 4 days and he never showed his face. On the Thursday night, a couple of hours before my birthday, my daughter is running a huge temperature, so I ended up awake nearly all night, because the ONLY place she would sleep was across my chest. No cot, no mum, no bed… My chest, and I had to be sat up.
It was in one fleeting instant, somewhere in the fog of the 8 or so hours I sat there in the dark in total silence, comforting this 10 month old little girl who’s decided in her moment of unrest, that I am the only person in her whole world that can make her feel better that something happened.
It was like some sort of switch had been turned on sparking this inconceivable surge of joy, worry, excitedness, happiness and unrelenting honor.
I’M this little girl’s dad.
The next couple of days really nailed that in for me. He never showed up, never said bye. Kat’s step mum bumped into him and told him she wasn’t well, he said he had heard and asked how she was… Never occurred to him to come and see her (he knew he had a guest pass to see her as much as he wanted). He simply had no interest in being her father, and being her father wasn’t something I had to second guess about.
From then on, back in Wales, I took on more responsibilities, getting up with her in the night, having her for whole days, sinking some money into her upkeep, naming my mum Nana and my dad Grandad.
Then, Just after her first birthday, Kat told me it would be ok if she called me Dad, instead of Karl.
I wish I could have been her dad from Day one, but I suppose this whole thing had to take its course for everyone’s sanity and for everyone to be happy that everything had been done to not upset or scare anyone… But I can’t help but feel I missed a very long period of bonding and being involved in her first months. I may be a Dad, but I never had a baby… really. by the time I took my place, she was crawling and would yell (rather than cry) us awake, and had developed some of her personality already.
I wouldn’t change her for the world, she’s the perfect daughter, I just wish I hadn’t missed the first part.
Father of a 3 year old here.
I’m barely into this whole parenting thing, and every day at work I think about playing with my boy, and I get home and I’m just so damn tired and irritable that I can’t handle him. He wants to play, Daddy come here, Daddy look at this, Daddy be a monster, Daddy chase me, and all I can do is say ‘Daddy’s tired, buddy.’
I hate it. So I guess if I could change something, I’d sort my priorities and have him come first, always.
Wouldn’t change anything about the way my kids are raised. The only thing I’d change is not stopping at two kids only… I’d have more.