Maybe it was my mother’s love for reading with me as a young girl, snuggled up in her lap gazing in wonder at the beautiful illustrations in my favorite children’s books that motivated me to dip into dozens of books every month growing up.
This unbridled love of the written word continues, though my tastes have evolved. These days I’m all about cultivating marriage, parenting effectively, growing spiritually, and nurturing relationships.
*This post is not sponsored. I just truly believe this book can transform family relationships in unbelievably positive ways!
One book that’s really blowing me away right now is Gary Smalley’s “The Key to Your Child’s Heart.” Here’s what Barnes and Noble says about it:
A repeat bestseller for two decades, this child-rearing classic cuts to the heart of the anger and alienation that mar so many modern homes. In this ultimately practical book, Gary Smalley outlines effective steps for parents to open up a child that has shut them out. He describes family-tested ways for parents to set limits and enforce them, and he reveals the simple but powerful secret for achieving a close-knit family. Learn proven parenting methods that can spell the difference between an angry, rebellious, distant child and a happy, cooperative one.
The first chapter holds your parenting tactics up to the light. In a very real, very raw, intensely emotional way. The book’s intro recommends reading chapter one a few times through to wring out every last drop of wisdom. I concur.
Included within the first chapter is this list of “84 Ways We Can Offend Our Children. This list humbled me instantly. I felt like “parenting failure” was tattooed on my forehead. Thankfully, God’s grace extends to all of us.
Whether you are a parent or soon to become one, I encourage you to take a few moments to reflect on the following list of actions and behaviors that can alienate and offend our children. After all, we all yearn for a close relationship with our children, a harmoniously ordered family atmosphere.
84 Ways We Can Offend Our Children Without Even Realizing It
1. Lacking interest in things that are special to me.
2. Breaking promises.
3. Criticizing unjustly.
4. Allowing my brother or sister to put me down.
5. Misunderstanding my motives.
6. Speaking carelessly.
7. Punishing me for something for which I already had been punished.
8. Telling me that my opinions don’t really matter.
9. Giving me the feeling that they never make mistakes.
10. Not being gentle when pointing out my weaknesses or blind spots.
11. Lecturing me and not understanding when all I need is some support.
12. Never telling me “I love you.” Never showing me physical affection.
13. Not spending time alone with me.
14. Being insensitive, rough, and breaking promises.
15. Being thoughtless.
16. Never telling me “thank you.”
17. Not spending time together.
18. Being insensitive to my trials.
19. Speaking harsh words.
20. Being inconsistent.
21. Being taken for granted.
22. Being told how to do something that I was doing on my own.
23. Nagging me.
24. Bossing me.
25. Felling unnoticed or unappreciated.
26. Being ignored.
27. Not being considered a thinking and feeling person.
28. Being too busy to care for me and listen to me.
29. Dismissing my needs as unimportant, especially when their work or hobby is more important.
30. Bringing up old mistakes from the past to deal with present problems.
31. Teasing excessively. 32. Not noticing my accomplishments.
33. Making tactless comments.
34. Liking me only for my physical looks or abilities, instead of what’s inside of me.
35. Not being praised and appreciated.
36. Being built up and then let down.
37. Getting my hopes up to do something as a family and then not following through.
38. Being corrected without being reminded that they love me.
39. Being disciplined in harshness and anger.
40. Not reasoning with me, and never giving me an explanation of why I’m being disciplined.
41. Misusing brute force.
42. Reacting to me in the opposite way I think a Christian should treat me.
43. Raising their voices to each other.
44. Not being interested in who I am.
45. Cutting down something I am doing or someone I am with as being dumb or stupid.
46. Using foul language when they are upset with me.
47. Being impatient, which often comes across as rudeness.
48. Saying “no” without giving a reason.
49. Not praising me.
50. Sensing a difference between what is said with the mouth and what is said through facial expressions.
51. Making sarcastic remarks about me.
52. Making fun of my hopes, dreams, and accomplishments.
53. Punishing me severely for something that I didn’t do.
54. Being distracted when I really have something to day.
55. Insulting me in front of others.
56. Speaking before thinking through how it will affect me.
57. Pressuring me when I already feel low or offended.
58. Comparing me with other kids at school and telling me how wonderful they are and that they wish I could be better
59. Forcing me to argue with them when I’m really hurt inside.
60. Being treated like a little child.
61. Not approving of what I do or how I do it. I keep trying to get their approval but they just won’t give it.
62. Seeing them do the very things they tell me not to do.
63. Ignoring me when I ask for advice because they are too busy.
64. Ignoring me and not introducing me to people who come to the house or we see in public.
65. Showing favoritism toward my brother or sister.
66. Acting as if something I want is of little importance.
67. Not feeling like I am special to them. It’s so important to me to have my parents let me know, even in small ways, that I’m special to them.
68. Seeing my father put my mother down, especially in front of company.
69. Seldom touching or holding me.
70. Hearing mom and dad bickering at each other to the point where one of them is really hurt.
71. Not trusting me.
72. Making fun of something physically different about me.
73. Seeing my mom and dad trying to get revenge against each other.
74. Sensing that my dad never approves of what I do or how I do it.
75. Not being able to control their anger.
76. Getting mad at me because I can’t keep up with their schedule or abilities.
77. Making me feel like they wish they never had me in the first place.
78. Not having enough time for me.
79. Needing my parents but they are glued to the television.
80. Seeing my parents spend a lot of money on their pleasures, but when I want something, they don’t seem to have the money.
81. Making me feel childish.
82. Not spending the time to understand what I am trying to say.
83. Yelling at me when I already know I’m wrong.
84. Making me feel like I hadn’t tried to improve at something when I really had.
The next chapters walk you through several principles to guarantee a closer relationship with your child and concepts not only for “how to get your children to clean their rooms, eat healthier foods, and avoid certain harmful activities,” but also “at least 22 ways to lovingly motivate your children.” Whew! After that gentle (and totally necessary) rebuke I genuinely anticipated the encouragement and helpful parenting advice that followed.
If you can identify with me, a mom who needs a whole lot of grace to make it through each day. A parenting work-in-progress with a goal of leading my little ones to Jesus through word AND deed, then don’t hesistate. Pick up a copy of The Key to Your Child’s Heart right now! (Amazon price: $6 USD.)
A few more books I’m loving right now:
- French Women Don’t Get Fat: The Secret of Eating for Pleasure by Mireille Guiliano
- The Spirit-Filled Family by Tim and Beverly LaHaye (Biblical Family Relations)
- A Life that Says Welcome by Karen Ehman (Hospitality)
Marissa Zurfluh says
I hate to admit this however, because of your post, I feel i need to change my ways. I did not realize some of my actions that seem harmless to me would offend my child. Now I feel horrible and we shall have ice cream for dinner! LOL. Seriously though, This is something that should be hund on the fridge as a reminder everyday.
Parenting is tough work, for parents and kids. Nobody’s perfect but we’re all works in progress. Great idea about hanging this kind of thing on the fridge, maybe putting a positive spin on it.
I’m definitly guilty of some of these items on this list, but as my son grew I constantly became aware of what I was saying to him and how it might affect him.
Every day I struggle with a handful of these. The tongue is hard to tame, isn’t it? Thank you, Cheryl, for stopping by today.
I think all of us felt those things as kids and I know I have probably made my daughter feel the same as some of these over the years as well. It’s hard not to offend or hurt kids especially when they are at certain ages because they are super sensitive as well as very green. As they get older and having more perspective on the situations I think most of the things can easily be seen in a whole new light.
Karlyn Cruz says
This makes me feel quite guilty! Now I feel bad! I am guilty of just about 90% of this list. I know patience and anger gets into a lot of these and of course the lack of thinking and self control. Thank you for this enlightening post.
Sandy N Vyjay says
Children are so sensitive, you never know what hurts them sometimes. Their minds are fragile and impressionable and hence it is imperative that we adults are sensitive to their needs. The best way to deal with the dilemma is to remember our own feelings as kids and act accordingly. You have provided wealth of information and pointers which will come in handy.
Kate | Highlights Along The Way says
These are all so true! Child’s feelings are more sensitive than we thought. We should always think twice before saying anything to them.
Ali Rost says
Read your post right after a phone call with my son. He’s twenty-four and he/we have struggled mightily over the years. For the longest time I tried to change him, make him into something that was more comfortable for me. When I finally let go and got curious about who he really was as a person, our relationship changed. Tonight when he called, I simply listened. Before we hung up, he thanked me for being there and not judging him. I tell you what, this parenting thing isn’t for sissies! x
David Elliott says
Those are 84 things that parents should try to avoid around their kids as much as possible. Maybe this is a list put together by kids, but I think number 68 is a bit sex centric. I am all for mothers and fathers keeping disagreements outside of the earshot of kids. And any dad who would openly criticize the mom in front of company is doing wrong. But I have been the dad who has been openly criticized by the mother in front of company and so I feel like you are missing something when its treatment of that one issue is one sided.
Good point! This book was written in the 80’s, and I had just glanced over that one.
I think it’s really important for adults to explain to children what they really mean. These offenses may also apply not only to kids but to all ages as well. Having a clear understanding requires constant communication.
Lisa Favre says
Breaking promises is definitely high up there for me (and I see that you put it high up on your list as well). I think a lot of these points are even relatable for adults. These are points that my husband and I expect to do for each other as well for our children.
Chelsea @ Life With My Littles says
This is something I am really working on right now with our oldest, so you couldn’t have published this at a better time!
Veronica Mitchell says
Thank you for sharing this! I hate to admit it but I am guilty to some of the items listed. But thank you for this is such a great reminder that we have to acknowledge our kid’s feelings and wishes, even if they seem ridiculous sometimes. Also, communication is key.
Thanks for putting together such a thoughtful list. As a parent, I’m probably not careful enough and I’ve committed some of the crimes listed above. This article was a great reminder first to take a deep breath and then to react with a view to not offending my kids. I have bookmarked the post for future reference, and I sent it to my husband : )