Want your children to grow into well-adjusted adults? Learn how with "11 Ways Parents Sabotage Their Kids' Future & How to Stop." Therapist Laura Ketchie provides encouragement and helpful advice on how to turn negative parenting patterns into positive ones, in her free podcast and show notes.

007 Parenting: Eleven Ways Parents Sabotage Their Kids’ Future & How To Stop


From the day junior is born he is set forth on a learning journey.  It’s a parent’s job to foster a learning environment.  From day one he is being prepared for the day that he will be a self-supporting adult.  I think our culture has lost sight of this.

We have gotten caught up in the minutiae of status, grades and extra-curricular activities. We have shirked the importance of learning the basics of life.  Essentially, kids are growing into adults who do not know how to “adult”, but they can take a test.

I do not want to parent-shame.  That will get us nowhere fast. Instead, I’d like to offer some alternatives to some common issues that have developed recently in our culture.

1.) Do not do your child’s homework or projects.

You can be a helpful presence if questions arise, but your child is going to school to learn, not to get an A.  If your child chooses not to do his homework, let him see what the consequences are, rather than enabling him to never fail.  Failure is one of life’s greatest teachers.

2.) Do not excuse your child from chores.

Being in a family means being a part of a team.  Excusing a child from helping out sends the message that that child is set apart from others, more special than the rest.  This can lead to a sense of entitlement.

Having them help around the house should be a weekly expectation and if need be, chores should be posted where the child can be reminded.  Just because you have a project at work does not mean that you get a free pass from your other responsibilities, the same is true for your child.  He needs to learn this now; his boss will not be his parent.

3.) Let’s Not Make Academics Priority One.

With the onslaught of charter schools, IB schools and other accelerated programs, I’m finding parents are pushing academics over life skills and kids are sorely losing out.  Some parents are making striving in academics more important than other responsibilities—this is not reality.  When your child becomes an adult he does not get a free pass from all other responsibilities at home because he has a project due at work.

4.) Teens Need Jobs.

Thirty years ago it would be almost unheard of for a parent to show up for a teen’s job interview.  These days employers are shocked when parents are doing the talking for the teen.

A job interview is an important life lesson, and so is working with the public.  It’s not a parent’s job to “protect” a child from difficult people.  Nothing teaches conflict resolution skills like having to serve someone who is having a bad day.  Make it clear that a summer job is expected, along with the possibility of a job during the school year.

5.) Allow Your Child to Order For Himself.  

Kids need to learn that they can interact with authorities.  One of the best and easiest learning environments for this is at a restaurant.

Your child knows what he wants, so why isn’t he saying it to the person who will actually serve him?  Have him say it, or no burger.

6.) Teenagers Should Drive.  

Being able to drive is a milestone in development.  It creates a sense of freedom and responsibility that is necessary to prepare for living on one’s own.  

Unless you live in an urban area where public transportation is the primary means for transportation, your fifteen year old needs to be driving.

7.) Kids Need to Handle Their Own Conflicts.

There are a few caveats for this one.  Sometimes kids are thrust into situations that are not age appropriate and need parental guidance, but for the most part this is not the case.

Use discretion before jumping onto every little scuffle or disagreement.  See how your child handles it first.

Your child may very well be learning conflict resolution without you being the teacher every time, and such is life.  (Of course, the greatest teaching is modeling it yourself.  Read more about “Five Things Your Kids Need To See You Do.”)

8.) Do Away With Micromanagement.  

A child should be the most creative, wistful being on the planet.  With the advent of smartphones, tablets, and incessant extra-curricular opportunities kids are becoming slaves to technology and time.

It’s almost like kids are not allowed to be kids any more.  There is no freedom for “free play.”

Play is a major way kids learn.  Denying them this freedom prevents them from learning in the best way they know how.  This means giving them the time to play as they wish without the stipulation of a particular activity that you have chosen for them.

Let them use their imaginations.  They NEED to be creative.  (Not sure if you are micromanaging?  Read “The Greatest Lessons That You Cannot Teach Your Children:  Overcoming Helicopter Parenting.”)

9.) Family Time is a Must.  

We live in a demanding world, but kids need to know that home is their foundation and the soft place to fall.  This means protecting family time.

 Kids should learn to have more mature conversations from sitting around the dinner table with everyone discussing their day.  Let kids learn how to be mature from you. Don’t deny them this opportunity and let them learn how to be “mature” from other kids and the media.  (Have a no technology at the table policy to ensure interaction.)

10.) Teach Your Child to Accept Responsibility for Failure.  

Do not blame teachers or others for your child’s shortcomings.  As much as your child is the light of your life, he’s human.  He makes mistakes.  He will be a more humble and agreeable human being if he is taught to own up to his failings.

This means taking a look at how you handle your own foibles.  It means having to watch how you talk about situations in your own life. You may have easily blamed another, but deep down the problem resulted from your own shortcoming.

11.) Speak Positively.  

Your kids are watching you.  It is incredibly easy to complain.  Oftentimes complaining is a result of blaming someone else for the way you feel.

Model a more positive attitude by catching yourself in the midst of a complaint.  Say out-loud, “How could I look at this differently?”  Watching mom correct herself says a lot to a child!  (Concerned about your child’s future?  Read “Five Things Your Child Needs More Than College.”)


     The culture of “low self-esteem” is rooted in a low sense of mastery.  Young adults in massive numbers are feeling insecure and dissatisfied with life.

Many are feeling empty and powerless.  Starting a child out early with the intention of helping him develop a sense of mastery over life skills will be one of the greatest experiences you can give him.

Remember: Sometimes teaching means getting out of the way.

Want your children to grow into well-adjusted adults? Learn how with “11 Ways Parents Sabotage Their Kids’ Future & How to Stop.” Therapist Laura Ketchie provides encouragement and helpful advice on how to turn negative parenting patterns into positive ones, in her free podcast and show notes.

Published by

Vincent & Laura Ketchie

Vincent Ketchie, LPC and Laura Ketchie, LPC are the hosts of Relationship Helpers, a podcast where they discuss family issues and interview relationship experts. Vincent and Laura are licensed marriage counselors.

6 thoughts on “007 Parenting: Eleven Ways Parents Sabotage Their Kids’ Future & How To Stop”

  1. It’s interesting how much the world has changed – my parents did all these things. I like to think we turned out pretty well. I hope that we can continue the traditions of teaching our children responsibility as well.

  2. I’m glad to read this post this is exceptionally very well write-up. I love to recommend it around my circle.

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  3. As someone with a learning difficulty who was raised by parents who refused to do anything for me, even reach me to drive, I feel advice such as “Don’t help your kids with projects” and “Don’t prioritise academics” is irresponsible.

    I see a lot of advice these days encouraging parents to not take responsibility for their children.
    This is how I was raised and I now have a slew of mental illnesses and a soulles job (because my disability was not treated nor was I helped academically).
    The only part of this I agree with is teaching your teen to drive, everything else is adding unnecessary hardship.

    People “turn out fine” despite tough love, not because of it.

    1. Thank you for listening to the podcast! It sounds like you had a very difficult upbringing. I agree it would not only be irresponsible, but neglectful for the parents not to provide support and the necessary academic help for a child with learning disabilities. This may include tutoring, special classes, IOP’s, etc.

      Unfortunately, many children are not properly diagnosed, nor are they given the support needed. One question that I ask my clients is if they have any undiagnosed learning disabilities. I am always amazed at how many clients learn that they are dyslexic in their 30’s or 40’s, but never had any idea of it while they were in school. (Many times, it is when their own children are diagnosed.)

      In the podcast, we discuss when a parent does the homework or project for the child without the child asking for the help, or the parent does the project without much participation from the child. When a parent helps, the child needs to be learning. The goal should not be to get a good grade regardless of who did the work (or to get into the right school).

      There needs to be a balance with the amount of support a child is given regardless of their level of learning. I have had clients with severe learning disabilities (less than 70 IQ) but with parents who provided the appropriate amount of support. They were able to drive, work, and be as independent as they can be at their level (not living at home). I have also counseled those with severe learning disabilities who were not given the proper amount of support whether too much or too little – the result was a much lower level of confidence, independence, and freedom. But of course, all of these persons are different and have different circumstances.

      Again, thanks for listening!

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