1-Sentence-Summary: 13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don’t Do teaches parents how to stop being a roadblock to their kids academic, behavioral, and emotional success by outlining ways to develop the right thinking habits.
Read in: 4 minutes
Favorite quote from the author:
Everyone wants the best for their children. These days, parenting is more a problem of doing too much than too little. We all know parents who monitor their child’s every move and swoop in to protect them at any sign of conflict or difficulty.
This type of parenting results in adults who are incapable of handling life’s challenges on their own. So how can we avoid it?
There’s no shortage of “how-to” books about parenting. But Amy Morin, psychotherapist and author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, argues it’s just as vital that we know what habits we shouldn’t teach our kids. If we want children that are mentally strong we need to look first at our own detrimental behaviors.
Here are just 3 great parenting lessons this book teaches:
- Encourage responsibility and persistence instead of a victim mentality.
- Don’t expect your kid to be perfect or immediately step in whenever they make a mistake.
- Parents who are mentally strong show actions that match their values.
Get ready for some powerful help on becoming a better parent! Let’s go!
Lesson 1: Help your child be responsible and persevere rather than be a victim.
If you want a child that’s mentally strong, you need to start showing them what this looks like. One way you can do this is by not encouraging a victim mentality.
It’s natural for us to want to shield our children from things and defend them when they’ve been wronged. But it’s important to make sure you show them how to deal with life’s challenges instead of viewing themself as a victim of circumstance.
An example Morin shares is a 14-year-old patient named Cody who was on medication for his ADHD. His teachers said the medication helped him pay attention and be calmer, but his grades weren’t improving. His parents responded by demanding he be given less work than the other students.
But the problem wasn’t in his workload-it was actually the result of learned helplessness. His parents enforced the idea that his ADHD made him incapable, so he believed there was nothing he could do about it. When they recognized the problem and helped him feel like he was able to handle these responsibilities, he started trying and turned his grades around.
When parents are mentally strong, they don’t let kids shy away from assuming responsibility. Hold your child accountable instead of letting them blame others for their problems. In addition, let them practice resolving conflict on their own instead of always intervening, as this makes them more likely to blame others.
Lesson 2: Don’t expect perfection or step in to help every time they mess up.
A lot of parents view their kids as an extension of themselves. Many secretly hope that if they push them to succeed in the things they didn’t, they can help mend old wounds. But pushing your kid to perfection is bad for their mental health. When you expect perfection, they start to believe your love is conditional and you won’t love them if they make a mistake.
If you want to make sure mistakes don’t destroy their sense of self-worth, help them try for excellence rather than perfection. Make sure you don’t criticize too much. Morin says you can offer what she calls a praise-criticism-praise sandwich. This can be like, “Great job cleaning up the playroom! I noticed you missed a few blocks, but you did great at cleaning up your markers.”
When we expect perfection we also tend to micromanage and overstep, which leads kids to not learn how to bounce back when they make a mistake. Helicopter parenting leads to kids not knowing how to make decisions in adulthood and struggling with taking care of their own needs. These kids are more likely to have mental health problems, physical health problems, and do recreational drugs.
Instead of doing this, help them learn when they slip up that what’s most important is how they overcome problems. Talk with your child about times you recovered from setbacks so they can see nobody is perfect, and it’s okay.
Lesson 3: Mentally strong parents only do things that match the values they teach.
As parents, we get caught up in the day to day problems we face. But how often do we step back and wonder if we are teaching them the right life lessons? Morin shares the story of a 15-year-old student named Kyle who got kicked out of his advanced school program when he was caught cheating. His parents couldn’t understand where things went wrong.
Kyle’s parents seemed to prize his academic performance above everything else, and they often bragged to friends and family about his achievements. Kyle believed that their reputation and his grades were more important than character or honesty. In therapy, they realized they had indeed sent the message that he should avoid failure no matter what.
This example demonstrates the lesson that it’s important to emphasize the values you want to instill, and you can do this more with what you do than what you say. A 2014 survey found 80 percent of teens believed their parents prioritized achievement over kindness.
One way you can make sure kids know what values are important is to make a family mission statement. Have values you want to include beforehand, and with everyone’s input, make a short statement about what’s most important to your family. Post it somewhere they will see it.
You can also instill values early in life by explaining why you do good things when they are young. You can explain that you are making dinner for a sick neighbor because it’s important to do kind things for people. Through your example, your child will learn through this that we use what we have to try to make the world around us a better place.
13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don’t Do Review
13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don’t Do is a valuable tool for parents of kids at any age. By following Morin’s practical advice and learning to be mentally strong ourselves, we can raise kids that will be able to handle their challenges in adulthood.
Who would I recommend the 13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don’t Do summary to?
The 30-year-old new parents who want to make sure they are the best they can for their kid, the 49-year-old with teenagers that needs some help coping, and anybody that has kids no matter how old or young.