So many moms worry about being good parents that do right by their kids. And these days, there are plenty of ways moms can go wrong when it comes to raising, teaching, and disciplining kids from infancy on up. But one of the main ideas about parenting is that being too tough is bad, but so is being too soft.
After all, the overall goal is to produce healthy, well-adjusted, sociable, positive-thinking, responsible, and self-sufficient adults. And we can’t very well do that if we’re constantly going soft on our kids, giving in and giving up, and letting them get away with things we shouldn’t. While there are plenty of situations when moms would do well to take a softer approach, especially when it comes to helping promote self-esteem in our kiddos, sometimes it’s not such a great idea.
When mom is too soft, her kids (and partner!) learn that it’s okay to take advantage of mom because of her willingness to give in. But how do you know whether you’re striking the perfect parenting balance between soft and hard parenting tactics or becoming a mom-shaped doormat? Here are twenty things moms do that might mean she’s being too soft—check off fifteen or more of these, and you’re nearing ooey gooey territory!
20 Saying 'Yes' To Everything
Most moms aren’t out to deny their kids everything that’s fun, but we often hesitate to say yes to things that are too messy, loud, expensive, dangerous, or otherwise un-fun for us! On the other hand, moms who might be going a bit soft are less likely to put up a fuss.
Sure, if you say yes every once in a while to fun stuff, that’s great—but saying yes every time sets you up for looking like a softie.
Try to be a bit more choosy about what you agree to if you’re the mom who says yes without fail and feels regretful about it later!
19 Tears Make Her Give In
Most of the time, when mom says no, kids aren’t so eager to give up. After all, one of their best abilities is to work mom and dad down—especially if mom said no to something they really want. However, when it comes to mom, kids often know the way to get her to say yes is to turn on the water works. Of course, if your child is crying because they’re legitimately upset, that’s one thing. But it’s another scenario entirely when they start crying to manipulate you or get you to give in. If you find yourself often acquiescing because someone’s tearing up, you just might be too soft for your own good—and theirs.
18 Discipline Disappears
We all know that corporal punishment is not only not recommended by professionals, but it also has negative effects on kids’ development, so that’s not what we’re talking about here. Still, raising kids requires discipline, as tough as it is sometimes for moms to lay down the law. Of course, we all give in sometimes. But if you rarely ever discipline your kids, they’re going to figure out that mom is the softie of the house and take advantage of it. When moms don’t dole out consequences for bad behavior, for example, that means kids just get away with whatever they want—and mom is more than willing to let the kids walk all over her to avoid conflict.
17 Always Extending Limits
Being a mom is hard even when your kids are behaving well—there’s always someone who needs something and the work is never-ending. But things get a little easier when mom makes limits and sticks with them—that way, the kids know what to expect and mom maintains some semblance of control. Right? But what happens when mom makes limits but keeps extending them? Remember the saying “give them an inch, they’ll take a mile”? A lot of moms give in just a little, but next time it becomes a little more, then more and more. Depending on your kids’ personalities, you might be over-extending their limits and making yourself out to be pretty malleable.
16 Lack Of Actual Limits
On the flip side of extending limits are the moms who have no limits at all. Maybe you follow a more modern approach to parenting where your kids are more independent and get to establish their own limits as far as bed times and what they eat at dinner. Of course, that usually works better with older kids who have a good model to follow—that’s you, mama! For younger kids, we need some limits—right? At least until kids learn to self-regulate. So if you’re the mom with no limits at all in your house, then that could contribute to you being too soft overall.
15 No Follow Up Or Follow Through
You’ve probably seen the meme by now that demands kids clean up their stuff (or some other task), but the only “threat” mom gives is that she’s going to passively-aggressively do it herself if the kid doesn’t. That’s a prime example of no follow-up or follow through on mom’s part, and it’s yet another sign that mama might be getting too soft. Sure, every once in a while we renege on some rule or request of our kids. But the more often it happens, the more likely they are to fight back against whatever it is we’re asking them to do. So unless you want to clean your kid’s room for them forever, or always be responsible for picking up their toys, you’ll want to follow through more often.
14 Letting Dad Tackle Tantrums
Part of parenting is dealing with tantrums. And whether it’s someone crying because they didn’t get their way or crying because they’re just overtired, tackling tantrums is a parenting duty we kind of all loathe. In the end, though, someone’s got to manage that behavior. The thing is, moms who often let dad take the reigns wind up looking like the soft ones—and when dad’s not around to handle things, the kids are apt to walk all over her. With older kids especially—since they use crocodile tears against us—it’s hard to deal with tantrums in an unemotional way, but it could mean you’re too soft if you’re also giving in all the time too.
13 Meet Butler Mom
Most moms are the last ones to the dinner table, especially if their partners are less than eager to help with household duties. But that doesn’t mean moms should be the kids’ (or their partners’) servants. If your kids are always asking you to do stuff for them that they could do for themselves, you might be a bit soft.
Catering to our kid’s every need just makes them more dependent on mom and dad—and makes our jobs harder over the long term!
So if you’re too soft overall, stop being butler mom and make your family fend for themselves more often.
12 Doing It All Herself
Every mom has been heading out the door and been in a hurry, that’s nothing new. And most of the time, we’re in such a hurry that we’d rather do stuff ourselves than wait for our kids to do it on their own. Think stuff like kids putting their socks and shoes on, finding their coats, or packing their lunches. The thing is,
the more we do it for them, the more the kids realize that mom will handle everything if you do it on your own slow enough!
It also means kids aren’t learning the skills they need to take care of themselves, which also extends the amount of time mom has to manage it all.
11 Clean Up Challenges
Even at a young age, kids can help clean up their rooms and common spaces at home. Toddlers can pick up toys, older kids can run the vacuum, and everyone can contribute to lessening mom’s load. But if mom is always manning the vacuum, cleaning all the rooms, putting away all the laundry, and hanging up the coats, she’s tackling more work than necessary. In general, you might be too soft if you’re not only walking after your kid and cleaning up behind them but also taking care of things before they can get to them. Choose age-appropriate tasks and delegate—it’ll keep your chore list shorter and show your kids who’s boss!
10 Giving Up On Me Time
Every mom needs a bit of “me time” now and then, whether she works full time outside the home, full time at home, or any variation of those. Being a mom is a tough job—and, most would argue, more demanding than being a dad—so you deserve some time off every once in a while. And while it’s not easy to carve out time to yourself, skipping it entirely is a sign that you’re being too soft. Cancelling your me-time may free up your time for your family’s needs, but it means you’re taking away an opportunity for self-care and making it more likely that you remain a doormat who aims to please everyone except for herself.
9 Guilt Gets The Best Of Her
Another self-care tactic many mamas use is hiding a stash of something special just for them. But you’re somewhat of a softie if you tend to share your goods rather than hide them for yourself. And we get it—sharing is caring, right? But always giving your kids (and partner) the best of everything doesn’t leave much for mama to enjoy. And it’s not fair—moms work hard, so you deserve some treats—and hopefully some alone time, too.
So don’t feel guilty about indulging every once in a while, even if it means eating the last cookie or sipping a juice box that you were saving for your kid.
They don’t need the extra sugar anyway, right?
8 Mom On Defense
In that same vein with teaching kids to be self-sufficient, many moms take a step back when it comes to letting their kids manage tough situations. Of course, if your child is being bullied, you’re more than justified to step in. But if your child is getting in trouble for picking on another student, talks back to the teacher, or needs extra academic help, there’s no point in jumping in and trying to defend them. At some point, kids need to learn to take responsibility for themselves and their actions—and moms who continue to defend them are likely a bit soft.
7 Speaking For Someone Else
When your toddler is just learning to talk, you’ll find that you often have to “translate” when other adults or kids talk to your tot. But once they’re verbal enough to handle a conversation, mom shouldn’t speak for the kid at all! Of course, we want to keep our kids away from creepy strangers and whatnot, but kids need to learn to speak for themselves. If you’re always ordering your kid’s food at restaurants, answering for them when family asks them direct questions, and talking to peers on their behalf, you’re a bit too soft for their own good.
6 Slightly Sickly Staying Home
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with letting kids take a “sick day” for their mental health. After all, even kids as young as preschool age sometimes think all the demands of school are too much. But it becomes an issue of mom’s excessive tenderness when kids are regularly skipping school for no reason. If your kid starts whining that they don’t want to go to school and you just sigh and let them stay in bed, you’re probably erring on the doormat side of things. If skipping out is becoming a regular thing, it might be time for a heart-to-heart with your kiddo.
5 Pushing For Privileges
Sometimes, parents are justified in seeking special treatment for their kids. Children with special needs, for example, often require additional classroom support—and there’s nothing wrong with parents becoming advocates for their kids. The problem lies with moms who are a bit overzealous about ensuring their kids aren’t overlooked—when it might just be that their kids are lazy or just don’t care about succeeding in school, sports, or any other aspect of tween or teen life. If you often find yourself petitioning to make life easier for your kid instead of requiring them to be more responsible, you might be softer than you think.
4 Skipping Speaking Up
Another way that moms start to show their softness is the opposite of the above. Instead of pushing for the benefit of their kids, moms just let other “authority” figures walk all over them. It might be your kid’s paediatrician, who doesn’t take you seriously about your child’s condition, or it could be another parent who wants to talk badly about your child’s habits or personality. Regardless, mom is soft in a way that’s not only detrimental to her own self-esteem, but also for her kid’s wellbeing. Sometimes, getting tough is a good thing, especially when your or your child’s wellbeing is at risk.
3 Letting Dad Dictate Things
For many stay at home moms, their husbands or partners often call most of the shots. After all, the person with the paycheck tends to have a bit more say over finances at the very least. But even moms who don’t bring in a paycheck should still have a say over how they live their lives.
Mom might be the softer partner if she doesn’t speak up for what she needs or for what the kids need. Just because your partner brings home the bacon, that doesn’t mean you have to live according to their demands—
don’t get too soft when it comes to standing up for yourself, even when it’s against your partner.
2 Overspending On Spoiled Kids
There are plenty of ways that “soft” moms let their kids run all over the top of them, and one of the most visible signs of mom potentially being too soft is that her kids dress nicer than she does. And of course,
many moms don’t care about clothing or outward appearances, but when your kids are demanding brand-name clothing, shoes, and accessories and you have to run up the credit card to make it happen, you’re being too soft.
If you’re overpaying for kid-demanded luxury items, along with other items on this list, you might be a softie after all.
1 Too Scared To Toughen Them Up
While most of these items relate to older kids, this applies to even the youngest ones.
Moms who always run to their kids at the first sign of an ouchie aren’t really doing them any favors!
Sometimes, even young babies learn that if they begin crying after taking a tumble or doing something they shouldn’t, mom will take pity. If they’ve done something “naughty,” showing sadness to mom gets them off the hook. Kids can also learn that they shouldn’t take risks, if mom’s reaction is always to run to them at the first sign of a sniffle. So if you have a few soft tendencies, maybe start by giving your tot a bit of space to explore and make his own (minor) mistakes.