The Single Biggest Mistake Parents Make (According To Our Kids)

All those less-than-perfect parents amongst us are happy to admit to making a mistake or 10 along the long, twisty and, more often than not, exhausting journey that is bringing up children.

And the joy of making those mistakes is the fact that we can learn from them and then share them with other mums and dads so that they can publicly ridicule us and feel momentarily superior, er, sorry, I mean, learn from the error of our child-rearing ways so that they don't screw up like we did.

But what ONE mistake would you pass on?

"One?" you say. "Only ONE."

Difficult, isn't it?

But perhaps it's not for us just-about-good-enough parents to say what constitutes a mistake.

After all, the products of our loins haven't yet, er, benefitted from our mistakes (in character building terms) have they? Better to ask those who know best: kids themselves.

But instead of attracting a deluge of confessions and anecdotes from self-flagellating parents, the question sparked a Tsunami of 'They should have done it this way' responses from the damaged and disgruntled offspring of mums and dads.

In fact, the question attracted more than TEN THOUSAND answers in less than 24 hours from young people highlighting how their parents had cocked things up.

That's 10,000 mistakes that have been made by mothers and fathers! It makes you wonder how our children make it to adulthood.

One day, we hope, the Reddit whistle-blowers will have kids of their own and will thus raise perfect children themselves.

Here's a random slice of morals and messages from the responders...

THE SINGLE BIGGEST MISTAKE PARENTS MAKE (according to some very disgruntled offspring on Reddit)

• Not encouraging them to ask questions.

• Being inconsistent or not following through. Kids will learn, and empty 'threats' will be useless.

• Sheltering them from things that will be a huge part of their lives as adults. Things like life skills, personal safety skills, relationship skills, and critical thinking skills.

• Not letting them fail, like little baby birds learning to fly. "When I was growing up, I was told that I either did something better than anyone, or I didn't bother doing it at all. That left me paralysed to try new things for fear of the ridicule and derision I'd get from my dad."

• Using (children) against the other parent and taking out their anger on the kid. "My dad and mom split when I was a kid, and my dad thought he had to 'win' by being my friend and telling me my mom was an awful person."

• Only giving them negative feedback and forgetting to praise them. It will scar them forever.

• Refusing to believe that their child ever does any wrong.

• "Teach them how things work instead of, 'Here son, hold this flashlight'. On the bright side, I'm a damn good flashlight holder."

• Not reading to them at an early age. From what I understand getting the kid actively involved with reading right away will increase performance in school dramatically over the course of their life. 20 minutes a day is all it takes

• Not teaching them manners at a young age. You can get a long way in life by being polite and courteous

• Trying to earn their friendship instead of their respect.

• "Dad took me to Amsterdam to smoke pot with him when I was 18.. then took me to strip clubs... it was awkward.. I would've preferred he took me fishing.. and got me high there."

• "Not letting them be themselves. I'm not saying you have to let your kid run around being a jerk to every one, but let them explore what they're interested in, and don't get so bogged down on the social expectations. If he doesn't want to play football, don't make him."

• "Not letting them have any pleasures like candy, video games, soda, etc. Once they are able to have these things or when your not around, they will take those things way too far. They become addicted. I've seen this happen many times with my friends and other people's children. Everything in moderation."

• Force them into activities they do not want to partake in, just so the parent can live vicariously through them. No one has said it yet, and it may be the most important of all.

• Several studies have come out recently that you should not tell a child that he/she is 'so smart' and instead commend their hard work.

• Being too strict or not strict enough. Being too strict turns them into a rebel, being not strict enough makes them act out for attention. Kids want your love but they like to have fun too. It's important to set boundaries but also be forgiving.

• When kids are proud of something and show it to you, like a drawing or something, and you just act uninterested or critique it.

• "Being absent. Go to the dance recital, it won't kill you (really, I promise). If you can, coach their little league or be a room parent for their class. They love having you around (up until a point) so cherish it. When you come home, do something with your kid, don't just conk out in front of the TV. Attend school functions, on time."

And from this happy chap....

• Don't leave them alone in a house and force them to stay there with nothing to do for an entire summer.

• Don't force them to lie about everything.

• Don't threaten to ground them for an entire marking period if they make a C.

• Don't completely shield them from everything.

• Don't force religious beliefs on them.

• Don't judge their friends.

• Don't slap/hit/push/spank them.

• Don't ground them for confiding in you.

• Don't be narcississtic a**holes.

(I hate my parents)

And finally...

• Getting child-rearing advice from Reddit.