Set a bad example.
The second thing parents do that will assure a bitter outcome for the children is to set a bad example.
Some people would say fighting in front of the kids has negative consequences. All fighting whether in front of the kids or in private will be destructive, but the most destructive things is not the fighting as much as how you fight and how it is resolved. I have known families that had big fights, but—I hope you can understand this—their fights were not personal. They were resolved as publicly as they were waged, and the public displays of anger did not create deep hurt in anybody. There are some loving souls that express themselves loudly and with emotion. They punctuate their points with explosive words and gestures, but they are equally as effulgent in their make-up and passionate love. Kids come to understand the heart of their parents and are more influenced by their intentions than their rhetoric. A wife of a certain temperament can scream at her husband that she hates him, and the children hear her saying, “I love you so much, you exasperate me to the point I could kick you just before we make love again.” The kids know the outcome is going to be as always, Mom and Pop making up and saying they are sorry and that they didn’t mean it and melting in each other’s arms. Public fights should be resolved in public so the kids can see the process of how it is worked out and how forgiveness and understanding occurs.
So the worst thing you can do for your children is…plan on training them, but never get around to it.
I have seen other families where the parents were careful to never fight in front of the kids, but the children are able to see the tension and ill will building, and they observe it being taken into the bed room where they occasionally hear muffled but raised voices. The parents come out not speaking to each other, followed by hours or days of emotional distance. Now that kind of fighting is indeed harmful to the children. They are able to read the souls of their parents and they feel the bitterness and hate in every moment of silence and self-control. Bad example. Leaf blight. Rotting fruit.
The bad example extends to every area of life. Any discipline you want your children to have you must exemplify it yourself. You can set a bad example in criticizing others, in carelessness with money, unthankfulness, unkindness, laziness, irresponsibility, and more. Be what you want your children to be and you will be providing the best training possible.