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The University of Southampton

The top five parenting regrets

Published: 22 May 2013

Dr Angharad Rudkin shares her expertise, as a Child Clinical Psychologist at the University of Southampton, on the top five regrets cited by parents featured in The Guardian. The article is repeated below in full.

1 Spending too little time with your children
You're not just spending time with them – you're laying foundations that help them feel important and valued. Even a short amount of time every day, when you are completely with your children, can work wonders to make them feel other people are interested in them. No amount of presents or DVDs can make up for this. Remember, them wanting to spend intense time with you is for a brief period of your lives. Make the most of it.

2 Not prioritising their needs
Work out your needs and theirs and prioritise theirs as much as you can. For example, you really want your child to learn the violin but he/she really doesn't want to. Do you put what you want first or listen to what the child wants? With some things, such as school work, they have to do it. With other things, think about if it's for them or you.

3 Sweating the small stuff
Does it really matter if they say please and thank you every time? If they don't brush their teeth occasionally? I hear parents say, I wish I hadn't shouted at them to hurry up and put their shoes on, or eaten their broccoli, when it wasn't really important."

4 Taking short cuts
Parents often use short-term strategies to deal with situations, like hitting their children or threatening them or sending them to their rooms, without working through the underlying reasons. These work for a while but when the children get bigger and can answer back, won't go to their rooms, or can hit back, parents start to wish they had taken a longer view.

5 Feeling guilt
Guilt is a crushing emotion. Some parents feel so guilty at having been at work all week that they they have high expectations of their children/themselves that can't be met so they over compensate. Guilt reduces creativity and confidence. Lower your expectations and be kind to yourself. Stop thinking about what you haven't done and live in the moment.

  • Dr Angharad Rudkin is a clinical psychologist who works with families (

This article was followed up by an interview on Radio Merseyside.

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