Parenting is different for everyone.
What’s bad? What’s good? What’s acceptable?
There’s a very fine line between good parenting and bad parenting. It is important to frequently evaluate our actions and think for what’s best for everyone.
It might be likely that we aren’t aware that some of our habits can hurt and leave lasting impressions on our kids. This can affect them when they become adults.
Children need help and encouragement as they grow up so our job is to make sure we build them up – not tear them down.
1. Not letting kids experience failure.
Parents often forget that in order to really learn something, you must first fail, and there are those who would rather shield their kids from failure, but instead of helping, it hinders the kids from knowing how life works.
As another commenter adds, “I have several students who shut down as soon as they feel challenged because they’ve never failed before.
They’d rather memorize content and regurgitate it instead of think critically and problem solve. The one thing each of these kids has in common is a parent who does everything for them.”
2. Embarrassing your children in public.
Okay, let’s get this straight. There’s a difference between mild teasing and downright embarrassing your kids.
Good-natured “teasing” should never be done to the point of getting your child upset and in tears.
A commenter shares this experience: “My mom was especially cruel- she would literally former us if we ever showed interest in anything.
I really enjoyed drawing as a child until one day she grabbed the binder I kept all my art in and started making fun of it. And she wouldn’t stop or give it back even when I was screaming and crying.
Finally I grabbed it back and took it to the yard and burned it so she couldn’t see it again. I never drew again after that.”
3. Public humiliation as a form of discipline.
Aaand this is much worse.
Public humiliation, done in the guise of disciplining children, will get you on the fast track to becoming the worst parent of the year. Or maybe ever.
The only thing it accomplishes is hurting your child and planting a seed of rebellion and resentment in her. The only lesson it teaches is how to hide things and how to not get caught.
One commenter adds this anecdote: “There was a video floating around a few years back where a father shot his teenage daughter’s cell phone because she had a boyfriend that he didn’t approve of and in the comments there were a lot of back-slapping and high-fiving for the father but honestly, what lesson is it teaching the daughter?
It seemed to be more about hurting and humiliating her into compliance rather than about anything else.”
4. Making threats/promises and not following through.
This is the same as making promises and not keeping them.
If you’re all bark and no bite, you’re effectively removing all your credibility and authority as a parent. You’re also sending your child the message that you’re not to be trusted.
Like one commenter shares. “My dad did this to me a lot as a kid, and as I got older I just stopped taking anything he said seriously. Still waiting on that halloween party from when I was 13.
5. Expecting the child to fulfil parental responsibility.
A commenter interestingly calls this “emotional incest,” which sounds really inappropriate but accurate, if you think about it.
Basically, it means expecting your kids or one of them to step up to the role of being the mother/wife or father/dad in the family.
Here’s what another commenter has to say about this, um, phenomenon: “I always say I’m my mom’s therapist first, friend second, and daughter third, and it’s mostly true. Shit drives me crazy enough that I avoid her a lot.”
6. Not respecting your kids’ privacy.
I didn’t know I was blessed to have grown up in a home where privacy was valued because, apparently, in many homes, privacy is not a right!
Parents, your kids are individuals; they’re human beings, too. If you value your own privacy, give them theirs, too.
A commenter shares this experience: “When I was a kid, I locked my bedroom door once and my mom literally took my door off the hinges and put it in the attic for a month because ‘privacy is a privilege in this house.’ My ass.”
(The TV thing is important, too! Talk to your kids, people!)
7. Not giving time to teach your children proper social skills.
It’s good to raise your children understanding the value of education; however, don’t forget to teach them the other important aspects of life either.
So many kids (and adults!) don’t know how to talk to other people, much less deal with them.
Here’s a story from a commenter: “I didn’t learn how to speak to non-family people until grade 6, didn’t learn how to smile correctly until grade 10 (did that thing you do at the dentist’s, literally like some cartoon character), and didn’t learn how to get good at small talk and making friends fast until now.
I’ve been to exactly 1 sleepover and attended (including my own) fewer than 5 birthday parties in my life because we don’t do celebrations.”
8. Comparing your kids to other kids.
Telling your kids that other kids are being better at this daughter/son thing never, ever works.
Doing this damages their self-esteem extremely.
This includes comparing one child to another sibling — or to you!
As one commenter recalls, “My dad constantly used my best friend (and neighbor) as my comparison. ‘Why can’t you be more like Danielle? She does x, y, z, without being told!’ Well, because Danielle’s parents are a firefighter who’s never home, and a lasik tech who pops pills to stay asleep… who the fuck else is taking care of their home and the youngest girl?”
9. Underestimating your child’s intellectual capacity.
It is good to adhere to the standard path of development; however, don’t assume that your child can’t do better or can’t follow a different path.
Children are actually much more capable than what we give them credit for, so don’t limit them!
Like one commenter says, “My mother used to be an assistant at an elementary school library (pre-k all the way to 5th grade) where only 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders were allowed to check out chapter books.If kids were in any grade below that, no matter how good they could read, even if they wanted to check out something simple like Junie B Jones, the head librarian would tell them no. My mom hated that rule. There are tons of kids who can read simple chapter books from as early as kindergarten, and some even start reading stuff like the first Harry Potter by 2nd grade. Telling them no is basically discouraging them from challenging themselves.”
10. Using food as reward.
Don’t get me wrong; I give my children the occasional treat. But rewarding is not a common occurrence in our household and my children do not expect to be given food as a reward — or a bribe. This not only is unhealthy but also promotes the wrong idea about food.
This commenter agrees: “I needed to kind of stop my husband and I from doing this. My daughter would fall and cry and we’d distract her by offering a cookie. I’ve always been heavy so I had to ask that we try and distract her in different ways because I don’t want her to associate her upset feelings with food. That’s how you get an eating disorder.”
11. Not talking about financial matters/money with your kid.
This is really important. There are so many kids graduating from college without any single idea how to use money properly. If this is not being taught at school, consider it your possibility to educate your children about finances.
A commenter relates to this and shares their story: “My parents were really good about teaching me to save. As a kid I had to “buy” a lot of my own toys with my allowance which required saving my money over several weeks/months, that kind of thing. My boyfriends parents are horrible with money and he was horrible with it too for a while. I’ve helped teach him some good habits and he’s doing much better. But case in point his car died recently (which he was anticipating) and when he told his parents he had $5k saved up to get a different car, they asked him, “How did you learn to save like that?” And his answer was that I helped him learn, but I didn’t meet him until his mid-twenties…they should have taught him that a long time ago.”
12. Not saying “NO.”
If you’re going to helicopter-parent and shelter your child by giving in to his every whim all the time, you will certainly succeed in making a spoiled brat (and a potential douchebag) out of him. Assert your authority as the parent and learn to say “no.”
This commenter, who happens to be a nanny, recalls this incident: “I’m a nanny for a family with one young child (under 2), and the mom was insistent that the child never be told “no” because of how negative that word is and how it could stunt her confidence or some such fuckery. You want to know what happens when you don’t say “no” to a little kid? They have absolutely no boundaries and lose their mind when you actually do have to say no to something. I’ve ignored nanny mom’s “no saying no” rule, because I’m not going to contribute to raising a spoiled brat. I can tell my charge “no” and she doesn’t melt down (because she’s used to it with me), but if nanny mom tries to dissuade her child from something (like wanting mom’s cup of coffee), the kid throws a tantrum until mom gives in. Yes- she was drinking coffee at 14 months. She also sliced her finger open the other night because mom didn’t want to upset her trying to take away an aluminium can she grabbed from the recycling.”
13. Letting your children treat you like a “friend”:
When your children are growing up, it is very crucial that they see you, their parent, as a person of authority and not as a mere “friend.”
While it is also important to share a bond with your children, you still need to make sure that the element of respect is there. In other words, there should be a healthy balance.
As one commenter shares, “Never thought I would see the day a 7 year old cuss and hit their mother. Another one yells at his and runs off leaving the rest of us to search the area for him…”
14. Doing everything for your kid.
Hovering over little children, making sure they don’t do anything hurtful or, God forbid, fatal, is one thing. Doing things your children should be able to do by themselves is another.
You’re just setting them up for a life filled with a false sense of entitlement and frustration.
One commenter relates to this: “My future stepdaughter is so sheltered and coddled that she had no idea how to turn on the water to take a shower, or how to pour herself a bowl of cereal. I was dumbfounded… Ten [years old]. It truly boggles my mind.”
15. Assuming that you are always right just because you’re the parent.
Being a parent is not equal to being perfect and all-knowing.
We still make mistakes (a lot, if we’re honest!), and if we mess up, we should be mature enough to own up to them. Insisting that we’re always right, even when we’re not, and not admitting defeat are nothing but damaging to relationships.
And this goes beyond random arguments at home. One commenter raises a very important point about parents acknowledging that they do make mistakes: “Parents will sometimes be wrong: they’ll miss a product recall or they’ll forget a fire hazard. Sooner or later that type of mistake will really matter. If they’ve spent years demonstrating that reasoning and evidence are irrelevant then they’ve trained their children to remain silent even if the young people recognize the hazard.”