There are a few topics out there that pretty much everyone seems to have strong opinions on. Politics. Religion. And… parenting! Your ideas on how you think it’s best to raise your kids say quite a lot about who you are as a person and what your values are. There are different approaches to parenting, and it can be extremely difficult to figure out what’s best for a specific family. However, when it comes to red flags and things to avoid doing, it’s pretty much clear to most people when a parent has royally messed up. Though, often, it’s far easier to realize when someone else has made a mistake than when you’ve done the same. And it’s easy to underestimate the importance of active listening, patience, support, and consistency.
Redditor u/ViForYourAttention went viral after asking the r/AskReddit online community about the behaviors that practically scream that someone is a bad parent. These internet users held nothing back and shared their honest, unfiltered opinions with everyone else. They revealed what they think are the biggest parenting red flags and unacceptable behavior that should be stopped immediately. Scroll down to read their thoughts below.
Bored Panda reached out to redditor u/ViForYourAttention, the person who created the viral thread. They were kind enough to share their thoughts on good and bad parenting, the role that narcissism plays, and how people can become more aware that they might be making mistakes raising their kids.
“I think we all have experiences with some form of bad parenting, whether we’ve personally experienced it in varying severity, or we’ve seen it from a distance in public. The post quickly became a place where people would make a prompt for what they thought would constitute a bad parent, and others would jump at the opportunity to respond with their own personal stories,” the OP shared with us. Read on for the full interview.
The author of the viral thread, u/ViForYourAttention, revealed to Bored Panda the inspiration behind the question. “I posted the question the early morning of Christmas Day, so that also might have affected how personal this question became, given that this was a time where people were becoming more reflective of their relationships with their family members,” they explained why the thread might have resonated with so many people on Reddit.
The idea for the question arose when the redditor started thinking about the same things most of us have considered once or twice (or, frankly, a dozen times) before: what if we won’t end up being good parents?
“I had a discussion with my sister a day before I posted the question about having children in the future, and I expressed a common fear/concern: what if I turn out to be a bad parent? What if I don’t even know if I’m a bad parent? This made me think about how everyone has a different standard for bad parenting,” they said that some people see bad parents as those who use corporal punishment; meanwhile, others actually embrace the idea.
“I became curious how everyone else’s standards would compare to my own, so I decided to throw the question out there without any expectation that it would gain so much attention,” the redditor told us.
According to redditor u/ViForYourAttention, bad parents share “similar narcissistic tendencies that leech over into their treatment of their children.”
“Someone in the comments reposted ‘The Narcissist’s Prayer’ that floats around Reddit where it goes: That didn’t happen. And if it did, it wasn’t that bad. And if it was, that’s not a big deal. And if it is, that’s not my fault. And if it was, I didn’t mean it. And if I did, you deserved it,” they shared how the ‘prayer’ goes.
“One of the ways to solve this type of maladaptive behavior is to actively listen without speaking for a short period of time. This prevents the parent from being able to deflect blame, project insecurities, or downplay their children’s feelings. It’s also a way for them to realize their disillusionment with their parenting, where their perception of how well they think they’re doing is not translating in reality,” the redditor shared some great advice on how bad parents can begin to become more self-aware of their behavior and what they can do to change it.
“I recognize that this is a limited, idealistic idea to combat a serious problem, and I believe a lot of bad parents remain ignorant to the effects of their actions, even when their children completely cut ties with them.”
On the flip side, a good parent is someone who provides balance and stability. “They encourage and respect their children, but they set boundaries and adhere to the same rules/expectations they hold their children to. Qualities that help to foster a positive relationship include: patience, active listening, [being] supportive and consistent.”
Redditor u/ViForYourAttention opened up to Bored Panda that they were surprised by the number of people who were calling themselves bad parents.
“There was one story that stuck out to me where a father was extremely disappointed in himself for yelling at his child after a minor inconvenience. It reminded me that while the action may have been inappropriate, the father had enough self awareness to realize he acted unfairly and reflected on what he did with regret, which isn’t something a bad parent would feel,” they said.
“Good parenting is not perfect parenting. It’s about adapting to change as the children grow up and making effective adjustments to maintain a positive and healthy relationship.”
The author’s thread got a ton of internet users’ attention. At the time of writing, u/ViForYourAttention’s post had gotten over 43.4k upvotes, Meanwhile, various redditors thought that the question was so important that they gave the OP a whole bunch of awards for broaching the topic in the first place.
Parents who can’t apologize to a child. It’s ok to have human emotions and moment to be triggered or struggling and lash out or be wrong but for the love of all things good APOLOGIZE AND CHANGE.
The infantilization of their children. Wanting them to stay helpless babies forever because they don’t want them to grow up.
I’m a nanny and it seems like a growing trend.
It’s one thing to engage is some infantile behavior or spoil your children a little. It’s another thing to bend to every whim and not make your kids uncomfortable. Example with some kids I’m currently dealing with, NOT POTTY TRAINING THEM.
The sad reality is that many of the people reading through the thread could relate to these thoughts on bad parenting—there are far too many redditors who had to deal with neglect or even abuse firsthand.
There are four different types of neglect. According to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, these range from physical and educational neglect to emotional and medical neglect.
Physical neglect is often the most obvious to spot from an outsider’s perspective. This happens when a parent fails to maintain their child’s most basic needs like providing them with food, clothing, shelter, and keeping them safe. Meanwhile, it’s also a parent’s responsibility to give their kids an education.
Emotional neglect can be more difficult to spot. The NSPCC explains that this is the consequence of not providing children with the nurture and stimulation that they need. “This could be through ignoring, humiliating, intimidating, or isolating them,” they note.
Finally, medical neglect means that a child isn’t given proper health care. This can mean anything from ignoring recommendations given by medical professionals to avoiding giving children dental care.
The BHSCP notes that spotting actual neglect can be difficult because a single sign doesn’t automatically mean that a parent is being neglectful. You have to look for multiple signs over a longer period of time.
Some potential signs of neglect might include inappropriate or dirty clothing, hunger, being unkempt, being absent from school very frequently, health problems, poor language or social skills, and sudden changes in behavior.
However, there is a large gap between neglect and simply being… imperfect and making small mistakes from time to time. As long as you have enough self-awareness to recognize when you’ve made a mistake, you can avoid small mistakes turning into big ones.
It’s vital to remember that there is no such thing as a perfect parent. There’s a lot of external pressure to do well. And many new parents can find themselves overwhelmed. They’re struggling. They’re feeling like they’re clueless about everything. However, at times like this, it’s absolutely essential to remember that you are not alone.
Triangulation. After divorce, one of our parents immediately weaponized our relationship against the other. I’m 32 and still unweaving all of the details in my brain.
I volunteer at/ have had student placements at a children’s hospital and we’ve had patients with serious brain injuries due to abuse (shaking, attempted drowning, etc.). So yeah I’d say those parents are pretty bad
Practically every parent feels like they’re dealing with challenges that others aren’t. However, the truth of the matter is that everyone’s pretty much facing the same issues. Just because someone looks like they’ve got it all together doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily the case—appearances aren’t everything. So long as you’re doing your best and changing your approach when you mess up probably means that you’re doing enough.
Though if you feel like you’re struggling with parenting, you may want to consider reaching out to a therapist. Asking for professional help is not a weakness.
Invalidating your child’s feelings, struggles, and/or mental illness in favor of “you don’t know what struggling *really* is” or some form of “back in my day” or “you kids are so weak”.
You have just robbed your child of support, told them their feelings do not matter, and informed them that you are not a safe person to confide in.
Thinking that small children are just selfish tiny adults.
Your kid isn’t asking for stuff because they are selfish (mostly-we’re excluding their occasional manipulative tendenices). They are doing it because they are 5. Don’t be a d**k to your kid because they are asking for support/help/food.
Not believing in telling your children “no”
The world will and *should* tell them “no” at times. They need to be prepared for that reality, or they will be an absolute menace to everyone around them.
Remember: The opposite of love isn’t hate. It’s indifference.
If you see kids being neglected, or ignored, or not cared about _at all_, that’s a good indication that their parent/s aren’t good
Recording your child while they’re having a meltdown/tantrum and posting it on social media (for likes, clout, assurance or whatnots, no idea what they’re thinking)
Instead of helping them to regulate their emotions and understand what causes the emotion, how to deal with it, and that there are appropriate ways to communicate your feelings
S**t names. Your child has to live with the name all their life. Don’t call them Bobby or Timmy as their legal name, it’s not cute anymore when they’re older than 5. Don’t call them Keighleigh or s**t like that because it’s “extra creative and my child is extra special”. And don’t call them Khaleesi, because Game of Thrones is only your hobby, not the one of your kid.
Food Shaming, that’s a slide into an ED and lifelong Trauma. You can usually immediately tell if a child comes from a household like that or not
“Do this and that”
“Because I say so”
If you don’t explain your kids the why of doing things then you treat them like little servants and they grow up either submissive or rebel but never good.
Forcing your kids to do sports. I’d argue wrestlers were the worst as a lot of parents would deride their kids for daring to eat while forcing them into practice sessions that’d result in excessive vomiting, lacerations and cauliflower ear, even when the coaches voiced concerns the students were putting in too much.
In any case, it was often clear the parents were just trying to relive their glory high school years, vicariously through their own children. Same thing happens with football and other sports, but I’d argue they’re not quite as physically abusive.
People freaking out at their children for making a small mistake. Extra points if it was a totally genuine mistake like accident breaking a glass.
Determining your child’s worth through success (grades, awards, career, how much money the child makes in their job as adult) and pitting them against their siblings and comparing them to other children.