Bad Parenting Verses Good Parenting

Updated on December 19, 2016
sholland10 profile image

Susan is the last of 8 children, has raised 2 children, and has spent 26 years teaching high school kids. She grew up with a strong mother.

Parenting a child requires great commitment, love, patience, and a backbone to discipline. It is not an easy job, but it is the most rewarding job.

Most parents do some things right and do some things wrong. We usually learn a lot with our oldest and feel much better with the youngest, but there is no denying that each child is different and must be dealt with on an individual basis.

We want our children to grow up to become descent, productive members of society.

Good parents must guide them and discipline them along the way, so children’s experience growing up is filled with learning for success and the knowledge that their parents are going to be there to love, support, and advise them. Good parents understand the different ways to discipline a child appropriately. They understand that behavior with children comes in stages, and are able to deal with each stage effectively.

Bad parents give into their children and don’t step up when their children need them the most.

Do Not Negotiate with Your Young Child

Babies and toddlers are born wild. An outrageous statement? No, they are born to do what they are guided or not guided to do. If you do not take your role as a responsible parent, you are going to have major problems. You must be strong, and you must give them guidance. It is a difficult task.

When a child is doing something wrong, the parent must let them know on the child's level that it is wrong. I have seen parents negotiate with a child: "If you stop doing this, I will give you that." WHAT? A reward to get your child to stop misbehaving? When was the last time you saw an adult receive a reward for stopping an action that was wrong. I haven't heard any judge say, "Oh, if you stop robbing banks, I will give you some money."

Parents should not confuse children by negotiating with them when they are little. Children need to know the black and white of right and wrong when they are little. Trust me, when they get older, they will learn about the gray areas. When they learn the gray areas, they will either argue because they expect you to negotiate and want to wear you down, or they will possibly argue then listen to your advice on how to handle those situations that are unclear.

You must show your child that you are the parent, and he or she must mind you. Establishing your authority through love and discipline is what they need.


Teaching Toddlers

Toddlers will test their limits with you. Sometimes it is down right funny, even the things that are wrong. For instance, your toddler has picked up a curse word: "I don't want the 'damn’ thing," she yells. Oh my gosh, this little beautiful girl just said "damn." It was pretty stinking funny to hear that word come out of her mouth. What do you do? Laugh? Tell her to say it again? Tell her to shut up? Smack her mouth? Put a bar of soap in her mouth?

Even if we think something our kids do is funny, yet we know it is inappropriate, we should not laugh. In the case of the bad language, the parent should, on a toddler’s level, ask, “Where did you hear that word?” She heard it from an older sibling or an adult, etc. “That is not a nice word, and ‘your big sister’ was wrong when she said it in front of you. If you hear her say it, you need to tell her it is a bad word.” The toddler usually understands this type of talk. They understand you are asking for their help in ridding the world of bad words when you ask them to tell another person that “damn” is not a nice word. You also need to express to the toddler that she cannot say the word again, or you will have to wash her mouth out with soap. I am not talking the Lava scene from “A Christmas Story”; just a dab of soap on your finger to her mouth. It taste terrible, the toddler will know there is a consequence, and hopefully you will not have to worry about being in church and the toddler yelling, “Would you give me the ‘damn’ thing?”

There are always going to be times when you feel like crawling in a hole when your toddler does something shocking or that reflects poorly on your home life (you will laugh about it later), but letting them know there is a consequence at their level will help prevent this type of behavior.


Discipline by Spanking Does Not Mean Beating

Many disagree with a spanking or a swat. It is not cruel. It is not teaching your kids it is all right to hit others. Sometimes it is the only way to startle a child out of doing something destructive or harmful to himself or to others. For instance, if your son goes over and, without any reason, hits his sister with a stick leaving a big, red welt. Telling him, “You shouldn’t do that” is not enough to persuade him he did something wrong. There needs to be a consequence. He sees his sister is crying, he sees you are upset, but these things do not register. You have to tell him what he did wrong in a stern tone and give him a swat on the leg. Not a swat that leaves a mark, but one that has a little sting and lets him know that there are bad consequences for bad actions. Most times it hurts his feelings more than his bottom or leg. That is usually when, as a parent, you want to cave in because his shaking bottom lip and sad eyes nearly do you in... Be strong. He loves you, and the spanking shows him he does not want to disappoint you again.

Spanking should be used sparingly and never with anger. Many people will disagree with this form of discipline. That is fine. Spanking teaches them they cannot hurt others without a similar consequence. It usually only takes a few spankings during their toddler years to teach them about the connection of bad actions to bad consequences.

Know When to Say "No"

Do you know parents who just can't say, "No," to their kids? They are doing irreparable damage. When a child receives approval for everything: "Oh, isn't that cute that he is tearing the stuffing out of Aunt Sissy's new pillows," or "Oh, he is throwing a fit in the middle of JC Penney. Everyone understands and won't mind listening to his blood curdling screams. He’s just a toddler," etc. - the child is not going to grow into an acceptable member of society, and the parent who allows their child’s disruptive behavior is a fool for not disciplining and saying, "No, you cannot do that; it is not acceptable." The child goes through life from baby to adult thinking the world revolves around him.

It doesn't matter if your child gets mad at you for saying, "No." It is your responsibility to teach the child. Do not think for one minute that people in public are lauding your parenting skills as a "patient, suffering parent," when you have the power to do something about it. Commit yourself to having the backbone to discipline the child.


Parenting Takes a Strong Person

If you want to be a good parent:

  • you must balance love and discipline
  • you must have the strength to make tough decisions
  • you cannot let your child wear you down
  • you need to stay calm during the heat of the moment (walk away if you cannot do this)
  • you must convey what is right and what is wrong in a reasonable way

If you want good children who are going to be good members of society, you must start raising them with consequences that fit the action, whether it is positive or negative. If you want a child that is dependent on you and who no one else can stand being around, always let the child have their way and indulge them all their life.

Raising children is not about being "politically correct." You are investing in the future. Use your time well because it goes by quickly. Make an impact in your child's life. They will love you for it.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

  • Is bad to shout at your children all the time?

    I would have to say yes. With my kids, a look was enough to let them know they were in trouble. If you are calm, your kids will eventually be calm. Remember, they learn from your actions, and you have to decide what you want to be normal in your family. Good Luck!

© 2012 Susan Holland


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    • sholland10 profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Holland 

      22 months ago from Southwest Missouri

      Bless you! You have overcome your harsh childhood, learned from it, and became the parent your children need. Thank you for sharing your experience. I pray all who have had to deal with abuse can be as strong as you.

    • profile image

      Lina Inverse 

      22 months ago

      I grew up with a mother with narcissistic personality disorder and a workaholic father. There was emotional, physical and sexual abuse in my family. Guess what there is no perfect family nor parent or child or even human. Upon my maturity I lost my ability to bury my pain. I laid on a couch in a depressive stupor in a friend's home for a year. I learned to move past my trauma, it took years to learn to forgive the frailty of my parents and see them as flawed humans with their own tragedies. I now can see that they are both struggling so deeply with their own pain their kids never stood a chance. I'm a mother of two wonderful, unique and bright little souls. When my temper pot youngest child physically tries to beat her older sister and scratch or bite or spit in your face. I swat her padded diaper wearing two year old butt. I have tried "positive parenting" some children have a will too strong for it. My nephew is running his positive/permissive parents into the ground. A trend I see way to often to bode well for society. Any swat in our home is followed up with a hug when the childs temper cools and conversation on behavior and consequences. This is not the go to or even often occurance. My children are happy, carefree, confident and respectful. Spanking is not abusive when done as described by this author. Frankly I'm sick of the debate some kids will never need a swat their parents are lucky. It's harder to raise a strong willed emotionally intelligent individual testing their own power. I know the difference between abusing my adored children and loving them enough to be the disciplinarian when called for. My life already taught me what real abuse looks like.

    • sholland10 profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Holland 

      2 years ago from Southwest Missouri

      Spanking is not child abuse.

      My husband and I are in our 50's, and we were spanked. Neither of us have had a mental breakdown. Our children are in their mid-20's and 30's, and they have happy homes and families. They are productive members of society, and well-rounded people with common sense morals and values. All of us have high self-esteem and have self-confidence.

      We never spanked out of anger or to humiliate our children, nor were we spanked in that way. A spanking is to teach a child not to do things that really will hurt them, and the spanking itself is just a discipline, not an abuse.

      I teach high school, and I see kids whose parents make them feel entitled and who are enablers. These are the kids who are aggressive and who will resort to any means possible to get their way. I have also seen kids who come from real abuse - physical, mental, and sexual. I do not promote any of these things, and you are confusing the differences when saying that a spanking promotes child abuse. There are major differences in the parents' motivations. My motivations were for discipline because of love, and it is extremely hard to carry through. My children are great adults because of the love and discipline they received.

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      hitting your child is wrong.

      you advise hitting but only for it to sting and not leave a mark.

      the mark it will leave is one of humiliation, lower their self esteem and confidence, they will develop aggressive behaviour, resort to harsh tactics to get their own way.

      Stop promoting child abuse!

      when people say I was spanked it never hurt me are those that haven't yet had the mental breakdown because of it, that is yet to come at age 30, 40 or 50. Be sure it will come.

    • sholland10 profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Holland 

      2 years ago from Southwest Missouri

      My adult children come home and want to be with us. They have strong work ethic and healthy personalities. Parenting and tough love are hard, but the outcome is worth it. We raised our kids by doing what we believed was best for them, and now they are independent adults.

      No, a spanking is not a beating, nor is it abuse. I am sorry you feel you had a bad experience with your parents. Try to think of how strong it has made you rather than focusing on the bad experience.

      My mother was much harsher than I or my husband was, but it built character, made me stronger, and gave me a foundation for how I wanted and didn't want to raise my children. I took the good and the bad and learned from it. I loved my mother, respected her, at times feared her and her whippish tongue, and I know she did the best she could as a single mom. We all have issues, but we can't overcome them until we own them and forgive.

      Thank you for dropping by! Take Care!

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      How can you say that you love your children, yet you hit them? Any form of violence- this includes spankings- is physical abuse. Also many of the things in this article could be considered emotional abuse. My parents were similar to you, only worse, and I'm traumatised from living with them. I can't think about them wothput crying. I can't watch shows that they liked or listen to music that they liked without wanting to lull myself because everything reminds me of them. Do you want your kids to end up like me? I don't think so.

    • sholland10 profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Holland 

      8 years ago from Southwest Missouri

      Hi Denise! I think some parents of small children don't want to discipline their children because the little tykes are so darn cute, which they are. BUT, if they do not start discipline and teaching respect early, there will be problems later and all that cuteness will turn to spoil. You are so right about clear expectations - they must be there in order for the child to understand.

      So glad you dropped by! Thanks for the votes! :-)

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Excellent advice here, Susan. I just had this conversation with a friend about 'kids' now and the overall lack of respect in all areas: school, teachers, adults in public places, is sad and sickening. We chatted about how it has deteriorated and feel that too often parents are not clear with their expectations and then allow the child to 'run the show' at an early age.

      Voted up/U/A

    • sholland10 profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Holland 

      8 years ago from Southwest Missouri

      Thanks, Audra! I agree that spanking is not cruel as long as it is not done out of anger or spite. I don't feel like I was abused from the spankings I earned. LOL

      Thanks for dropping by and voting! :-)

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Hey there! I am not a parent, but was raised by a good Mom! Spanking is not cruel, it is necessary at times. Well written! Voted up!!!

    • sholland10 profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Holland 

      8 years ago from Southwest Missouri

      Thanks, PinkChic! :-)

    • Pinkchic18 profile image

      Sarah Carlsley 

      8 years ago from Minnesota

      Great tips here.

    • sholland10 profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Holland 

      8 years ago from Southwest Missouri

      I agree, Sukena.

    • sholland10 profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Holland 

      8 years ago from Southwest Missouri

      Stugod, I am sorry you had a bad experience with your father. It is good that you learned what not to do. I am glad it wasn't abusive and hope you have a good relationship with him today.

      Thanks for dropping by! :-)

    • sholland10 profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Holland 

      8 years ago from Southwest Missouri

      Hi Alocsin! Not negotiating is one of my most difficult obstacles. If you do negotiate though, you pretty much are sending the signal that you can be moved to their way in any situation. It also leads to one argument after another. My kids always knew when they had crossed the line because rather than negotiating or arguing back with them, I would clam up letting them know my decision was made and nothing they could say or do would change it.

      Thanks for dropping by and the votes! :-)

    • sholland10 profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Holland 

      8 years ago from Southwest Missouri


      Thanks for the beautiful poem. Children are our blessings. :-)


    • sholland10 profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Holland 

      8 years ago from Southwest Missouri

      Ruchira, I am sure you are more than qualified to be disciplined to stick to the rules you set. Sometimes it is hard, but you just have to push on through. Thanks so much for dropping by! :-)

    • profile image 

      8 years ago from Asia

      Keep in mind "Children learn what they live"

    • stugod profile image

      Stuart Goddard 

      8 years ago from Bradford

      My experience with my father was very bad parenting, But it also made me committed to not making the same mistakes. By the way it was not abusive in any way.

    • alocsin profile image

      Aurelio Locsin 

      8 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I like your first guideline best of all -- not negotiating with the child. It's a great way to set clear boundaries and let them know that you're not their friend but their parent and should be listened to. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 

      8 years ago from Western NC

      I love this! I agree. My own mom did a lot of the stuff you explain here in your hub. I turned out all right. :) Thank you for sharing this. I know many parents who can't say "no" and guess what? I don't like being around their unruly children so much. The parents who lovingly discipline their children and set firm boundaries, to me, are the most successful and have children that aren't tyrants.

    • sunkentreasure profile image


      8 years ago from RUIMSIG, SOUTH AFRICA


      Bless your children with the power of prayer

      Celebrate their uniqueness

      Feed them encouragement and inspiration

      and let them feel they are greatly loved.

      Teach your children the beauty of kindness

      Enrich them with the wonders of nature

      Fill their hearts with joyful melody

      and always be their friend.

      Clothe your children in goodness

      Make their world full of nice surprises

      Help them to follow their dreams

      and thank God they came into your life.

      © Bernard Levine

    • Ruchira profile image


      8 years ago from United States

      Love the tips sholland. Parenting is so tough ESP when one becomes a parent. I used to preach all this before I became a parent and now think twice 'cause I hope n pray that I am disciplined to follow that path.

      Voted up as awesome n sharing.

    • sholland10 profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Holland 

      8 years ago from Southwest Missouri

      Hi Debbie, yes, firm and consistent are keys in teaching our children. If we don't, those "horrible and undisciplined" kids are going to grow up thinking something is owed to them or that they can get away with anything. I would much rather be firm and consistent when they are young, so I can enjoy them when they are older.

      Thanks for dropping by, voting, and sharing! :-)

    • debbie roberts profile image

      Debbie Roberts 

      8 years ago from Greece

      Hi sholland10, this is a really good hub and I agree with it entirely.

      I totally agree that there is a big difference between beating a child and giving a slight smack, it could be the difference between a badly burned child and a child who learns not to touch things that they shouldn't.

      We have the responsibility of teaching and guiding our children and that can only be done if we are firm and consistent. A horrible and undisciplined child is not a pleasure to be around, it's nice to see children well behaved and with manners and that is down to the parents setting boundaries.

      I love the hub, voted up and shared.


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