8 Signs of Bad Parenting That Every Parent Should Know
Are You a Bad Mother or Father to Your Child?
Have we not all heard that bad kids come from bad parents? There are several signs of bad parenting. To children, the actions of parents speak louder than words.
As a child's first teachers, parents are the first influence in his or her life. The child's attitude, views, goals, and perspective depend to a large extent on what he learns from his parents. What a child learns in the early years is known to leave a lasting impression, which is why good parenting is an absolute necessity.
Whenever a child makes a mistake or lacks manners, the blame is mostly put on the parents. Is bad parenting damaging your child? What makes a bad parent? Can good kids survive bad parenting? What are the signs and effects to look for? How can you be a better parent? I will try to answer these questions.
The 8 Signs of Bad Parenting
- Avoiding and Neglecting Your Child
- Physical or Verbal Abuse
- Setting a Bad Example
- Favoritism or Partiality
- Oppressive, Overbearing Authoritarianism
- Irresponsible Financial Attitude
- Too Much Pampering or Interfering
- Not Trusting the Child
Each of these issues is described fully below.
1. Avoiding and Neglecting Your Child
Neglecting your child physically or emotionally can affect him or her in an extremely negative manner. Child neglect is a very common type of child abuse, which can hurt as much as physical abuse.
Ignoring the needs of children, putting them in unsupervised or in dangerous situations, or making the child feel worthless can lead to low self-esteem and isolation. Many times this can affect the mental health or social development of the child and may even leave lifelong psychological scars.
Neglect can negatively effect children's cognition, emotion, behavior, motor development, language, and overall ability. According to The Lasting Impact of Neglect by Kiersten Wier, published by the American Psychological Association, neglect can lead to a long list of problems including low self-esteem, social withdrawal, poor impulse control, stealing, problems with coping and regulating emotions, and pathological behaviors like tics, tantrums, and self-harm. Neglect can also affect intellectual functioning and academic achievement. Those who don’t get the attention they need in childhood may later have difficulty maintaining healthy relationships, including those with their own children.
A child needs to feel loved and cherished. The effects of neglect can last a lifetime.
2. Physical or Verbal Abuse
Exposing a child to physical violence or verbal abuse can be very damaging to his or her psychology. Many children are victims of these types of abuse.
Many parents vent their frustrations at their children without realizing what sort of psychological damage they are inflicting. Even one spanking or slur, even a small bruise or remark can leave its mark. Such acts can lead to the child losing confidence and developing an inferiority complex.
According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, abuses like these can cause lifelong psychological, physical, behavioral, and economic problems and poor physical and mental health. Aside from observable signs of physical damage, the effects may last a lifetime and might manifest in depression and anxiety or in high-risk behaviors such as casual sex, self-harm, crime, chemical dependency, and other unhealthy, dangerous behaviors, including eating disorders, sleep issues, apathy and lethargy, hostility, and attention deficit disorders.
Punishment might be required when a child does something wrong, but when they are extensively punished for small matters, it may backfire. A child requires physical contact with the parent like hugs, kisses, and other signs of affection. If you yell at your child, call him or her names, or say that he or she is no good, the damage can be permanent.
3. Setting a Bad Example
There are many parents who do nothing to discourage bad behavior or manners in their kids and turn a blind eye to their behavior. As the saying goes, what you sow is what you reap.
If you are someone who shouts or uses bad words in front of children, then it is only natural that they will take after you. That may be why the children of smokers or drinkers or drug users are more likely to start experimenting with substances at a young age. Those parents are in no position to stop them, as they have the same bad habits.
Fighting or indulging in physical or verbal abuse in front of the child also is not a sign of a good parent. It is very important to offer a good example for the child to follow.
4. Favoritism or Partiality
When a parent makes it clear that they prefer one child over another, it can be very damaging, and those children are more likely to exhibit depression later in life. You might think that the preferred child would benefit from all that positive attention, but that's not what happens. Dr. Karl Pillemer, Ph.D. says, “It doesn’t matter whether you’re the chosen child or not, the perception of unequal treatment has damaging effects for all siblings.”
In many households, boys get preferential treatment, making the girl feel useless or neglected. Be it with education, food, or other essential requirements, girls often get less opportunities, beginning in their own homes. Many parents even have the habit of complaining to others about their own children. They grumble or complain about their child in front of others rather than communicating and parenting responsibly.
Parents who are overly critical and compare their child to others are also causing them damage.
5. Oppressive, Overbearing Authoritarianism
It is true that a parent usually knows what is best for his or her child, but often parents force their choices onto their children without considering their interests, intelligence level, or capacity. Many are very controlling and look to achieve their own unfulfilled dreams and ambitions through their children.
An authoritarian parent is one who demands constant obedience and uses threats, shame, and other punishments to enforce good behavior. Research suggests these oppressive tactics are toxic for kids.
When the child cannot live up to the expectations of the parent, it can be very de-motivating and disappointing for everyone. A child requires encouragement and motivation, but forcing them to be something that goes against their own nature can affect them adversely.
6. Irresponsible Financial Attitude
Many parents are not very wise with money and don't model healthy financial responsibility. While some cater to a child's every whim and fancy, others are excessively stingy. Some continuously overspend and live beyond their means, while others keep finances a secret and pretend like money doesn't matter.
Children whose every need is fulfilled may fail to realize the real value of money and may develop bad habits. Studies have shown that by 7 years old, most children have already formed the money habits they will carry into adulthood, so it's important to teach kids about money before then.
7. Too Much Pampering or Interfering
On the flip side of neglect, too much pampering or involvement can spoil the child by making them too demanding and dependent.
Many parents overprotect their children and interfere in their activities to such an extent that when they grow up, they are incapable of taking care of themselves and become anxious, incompetent, and incapable of making decisions.
8. Not Trusting the Child
Many parents believe others more than they believe their own children. Sometimes, they do not even allow their child to offer an explanation. Many have no faith in their children and de-motivate them with their words or actions. This sort of behavior can cause a child to rebel or do things they are not supposed to do.
Quiz: What Would a Bad Parent Do? Which of These Scenarios Are Examples of Bad Parenting?view quiz statistics
Can good kids survive bad parenting?
The effects of bad parenting run deep and long. Many kids lose self-esteem, develop bad habits, or feel inhibited for the rest of their lives, so take time out for children, teach them good manners, and correct them when they do wrong.
Many of us (including me) have suffered from the effects of bad parenting. I had a neglected childhood where I was forced to stay away from my parents and also suffered from favoritism. I am sure that there are many who suffered in childhood like I did, if not more, but it is up to us to turn that negative into a positive. What I suffered made me a much stronger person. It made me promise myself to do better and never let my children suffer the way I did.
Should I have kids and risk being a lousy parent?
The first thing a current or prospective parent should realize is that you cannot be perfect in all aspects. Humans are prone to making mistakes, but we have to learn from them, correct them, and not let them affect our children. Though it may not be possible to be a perfect parent, at least you can try to be a good one.
But what if I want to be a friend to my children?
When parents neglect to set rules and boundaries for their children, it is only natural for the kids to become brats or display unacceptable behavior. By being a friend instead of a parent, you do them a disservice. It is your choice if you want to be a positive role model or be a bad parent. Managing tantrums, mistakes, and mischief wisely can help your child become a good citizen.
I think I have covered all the major signs of bad parenting. Have I left anything? Feel free to add them by way of comments.
Questions & Answers
My stepdaughter married a guy with a son. She too has a son. Her husband has abandoned nurturing his own son, and is trying to be overly involved in hers. He never played sports, but is now taking every opportunity to coach. Our grandson is getting upset repeatedly, and his mom doesn't know what to do with her husband being so overly involved. We think he should focus on his son instead of taking control of his non-biological son. What do you think?
© 2010 Anamika S