25 Of The Worst Parenting Choices Moms And Dads Are Making Right Now (With No End In Sight)

by Karen Belz
Karen Belz has written for sites such as Bustle, HelloGiggles, Romper, and So Yummy. She's the mom of a sassy toddler and drinks an alarming amount of Sugar-Free Red Bull in order to keep up with her.

Parenting is really tough. I know that isn’t news, but when you’re surrounded by social media feeds that include flowery images of parents in a field with their well-behaved children?

Well, it’s easy to forget.

There are so many messy moments that cameras might catch, yet never post. That’s one of the reasons why the internet is a great place. If you’re wondering why your toddler might be screaming through dinner five days a week, you can probably find someone who’s also been through this phase. And if you’re looking for the best parenting choices, you can compare them with multiple lists of things parents should never do. Mostly spoken on Reddit by survivors of not-so-great parents.

It’s important to know that there’s not one particular way to parent. People are in all sorts of different situations in life. When kids are involved, we all need to do what we can to survive. That said, it can also be fulfilling to look at the people who, in your eyes, are “doing it wrong.” There are certain parenting trends and tips out there that might end up unnecessarily complicating your life. So, it’s important to know what’s inconvenient versus what’s totally bogus.

There’s a chance that you, yourself, had a moment where you questioned your parents’ parenting. That moment may have lived in your mind forever. It could even be something you’re too embarrassed to bring up today. Just remember — as a parent, your actions will have a lasting effect. Whatever they are, they’ll stick in your child’s mind.

Here are some of the worst parenting traits out there, along with ways to fix them. Whether or not you personally believe them is up to you.

1. Overloading their schedule.

It’s always important for your child to be pursuing a hobby. That’s the best way for kids to make friends (and for you to meet new people, too.) However, packing their schedules and expecting them to be perfect is almost like you’re asking for an eventual meltdown. What’s so bad with listening to your kids, and figuring out where their true interests lie?

2. Refusing to set boundaries.

Redditor DG4z noted that this, in particular, was a pet peeve. But still, it’s something that happens all the time. “I get empowering children by giving them a voice in decision-making and the freedom to speak their minds, but general social norms would be nice,” the commenter wrote. “Listening to 8-year-olds throw fits in public and being rude to family and strangers (at top volume) is not endearing in any way.”

3. Not treating your child like you would any other human.

When you talk to kids, you need to treat them like people. You shouldn’t talk down to them because they’re younger, or pretend that their thoughts are silly and just don’t matter. If you want to create a well-rounded adult, you’ll teach kids that they matter and they make a difference. Make them feel heard.

4. Being a complete mystery.

Your kid shouldn’t expect to know everything about you. But by keeping secrets, it’s almost like you’re living a double life. Let me honestly say why this method isn’t all that great. You never know what may happen. A tragedy can strike, and you’ll leave your kids never knowing the real you. Consider sharing more — they don’t need to know the details about your past relationships, but it’d be nice if they knew your favorite book or favorite song.

5. Not letting kids know that no means no.

It’s really hard not to buy your kids all the things they want, if you have the means to do so. But by resisting, and saying no, they’ll learn that they can’t get everything they want in life. “My sister in law tried this,” Redditor ImFriendsWithThatGuy said. “Wouldn’t let anyone tell her first kid ‘no.’ By time she had her second kid and the first one was 2 and a half, she was thanking me for telling the first kid ‘no’ when he was doing things wrong. He is 3 and a half now, never leaves his mom’s side, complains and screams about everything.”

6. Letting non-doctors answer medical concerns.

It has become really dangerous to seek medical advice over the internet. The people you’re talking to likely haven’t had any training on the topic — and if they did, they wouldn’t be offering it up to strangers on the internet for free. Parents need to read up on the importance of vaccinations, and also go to doctors they trust when their children are sick. Their next door neighbor might have advice on how they cured the issue 15 years ago, but their advice might cause a lot of harm — or even death.

7. Making team events about your ego instead of your kid.

It’s slightly embarrassing to see parents lose it at a child’s soccer game, but it happens all the time. Parents, remember that your child will be affected by your meltdown the most. Also, keep in mind that it’s only a game. There’s a good chance that there aren’t any soccer recruiters at your third grader’s tournament — but even if there were, surely a parent losing their cool is something they’d want to stay away from. Just be happy that your kid is having fun.

8. Choosing to be a "cool parent" over a parent.

Even if you, yourself, still don’t feel like an adult, you should act like one. “It’s a common notion that a parent who allows their teen to drink and do drugs and party is a ‘cool’ parent, but really it’s a parent’s job to protect their child, not encourage them to go out and try new things,” said Redditor leadabae.

9. Comparing your kids to others.

Every kid out there is different. Even if you’re a wonderful artist, it doesn’t mean that your child will have those same gifts. By comparing kids to others in the class, you’re putting both you and your child in an awkward position. They might not want to befriend the kid in question if they know you’re constantly going to compare them.

10. Punishing your child for crying.

This happens more often than you think. In fact, it’s possible you’re a victim to this. Emotions are natural, and it’s important for everyone to learn how to handle theirs. That might lead to some embarrassing outbursts at the time, but those will be something you’ll forget. Having a 30-year-old who fears conflict based on getting punished for being upset as a child is a much bigger concern.

11. Using scare tactics as a quick answer.

It might help solve the issue during the moment, but trying to scare your child into doing something will come at a heavy price. An example that Redditor hole_da_door used is, “If you don’t get to sleep, you will die! Child proceeds to have trouble sleeping because they’re scared of dying for not sleeping.” 

12. Downplaying their problems because they're kids.

They might not have to pay bills, but they still go through a lot of things that are important. They could have a bad day, or get a bad grade, or get in a fight with a friend. Their issues may be easier to solve, but that’s no reason to deny they exist. Never try to get into a “who had it harder” fight with your kid, since they’ll end up resenting you.

13. Not being a good role model.

Kids won’t take you seriously if you blatantly do the things you’re telling them not to do. It’s hard to be a model citizen, but for the sake of your child, you should at least try. Cut out the bad or destructive habits when they’re too young to remember, and remind yourself that you’re doing it for them.

14. Seeing your child as the younger version of you.

Moms, you may have given birth to them. And sure, there’s a lot of your genetics at play, but they’re their own person with their own style. “Up until 9th grade my mom wouldn’t let me cut my hair/change its style because she saw it as her hair,” Redditor SeattCat said. “Her logic: I came from her body, so my body is an extension of her body. Therefore, my hair is her hair. It was creepy and it looked terrible.” Pointing out your constant similarities on social media is also tough, as that’ll probably still be around when they’re old enough to have an account.

15. Assuming your child will never make mistakes.

Everyone makes mistakes — it’s all part of life. So if you find yourself uttering, “my child would never,” you may want to sit down for this. Even if your child is a wonderful soul, there’s always the possibility that your little darling got in trouble. It doesn’t mean the child is ruined forever, or a terrible kid — he just learned a life lesson by temporarily making the wrong choice.

16. Not putting on a brave face.

Back when you were a kid, you probably thought your parents were invincible. Instead, they were probably just faking it. As adults, we need to make sure our children have the confidence in themselves to solve any problem. We also need to make them feel like we’re in control of what’s happening in the world. Otherwise, we’ll raise fearful kids.

17. Refusing to acknowledge their love in public.

You might not be big into hugs and kisses, but that’s what some kids need to feel like you love them.  Redditor waterlilyrm responded to ksozay’s post with a real-life example of what withholding love can do. “Neither of my parents were affectionate people, well, they still aren’t, I suppose,” the Redditor wrote. “My ex-husband was even worse. It messed me up, so I find myself being a little startled when my BF just pulls me in for a hug when I’m not expecting it. But, I love it and I’m much better at giving affection because it’s pretty great. Sad that I had to live for so many years before I learned that.”

18. Scaring them away from trying something out.

Parents will always worry, no matter what. For me, I keep a strong eye on my toddler when we’re taking walks around the block, knowing that it’ll only take one butterfly across the road for her to run into the street. (At least, that’s what keep replaying in my mind.) As parents, we’ll always have a child’s best interests at heart. But by drowning out their desires with negative possibilities, you’re doing more harm than good.

19. Encouraging your child to steal.

An anonymous poster on Reddit shared a story regarding half-eaten apples. “In a grocery store, and I see a probably 5-year-old walk across the apple display, taking a bite out each apple on the bottom row, look around, then place the apple back with the bite out of view,” they wrote. “I stood there with my jaw dropped, waiting for her parents to do something. Finally, the woman saw me, looked at the kid and said ‘gasp Mija, no!!’ and promptly turned around and continued to let her do it.” Stealing grapes may be bad, but taking a bite out of each apple is definitely worse.

20. Expecting the community to babysit your kids while at an event.

When you refuse to acknowledge your child’s behavior in public, you’re ruining things for everyone. Parents need to forget about their cellphones when kids are getting rowdy and they need to discipline them. That’s the only way they’ll learn, and the community will be pretty thankful. They didn’t ask for this gig.

21. The parent who abuses their kid for no reason.

There’s no reason that anyone should ever abuse their child. Spanking is out of style these days, and for good reason. That said, this one mom got physical with their child for what they thought was a “mistake” at McDonald’s. Turns out, the kid was in the right. Regardless, being so quick to raise your hand at a child is a cause for alarm.

22. Using your child as a carseat.

Here’s a particularly weird situation. This one mom felt like the best way to discipline their child in public was to sit on them. Huh?

If you want to figure out whether or not your decision is right, just think — if your mom did that to you, would it cause more harm or actually teach you a lesson? Probably the former.

23. Not appreciating small gestures.

“A little girl walking with her Dad stopped to rummage through some dandelions,” one Redditor said. “The dad kept walking while she yelled at him to wait. She picked a dandelion and ran over to him to give it to him. He tossed it to the side and told her to ‘stop f***ing around.'” The poor kid thought she was just doing something nice.

Parents, try hard to embrace these sweet moments. They won’t last forever.

24. Negatively talking about others in front of their kids.

After a bad day, sometimes it’s hard not to be negative. However, if your child hears you badmouthing someone, they’ll think it’s perfectly acceptable. Try your hardest to see the positive in everyone and everything. That is, until your kid goes to sleep and you’re able to vent to your partner or friends about it.

25. Refusing to stop bad (or unsanitary) behavior.

Kids can be gross sometimes. Even adults can be gross. But anything involving licking and fast food counters should be reprimanded when it happens. It’s unsafe for both the child and the business. Plus, when parents don’t address these behaviors, they become normalized.