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No one embarks on parenthood with the deliberate aim of becoming a “neglectful parent.” Nevertheless, our past experiences and current life circumstances as parents can greatly shape our daily interactions with our children. It is not uncommon for us to unknowingly engage in actions that unintentionally cause harm and leave enduring emotional scars.
A popular forum discussed signs of a bad parent; here are the top responses.
Note: this post is not meant to shame parents but rather provide valuable insight for reflection.
1. Using Your Child as a Therapist
One user writes that her mom would tell her some pretty heavy stuff about her childhood, even at six. Other users agreed and commented on how it affected their own ability to regulate their emotions and understand their place in the world.
2. Avoiding the Word “No”
One writer is confused about why some parents fear the word “no.” Sure, in some contexts, it’s better to redirect kids. But being told no is a reality that they will have to deal with at some point in their life.
3. Not Having Contact with Adult Children
Both parents and kids agree if a child doesn’t want to have anything to do with their parents as an adult- it’s probably the parent’s fault.
One writer says, “Yeah, it took me awhile to understand that me wanting to go no contact with my parents is a failure on their part. Not mine.”
4. Acting Like a Child is an Inconvenience
It can be heartbreaking to see a parent disregard their child- showing little interest in them and getting annoyed when they are inconvenienced.
One writer notes that this often can lead to violence to get the kid to “shut up” when they’re trying to get more attention.
5. Invalidating a Child’s Feelings
One user explains this perfectly: “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.”
6. Not Being Willing to Apologize
No one is perfect, and this is a great lesson for kids, particularly from their parents. When parents try to stay on their high horse, even when they’re clearly wrong, it can be damaging to their kids.
On the other hand, being able to apologize is huge for helping kids learn to navigate life purposefully.
7. Your Child is Afraid
No child should be afraid of the people who are supposed to be their caretakers- whether it’s mom, dad, or both.
A few writers said they were afraid of their dads as kids and didn’t realize it was weird until later in life.
8. Blowing Off Stressful Events
Sadly, when kids that are sexually abused finally confide in their parents about it- they are blown off and told not to make such as big deal out of it.
One writer said that her mom harshly said she “asked for it” when she was abused as a toddler.
9. Constant Yelling
Parents can sometimes get carried away in the heat of the moment (at which time they should apologize). But some users recall how they were yelled at for every trivial thing or for no reason at all because the parent was in a bad mood.
“Yelling at a kid is traumatic for the kid. Don’t do it. There are better ways to communicate than yelling,” said one.
10. Making Mean Comments
Some parents seem to hold a grudge against their kids for existing. One user writes, “saying things like “you’re such a disappointment” “I wish I had a daughter instead” “you ruined my and you’re mother’s sex life” this is stuff I heard for years.”
11. Zero Interest
Sadly, some kids can feel like a shadow in their own homes. Someone writes, “Zero interest in the kid. Doesn’t care what they do or what happens to them as long as they don’t inconvenience them.”
Of course, physical abuse is a sign of a terrible parent. If you worry about losing your temper around your kids, it’s best to seek medical help asap. Someone writes, “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.”
13. Do What I Say
Not allowing kids to make their own choices or forcing them to do certain activities because you think it’s good for them, or want to live vicariously through them, will always backfire at some point. It’s best to let kids make their own mistakes and learn how to navigate their decision-making skills.
14. Narcissistic Parenting
When are parent goes to great lengths to keep themselves comfort at the expense of their child, this is never a good sign.
15. High Anxiety
When there is constant tension, yelling, shaming, etc… this can lead to high anxiety for all high family members-including the offending parent and child.
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