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The first thing that should be gone over when discussing signs of bad parenting is the actual parenting styles. Many parents aren’t just one style but a mix of up to all 4 distinct styles.

What are the 4 parenting styles?

AUTHORITARIAN OR DISCIPLINARIAN

  • Strict discipline with little negotiation, punishment is common.
  • Communication is a one way street- from parent to child. Rules will not be explained.
  • Less nurturing.
  • Expectations are high with limited flexibility.

PERMISSIVE PARENTING

  • Permissive of Indulgent- Opposite of strict. They usually don’t have rules and let their kids figure things out on their own.
  • Communication is open but they let the children decide for themselves rather than giving direction.
  • Warm and nurturing.
  • Expectations are minimal or not set.

UNINVOLVED PARENTING 

  • No particular discipline style is utilized. They mostly let the child do what they want.
  • Limited communication.
  • Offers little nurturing.
  • Few or no expectations of their children.

AUTHORITATIVE PARENTING

  • Disciplinary rules are clear and the reasons for them are explained.
  • Communication is frequent and appropriate to the child’s level of understanding.
  • Nurturing.
  • Expectations and goals are high but clearly stated. The child has input in the goals.

Sometimes when I read these, a wave of shame washes over me. I know at times I’m too Authoritarian. I know at times I’m too Permissive or Uninvolved.

I can see it but I think the most important thing for us, as parents, is to keep subjecting ourselves to this type of information so we can learn from our mistakes and keep moving forward!

Please don’t read this list and think “oh my god, I’m a bad parent!” My goal is for you to have your eyes opened in a positive way that leads you to better parenting skills.

Because you are here, reading this list, I already know you’re one hell of a good parent. Because it’s the ones who worry if they aren’t doing a good job that ARE doing a good job.

1. Avoiding/Neglecting

Neglecting your child doesn’t just mean physically. It can mean emotionally and financially as well.

Do you pretty much leave your child to as they please, never worrying about what they’re doing or if they’re getting enough healthy food or watching too much TV?

2. Physical or Verbal Abuse

Do you hit your child, threaten to hit them or call them names? Or resort to crazy threats at the drop of a hat?

3. Setting a Bad Example

What examples are you setting for your kids? EVERYTHING you do has some sort of impact on them. Do you smoke cigarettes but expect them not to? Blow up in furious anger, throw things and scream but expect them not to?

It’s up to us as parents to set a good example for our kids. Sometimes I look at this as being so damn unfair. Not only do I have to keep them healthy, fed, ALIVE but I also have to step it up and model what I want them to be like? I’m exhausted and I just wanna be a grump!

Other times I look at this as a huge blessing. You mean, it’s up to ME to show my kids how to be kind, kick ass citizens? Like, shit yeah. I got this.

It’s not always easy to look at it as a blessing but I find that if you can spin it that way, it makes it a heck of a lot easier to model those good behaviours.

4. No Trust

Do you question everything your child does and always jump to the worst conclusion?

This doesn’t set them up to grow into confident human beings. It sets them up to always suspect the worst about THEMSELVES.

Give them the benefit of the doubt. Treat your children as if they are the kindest, wisest beings on the planet. And that’s what they will grow up to be.

5. Too Much Pampering

We all know a parent like this. One who does EVERYTHING for their kids, even when those kids should have long since learned to get their own glass of water or get dressed by themselves. One who buys everything they possibly can for their child or gives in to every single demand.

This is not helping your child to learn their own way in the world. It actually kills self-confidence because they don’t have opportunities to be proud of themselves for doing something on their own. And getting every single thing you want your whole childhood sets you up to expect that as an adult.

And although we are in control of getting what we want, it’s a good life lesson to learn that some things you need to work hard for- and that’s okay.

6. Reprimanding Excessively

Do you reprimand your child multiple times for the same mistake? This is especially damaging if your child came forward and told the truth for a mistake they made.

I am totally guilty of doing this at times. You get really mad, reprimand and then bring it up again later. This isn’t helpful to your child.

Imagine if someone kept doing that to you. You messed up, got in trouble, said sorry but then they kept bringing it up throughout the day. It’s not helpful to anyone.

7. Withholding Affection

When you don’t give your child hugs often or say ‘I love you,’ it can cause an emotional disconnect.

If you aren’t familiar with the 5 Languages of Love, I highly suggest reading this version that is specifically for kids love languages. It will open your eyes and help you gain an intensely deep understanding of what your child needs from you to thrive. And you might be surprised what that is! Everyone’s love language is different.

These are the 5 love languages:

  • Words of affirmation– using words to build your child up.
  • Gifts– a gift says that you were thinking about your child.
  • Acts of service– doing something for your child that you know they would like. (Like cleaning their room for them as a surprise, cooking their favorite meal.)
  • Quality time– giving your child your undivided attention.
  • Physical touch– hugs, a shoulder squeeze, a kiss.

8. Comparing Your Child

Do you compare your child to another sibling or other kids? Comparison NEVER works, all it will do is make your child feel awful. It will not motivate them to do better. Never compare your child! Every child is so different.

Comparison doesn’t work because it’s based on preconceived notions about your child. Maybe your child isn’t walking yet but their cousin who is the same age, is.

Because their cousin is walking, you think your child ‘should’ be walking. But why? Because of their age? Or because there was someone else to compare them to?

Every child learns differently, feels things differently, is motivated differently. Do your child a favor and embrace what they are rather than what you think they should be.

9. Having Expectations That Are Too High

Having expectations that are too high for your child can set them up for a lifetime of feeling like a failure. It’s important to HAVE expectations because that shows your child you care and respect them enough to expect them to do well in the world. But having expectations that they should only get into an Ivy League School or play sports only if they become the number one player on the team- really isn’t healthy, especially if they can’t make it.

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Sometimes reading through signs of bad parenting makes me feel like a failure. I can see myself in certain situations where I know I’m not doing a great job.

But I think it’s SERIOUSLY important that our kids DON’T just see us being perfect and doing a great job. Because if they don’t see us losing our cool or not handling things well, they also don’t see us being human and apologizing for those not so great moments.

Those are great life lessons for your children- to see you hit your wall (because you are only human) and then apologize and own up to your shit. Because that’s how they will learn to do the same when they go out into the world.

Do you have any words of encouragement for other parents reading the comments? We’d love to hear from!

Are you looking for other positive parenting ideas?