Updated


The fact is, bad parenting styles do exist and have been with us forever, but before they give you sleepless nights, it is worth remembering that perfect parenting is marginally real. It is actually nonexistent! We all succumb to parenting howlers every now and then, but somehow weave our way around our mistakes to do the right thing.

Matters are also made worse, now that we have to contend with the protracted influence of technology, urbanization, and globalization. Today, parenting is centered around the ubiquitous tech gadgets in our homes, and the diverse cultural experiences brought upon us by the new world order!


Just a few signs of bad parenting styles to address

Certain fundamentals will always remain at the core of parenting, and our ability to embrace them fully, or partially will make or break our children. The demands are that we tweak parenting to suit the digital ecosystem in the 21st century!

We therefore have to watch out for negative parenting excesses mentioned below:


1. Poor Use of Technology

cell phone off the menu
Juggling between your cell phone and food is not a great idea. It is actually a bad parenting style!

The intrusion and reality of technology today demands that we twist parenting styles to co-exist with the emerging digital ecosystem. Suffice to say, we are challenged to harness the positives in technology while staying away from the extremes. Technology should facilitate productivity and enable better communication, and guidelines must be set to check the excesses.

To start with, technology should not get in the way of house chores such as laundry, homework, and other daily routines. Also true, cell phone use during mealtimes and over-indulgence in social media apps should be checked.

Parents are also challenged to learn and understand the emerging realities of technology abuse. The mom and dad of the 21st Century must know the consequences of technology to child health. They must also understand the related challenges brought about by addiction and figure out ways to have them under control.


2. Indifference in Parenting

This is perhaps one of the most damaging examples of bad parenting styles. When we choose to or deliberately allow everyone else but us to raise up our children, we cross all known parenting boundaries. Our children become exposed to ideas and behavior provided by volunteers, peers, and the general public, in a manner they deem fit.

The general public does not abide by any parenting guidelines and will unleash both positive and negative ideas and behavior. The latter usually takes precedence. Consequently, they indulge in negative excesses detrimental to their upbringing and wellbeing.

When we are indifferent, we are also disengaged, unconcerned, uninvolved, unsupportive, unresponsive and care little about the desires and the wellbeing of our children. We fail to praise, advise, admonish, correct or even punish them for the wrong they do.

To avoid indifference, we should do these with our children:

  • Listen
  • Admonish
  • Correct
  • Help
  • Love
  • Talk to them face to face

3. Lack of Affection

we should love our chidren all the way
We should go ahead and love our children amidst the challenges of the 21st century

We all live a busy lifestyle today that we easily forget the importance of emotional indulgence with our children. The hustle and bustle of life, the stresses, and other distractions easily take center stage, that we easily forget what is important in childhood emotional growth. Lack of emotional indulgence can lead to social disorder, selfishness, substance abuse, and of course a lack of empathy.

All children want constant emotional involvement and doses of warmth from parents. Positive warmth and affection also make children achieve academic excellence when they start the academic pathway. They are also less likely to adopt deviant behavior.

According to child Trends, a leading nonprofit organization involved in extensive child research,

Higher self-esteem, better parent-child communication, and fewer psychological and behavior problems have been linked to warmth and affection between parent and child.

Children feel loved when parents hug, compliment, thank, walk with and sit with them to read, and talk. Ultimately, they want to be told they are loved.


4. Lack of Empathy

Besides the need to be loved, children need parents to be aware and share the emotional challenges they go through when rebuked, corrected, or misunderstood, for whatever they have done wrong, or wronged by parents. There is no telling when you have wronged your child emotionally and need to tread with emotional intelligence.

Children who are helped to walk the correct emotional pathway develop a personality that is aware of how others feel. They will, therefore, respond appropriately by putting themselves in the shoes of others and therefore react appropriately.

Psychology Today puts it this way,

Empathizing with your children is feeling what they are feeling and acknowledging those feelings. It is the art of compassion and sensitivity, as well as the ability to give moral support in whatever they are experiencing. You do not have to agree with them but you are there for them. You put aside your own feelings and thoughts for the moment and tune in to their emotional needs to attempt to understand where they are coming from and why. Instead of citing rules or trying to give advice and direction, try this empathy exercise instead.

Lack of empathy on the part of parents degenerates to a bullying mentality and can facilitate the grooming of entitled children.


5. Poor Listening

It is interesting how ignorant we probably are about our poor listening skills. We are so eager to speak and command but less willing to listen. Even away from home, we listen in order to respond and not to understand the words we are told.

One symptom we are not listening to our children is when they repeatedly call us out, and for one reason or another, we are unresponsive because we are attending to other matters. Our attention is only drawn back to them when they scream out aloud. When a child yells ‘Daddy’ or ‘Mummy’, we must pay attention, look them in the eye, and partake in the communication. It does not matter where we are, with whom or whatever situation. We must lean over, listen, and attend to their excitement and worries.

The feeling that we are listening and care builds a healthy and emotional relationship with them.


6. The Anger Trap

Manage anger
We must manage the anger trap in us, especially in the presence of children

When we become overwhelmed with work, are fatigued and angry at everything around us, there is always the possibility we tend to yell and scream at our children. This is bad, and it gets worse if accompanied by swearing. Often times, younger children do not understand the wrong they have done. An angry tone will probably scare but not change them. They become fearful and associate less with us.

Angry parenting will only turn children into aggressive teens and adults. On the other hand, a warm and gentler tone is reassuring and makes them feel comfortable.

Parents who are very controlling when interacting with their infants may increase the likelihood that their babies tune in to angry voices, a new study shows.

When babies heard recordings of angry voices, an area of the brain involved in processing emotional vocalizations responded more sharply in infants with mothers and fathers who practiced more “directive” parenting, according to the study published in PLoS ONE.

Certain parenting behaviors may tune baby brains to angry tones

It is good to admonish, warn, and make it clear what went wrong and what should have been done right. This should be done in a friendly and warm tone.

It is an example of bad parenting styles when we always have to use an angry tone at children. If we must yell, which we all do, sometimes, it is important to sit back and reflect and try not to do it again. We must also make amends by apologizing and explaining that yelling is bad.


7. Lying is a Bad Parenting Style

lying is a sign of bad parenting styles
We should always speak the truth in the presence of children

Lying is an addictive sin many of us find hard to shed off. It probably stems from inherited habits, and because it is easy to lie to children for convenience. We usually tell white lies to protect them and hide the truth. For example, we claim Santa actually exists just to cement the cult figure of Santa and entrap them in the cycle of gifts and presents.

Many cultures will tell children they will receive money from rats every time they extract the milk teeth. When a rat ‘eats’ an extracted tooth, it is alleged, it leaves money behind for children. Often times, parents lie further by placing money under the pillow to cement the first lie.

We also believe white lies will protect the innocence in them against the harsh realities of the world. Whenever a child dislikes the birthday gift from a neighbor, whom we do not want to offend, we nudge them to report that the gift is actually wonderful!

As simple as these lies may appear, they are serious stuff. The trust and communication between the two sets of people receive a beating when children get to know the truth.


8. Child Comparison

Comparison is one of the not so much spoken ills in parenting. As simple as the habit may seem, it actually messes up the attitude children have with peers and their self-esteem. At a tender age, kids are not prepared mentally for negative criticism. They easily become emotional and therefore angry. Just as it hurts adults, they too take it badly and will nurse the hurt for long.

Important to remember is that no human, not even twins share the same characteristics to the dot. The differences may range from the obvious to the shocking. While the eldest child will excel in mathematical tasks in class, the younger sibling may find solace in art. These differences are children normal and should not be used for manipulative reasons. We should never berate and favor one child over another.

According to research by BYU in 2015, comparing makes them remarkably different. The continued perception will create a rivalry that will last a lifetime!

The research goes ahead to say

… to help all children succeed, parents should focus on recognizing the strengths of each of their children and be careful about vocally making comparisons in front of them.

Out of the many side-effects, comparison as an example of bad parenting styles may lead to

  • low self-esteem
  • self-doubt
  • aggressiveness
  • nervousness

9. Excess Pampering

Our desire as parents is to provide for our children in order to make their lives comfortable. This is a noble desire and of course, an obligation. Problems come in when we want to provide whatever they demand to the extent of spoiling them. This builds the spirit of materialism and the assumption that anything is available at the press of a button.

When availing stuff for children we need to consider a few things:

  • They will take everything for granted
  • We should never provide what a child can acquire through input at home
  • They should not be made to worship material things
  • The stuff we buy should not keep them busy all day, away from human interaction
  • We may be nurturing egoistic teens and adults if we over provide
  • The stuff we buy should not be used to compensate for our absence

Ultimately only shop for what is necessary.


10. Bad Role Models

indulging in execessesis a sign of bad parenting styles
Set a good example by becoming what you want your children to become

Whereas we want children to do as told, little do we know that our actions matter more to them than our words. They look at us as role models and will re-invent themselves in our footsteps when they grow up.

How we interact with others, use technology, eat, drink, drive and even walk will be wired deep into their DNA. Everything we do and speak in their presence is absorbed and stored in bulk for future use.

Below are habits children inherit from our bad parenting styles:

  • Alcoholism, especially when we become a nuisance at home
  • Smoking
  • Foul language
  • Bad manners and etiquette
  • Money; how we manage, borrowing and fighting over money
  • And all the other ills outlined above
  • Lack of empathy