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Last Updated: October 18, 2020

Bad parenting is real and has been with us forever, but it shouldn’t give you hours of sleepless nights. Consider this one thing – perfect parenting is marginally real – It is actually nonexistent! We all succumb to parenting howlers here and there, but somehow find our feet and do the right thing!

While the above is true, times have changed and parenting challenges have only gotten bigger and scary!

The 21st-century parent has to contend with the protracted influence of technology, urbanization, and globalization. Parenting is now centered around technology devices in our homes, which is compounded with congested living spaces and diverse cultural mashups.

Just a few signs of bad parenting styles to address

When all is said and done, the onus is on for every single parent to achieve the best parenting possible and avoid committing too many howlers.

Equally true, certain fundamentals will always remain at the core of parenting, and our ability to embrace them or not will make or break our children. Parenting must be tweaked to suit the digital ecosystem and the new cultural realities in the 21st century!

We must therefore watch out for negative parenting excesses mentioned below:

1. Indifference to parenting realities of the 21st century

The unstoppable intrusion of technology today only shows how parenting must be tweaked to co-exist with the emerging digital realities of the 21st century. Suffice to say, we are challenged to harness the positives in technology while watching out for unwanted negatives.

To start with, technology is dangerous enough if allowed to become the fulcrum upon which parenting rotates. For example, cell phone use during mealtimes and over-indulgence in social media apps is bad if they take precedence over everything else. Technology use is bad in places such as the bedroom, and indulgence must extend unchecked for hours.

Technology should not get in the way of house chores such as laundry, homework, and important interactions between family and friends.

Still, parents must learn to harness the positives and the intricacies of technology in order to remain relevant in the 21st century.

According to a UNICEF document,

it seems parents are increasingly using enabling forms of mediation such as sharing some online experiences with their children and guiding them in the use of privacy settings, advice services and critical evaluation of online content and behaviour

The mom and dad of the 21st Century must know how to implement as many digital guidelines and understand the consequences of negatives in technology.

When we are indifferent to technology, we are also disengaged, unconcerned, uninvolved, unsupportive, unresponsive, and care little about the desires and the wellbeing of our children who now are always online.

2. A lack of warmth and affection

Many parents today are so busy with work and life in general that they forget the importance of emotional indulgence with children. It is a big problem when the hustle and bustle of life, the stresses, and other distractions take center stage in parenting. Lack of emotional indulgence leads to social disorder, selfishness, substance abuse, and of course apathy.

having an emotionally unavailable parent or guardian can lead to a lifelong journey of unstable or failed relationships, emotional neediness, empty voids, identity confusion, poor attachment to others,  low self-esteem and self-efficacy (the feeling of mastery), etc.

All children want emotional involvement and constant doses of warmth from parents. Positive warmth and affection will make children more confident, and 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.

3. A lack of empathy

Besides the need to be loved, children also need parents to be aware and share the emotional challenges they go through day in day out. They always at a loss 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 therefore need to tread with emotional intelligence.

Children who are helped to walk the correct emotional pathway develop a personality that is conscious of the feeling of others.

This is how Psychology Today puts:

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.

4. Poor listening

It is interesting how poor we all are listening. 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 busy! Our attention is only drawn back to them when they have to scream.

When your child yells ‘Daddy’ or ‘Mummy’, pay attention, look them in the eye, and partake in the communication. It does not matter where you are, with whom and in whatever situation. 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 children.

5. The anger trap

When we become overwhelmed with work, are fatigued and angry at everything around us, there is always the possibility we will yell and scream at our children. Often times, young children are incapable of appreciating the challenges we go through, let alone what they have done wrong.

An angry tone will probably scare but not change your child. They will become fearful, connect less with you, and worse still indulge in the same attitude. Angry parenting will only turn children into aggressive teens and adults.

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.

6. The lying parent

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 sometimes 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.

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.

7. 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 their self-esteem. At a tender age, kids are not prepared mentally for negative criticism when compared with siblings.

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 normal and should not be used for manipulative reasons.

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, comparison as an example of bad parenting may lead to

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

We should never berate and favor one child over another.

8. 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 nurtures the spirit of materialism and entitlement.

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.

9. Bad role models

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

10. Indifference to religious values

Religion can influence family life in more ways than one. And depending on the implementation, it can empower children positively and negatively.

Religion is a critical factor in raising children that are upright, purposeful, and have mutual respect for one another. Even better, religion brings up children who feel they have a purpose in life and responsibility to family and society.

Adult children who attended religious services more frequently were significantly more likely to provide assistance to parents, and they reported higher quality relationships and more frequent contact with both their fathers and mothers.

Religion and Ties Between Adult Children and Their Parents

While it is true that extreme religious parents usually translate to controlling and strict parents, a total lack of it translates to purposeless parents. A little or more of spiritualism in children is important in opening their eyes to the ugly realities of the world.

In addition, they learn values that can help them distinguish between right and wrong, and develop a heightened sense of respect for human life and values.

Children raised in true children religious homes are also less likely to get involved in heinous activities and crimes.