Bad parenting is real and has been with us from the very beginning. It is reflected in parenting practices that are harmful, neglectful, or abusive to children. This type of parenting can have detrimental effects on children’s emotional, cognitive, and social development, leading to long-term consequences. Some of these may persist into adulthood.
On the flip side, however, – perfect parenting is an illusion – it is actually nonexistent! We all succumb to parenting howlers here and there, but somehow, find our feet again. We may not always excel in our nurturing endeavors, but somehow, we try.
While the arguments above hold water, times have changed, and the challenges in parenting have grown considerably in the 21st century!
The new century came pre-loaded with all kinds of parenting pitfalls and distractions! Parents today cope with the protracted influence of technology, urbanization, globalization, and human competitiveness.
Parenting is now centered around technology devices, congested living spaces, cramped environments, and diverse cultural realities.
All these mean our mistakes can only increase. This, therefore, calls for additional parenting input to achieve better results. Remember that each person’s journey is unique, and overcoming the effects of bad parenting may take time. Seeking help and support is not a sign of weakness but a step towards healing and personal growth.
Just a Few Signs of Bad Parenting Styles to Address:
All of us parents have the responsibility to churn the best parenting hacks to prevent additional mistakes. Equally true, certain fundamentals will always remain at the core of parenting, and the ability to embrace them or not will make or break our parenting roles.
We must therefore watch out for negative parenting excesses mentioned below:
1. Lack of Warmth & Affection
It is understandable that parents today are busier than ever before, in the quest to make ends meet. And coupled with new life challenges, increased social-economic competitiveness, and crowded living spaces, we find out quickly that we don’t have time to interact with our children.
We are detached and emotionally uninvolved. This comes at a price for the young children today.
Lack of emotional indulgence can lead to social disorders, selfishness, substance abuse, and of course apathy.
Without this, children are likely to grow up with insecurities, fears, lack of confidence and self-efficacy, emotional voids, and even mental health conditions such as panic disorder, depression, or bipolar disorder.PsychCentral
All children want parents to be involved emotionally and provide constant doses of warmth. Positive warmth and affection will make children more confident and less likely to adopt deviant behavior.
Higher self-esteem, improved academic performance, better parent-child communication, and fewer psychological and behavioral problems have been linked to this type of affection.spsp
Children feel loved when parents hug, compliment, thank, walk with, and sit with them to read and talk.
Only then can parents know the emotional challenges, bullying and other ills they go through when they are on their own.
Ultimately, they want to be told they are loved.
2. Indifference to Technology in the 21st Century
The unstoppable intrusion of technology today only illustrates how parenting must be tweaked to co-exist with the 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. This goes both to parents and children. No double standards here.
For example, allowing technology to take over in the following places is wrong if they take precedence over everything else.
- cell phone use during mealtimes and other core family activities
- over-indulgence in social media platforms
- technology in the bedroom
Ultimately, 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 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 understand and implement common digital guidelines.
Being indifferent to technology, is equivalent to disengagement, being uninvolved, unsupportive, and careless about tech realities in the 21st century.
Besides the need to be loved, children also need parents to be aware and share the emotional challenges they face every day.
They are always at a loss when rebuked, corrected, or misunderstood, for whatever they have done wrong, or wronged by parents. Many times, it is hard to tell when you have wronged your child emotionally. As such, there is a need to always 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 it:
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.
4. Poor Listening
It is interesting how poor we are all at listening, especially active listening. We are so eager to speak and command but less willing to listen. We listen in order to respond and not to understand the words children are trying to put across.
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 resort to screaming.
When a child yells ‘Daddy’ or ‘Mummy’, pay attention, look them in the eyes, and partake in the communication.
It does not matter where you are, with whom, and in what 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. It makes them feel we care and love them.
5. Falling for Anger & Violence Traps!
When we become overwhelmed with work, are fatigued, and of course angry at everything around us, there is always the tendency that we yell and scream at our children. Ultimately, we may resort to violence.
Oftentimes, the young angels are incapable of appreciating the challenges we go through, let alone understand what they have done wrong.
An angry tone is bound to scare and scathe your child’s confidence and emotional wellbeing. He or she will become fearful, connect less with you, and indulge in the same attitude.
Angry and violent parenting is known to turn children into aggressive and violent 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.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.
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 tell white lies to children.
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.
Parents cement this lie further by placing money under the pillow to justify 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
We should never berate and favor one child over another.
8. Unnecessary Pampering
Our desire as parents is to provide for our children in order to make their lives comfortable. Also called helicopter parenting, it is probably a noble desire and maybe a necessary evil.
Problems come in when we want to provide whatever they demand to the degree of spoiling them. This nurtures the spirit of entitlement, materialism, and ultimately arrogance when they grow up.
Children that are used to receiving will become entitled and may not learn to work. They will eventually become lazy adults! Those that nurture materialism grow up with apathy, and have little understanding of life without worldly possessions.
When availing stuff for children we need to consider the following:
- They will take everything for granted
- We should never provide what a child can acquire through input at home
- They should not 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 should not buy gifts to compensate for our absence
Ultimately only shop for what is necessary.
9. Indifference to Cultural & Religious Values & Realities
Religion and culture as a whole can influence child growth and life in more ways than one. And depending on the implementation, it can empower children positively and negatively.
Religion is critical 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 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 religious homes are less likely to get involved in heinous activities and crimes.
10. 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.
Children look up at us 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.
Also true, how we speak, and what we do 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
- foul language
- bad manners and etiquette
- money; how we manage, borrow, and use money
- selfish competitiveness
- lack of empathy
- and all the other ills described above
The repercussions of bad parenting styles can be far-reaching, affecting not only the child’s immediate well-being but also their future relationships, mental health, and overall life trajectory.
It is essential for parents to recognize the negative effects of authoritarian, permissive, neglectful, or overly controlling approaches, and instead, strive for a balanced and nurturing style that fosters a sense of security, autonomy, and emotional intelligence in their children.