The Bad Parent

Last day of school!

I’m the Mom, that upon noticing her son has left his laptop in the minivan, will turn around and drive all the way back to school to deliver it to him.

I’m not into teaching ‘lessons’ by letting him struggle during his story writing time by forcing him to put pencil to paper instead of typing, and I’m not into that whole ‘well he forget his lunch so he should just starve, that’ll teach him!’ school of parenting.

By some, this makes me a bad parent.

I also happily let my kids into our bed for almost any reason. We were, after all, co-sleepers for most of their lives and this is where they find comfort and peace. Nightmare? Come on in. Noises? Crawl on next to me. Bad day? A snuggle is just what the doctor ordered.

By some, this makes me a bad parent.

I want to be a safe harbor for my children, not someone they fear. I want them to know they can COUNT on me and their father, that we will always be there when they need us.

I triple check my son’s head after he scrapes it in the pool. Demand ice just in case.

I don’t take my eyes off my daughter when she’s in the middle of a riding lesson, reminding her to keep her heels down. Giving her other instructions when I see her slacking a bit, fearing her lack of concentration will lead to a fall.

The idea that they will learn not to do something…be it by hitting their head in the pool or falling off a horse…is absurd to me. Who wouldn’t learn that way? But more importantly how many other ways can we teach our children the ‘right’ way without allowing them to feel pain or get injured.

Again, by some, this makes me a bad parent. I’m not allowing them to experience certain things on their own, so they can discover on their own what not to do.

I call bullshit.

Why let them discover something I can easily teach them? Why allow them to have so much as a scrape when I can stop it from happening? I’ve heard things like ‘It’s good for them! Makes them tough! And independent! Builds character!’

Trust me. My daughter is plenty independent and she didn’t need to reach up to a burning stove to feel heat to know it. My son has plenty of character and knows exactly who he is and what he wants to be without having learned ‘the hard way’ what happens when he forgets something- absent-minded like his Dad, always so smart and focused to the point of missing some minor details around them.

No, I’m just not that kind of parent. It’s not how I operate and it’s not what I find acceptable when it comes to rearing trusting, sweet, and smart little ones.

For one, they deserve my best…and for another, they are intelligent people who deserve my respect. I’m here to teach them and protect them, not to rule over them so they cower when I enter a room.

So I guess that means they won’t go without lunch and they won’t be afraid to crawl into our bed when the thunder booms…and if that makes me a bad parent, then I’m happy to be the worst the world has ever seen.


  1. Amen. The important part is that you’re doing what feels best to you, and you’re not hurting them. People need to keep their parenting nazism to themselves.

  2. You’re not a bad parent at all. You’re an awesome parent!! You just have a different parenting style than other parents 🙂

    Kids learn lessons in all sorts of ways. And just as you are not a bad parent, the parents out there like mine…that made me accountable for every single action I did or did not do…are not bad parents either. Just different 🙂

    The one time in my life I used what my parents considered to be a cuss word “damn” at the age of 13 got me a mouthful of Dial soap. The big yellow bar. I can still taste it. And that’s the last time I said damn (in front of my parents) until I graduated from high school.

  3. Everyone parents differently. Parenting with intention and love is what’s important.

  4. I was not a co-sleeper so I’ve been the bad parent since the start because of this. Despite the fact that I breast fed both kids and had virtually no sleep for 4 years.

    I drop many things and run items to the high school. This will only happen on my days I had high hopes of getting things done at home. it’s frustrating and seems like it happens all the time. But alas, I can remember almost all times I did it last year so it can’t be that much, it’s just the timing.

    I know my parents were always there for me and I can’t even imagine how many times I must have left stuff at home. I’m sure I went without because I didn’t have a phone I could text my mom and ask her to bring it in so my grade wasn’t docked. I’m happy that I have the chance to run back to the school to drop off lunch, assignments, PE uniforms or other stupid stuff.

    I am sad for those that are unable to do so because of time or logistics. There are times I have to say no and it’s not easy.

    Some will call me a bad parent for “catering” to my kids… I say look in the mirror and see who you are calling a bad parent. It’s not me pointing fingers.

  5. I completely respect your perspective and admire the generous spirit with which you approach your parenting. You know what your kids need. If your kids need shelter to grow and flourish. Give it to them.

    My kids seem to function best when left to their individual resources. They find support in me when they need it. But they’ve also learned there’s a village around them, filled with awesome people to learn from and to go when they need help.

    In the end, I think we’re both proud of the people our children are becoming and we should have the faith and confidence to know we’re doing it the best way we know how.

    And, as for anyone who wants to call you (or me) bad parents for our respective parenting styles? Screw ’em. Let them mess up their own kids. 🙂

  6. I am happy to be a bad parent if it means teaching my children. My children are plenty independent and I see it as my job to be there to teach and guide them. Are their times they need/want/demand to figure things out by themselves? Yes. In those instances I step back and watch and listen–I’m there when they ask for help.

    Our bed is also open–they come in when they need to–it doesn’t happen often–but I too want them to know we are always there for them. Nice to know I’m not the only “bad parent” around and that I’m in such good company.

  7. The co-sleeping thing always cracks me up when folks act like we are spoiling our kids. We still co-sleep with our kids (ages 4 and 5) and have no plans to stop. How can snuggling in for the night with my kid be a bad thing??

    So, if all the things you mentioned make us bad parents? I’d rather be a bad parent. And I am 100% with you in that I don’t want my kids to be afraid of me. Discipline can be meted out without scare tactics.

  8. I can’t imagine how anyone thinks not taking a kids lunch to them is helpful. Sigh. maybe I’ll adopt the “bad mom” thing too. 🙂

  9. Uhm. Everybody has a different style, but two points:

    1. The lunch thing. If the family drill is the “pre-flight checklist” as the kids are loading up to get in the car, and then again before you start off, and the 5th grader STILL forgets his lunch….I’m not so motivated to drive back to school.

    2. Uhm. As a former riding teacher, I really really wanted my students paying attention first to what their horse is doing, then to what I am saying, and not having an ear out to respond to what the mom might say…especially if the moms weren’t accomplished horsepeople themselves.

  10. hit post too soon….

    Even for the very littlest riders, their attention should be on the horse and the teacher/coach.

  11. this doesn’t make you a bad parent. Aren’t we supposed to be there to teach and guide and nurture. I’m all about having them learn their lesson but why let there be a potential to harm themselves in the process.

  12. I must be a bad parent too if this is the criteria. Pardon my way of thinking but when they are young, like ours are, I prefer to let them feel loved and safe. They have their whole lives to be adults and learn from mistakes. Until they are older though, I’m ok with extra snuggles at night and them knowing that their Mama has their backs. If they feel safe, when it’s time and they are ready, they will fly, knowing there is a net to catch them should they fall.

  13. Yes, everyone has their own style and no, you are not a bad parent. It’s obvious. But please don’t judge those who choose to parent differently than you. I know lots of parents who use discipline without breaking the bonds of love with their kids. The kids don’t cower from them. Just the opposite, actually.

  14. Lupus be damned, woman. You can still get under my skin 🙂 I was thinking about your post today. My girls are 23 and 33. I raised them alone. I disciplined very much in the style you distain. My daughters are good. They love each other and they love and respect me. Two weekends ago, my baby girl jumped in my arms in the swimming pool and put her arms around neck and told me I was her best friend. And really, that’s all the affirmation I will ever need.

    Now I feel better. And, btw, I never looked down on those who did it / do it different that me.

    AND if someone is picking on your parenting skills, I suggest you just look at that picture up there, keep calm and carry on!

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