One online community member recently asked, “What screams ‘I’m a bad parent?'” Here are some of the responses:
12. Weaponizing Relationships
When a parent uses the child’s attachment to others as a weapon against the child. In an online forum one user said “After divorce, one of our parents immediately weaponized our relationship against the other. I’m 32 and still unweaving all of the details in my brain.”
11. Ignoring Their Opinions or Experiences
When a parent ignores mental health red flags and refuses to help or get help for the child. Or when I parent ignores a confidence that a child brings to them that might be dangerous to the child, like abuse allegations.
10. Never Apologizing
Everyone should learn to apologize when they are wrong to whoever they offend; it doesn’t matter if the person is older than them or decades younger than them. It doesn’t matter if, as a parent, you think you deserve nothing but respect and total submission from your child.
When you find it hard to say sorry to your child when you have blatantly offended them, it is a sign to seek help before you ruin your relationship with your child.
9. Using Children as Pawns in Divorce or Separation
Here’s one thing you want to avoid doing for obvious (or not-so-obvious, since you’re here) reasons. Using your children as pawns might seem harmless until you realize the psychological toll it takes on the child. It doesn’t matter if your partner won’t talk to you or if you hope to influence their decisions; keep your kids out of it and find a way to settle the issues between you both.
8. Telling Others Your Children’s Secrets
This is a total breach of parent-child confidentiality. Still, it exists. Some people feel comfortable telling other adults their children’s secrets (because they are just kids), even disclosing sensitive details to strangers.
There may be no bigger indicator that you are a toxic parent, and your child may never be able to trust you again once they learn what you’ve done. The bigger problem you may create as a parent is that they may never be able to trust anyone again.
7. Using Your Child As a Therapist
Especially when they are too young to have an idea or proffer solutions about your relationship. Telling your child everything in your life and marriage and running to them for therapy might seem okay, but it is not. Visit an actual therapist if you must, and try not to place such a burden on a young child’s shoulders.
6. Blaming Your Mistakes and Regrets On Your Kids
Someone shares, “My mother had not intended to get pregnant with me, and yet here I am. Almost every day of my life, I heard that ‘I wasn’t planned, I was unwanted, I ruined my parent’s life.'”
That is plain abuse, and, needless to say, any form of abuse is the worst thing to do to your child. Ask yourself if you’re angry at them or yourself; if you blame them or yourself. Then, of course, seek help.
5. Making Your Child Believe They Are Not Good Enough
You should be your child’s biggest cheerleader, and this one is not up for debate. It also doesn’t mean you shouldn’t correct them when you notice them going astray; you should. However, they should never feel they are not good enough. If there is even the slightest indication that your child feels this way, it’s time to take a step back and right your wrongs.
4. Never Thinking You’re a Bad Parent
Ironic, isn’t it? But at the end of the day, we’re all humans prone to mistakes and being wrong. You may think yourself the perfect parent, but if your child thinks differently — and has good reason to — you have a long ways to go. Consider having open, vulnerable conversations with your children sometimes to know you’re both on the same track.
3. When Your Child Is Afraid of You
How do you feel knowing that your child fears you? Powerful? In control? Respected? If you answered yes to any of those, you may need some help. While not every adult can form close relationships with children, fear is the last thing your child should feel at the sight of you or the mention of your name.
2. Zero Interest In the Kid
This one garnered many reactions and is one of the top indicators that you are a toxic parent. Some parents don’t care where their children are, what they do, or who they’re with as long as they don’t inconvenience them. In the long run, your child may become irresponsible, overly independent, or have worse psychological baggage.
1. Yelling At the Kids Always
Even some adults can’t handle being yelled at; how much more a child? When dealing with kids, keep your anger and tone in check, or seek professional help if you can’t. Children should be treated with care and should never adopt a toxic trait because an adult was too negligent in taking care of it.
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