It's Okay To Judge Bad Parenting

It's Okay To Judge Bad Parenting

"You should never judge anyone's parenting decisions." - I have been hearing and seeing this a lot now that I am a parent, and it seems almost everyone agrees with this statement, but as someone who was raised with what most would consider a bad parenting style, I have to disagree. 

  • Some parents beat their children and think that is an acceptable parenting method. 
  • Some parents cuss, yell, scream at their children, and think that is an acceptable parenting method.
  • Some parents do everything for their children and never give them a chance to learn on their own and think this is an okay parenting method.
  • Some parents let their children do whatever they want and think this is an okay parenting method. 

See where I'm going with this? Most of the things I listed are what the majority would call bad parenting styles. If saying someone's method is "bad" is judging them, then yes, I judge because there are bad methods. Not all methods are good. Not all parenting is good.

I think a lot of people struggle with this because when someone disagrees with your parenting decision, you feel attacked and take it personally, rather than as a chance to learn and grow. Plus the parents are most likely sharing what punishment they used in order to validate that what they did to their child was okay, so when they get backlash, it just makes them feel worse. I also think those who do point out the bad parenting method, don't always do so in the nicest way, and you can't really give advice to someone who isn't looking for it. 

It also doesn't help that we often don't have the full story, but I question whether that is necessary in some cases. If you see a mom hitting her kid, do you really need to know why she is doing it to consider it bad parenting? Isn't hitting bad in general? Or you see a dad shouting cuss words at his child. Do you really need the whole story before considering that bad parenting?

I do believe all children are different and need different approaches, but shouldn't that be more of a reason to be more open to receiving advice from others, especially when we know the method we are using is on the extreme side, "a last resort" option? 

I commonly hear "I tried everything else and it didn't work." When the truth is you tried everything you knew before turning to the extreme. You didn't seek outside opinions first or look for other methods elsewhere. We often turn to the methods that were used on us, which aren't always the best. As a society with so many depressed adults, we should have already realized by now that past parenting styles weren't the greatest.

So when I see a mom screaming at her kid in the grocery store, I am going to judge. I am going to judge her actions. I get children are difficult and I understand the mom is just having a bad day. She is probably a good mom, but she made a bad parenting decision. I know nothing I say will help and I so long to give the child a hug and tell them it's okay as I was that child once. Adults can have the worst tantrums, but it's likely because they were never allowed to feel when they were a child and weren't taught how to regulate or express their emotions in a safe way.

I get we aren't perfect. I sometimes slip up and yell at my daughter. I regret it afterward and apologize right away. That doesn't make me a bad mom, but I am not afraid to admit I made a bad decision, that I used a bad parenting method, that I could have chosen a better option. 

I think saying there is no such thing as bad parenting is harmful. It justifies a person's poor parenting decision. It makes them think, "hey this method is okay because there is no such thing as bad parenting," and unfortunately, this can potentially lead to harming your child either physically or emotionally. 

Now I'm not saying to go out there and attack others for their bad parenting decisions. You can't give someone advice unless they ask for it. However, if someone does come to you and decides to open up or "brag" about their decision, then I feel you can at least say you didn't agree and why.

With the internet, so many narcissists post about how proud they are that they punished their kid and post it to the world to see, and I will always comment on those to let them know that what they did could have potentially harmed their child. They may not be asking for advice (they are more likely seeking validation), but if it's a public post I feel it is free to post your opinion. A lot of people will be reading the comments, so I like to think I may have caught the attention of a reader and spared some children from harm.

That being said, you should never brag about punishing your child on social media. This is publicly shaming them, which is a form of bullying. It is basically talking about someone behind their back. 

I believe the majority of us are good parents, we just sometimes make bad decisions, and we need to be able to own up to our own bad parenting so we can look for gentler and better methods. If we want a world with less depression, anxiety, eating disorders, etc, then we need to aim to be better than our parents. We should aim for better than "fine" for our children.

What are your thoughts? Feel free to share them in the comments!

Fatherly also did a post for the 7 times they believed it was okay to judge parents. While I agree with their points, I don't think you should ever judge the person. Let's focus more so on the decision. There are no bad people, just people who made bad decisions.