Are Most of Us “Bad Parents?”

It’s ndaafyfsei
official: Imperfect parents are the next proud, new minority to come out of the closet. Or, rather, out of the toy chest – the one NOT filled with Swedish, hardwood, hand-lathed toys. The one filled with games missing cards, Barbies missing hair and educational toys missing batteries because (sorry, kid)  they were just so LOUD!
What does the duck say?

Nothing! Not one single quack. Mute piggy, too! Mute chick! Moo-less cow!

And what does the parent say?


In an article meriting front page status in the Wall Street Journal (, reporter Ellen Gamerman writes about a bumper crop of new books and websites by parents confessing their kiddie crimes, from using paper towels instead of diapers, to letting the dog clean up the baby vomit in the way only dogs can. (Good dog!)

The stories are great and the interest is greater. The online magazine Babble gets 1.8 million visitors a month — a number that tripled, according to the article, when the site began its “Bad Parent” column ( ). Truu Mom Confessions ( is popular for the same reason: true moms, confessin’. And now really big name writers like Ayelet Waldman ( and Michael Lewis are writing books about their imperfect mothering and fathering, respectively, in part because they are sick of a culture that expects parents to spend all their waking moments enriching their children’s lives and being enriched by same.

It’s easy to see why the time is ripe for all this truth. We are swimming in a culture that exults – and often scrapbooks – every parenting moment. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying parenthood. I sure do. Often. (Not today, maybe, but that’s because it’s spring vacation and both my boys are home and I’m trying to WRITE THIS SO SHUT MY DOOR, PLEASE, GUYS! OR GO OUTSIDE! IT’S BEAUTIFUL OUT THERE! WHY AREN’T YOU PLAYING?)

…what was I saying? Oh yes, much of parenting is marvelous. But there’s nothing wrong with saying some of it is tedious and overblown. And one of the reasons it has become so tedious is that we are expected to be involved with every baby step our kids take – literally and figuratively. (GUYS, IT IS SO SUNNY OUT! GO!)

So now “bad” parents are the ones who don’t get down there on the floor and play patty cake all day, every day, no matter how pooped they are. “Bad” parents are the ones who don’t help boil the solution for the science fair. “Bad” parents drop junior off at soccer practice but don’t necessarily stay to cheer every kick, and bond with the coach afterward. “Bad” parents may even bring non-organic grapes (or Drake’s Cakes!) when it’s their snack day.

In other words bad parents are the ones who parent the way OUR parents did – loving and encouraging us, but not hovering over every outing and stressing over every issue.

These days it’s called “bad” parenting but really, this all seems to be a rallying crying for, ahem, Free-Range parenting – parenting that is a little less obsessive and a little more ready to let kids fend for themselves. The kind of parenting that not only builds more self-reliant kids but also less exhausted, frustrated (BOYS, CLOSE MY DOOR!) self-neglecting parents, too.

Call us bad parents, busy parents, realistic parents, Free-Range parents – what we all share is the realization we’re not perfect and our kids don’t have to be either. That means we can sit back and breathe deep. And — who’da guessed? When you feel less overwhelmed you can even enjoy it a little more.

A little.


Ahh. — Lenore



52 Responses to Are Most of Us “Bad Parents?”

  1. Dara April 14, 2009 at 6:13 am #

    Woohoo!! Thanks for the links, and for the blog. It’s just what I’ve been looking for!
    (son is 8 months old today! He will be raised Free Range)

  2. suzannerevy April 14, 2009 at 6:19 am #

    Bless you!

  3. Uly April 14, 2009 at 6:50 am #

    Another link you might find interesting (click on the name), a whole discussion tangentially about bubblewrapping children.

    It’s really about #amazonfail and the cultural issues that allow that sort of thing to happen, but it’s *also* about bubblewrapping kids.

  4. Nicole April 14, 2009 at 7:08 am #

    3 cheers for NOT being a self-neglecting parent. When the kid is a newborn, everyone says “happy mom, happy baby!” But shortly thereafter, it seems as though we are supposed to put the kids first, second, third, fourth,…and then there is nothing left for ourselves! What about “Happy Mom, Happy Kid?”

  5. Karen April 14, 2009 at 7:39 am #

    Amen to this! I hovered over the first one, and eased off with the second. Guess which one is the more independent?

    Thanks, Lenore, I am ordering your book for my birthday this week 🙂

  6. Alana M April 14, 2009 at 8:05 am #

    I’m happy to be a “bad” parent. Swim team started today for my boys. They are there now, I am not. They don’t need me – they need the coach.

    As I was leaving, one mom said “I see your kids walking to school, you are so free with them. I could never do that.”

    I didn’t have a response to that.

  7. Lara Starr April 14, 2009 at 8:37 am #

    Years ago I wanted to write a book called “Bad Mommy Club” – but you know, actually being a mom got in the way of that. This was in the B.B. (before blog) era. I’m thrilled that other moms – and the media are catching on.

    I used to say that I was thrilled that my son wasn’t interested in sports b/c the last place I want to spend my time is in a bleacher. Then the kid wanted to do a gymnastics class. It was fun to watch the first time – but not the 2nd, 3rd, 100th,

    Then I realized, “I don’t HAVE to watch every class” I can drop him off or go run errands or bring a juicy magazine to read. I don’t even have to have an excuse – I can just not want to. Sweet liberty!

  8. Sandra April 14, 2009 at 8:41 am #

    HA! I’ve been the “definition” of a bad mama for a looonggg time, hence the “Sane Rantings of a Bad Mom” that gets thousands of hits on my blog… and I’m proud of it.

    Frankly, I think the “perfect moms” lie. I know darned well you’ve let them have a sip of soda or taste of ice cream, even though you lecture everyone else on message boards that you would never DARE do such a thing, after all, the damage to their health and well being is irreversible… blah blah blah.

    Yeah, it’s just the honest ones that admit their parenting is normal, just like the rest of us.

  9. The Mother April 14, 2009 at 8:59 am #

    I make it a point NOT to be the perfect parent. I WILL not bring a child a forgotten meal or homework assignment. I WILL not pick up after them or do their laundry.

    That’s called teaching responsibility. Something our culture is SADLY lacking.

  10. BPFH April 14, 2009 at 9:03 am #

    @Alana: The proper response, of course, was, “Why?” (Mind, it’s always easier to see that sort of thing from a distance…)

  11. tana April 14, 2009 at 9:43 am #

    Now if the rest of the backseat driving parents would just get on the bandwagon, our kids could be free and we could be happier. Today in Wal-mart, my (extremely agile never-broken-a-bone-by-the-grace-of-God-but-not-for-lack-of-trying) 4 year old son was standing in the back of the grocery cart (yea, I know, the kid is supposed to sit in the little seat with his feet dangling down, kicking me, belted in just in case I have a buggy wreck or the accelerator on that thing gets stuck and runs away with him). A well-meaning lady told him to sit down. Then she told me that she had told him to sit down (because I was obviously not paying attention or he wouldn’t have been standing, right?). He didn’t want to sit, so he climbed (ha!) out of the buggy (she gasped) to the floor. A few seconds later he says, “Mommy, I didn’t want down. I want to stand up.” So, I hoisted him up and said, “So stand up.” “But that lady said I had to sit.” He was near tears. Oooh was I mad! I took his little hands in mine and said, “Listen closely, this is important. That lady is not your boss. You don’t have to listen to a word she says. I didn’t say sit down, and I’m the only person here you need to listen to.” So he settled back into the corner of the basket, happily standing up. She walked off in a huff. I wish people would stop trying to raise my son.

  12. Lori April 14, 2009 at 10:50 am #

    Amen, Lenore! I feel so liberated after discovering “Free Range”. I don’t actually parent differently, but now I have an attitude about it and don’t feel as guilty!

    I saw the Oprah special about “In the Motherhood” and bad mother confessions and thought it related really well to “Free Range”. Glad to see you agree.

    My latest confession? I sent my kids to school without breakfast. I’m not much of a morning person, so I don’t get up any earlier than I have to, so my kids don’t have leisure time in the morning since school starts at 7:45. Just get dressed, eat, and get out the door. Well, they took too long getting dressed and missed breakfast. No, I wouldn’t have wanted to be their teachers that morning and I’m sorry for that, but the natural consequence of being late is missing breakfast. They survived and haven’t been late since.

  13. catlover April 14, 2009 at 1:30 pm #

    Tana, I recognize the irony of me commenting on how you raise your son, but I don’t think you did your kid any favors at Walmart today. a) You shouldn’t shop at Walmart (that’s another blog) and b) kids need to be taught to respect adults. That lady was showing concern for your child and probably would have been the first to run over and offer help if he *did* crack his head open falling out of the cart. I am a “just good enough” mom too, and my kids have stood in the buggy, but I have also taught them to do as they are told by other adults. I don’t think disrespect is part of being free-range.

  14. Rob C April 14, 2009 at 3:59 pm #

    “I make it a point NOT to be the perfect parent. I WILL not bring a child a forgotten meal or homework assignment. I WILL not pick up after them or do their laundry.”

    See, I would call that being a *good* parent. Why are we so afraid to let our children experience the consequences of their actions (or inactions, in these cases)?

    They leave their lunch home? They’ll be hungry, sure, but they’ll jolly well remember to pack their lunch next time, won’t they?

  15. Rob C April 14, 2009 at 4:01 pm #

    I took his little hands in mine and said, “Listen closely, this is important. That lady is not your boss. You don’t have to listen to a word she says. I didn’t say sit down, and I’m the only person here you need to listen to.”

    Well done! How many children have been molested, I wonder, because they were taught to always do what an adult tells them to do?

    (Yeah, us Free-Rangers can play the child molester card as well!)

  16. Christopher Byrne April 14, 2009 at 7:09 pm #

    Love this post. Love Rob C’s comment. Love the doses of rationality of this blog! But more than that, parents who give their kids some latitude do their kids a service–allowing them to work things out by themselves.

    It’s one thing for a 5-year old to come home crying and be comforted when he had a playground dispute. And the response, as my dad’s was, was “Well, next time you might do this…” (Whatever that is)…and maybe get a different outcome. The result is one very memorable time when I stood up to a bully and was never bothered again in the same way. My parents didn’t rush to condemn the other parents (See “God of Carnage” on Broadway, by the way, if you can for more on this.) or the bully. They taught me to deal with the issues and stand up for myself. To solve my own problems, in other words.

    Childhood is the time when we want kids to learn to solve their own problems, when the stakes are not so high (Don’t tell the kids that.) and there are still protective arms and shoulders to cry on.

    If we don’t allow kids to learn to cope with the issues of childhood, there will be no pattern for dealing with the issues of adulthood. Dealing with disagreements, negotiating solutions and the sense of confidence that comes from being independent are critical developmental stages, just as much as playing with those annoying toys that purport to teach kids to read Kirkegaard and appreciate Mozart while still in the womb.

    Life is rough and tumble at times. Bruises are inevitable, but let’s give kids the chance to be strong and independent while they’re young so they can do it when they have to be.

  17. maemae April 14, 2009 at 7:13 pm #

    I have to agree with Tana here. I don’t think that teaching a child to respect adults is the same thing as teaching them to obey every command an adult gives. I don’t believe catlover had to make her son sit down but I don’t believe she had to be rude about it. I, too, hate it when other people try to parent my children. I have taught my children it’s ok for people to have different ideas on parenting but that we’ll follow mine for right now.

  18. SheWhoPicksUpToys April 14, 2009 at 7:47 pm #

    When I had my first, it took me a while to clue into the idea that “good parents” were supposed to entertain their babies. I distinctly remembering informing her, when she was about two, that it wasn’t my job to “help her play.” She had plenty of toys and things to do on her own, appropriate to a child that age. Now of course that doesn’t mean that I didn’t take time out to play with her, and read stories to her, and take her on occasional fun outings and such — hey, that’s fun sometimes, and children certainly need it. I always felt it was important to have SOME play time with the babies, for example, and I’ve homeschooled all my children from kindergarten into the teenage years. But I had never really imbibed “parenting” magazines and I was just doing what my mom did — keeping an eye on her while going about my business while she went about hers, most of the time. When I occasionally encountered magazine articles or ran across parents who thought differently, the mind just boggled at the idea that there were adults who spent half of the day sitting on the floor helping their children play, taking them places nearly daily purely for the child’s entertainment, and so forth. It wasn’t a matter of not being willing to spend time with my kids, not at all — I just never could believe the idea that kids needed to be entertained constantly.

    So by that standard, I’ve always been a “bad parent,” and have never felt a particle of guilt about it, except for those times when, like any of us, I wasn’t living up to my own standard.

  19. April 14, 2009 at 7:57 pm #

    I’ve often felt many of the “Mom blogs” out there made moms feel guilty if they aren’t making their own bread and sewing the kids clothes every day. Oh, and if you let them watch one video you might screw them up, too!

    That’s why my aim with my blog has been to present a wonderful (yet still realistic!) picture of what it means to be a Mom. It’s the climate of our motherhood that determines what our home is like, not the day-to-day weather.


  20. MY April 14, 2009 at 8:43 pm #

    At least once a week, I’m confessing to my girlfrends about the latest “bad mommy” thing I did.

    Love the post. Love the links!

  21. Jen April 14, 2009 at 8:49 pm #

    It’s funny you should post this today, Lenore, as just last night I was having a most interesting conversation with my mother in law. The dh and I are hoping to spend a few days in June with friends at a grown-ups only cabin–we asked dh’s parents if they could watch our little guy (he’s 2 1/2) for some of it but unfortunately they can’t; they have to work. So last night she asks me why I don’t want to bring him with me. I was floored. A) It’s none of her business and B) Did she miss the part where it’s all adults?
    I explained that it was a grown ups only thing and that having Gabe-zilla running around the entire time we were there would probably ruin things for everyone else.

    However, the heart of the matter, when I was completely honest with myself and with her, was that I just need the time away from him. I’m not a good parent when I’m with Gabe all day, every day so when I get a chance to get out and do something on my own or just with my husband I jump at the chance. Just the other day I realized I’m a very reluctant mother; never knew if I wanted kids but had one by surprise and have just kind-of been winging it since.

    Realizing that no, I DON’T have to spend every minute of every day with my son, and no, I DON’T have to be on guard against every stranger/nonorganic food/walmart brand/movie/tvshow etc has been very calming. When I’m stressed, I’m a terrible mother. Losing my temper is so easy and he doesn’t deserve that. The best parent I can be is the one who works full time so when she comes home at the end of the day she really really wants to spend time with her family.

  22. BMS April 14, 2009 at 9:55 pm #

    I have seen ‘good parents’ burn out trying to be everything for their kids. I have a friend who goes absolutely nuts if her kids are home all day for more than 2 days at a time. She is exhausted at the end of every school vacation week or she has to schedule as many outside activities as possible because she has never learned to just let her kids be bored. She has totally bought into the idea that ‘a good mother is constantly attentive to her children’ to the point where they don’t know how to entertain themselves, and she doesn’t know how to leave them to their own devices.

  23. Lola April 14, 2009 at 10:08 pm #

    In my experience, those “perfect parents” never have to cope with their children more than five hours a day. They try to make up for their absence by pampering their kids in any way they can. They left them for work when they were babies and have been treating them like babies ever since (sitting on the floor to play with them, indeed!).
    And what do you know? If you treat a kid like a baby, he will behave like one.

    By the way, I found out a couple of years ago that if you have more than two kids, you just learn to relax in order to survive. I don´t rush to soothe the crying baby anymore. At first, because I was too busy. And now, because she won´t tell the difference between two minutes or eight, and I need my coffee now. Wait for your turn, kid. More often than not, she will stop wailing and just grumble until I get there.

  24. NJMom April 14, 2009 at 10:17 pm #

    Yay for this blog, this post, and the new links! I hope it’s truly a sign that times are a changin’. I just sent my children off to school, walking in the rain. They were probably the only ones because even the usual walkers get driven when it rains.

    And guess what? My son didn’t take an umbrella! I told him to take one but…”Mom, I”ll walk fast. I won’t get wet.” Hmm, I don’t know about that and your jacket will get soaking wet! “But mom, I’ll just take it off.” But you only have a t-shirt on–you’ll be cold in school! “But mom, I’ll be running around in gym, so I’ll warm up.” So…I decided to let go. And that’s what parenting is all about, isn’t it?

  25. Jennifer April 14, 2009 at 10:22 pm #

    Ha! I’ve always been a “bad mommy”. It started when he was a baby and I wouldn’t rush to every little cry, giving him the opportunity to learn to comfort himself. (This was treated by other moms as akin to abandoning him in the wilderness.) As a toddler, I steadfastly refused to be his playmate, like I’d seen with my peers who’d spend all day entertaining their kids (My mom NEVER did that, lol). If I felt like playing a game, fine, but I’m their mom, NOT a friend. As a result, he’s 4 1/2 now and very imaginative. He’s an only child, and plays with kids at preschool, but he doesn’t pester me about being “bored” like other kids I see. Plus, I’m not a food nazi and I give him a wide berth to explore his environment.

    There’s another reason I will not be a “perfect” mommy: the inherent sexism in the very concept. You know, dads can put in extra time with their kids and be more involved, and you’d think an angel himself doth descend from the heavens! But god forbid a MOTHER not be perfect and tend to her little prince’s every need and want. How dare you not want to breastfeed? How dare you expect your two year old to actually sleep at night and not infringe on your much-needed rest? How dare you not enrich her mind with the latest, greatest toys and activities? How dare you not police and make from scratch every bite that crosses his lips? How dare you expect to keep your marriage alive and loving with adult-only time? HOW SELFISH! (Gotta love the word “selfish”; it’s almost exclusively hurled at women.) Dads are expected to have careers and lives separate from their children, but not moms.

    And that’s why I refuse to buy into this perfect mommy crap. What’s good for the gander is good for the goose.

  26. Roger D. Casterline April 14, 2009 at 11:58 pm #


    I see so many books telling parents how to raise their children. My book, “The IKE Disease,” takes a different approach. IKE is a one on one counseling sessions with the reader(teenager). The book encourages teenagers to get down to business and do something for themselves. The main theme in the book is obedience to parents. As a high school guidance counselor I can say that every student who has made it their business to disobey their parents suffers great hardship. The word IKE in the title are initials for, “I Know Everything.” Thank you for your kind attention to my comments.

    God Bless!!!

    Roger D. Casterline

  27. Missy April 15, 2009 at 12:00 am #

    Amen. Once again you have said exactly how I feel!

  28. theclosetromantic April 15, 2009 at 2:18 am #

    being a parent isn’t a set list for sure

  29. Ashley April 15, 2009 at 2:43 am #

    I love the whole idea of ‘if you let them watch a video, they’ll be ruined for life.’

    Personally, I plan to have ban bad children’s videos from my home, mostly because I’m lazy, selfish, and I don’t want to deal with it. When they’re little they can watch the stuff I like, thank you very much. So yes to Animaniacs, no to SpongeBob. Bwahahahahahahahahaaha!

    I also sew, and I’m starting to get really into it, and lots of people have asked if I”m sewing for my baby. Well, I”m not. Sewing takes time and energy and I do it because I like making stuff and so that I can have clothes that actually fit. Baby clothes are cheap and easily available commercially. I highly doubt I’ll make a single dress for my daughter before she’s 6 years old, and then it will be special occasion only.

    In short, I have no qualms about being a ‘bad parent’ and putting myself second, if not occasionally first.

  30. AG April 15, 2009 at 2:55 am #

    We had an impromptu family reunion yesterday (unexpected visit from out-of-state relatives) and it provided an almost perfect example of why helicopter parenting just isn’t a good idea. The two current babies — both first sons / grandsons — are seven weeks apart and just a bit past their first birthdays. Both are new walkers. Baby L is free-range; Baby P is not.

    Baby L spent the afternoon bouncing around the room, interacting with grownups (and trying to interact with Baby P), falling down, getting up, and generally having a merry day. Baby P spent the entire afternoon fretful, clingy, slow to right himself after a spill (no worries, kid, Mom’s swooping in as we speak), and frankly afraid of Baby L’s approaches. I found out later that Baby P has been pulled out of daycare because the parents and grandparents worry that simply being around other kids isn’t stimulating enough for him (no playdates, either); they’re very pleased that he’s already mimicking page-turning behavior with books. That’s nice, but how “stimulated” is this boy going to be if his framework is entirely grownup-driven?

  31. Peter April 15, 2009 at 2:56 am #

    Wow! Thanks for the ventilation outlet.

    Perfectionist peer pressure among parents has profoundly piqued the populace into a profusion of peccadilloes.

    May our kids grow up unscrambled, common sense become common, and God helps us all.

    Johnny, put your underwear in the dirty clothes hamper. Daddy is trying to write a defensive text message while praying for a sense of calm.

  32. Gin April 15, 2009 at 3:11 am #

    OMG BMS, we must have this friend in common! *I* get exhausted, just hearing her rattle off the thousands of activities her children are involved in.

    (Oh no! Don’t let the children get “bored”!)

  33. fourthrow April 15, 2009 at 3:27 am #

    Hello! Unrelated, but I was hoping women over 40 would go here:

    It’s a homework assignment about the feminist movement! Thanks for your answers!!

  34. CLT April 15, 2009 at 3:53 am #

    Ashley- Amen on the sewing thing. I sew for myself because I’m a six foot tall woman whose top half is a different size than my bottom half. My kids look cute in anything, but it takes some work to make this mama look hot. But people assume I just sew for the kids.

    AG- had the exact same experience at Christmas. My sis and her hubby barely spent any time with us at all because they were constantly focused on their 15mo, who wouldn’t even look at anyone and required hours to put to bed or down for a nap, while my daughter, 2 months younger, was the life of the party. And went to sleep on her own.

  35. lonedattyof3 April 15, 2009 at 4:46 am #

    I, for one, am a perfect parent. I have no idea what’s wrong wthh uo peple I cannnn ddlldk vv gjg’a ‘fg f49pleeeeeeeecoffeemmmmmmmmm

  36. Rob C April 15, 2009 at 5:16 am #

    “I have to agree with Tana here. I don’t think that teaching a child to respect adults is the same thing as teaching them to obey every command an adult gives.”

    Fair point. On reflection, perhaps it could have been better worded as, “That lady isn’t your mum *and she doesn’t work here*, you don’t have to do as she says.”

    (to a different post)

    “When they’re little they can watch the stuff I like, thank you very much. So yes to Animaniacs, no to SpongeBob.”

    I commend your taste! And you kids will, too. Mine love Animaniacs. When my daughter was younger, she was always wanting to watch “Pinky And The Brain Brain Brain”.

  37. jmoore07 April 15, 2009 at 5:29 am #

    wow…I am beginning to wonder what kind of mother I really am. I thought I was a good one, but maybe I am too paranoid. hmmm, I guess maybe I should take a step back and analyze what I am and am not doing.

    but, on the other hand, I have had a few situations happen to me that spark my paranoia. I think part of these situations helps me realize that I don’t want something like that to happen to my daughter.

    Who knows…I will have to look into purchasing the book, Free Range Kids

  38. Jules April 15, 2009 at 6:43 am #

    Oh I am so grad I got directed to your post today. I am a bad parent and I am damn proud of it. I have four kids my youngest being born a day after one of my best friend’s first. Funnily enough she still comes around and lectures me on how I should be feeding my kids, Jolly Jumpers are bad for development, bright colours overstimulate, asks things like “are you struggling because the clean washing is in a pile on the couch?”, doesn’t believe in lollies at parties – yet funnily enough her child has grown to a two year old that attacks, bites and harasses other children. So, who’s the bad parent??

  39. Jules April 15, 2009 at 6:43 am #

    Whoops, “grad” I mean glad

  40. Carine April 15, 2009 at 8:21 am #

    okay, who told that website about all my secret parenting tips????

    and to think I made it to being a grandma of 2 before the word of my success was made public.

    except for the hardwood floors.

  41. Uly April 15, 2009 at 9:49 am #

    AG, much though I agree with your parenting idea, it’s a really (really) bad idea to compare and contrast babies and say it’s all down to what their parents do… especially when you think you’re in the right.

    At that age, it’s all about their individual temperment, and that’s nothing you can control. Two children raised in the same household will be totally different at the same age. Why? Because they’re not the same kid.

  42. Stephanie April 15, 2009 at 10:26 am #

    My kids love Animaniacs too! It’s on right now.

    I was talking with my son’s friend’s mom in the park today. She was asking how I could stand to be a stay at home mom because having to entertain her son all day would drive her nuts.

    I explained that I don’t entertain him all day. He watches some TV, plays on the computer, admires his baby sister, asks when it will be time to get his big sister from school, and plays for hours on his own, especially when I order him into the back yard.

    I would go nuts if I had to do all the entertaining for my kids. Fortunately, the older two spend lots of time in Narnia and give me the peace to get other things done.

  43. onlineeasyincome April 15, 2009 at 1:21 pm #

  44. Sierra April 15, 2009 at 1:38 pm #

    I ask myself this question every day at the playground. Am I Bad Mother? I’m the only one who’s not hovering over my kids on the monkey bars, climbing the slides with them and policing every interaction with another toddler in the sandpit. I let my kids fall down, get frustrated by toys, and fight with playmates.

    When they want me I’m happy to give the traditional hugs, band-aids and support, and I’ll usually step in if they start swinging at another kid with a toy shovel. But as long as they are happy playing, I’m happy to let them. I don’t think they need or want to play with me all day long.

  45. Trina April 15, 2009 at 11:51 pm #

    Oh, I am so proud to own the monikers of a benignly, neglectful maverick of a ‘Free-Range’ bad parent. Not my original adjectives, but usefull none the less.

  46. Catherine April 20, 2009 at 2:34 pm #

    If you check out Australian comedian, Fiona O’Loughlin, on youtube, you will see a whole comedy routine on bad parenting. I went to see her with a group of my mum friends and we were all just about wetting our pants (probably because we could all relate a bit too well to some of her stories).

  47. Rob C April 20, 2009 at 11:51 pm #

    I have had a crush on Fiona O’Loughlin for quite a few years now.

  48. HeatherJ April 25, 2009 at 1:59 am #

    Amen and Hallaluja! I already know I am a “bad” parent because I refuse to play dolls, house, dress-up etc. with my girls. They’re bossy and it is extremely mind-numbing. I will be happy to play board games, color or play outside, but only if I am done doing the things I need to do.

  49. phdinparenting May 3, 2009 at 11:14 am #

    I’m not a perfect parent. I never will be a perfect parent. But I do try to be a better parent all of the time.

    However, being a better parent doesn’t mean obsessing over every little thing. In fact, being a better parent may mean obsessing less!

    I just hate seeing the word “perfect parent” used for someone that dotes on their child 24/7 and “bad parent” being used for someone who gives their child space to learn their own way.

  50. Shauna May 4, 2009 at 1:05 pm #

    Shame on you people for allowing your babies to cry! They don’t know how to talk yet. Maybe they need love… something people are too big-headed to understand. They need nurture. Is that stupid cup of coffee more important? How would you feel if you sh*t on yourselves in a nursing home and couldn’t walk and some idiotic nurse wouldn’t tend to you because they were “having coffee”. Wouldn’t feel too good now would it!!!

    Just…. ugh!
    I cannot believe some of the stupidity on this site.
    Some parents DO NOT even need to be be parents.

  51. Kerri May 16, 2009 at 1:13 am #

    I really am glad I found this blog.
    I used to hover over my oldest son practically every second. Then as he got older I realized he didn’t really seem self reliant at ALL, and afraid of silly things and frankly was a little self absorbed.
    I realized that I was responsible for that behavior. With my other 2 children I have eased up and let them be their own people more often and solve their own minor problems themselves.
    And for the woman, who says shame on people for letting babies cry… older babies sometimes no matter what you do… , change them, feed them, talk to them, play with them…. they still cry! Sometimes the best solution is to walk away. Let them know you are still near, but walk into the other room for everyones sanity! It doesn’t make someone a bad parent. Parents are only human.


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