The things some parents do are shocking. While most parents have their kids’ best interests at heart, there are a lot of parents out there who do things that are truly astounding. The repercussions for bad parenting decisions are limitless. Kids can be emotionally or physically scarred for life, and the effects can be instant or quite delayed.
There is no handbook for how to decide if you’re ready to have kids or how to raise them properly. If there were, there are a lot of people who wouldn’t care enough to even read it. There is comfort in knowing that kids are resilient, but there are some things even the strongest little people can’t bounce back from.
While every parent will have big and small decisions to make in raising the kids, some choices are way more important than others. Because the brain is still developing until well past the teenage years, kids are very susceptible to harm or undue influence, and great care must be taken to make sure things are always handled properly.
Bad parenting choices can cause physical or psychological harm… even death. You don’t have to be a malicious person to make bad choices; sometimes these things happen due to total frustration or out of pure exhaustion. No one is perfect but when you’re a parent, it’s up to you to make informed decisions for your kids and think things through before you do them. Read on to find out 15 of the most regretted parenting decisions, and don’t let these happen to you!
15 Letting Them Try Adult Beverages
A lot of parents think that small doses of alcohol are harmless and make booze less taboo in the eyes of the child. In Europe, wine is frequently paired with dinner and kids grow accustomed to having a glass or two regularly, starting at a young age. While alcohol might not ever be a problem for some kids, for others, even a small taste can set them up for disaster.
There is NO safe established dose of alcohol for kids. With their developing brains, it is best to avoid it until adulthood. Getting that first taste of beer from dad at a young age might seem totally harmless but the truth is that it could trigger the craving for more or make drinking seem life a normal part of daily life.
The evidence against letting kids drink is compelling. In a recent study, it was found that kids who had "sipped" alcohol by sixth grade were more likely to start drinking earlier and to abuse alcohol. The researchers found those who tried an alcoholic beverage by sixth grade were five times more likely than other kids to consume an entire drink by the time they reached high school. They were also four times more likely to have gotten drunk or binged.
14 Sending Them Away From Home
Take it from someone who has been there- boarding school is not the right choice for a kid who needs structure and discipline. A lot of kids get sent to boarding school because the parents think the school will be stricter and more academically promising than a public or private school near home. They think there will be less distractions and less trouble for the kid to get into. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Boarding schools are often filled with kids who are spoiled, out of control and whose parents have given up on raising them. This goes for even the most prestigious institutions. Get a bunch of these kids together and you have a recipe for disaster. Kids in boarding school get exposed to sex, drugs, and other rebellious and dangerous behaviors a lot faster because there are no parents around and it’s easier to get away with things when you only have to answer to strangers. It’s almost like being in prison. When you’re surrounded by bad influences, you’re more likely to go down that road than to become better. Parents beware!
13 Letting CPS Take Them Away
Most parents know better than to leave a young child home alone, especially an infant. Unfortunately, though, this does happen. Whether drugs or alcohol are involved or the parent is mentally unstable, or completely lacking in judgment, leaving a little one home alone is never a good idea.
Leaving a kid home alone can have all kinds of disastrous repercussions. The child could fall, start a fire, choke, or get injured. A child has no defense against a burglar or other malicious visitor, either. It’s especially dangerous if others know the kid is home alone.
Tragedy recently struck someone I know. They were stressed and overwhelmed and asked a neighbor to “look in on” their sleeping baby while they ran a few blocks away to the corner store. The neighbor was not a friend nor a reliable acquaintance. They called CPS and said the child was home alone and the baby is in foster care to this day. Do not ever leave a kid home alone under the legally acceptable age for your state. Always make sure you have a reliable and documented babysitter or nanny. This is never a risk worth taking, even if you plan to be gone for 5 minutes.
12 Giving Them Up For Adoption
For some people, giving the child up for adoption is the only option that’s right for them. They have the child young or are not capable of raising them, and adoption offers a better life for the kid. While it might be the right choice at the time, that doesn’t mean it’s not heavily regretted.
A lot of parents opt for adoption and then find that they are longing to find the child years later. The adoptive parents are often total strangers, and the birth parents can often experience a sense of regret that is overwhelming.
For this reason, there are tons of movies, books and TV shows about the reunion of long lost family members. Adopted children also may experience a deep feeling of longing, unworthiness, and a lack of belonging. This is only natural, as human beings tend to have a drive to know where they come from and what their identity is. The birth family is often the key to these questions.
11 Spoiling The Kid Rotten
You know that famous saying, “You can’t spoil a baby”? That saying is true, but what about when the baby becomes a toddler and then a big kid? Tots know how to throw tantrums and watch parental response. The more parents give in to the toddler’s every desire, the more they set the child up to expect rewards to follow fits.
What’s the harm in giving your little one everything they want? Most parents want a happy kid, but they probably don’t want a kid that causes problems whenever they leave home. Other people won’t always give the child everything they want, and if there are behavior problems, it’s the parents who will be to blame.
This will only get worse over time because continuously reinforcing bad behavior will stop the cycle from being broken. Teaching kids that getting upset does not lead to reward is important for raising a well-adjusted and unspoiled child. Patience and good behavior can be rewarded to show that good actions have good consequences. The last thing you want is these behaviors to carry over into the teens and adulthood.
10 Having Them In The First Place
The only thing worse than a bad parent is a bitter parent who regrets having kids to begin with. There is nothing more detrimental to a kid’s self-esteem than a parent who wishes they were never born. You might think this is rare but it’s more common than you know.
Some parents will openly talk about how their kids were a mistake and how they wish they were still young and free. How great that must feel to the kids to hear that their very existence is unwanted. Hearing someone talk about this is absolutely heartbreaking. Even if it’s unspoken, it can surely be felt on a subconscious level.
Most people know about birth control and the like, so if they decide to have kids, they should do the best job they can- period. It won’t always be a walk in the park, but that's life. I read one man’s account of how he pictured reading to his little angels as they cuddled up calmly in bed. He had high-energy kids and they shattered the idyllic image he had in his head, so now he regrets ever having them. He should have thought things through before he “made the mistake” to begin with.
9 Losing Them To SIDS
No parent should ever have to live through the nightmare of losing a child.
We expect our kids to outlive us by years, and when a baby is lost to SIDS, there is often a degree of blame felt by the parents. It doesn’t matter whether the parent is actually responsible - it’s human nature to search for the cause and internalize guilt when the inexplicable happens.
A close friend of mine lost a baby to SIDS. They feel tremendous guilt for leaving the child alone in the bassinet, letting the child lay in a certain position, etc. but the truth is that this can happen to anyone. Every year, it seems like the “expert” opinions about SIDS factors changes, so there will probably always be some way to find that it was the mistake of the parents.
It’s a different story when a parent is consciously negligent and lets the baby sleep in an unsafe crib or bassinet, however. There are also cases where the parent is using drugs or alcohol and rolls over onto the baby. Those kinds of mistakes are much harder to forgive, obviously.
8 Being Extremely Strict With Them
Parents who are too strict and push the child away from them almost always regret it later in life. Once those bonds are broken they’re extremely difficult to mend. Kids need discipline but they also need the space to grow up and make mistakes.
There are some parents who run their house like the military, constantly screaming and barking orders and regimenting the kid’s every move. Growing up with that kind of pressure is stressful and inhibits a child’s sense of comfort and creativity.
Parents who are too strict are more likely to use physical punishments and go so far as to kick a kid out of the house just to prove a point. The harm that those actions can cause is huge. Kids who experience this are more likely to turn to dangerous coping methods, like drugs or self-harm. They might feel a total lack of self-worth that will follow them through the course of life.
7 Picking On Their Weight
If you have ever had someone make a hurtful remark about your appearance, as most of us undoubtedly have, you know how terrible this feels. If it’s the parents making the comments, the words are likely to be remembered forever.
The last thing a parent should do is damage their kid’s self-esteem. A lot of kids go through awkward years where they haven’t outgrown the baby fat or they’re lanky with a high metabolism. To tell a kid “you’re too fat” or “you’re too skinny” can really set the stage for disaster. There are kids as young as 9 or 10 years old going on diets these days, and it’s maddening.
Take it from someone who has been there; I sometimes still hear the upsetting things people have said in the back of my mind when I look in the mirror. Nothing came of those remarks except self-harm, disordered behaviors, and years of anguish. There are better ways to help a child be “healthier” than to pick on them. It’s the parent’s job to go about it in a productive and helpful way.
6 Letting Them Stay Up Late
It might not seem like a big deal, but letting the kids stay up late can be detrimental to their health and development. Tired kids can’t focus or learn as well as kids who are well rested. The younger kids are when they develop bad habits, the harder it will be to get them on track later.
A lot of the learning kids do is not formal, but it still requires energy and concentration to pick up new skills and new words. Good rest also helps the body grow and recover, so it’s vital to overall health.
School performance also suffers when kids stay up late and are groggy the next day, so never underestimate how crucial it is to have them on an appropriate bedtime. When kids get on the right schedule while they’re young, good habits are made for life and they are more likely to excel in the future.
5 Being Too Lax With Their Education
I thought I was lucky to grow up with parents who didn’t worry about my homework or ask me when papers and projects were due. It was nice not being badgered about spending a certain amount of time on schoolwork. As I got older, I realized this sets the stage for procrastination and lack of motivation. My parents were workaholics, so it probably wasn’t a conscious decision, but it was hard for me to develop the dedication to academics without any coaching.
Being strict with homework and education is important because most kids need guidance and the push to do well in school. In public school especially, it’s very easy for kids to get away with doing the bare minimum, and they might never tap into their true potential if this goes unnoticed or uncorrected.
Setting a homework schedule and frequently checking in on progress is a good way to make education a priority. It will also help you keep a close relationship with the kids and notice when they’re having issues and frustrations.
4 Not Having "The Talk"
The kids in this picture are NINE years old and the youngest parents in the world that we know of. If that doesn't wake you up to the importance of having "the talk", nothing will!
As uncomfortable as it can be to have “the talk” with your kids, it’s a lot better than having them grow up without knowing that sex is a serious thing that can come with some serious consequences. Parents who don’t talk to their kids about waiting to have sex or how to practice safe sex regret it the most when teen pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases occur.
Kids should be taught about their bodies and how to respect them from an early age. The more comfortable your kids feel about coming to talk to you, the less it will be a taboo subject and something they’re tempted to explore on their own.
You don’t want to let your kids learn about sex strictly from their friends, movies, and TV shows. If you don’t teach the importance of waiting and being safe, it shouldn’t come as a shock if the unexpected happens. It can’t be stressed enough that even one time can result in a baby, and that having a baby at a young age is extremely difficult.
3 Not Saying "I Love You"
A major mistake parents make is withholding affection and not saying, “I love you” enough. You don’t have to constantly coddle your kids to make them feel loved, but they do need to hear and feel that you love them. This means verbal reinforcement, hugs, kisses, and other displays of love.
Lack of physical contact, especially at a young age, can have profound health effects on children and even lead to illness or death. Examining the death rates among children living in orphanages proved this sad fact. Some parents don’t show affection due to their own background as children or due to postpartum depression. Parents with issues like this should seek therapy to help them learn to be more affectionate and loving with their kids. Not doing so can lead to a decreased sense of self-worth in the child and a poor relationship between the little one and parent.
2 Not Teaching Them To Respect Others
Parents who don’t teach little ones to respect others almost always regret it. What the kid learns at home will be how they treat people out in the world. Too many kids get away with back talking their parents, and this carries over into how they treat their peers and teachers.
Let’s not forget the value of teaching kids not to physically or verbally hurt others. Kids mimic what they see at home, so if you speak to them in a negative way or they see the parents fighting, this can also be detrimental.
Respecting others also means learning how to understand social cues and interact properly. Parents who are not around often yield children who act without consequence. Once these habits are created, it can take drastic steps to break them.
1 Forgetting Them
Whether it’s for seconds, minutes, or hours, kids should NEVER be left in the car alone. Too many times we have heard about a parent either forgetting they have a kid in the back of the car or leaving them “briefly” to run in somewhere. In a lot of these stories, the child died. Kids can overheat and pass out in a matter of minutes in a closed car, so leaving them is not a good idea.
One of the most regretted parenting decisions is leaving a kid in the car. While some of these cases are probably intentional murders, many are overworked and overtired parents who strayed from their schedule and “forgot” the kid was in the back seat. Parents need to stay vigilant and focused, and keep a reminder that the child is back there by placing an object on the front seat, if need be. While I can’t imagine ever making such a mistake, it seems that it does happen somewhat often and so awareness MUST be raised.
Sources: CBS News, Huffington Post