15 Stories Of The Worst Parenting Advice Ever

Hearing advice from fellow parents on how they dealt with the demands of parenthood can be helpful, but it can also be harmful if the advice isn’t particularly good. These moms share the worst advice they’ve ever received, and some of it is really, really bad. From mother-in-laws sticking their necks in too far to moms recommending being drunk on the job, it’s clear that there are a lot of opinions when it comes to successfully raising children.

When receiving poor parenting advice, it’s important to be courteous and polite but also to call out a fellow parent if their behaviour could be detrimental to their child’s health. The media constantly spits out stories about parents who were ill equipped to take care of another person, and many times they end up being heartbreaking. That’s why its okay to call out another parent if their advice is debatable. After all, having diverging opinions is always okay.

If there’s anything these moms prove, it’s to take advice with a grain of salt. Sometimes someone may offer you words of wisdom that are actually beneficial and offer insight or a creative idea to make parenting easier. Other times the advice may go against one’s own parenting beliefs, and that’s why it’s okay to disregard any advice you receive. Advice is just helpful suggestions, after all. So, if the advice isn’t helpful, then it’s time to move on and look elsewhere.

15 Battle Of The Blondes

While your in-laws may be able to provide some helpful advice when you’re becoming a new parent, Sarah’s* mother-in-law had some crazy ideas about how she should raise her daughter.

“I never knew how crazy my mother-in-law was until my first daughter was born. My husband’s entire family is blonde but I’m a brunette, so our daughter was born with dark blonde hair that we knew would eventually turn more brown than yellow. So, my mother-in-law recommended we begin dying her hair at a young age to ‘fit in with the family’ better.

She went so far as to buy lightening spray from the drug store and asked me to use it on my infant. When I told her I would never dye my child’s hair, she started telling me that I knew what I was getting myself into when I married her son. Needless to say she and I don’t get along very well.”

14 The Boozy Solution

Most kids struggle with nail biting at one point or another. Veronica’s* friend had a questionable approach with how to deal with this bad habit.

“Both of my kids have struggled with biting their nails. I’ve tried everything to curb their bad habits, but nothing helped for a very long time. A friend of mine suggested a unique tactic that she had used with her own toddler, but it sounded a bit too extreme for my liking.

She suggested rubbing vodka on my kids’ fingers, so whenever they put their fingers in their mouths, they’d taste the repulsiveness of the alcohol. I don’t agree with giving kids booze, even if it’s indirectly on their fingers. Using bribes like candy and toys is more my strategy. Using alcohol on your kid should be a last resort!”

13 Say It To The World

Olivia* disagrees with this questionable form of punishment that many other parents have begun utilizing.

“I think it’s absolutely disgusting when parents make their kids advertise to the whole world what they’ve done wrong. An acquaintance of mine made her 13 year old daughter stand outside of their house with a huge sign that said ‘I’m disrespectful to my body and my parents’ when she wore makeup to school when she wasn’t allowed. She was hysterical throughout the entire punishment and I can’t imagine how humiliating that must be.

Her mom told her it’s the only effective way to get children to learn. She said her daughter never wore makeup out of the house again. But it seems like more of a fear tactic than anything else. I surely won’t be doing that to my own children. There are so many more effective forms of punishment.”

12 Mommy’s Weekend Away

While taking time for yourself is important whether you’re a parent or not, Levin* doesn’t entirely agree with her mother’s suggestions for “mommy time.”

“My mom has always been eccentric, so it’s no surprise that she had some pretty wild advice when I had my first child. She told me that motherhood is going to be a lot more difficult than I expected, but that I should take time for myself whenever need be to keep my sanity. Except her version of ‘mommy time’ isn’t a glass of wine when the kids go to bed or a night-out with friends.

She said it’s okay to take trips for days at a time if I need ‘clarity.’ She used to take vacations and leave me and my siblings with our dad all the time, but turns out she’d never tell him where or how long she’d be gone for. She also said it’s okay to go to strip clubs, even if you’re by yourself. She justifies this by saying that being a mom is a hard job. She and I have very different parenting techniques.”

11 Just Keep Swimming

Hailey* got some interesting advice from a family member when she shared her plans to sign her kids up for swimming lessons.

“I was at a family gathering when I shared that I was going to enrol my 6 and 4-year old sons in swimming lessons. My husband’s Aunt was shocked at the idea and said that it was a waste of money. She said that the way to teach kids to swim is to throw them in the river and tell them to float. She was convinced kids can teach themselves the basics and that it’s completely safe.

When I told her I’d feel better knowing they were being taught by professionals and with lifeguards present, she told me I was being overprotective and my kids wouldn’t learn to be independent. She went so far as to call my husband after the dinner to share her thoughts. He agrees that she’s crazy.”

10 Punishment Of Choice

Dianne* was nervous about helping her daughter get used to being a big sister, but that doesn’t mean she’s about to take her friend’s interesting advice.

“I was nervous to transition my daughter to being and older sister when my second child was born. My friend, who has four kids of her own, told me it’s all about letting the kids bond. She said I should use her strategy for punishing in order to bring my kids closer together.

When one of her kids misbehaves, she allows the others to decide their punishment (from a list of pre-decided punishments that the kids can also suggest additions to). The siblings decide if the kid gets a timeout, is grounded, or misses out on their allowance. She said it fosters trust and companionship between siblings. To me it sounds like another excuse for your kids to fight. And the power dynamics can’t be healthy if it’s not the parent handing out punishments.”

9 Shots! Shots! Shots!

It’s hard to pinpoint a time that alcohol has ever helped someone be a better parent, so it’s understandable why Eve* was so shocked at her cousin’s parenting advice.

“At a family party, my cousin offered a horrible whack of parenting advice to everyone there. She has four kids of her own, and she said the best way to deal with a screaming toddler is to take a shot of vodka. She made it clear to not give the alcohol to the child, but that it’s for yourself, though that did little to make her advice any better.

She said that it helps calm you down to better handle your kids. But, to me (and everyone else at the table) it sounds like she had a drinking problem rather than good parenting skills. I’ve never heard such ludicrous advice ever, and I’ve kept an eye on how her kids are doing from then on out.”

8 To Spank Or Not To Spank

Spanking is a controversial form of punishment, so Beverly* was rightly shocked when her mom suggested she discipline her children that way. She was even more surprised when her mom says she wishes she used spanking with her own children.

“My mother was always very strict with me and my sisters, but I was shocked when she suggested that I spank my own children with a wooden spoon (something she never did with us). She said she regrets not doing that with her own kids because it’s the only effective way to help children learn the errors of our way. She won’t admit that it’s child abuse. I can’t believe she suggested I hit my own kids - her grandkids, nonetheless.”

Whether you believe that using physical force on your kids is okay or not, it sure seems like Beverly doesn’t agree with her mother’s old school form of punishment.

7 Independent Feeding

Stella* knows the importance of feeding your children three square meals a day, but one mom she encountered had a different approach to feeding her child.

“I used to be a part of a support group for single mothers and I met a lot of crazy characters there. This one mom in particular had a lot of weird views and opinions. One day, she said she’d transitioned her 4-year old to ‘independent feeding.’ She said she likes to lay out non-perishable food during the beginning of the day and allows her daughter to eat it whenever she wants.

So, in essence, she keeps food on the table and her kid is free to eat however little or much she can. The mom said it’s a good way to help your kid get used to eating by themselves and only eat as much as they’re hungry for. It sounds like an excuse to be lazy and not feed your kid regularly. I really hope her kid is okay.”

6 The Almost-Real Imaginary Friend

Dessa’s* sister thinks you should treat an imaginary friend exactly like they’re real, but she may be taking it too far.

“My sister thinks cultivating a child’s imagination is one of the most important things you can do. But I think she takes it a bit too far sometimes. When my 6 year old announced he has an imaginary friend (who he called Ernie), my sister said we should do everything we can to accommodate the imaginary person.

She insisted I set another place at the dinner table for the friend. She thought we should set the air mattress up in my son’s room so Ernie had a place to sleep. I lost it when we went shopping with my son and he said Ernie wants a specific toy and my sister said we should buy it just because Ernie wants it. I’m all for imaginary friends, but you have to remember they’re imaginary and are just a phase.”

5 Boys Should Play With Boy Toys

Rebecca’s* mother-in-law had some stereotypical advice about how to raise a boy the “proper way” that didn’t sit too well with Rebecca.

“My three eldest children are daughters, and then my youngest is a son. So, it’s safe to say my boy has been influenced by what his sisters’ do and play with. But, when my mother-in-law saw that he was playing with makeup and nail polish, she lost it. She told me that it would make him gay or transgender (though I see absolutely nothing wrong with that).

She instructed me to hide all of the ‘girly’ toys from him and punish him if I catch him playing with them. What’s even worse is my husband somewhat agreed with his mom and said our son should play with toys made for boys rather than girls. We argued back and forth about this for years and it eventually contributed to our split. My son, who’s now 12, is happy and healthy and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with him after playing with girls toys.”

4 Sex Shop Safety

It can be difficult to talk to your kids about the birds and the bees, but it’s necessary. But Shelby’s* friend had a rather interesting way to do it.

“My friend told me she had the perfect way to teach her teenage daughter about safe sex- and she even invited me and my 13-year old to come along! I’m all for safe sex and educating kids, but not in this way.

She told me she was going to take her daughter to a sex shop store and let her pick our some items. Her reasoning was that it would encourage her to embrace and experiment with her sexuality, while teaching her how to do it safely. Her daughter was only 14, so I don’t think that’s the best way to start teaching her about sex. I understandably declined the offer.”

3 Tied Together

Elsie* couldn’t get behind her friend’s advice for disciplining her twins, and we don’t blame her.

“I had a friend over for brunch at my place once and my twins were acting up big time. I couldn’t get them to behave and play quietly in the other room, but my friend said she had an idea. She took the scarf she was wearing and tied my twins’ legs together. She told them they’d have to get along now because they wouldn’t be able to get free (they were only 5).

I thought it was funny, but I untied them and said that wouldn’t work to discipline them. Then my friend spent the rest of our visit talking about how I should rethink my approach to parenting. It’s ironic because she didn’t have any kids at that point, and now she has a toddler who’s the worst behaved kid in the world.”

2 Back In The Day

Cadence* got a feel for how much the world has changed in the past half a century when her Grandmother shared this shocking piece of parenting advice with her. It’s safe to say this isn’t a good way to raise a teenage girl, or a child of any age for that matter.

“I’m not even kidding you - this is what my Grandma suggested. I was once complaining about how my teenage daughter was growing up too quickly, and my Grandma said she knew a way to stop it that her own mom used.

She said her mom once sent her to school with the phrase ‘slut’ written on her forehead with permanent marker. She said it was her punishment for trying to wear her mom’s lipstick to some sort of event. I’m really glad I’m raising my daughter in the 21st century because I don’t know who would think that’s a good idea.”

1 Bad Mouthwash

Kelly* wasn’t expecting her husband to suggest a punishment as extreme as washing their child’s mouth out with soap.

“Our son went through a phase where he’d add a swear word to every sentence. It was a literal nightmare, especially when we were out in public, because everyone would stare at us like we didn’t mind him using curse words. He’d learned that type of language at school and from T.V.

Anyways, my husband suggested that I wash his mouth out with soap. My husband and I tend to agree on most things parenting-wise, so I was shocked to hear this suggestion. He said his parents did it to him when he was a kid and that’s how he learned not to swear. We’ve yet to try his suggestion on our son.”

From moms who think using physical force is acceptable to those who have unconventional ways to teach their kids about the birds and the bees, it’s clear that there is a lot of diversity when it comes to parental strategies and beliefs. Obviously if someone puts a child in danger or harms them, whether physically or emotionally, then there’s something wrong with that piece of advice. Even though all of these stories were about moms who received terrible advice, most of the time its beneficial to discuss parenting techniques with other parents. No one has all the answers when it comes to raising children, so sharing thoughts and ideas is the best way to discover what works for you and your child. No one said parenting was easy, but it sure doesn’t have to be made harder with poor advice.

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