I don't think Bad Parenting is the end of the world. I don't even think it's that bad. I'll admit it. Bad parenting can actually turn out to be a good thing.
But before I get into why I think bad parenting could even offer some benefits, yes, benefits, I have to put out a few disclaimers.
First and foremost, what I am about to say in relation to the normal, average parent. We try to parent well but we also make big, huge mistakes. We have failures too. This justification is for those who intend to do what is right, what is best, what is most appropriate but just as we are humans, we slip and we make mistakes too.
If you are abusive, mean-spirited or just plain, deeply and emotionally troubled, I am sorry about that. You should do what's best for you and your family and seek out professional assistance. There is light at the end of every tunnel. This is not for you.
But if you are the normal, everyday mom or the normal everyday parent then I am here to say: Bad parenting is okay.
In fact, bad parenting is more than okay, it's likely to be a good thing! And yes, that's okay.
My kids are young, they are 4 and 5 1/2. I try my best. I try to teach them proper manners and fun play. I try to teach them lessons and consequences. I try to teach them about love, unconditional love and putting your energy to good things. Helpful things. I try. I can honestly say I try. I do good things I know. I do regular good things for my kids.
Yet, I know, I have epic failures too. Goodness, I point my finger at them when I am really angry. I count in a voice so firm that when I get to whatever number it is, there will be consequences if need be. And my kids know it.
I fly off the handle. I hate to admit that. I am embarrassed it happens. But it happens.
There are some tense moments in the house when my husband is around.
There is crying on other occasions. Geez, there was real, heart-breaking sadness, that I just couldn't hide from them when my Dad passed.
And just the other day, I am ashamed to admit, my daughter had been "mom mom moming" me and then stopped in her tracks and said in her beautifully strong voice "Mom taking care of your kids is more important than work." Ouch, that one hit a nerve. Wonder where she learned that adult statement from...
Did I drop my non-work email and hug her immediately? No, maybe another bad parenting moment came after that. Because I then proceeded to tell her how I had taken care of her all day long, in excoriating detail, and to not ever talk to me like that again.
"Did you like that camp you went to today? Which I found. Which I convinced Daddy was the right camp to attend and pay for. Which I coordinated friends to go along with you. Did you like the lunch you ate with the hearts, fruit and your favorite snack, which I purchased, made and packaged for you..."
I went through the entire day from start to present moment with her about how I had taken care of her bit by bit. You can imagine how long that digest was if we were having the conversation in the early evening. I was not happy, she hit a nerve and had to listen to my firm, stable voice about the day's activities.
Almost immediately I felt bad I got so upset. (Can we say she hit a nerve?) We hugged it out and my sweet darling responded as she does. "It's okay Mom."
But here's the thing. Bad parenting has its' moments. These moments bring forth emotions, moods, and lessons.
Because we, as moms love lists, here are few ways bad parenting is not so bad.
1. The Kids Experience Mistakes
It's important that kids experience mistakes. I would also argue it's important them seeing you make mistakes too. Now you don't have to go overboard. I want my daughters to look up to me but I also want to them to see that when I make a mistake, I take action to correct it. When I make a mistake, I work to improve from it. When I make a mistake, sure it hurts, but I will survive. They will survive too. When kids experience mistakes, they learn that mistakes are part of the natural learning journey. When kids experience mistakes, they learn that a mistake is just that, a mistake. Nothing more, nothing less. It's something that happens and it's something they can move on from.
2. The Kids Experience That The World Is Not Always Rosy
Omgoodness. Do you know where I live? I live in one of the most beautiful towns by one of the most beautiful beaches in the country. The homes are literally the most expensive homes in the country. The shoes these women walk around in are jaw-dropping gorgeous and expensive. The clothes are seemingly perfect. Their health is seemingly perfect. That's where I live. It's 70 degrees and sunny everyday.
All that said for what purpose? Even if your surroundings are rosy, your kids need to experience life that is not rosy. Life is not rosy. I did not grow up where it's 70 degrees and sunny everyday. I grew up in Upstate New York, in New Hampshire and Virginia and Washington, DC.
Just like you would take your kids to the carnival, to the park, to the beach, to Disney World, to Europe and Mexico you want to have your kids experience the days that are not rosy. Dare I say dark?
Here's my reasoning. Life is not going to be rosy for them always. Don't you want them to experience the dark days when they have the comfort, support and encouragement at home? Don't you want them to learn that when the dark days come, they are still loved and capable? Let them experience the dark days while they are still at home, that way they can get used to the experience and can come out of it thriving with a strong support system around. When they are older and on their own, the dark days won't be so hard, right? Because they know they can not only survive it but thrive from it.
3. The Kids Bond Together By Their Experiences
I was talking with another family recently about their own parenting mistakes. My friend was telling me how she felt regret that her kids had seen some fighting between herself and her husband. She wished she could have handled certain situations better. She was talking about how she had this specific conversation with her 20 year old daughter. Sure, mistakes were made, sure we wish could have done better. Her daughter is very close to her brother and said the parents fighting was a bonding experience for the two brother and sister. A bonding experience for the brother and sister that are the closest of friends. While my friend did not intend to do some bad parenting, a positive did come out of it.
4. The Kids Learn From An Early Age How To Deal With Mistakes
Imagine down the road your kiddo gets caught with their hand in the cookie jar. Their first big mistake. They took an action that was not worthy of them, they made a big mistake. What will happen? How will they deal with it? How will they move forward? Will they even learn from it? Grow from it? It's best to lay that foundation when they are young, right? Ensure they learn about actions (positive and negative), about consequences now, right?
5. The Kids Learn From An Early Age That Nobody Is Perfect
Needing to be perfect is a growing problem in our society. I do think we are more aware of our imperfections but with social media so prevalent there's some hypocrisy happening too. We present on social media the good, the pretty and the planned out. Only. That's okay, I accept that. I don't want my Facebook feed filled with woes. I enjoy cheering on the good things in my friends and families' lives. Offline, if they discuss with the hard stuff. But I am a confident adult with emotional development and stability.
When perfection is always presented to them, when only the good is presented to them how are they going to learn that they themselves do not have to be perfect? That they should and can embrace those imperfections within themselves.
We are not perfect and that is okay. Wouldn't it be wonderful if children learned at an early age that everybody has individual flaws. Nobody is perfect. When they see that nobody perfect but we are still wonderful, lovable beings. Wouldn't that be wonderful?
Yes, I am actively trying to build a well-rounded child and I believe that means my kids fall, they see the good but also some of the bad. I try to protect them, absolutely, but I don't lie to them either. I respect them, even from an early age, and firmly believe (pray) that together we create a great meaningful life.