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What do you do when you think your friends are bad parents?
If you find yourself thinking that your friend is a bad parent or seeing signs that concern you, you should start by identifying the elements of their parenting that concern you. Thinking that someone is a bad parent may stem from them having a different parenting style than you do, or you may see signs of physical or verbal abuse in their children. In either situation, there are some steps you can take to be a good friend and maintain a good friendship moving forward.
Your Parenting Styles are Different
Personal opinions run rampant when observing how other people parent. Some parents take a hands-off approach, some are more prone to helicopter parenting, and others are somewhere in between. Don’t assume that because you parent differently, that your friend is wrong in how they approach parenting.
Friends are great because they are there for you through thick and thin. You can trust your friends when you need to talk, and they respect what you share. In the case of parenting, your friend may feel overwhelmed by constant and unsolicited parenting advice. A great way to maintain your friendship is to listen, offer helpful words when asked, and be there for them if they have a hard time.
Plan Friend Time Together
Spending too much time together may cause you to notice those parenting differences even more. Plan time together when you have childcare, so you can focus on your friendship and not be interrupted by the kids. Remember that friendships take time and maintenance. If you are overly focused on their parenting style, you may not be able to enjoy their company.
Is Your Friend a Truly Bad Parent?
Some behaviors are indicators of lousy parenting tactics; many parents do not realize that they are a terrible parent until they are court-ordered to take counseling or voluntarily go to a therapist. Understanding what kind of a parent you are takes self-awareness that must be developed over time. Below are some signs that your friend may be a bad parent.
Signs of Bad Parenting
- Avoidance or Neglect
- Setting a Bad Example
- Distrusting Child
- Too Much Pampering or Interfering
- Oppressive, Overbearing Authoritarianism
- Favoritism or Partiality between children
- Physical or Verbal Abuse
How to Be a Better Parent
Self-awareness is essential to success in all aspects of life. And in parenting, it is highly valuable, and your children benefit greatly. Self-awareness involves monitoring your inner worlds, which includes your thoughts, emotions, and overall belief system. A better way to describe it might be: To look inward to determine how and why you feel the way you do and recognizing when to make corrections to your behavior. Self-awareness can help you be a better parent; however, below are some specific actions you can take to become a better parent each day.
Don’t Yell at Your Children
When parents have younger children, they can become frustrated with their child's inability to do things at a higher-level or have disappointment with their bad behavior. Instead of yelling, or reacting in frustration, take a minute to breathe and collect your composure. Then decide how to respond. If your child is behaving poorly, calmly explain that and why the behavior is wrong. Also, tell them that there is a consequence—such as a timeout.
Give Reasons for Instructions
Always explain to your children the reason they should make a particular choice or take a certain action. Children should understand why they need to go to bed on time or brush their teeth every day. If you want to instill good habits and behavior, your child needs a reason to commit to them. These behavior changes take time. Children need repetition to learn. Be persistent and consistent; they will get there. For more on this topic, you can read our blog about raising kids with good manners.
Let Your Children Make Some Decisions
Children are always told where to go and what to do. Letting them make some minor choices along the way can help them feel more confident and boost their self-esteem. This situation becomes especially evident as your children grow into their teenage years. You can get started with this tactic by reading our blog about how to boost your child’s self-confidence.
Keep the Lines of Communication Open
Your children may not always want to talk, but they need to know you are there for them no matter the situation. Taking time to be involved in your child's life in the minor everyday events will help you develop a trusting relationship over time. Talk to them about the topics they want to talk about and, more importantly, do more listening than talking.
Show Affection to Your Children
Children need affection; it affects their development in a positive way when they receive enough. Child Trends reports that children that receive warmth and affection expressed by their parents have lifelong positive outcomes. This research is supported by neuroscience, which shows that when someone receives affection, their brain releases oxytocin, which reduces pain and causes a calming sensation.
Take a Parenting Class
Parenting classes have a lot to offer at every stage of our child's development. When we have our first new baby on the way, most of us don't think twice about enrolling in some basic prenatal classes because we know we're clueless about how to birth a baby or how to care for a newborn. You can learn more about parenting classes here.
Being a Parent is Hard
Parenting is stressful because you care about your children. Take time to learn about different methods of parenting to help you decide how you want to parent. You can start by reading our blog about free-range parenting or this article about parenting stress.
TalkingParents blogs are for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Always consult with a qualified attorney regarding legal matters.