Most people, both parents and non-parents alike, are guilty of criticizing other parents and how they raise their children. That said, judging parents without having all the facts needs to become a thing of the past but there are some hard and fast rules that display whether or not you’re doing the minimum as a father or mother.
Let’s be clear. This isn’t breaking The New Dad Order Rule #9 in that this isn’t intended to be social shaming in any way. We know you love your kid, otherwise you wouldn’t even be here reading a dad blog, but we need to define what makes one suck as a parent. Things like letting your kid use an iPad at a restaurant does not qualify because things like that qualify more for the “until you’re in that situation you have no idea” category. What we’re referring to are things that we, as parents, need to be doing, or not doing, at a minimum.
Now don’t go getting mad at us if you can identify with one of the below points (because who couldn’t at one point or another?). Think of this list as more of a wake up call in that if you are guilty, more often than not, of one of these, you have the opportunity now to change it. However, if you’re guilty of multiple of these, on a constant basis, you seriously need to reevaluate your role as a parent and your priorities as a human being.
So here’s the list we like to call, “You suck as a parent if…”
1. …you refer to time alone with your kids as “babysitting”.
They’re your kids, it’s not called babysitting, it’s called spending quality time alone with them. Now never say that again and we’ll pretend it never happened.
2. …you don’t discipline them as early as they’re able to receive it.
If you keep saying, “they’re just a baby,” and they’re talking already, then you have already failed in this department. That doesn’t mean it’s too late, but it does mean you have work to UNDO before you can get to the work you need to do. Remember, they can hear and understand you before they can speak. Hell, take advantage of this time because you’re going to wish this was the case when they’re teenagers.
3. …you don’t learn to separate them as your child instead of your friend.
This one is sort of an extension to the previous one. If you are your kids friend then you’re not their disciplinarian, you’re not their mentor, you’re not their parent. You can have a extremely close relationship with them, hell if you’re a good parent then you can have a relationship that is better than a friendship, but being their friend never ends well for them…and maybe you. Get a dog if you need a friend.
4. …you only hold them because you’re asked to and not because you want to.
If you don’t want to just grab that child and hold on until they’re in college, or even past then, you need to figure out what the issue is. Do you have unforgiveness, or jealousy, or spite, or pride, or the inexperience of receiving love somewhere from your past that’s holding you back from just wanting to smother that child with hugs and kisses? Just know it’s ok and you can get that figured out but you need to for your kids sake.
5. …you don’t do “gross” things (change diapers, wipe nose, clean up potty training accidents, etc).
Do you wipe your own butt? Do you get a booger off your own face? Look this one isn’t rocket science. If you aren’t doing at least some of the gross things for them that you’ll do for yourself then you’re selfish and you probably love yourself more than them. Plain and simple.
6. …you don’t teach them forgiveness through forgiving others (including them).
This one is perhaps one of the hardest ones because it requires a complete life change if you don’t know how to do it…but you need to. The chances of your kid not forgiving you for things they felt or experienced is much greater if you don’t learn to forgive others, and them, and that’s just plain obvious (no professional references had or needed for that free one).
7. …you don’t show them, or others, grace.
This is unlike forgiveness in that if someone is sorry or they apologize they deserve to be forgiven but if someone does something because they’re still learning or don’t know better or even just because you don’t necessarily agree with it, and they don’t necessarily need your forgiveness, you still show them love over condemnation.
8. …you don’t defend them.
Our kids aren’t perfect, heaven forbid, but that said there are times that they are not in the wrong and they’ll need us, not only at their side but, championing for them.
For example, I myself was told by a teacher, who didn’t know me, that I wasn’t “right” for her honors course, even though I was in other honors courses, and unless I was allowed in I wouldn’t have been able to eventually enroll in Advanced Placement classes like I had planned. Thanks to my mom, who went into the school and fought for me, I was enrolled in that class, went on to Advanced Placement, and eventually secured college credits while in high school.
9. …you put yourself first.
This one is an interesting one because it requires explanation. Yes, you should make sure that you are able to preserve yourself in the position to continue parenting and providing. However, if you habitually put yourself, your interests, your pride, your job, your whatever, in front of your child, then you suck as a parent. One of the pillars of ‘not sucking’ is giving sacrificially. Giving your time, giving your attention, giving your respect, giving your heart openly and honestly.
10. …you don’t tell them you love them.
I’m sorry but this one should even have an ellipsis in that you should not only tell your kids you love them but you should probably feel like you can never tell them enough. My mind is blown when I think about how much my mom loves me because, now that I know how much I love my son, it makes more sense. If you don’t feel similarly then you need to figure it out now.