25 Bad Parenting Statistics That Will Change How You Parent

Bad Parenting Statistics Middle Class Dad artist rendering of Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader having a lightsaber battle while The Emperor looks on in the background

Curious to see some bad parenting statistics?

As parents, we see (and judge) other parents all the time.

In grocery stores, school and in playgrounds across the globe there are a lot of parents out there doing things that many of us consider being “bad”. But in the world of bad parenting statistics, we’re actually setting (most) of the personal judgments aside and looking at real numbers.

The problem with bad parenting is that it often isn’t just limited to the parents and kids directly involved.

Children of bad parents often grow up to be bad parents themselves and the problems grow exponentially, generation after generation.

In this post, we’ll take a look at the effects of so-called bad parenting styles, how they impact our kids and the generations to come. Specifically, we’re diving into exactly what bad parenting statistics are and the long-term effect they have on our planet.

What is bad parenting?

Diana Baumrind is considered one of the leading parenting experts out there.

Her work in the 1960’s is still considered groundbreaking to this day. In her mind, there were 3 main parenting styles:

  • Authoritarian (top-down drill Seargent)
  • Authoritative (firm, fair & consistent)
  • Permissive (putting the child’s needs 2nd to their own)

Of those, she considered authoritative to be the best and authoritarian and permissive to be the worst. Check out more details on her and how her work can help you in one of my newest and best-received parenting posts all about Baumrind’s Parenting Styles.

Naturally, a lot has changed since the 1960’s and parenting styles have been added to. So for the purposes of looking at bad parenting statistics, I would also add the following parenting styles to the bad list:

  • Neglectful (beyond permissive to the point of neglect)
  • Helicopter (so fearful of injury to the child they hover & smother)

How does bad parenting affect children?

Of all the parenting styles out there, authoritarian is probably the worst.

The authoritarian parent uses some, or all of the following to parent their kids:

  1. Yelling to strike fear and obedience
  2. Spanking or other physical punishment
  3. Serious consequences for disobedience and backtalk
  4. Often uses the phrase “because I said so”
  5. Maintains an image of perfection – they never apologize for their own behavior or mistakes

Unfortunately, the effects of these actions can include the following:

  • Kids feel less socially acceptable (by other children in their age group)
  • They are more likely to bully others (they are passing on what they were taught)
  • These kids are less resourceful (since they were taught to be blindly obedient)
  • They are more likely to have symptoms of depression
  • These kids are more likely to perform poorly at school
  • A higher likelihood of drug and alcohol abuse

Sources for the above claims include: National Institutes of Health in one study and again in another and another, the International Journal of School & Educational Psychology, The Universities of Temple and Wisconsin.

I highly recommend you take a moment and review all the Worst Authoritarian Parenting Examples & Effects to really see just how bad this style is.

Middle Class Dad bad parenting infographic bad parenting statistics

What are all the different parenting styles?

I listed 5 of the parenting styles above:

  • Authoritarian
  • Authoritative
  • Permissive
  • Neglectful
  • Helicopter

But I would add 2 more to the 5 listed above:

  • Attachment (authoritative but with increased child bonding)
  • Conscious (a great deal of freedom & flexibility given to the child)

Each of these has some definite pros and cons and none is perfect in and of itself.

A great parent is always learning and growing and will often blend a few of these and tailor it for their specific family dynamic.

But in my opinion, a great parent avoids joining the list of bad parenting statistics by starting with the authoritative parenting style.

Check out these amazing Authoritative Parenting Examples today to be a better parent tomorrow.

What percentage of parents use corporal punishment?

Bear in mind it can be difficult to get an accurate number as not all parents who spank their kids are willing to go on record about it.

That being said, a recent study by the University of Chicago found that over 70% of Americans admitted that, “it is sometimes necessary to discipline a child with a good, hard spanking.”

Generally speaking, most of the rest of the world has lower percentages of spanking by parents with the exception of parts of Africa and the Middle East.

Corporal punishment in schools is still legal in 19 states in the US according to a recent study by the Brookings Institute.

Is it legal to hit your child with a belt?

Middle Class Dad sad blond haired boy in a blue shirt bad parenting statistics

The short answer is maybe. According to US Federal Law, you are allowed by law to use corporal punishment on your children under certain conditions. Those conditions state that the type of punishment must be “reasonable” and not cause injury.

That being said, each state also has their own laws, some more specific than others.

The Gundersen Center for Effective Discipline has a list of corporal punishment laws by state in the US so you can see how your state measures up.

As physically punishing your child gets less popular, the social stigma attached to it has increased significantly and there have been people charged with child abuse who probably thought they were simply disciplining their child.

So let’s review the . . . 

25 Bad Parenting Statistics That Will Change How You Parent

SINGLE PARENT STATISTICS

1. Kids from single-parent families are 11 times more likely to commit violent acts.

2. Upwards of 70% of single mothers make under $13,000/year and live below the poverty line.

3. Single women give birth to 40% of the children born each year.

4. Almost 10% of single mothers claim to have used excessive force on their children at least once.

5. Today, 67% of kids live with two married parents. This number has dropped 10% over the past few decades and continues to shrink.

6. On average, single parents connect with their kids for less than 1 hour per day. This compares with married parents who spend an average of 2 hours connecting with their kids.

7. Over 90% of parents of both sexes tend to hug their kids daily up to age 2. But that drops by upwards of 25% for mothers and 50% of fathers by the time their kids are in the tween years.

The takeaway in these bad parenting statistics is NOT to shame single mothers or single fathers but to point out that 2 parents are better than 1. While there are certainly some very valid reasons for divorce, finding ways to work through the challenges in relationships make life better for EVERYONE involved. If you have children, you owe it to them and yourself to do everything possible to save the relationship before calling it quits.

PARENTING STATISTICS BY INCOME

8. 18% of all kids in the US live in poverty.

9. Children in the US living below the Federal poverty line are more than double as likely to experience violent acts towards them or their family members.

10. Boys from the poorest 25% of families in the US were more than twice as likely to be convicted of violent crimes (as adults) than boys from the remaining 75% of families.

11. According to the PEW Research Center, “parents with annual family incomes of less than $30,000, concerns about teenage pregnancy, physical attacks and their kids getting in trouble with the law are also more prevalent than among those who earn $75,000 or more”.

The takeaway in these bad parenting statistics is not to shame poor people but to point out that low income does have an adverse effect on children. Thus, staying focused on building a better life for you and your kids should be top of mind for low-income couples wanting to have children.

PHYSICAL DISCIPLINE PARENTING STATISTICS

11. A recent study published in the Journal of Family Psychology found that parents who experienced spankings, yelling, and neglect as a child were “were more likely to value corporal punishment”. That same study also found that physical discipline “can backfire and cause kids to misbehave”.

12. Another recent study in the Pediatrics AAP News and Journals found that “Frequent use of CP (corporal punishment) when the child was 3 years of age was associated with increased risk for higher levels of child aggression when the child was 5 years of age”.

13. Yet another study by the University of New Hampshire found a drop in IQ of children who experienced regular physical discipline. Specifically, they found that “Children of mothers in . . . who used little or no CP (corporal punishment) . . .  gained cognitive ability faster than children who were not spanked. The more CP experienced, the more they (the child) fell behind children who were not spanked.”

14. 1 child in every 58 in the US has had some type of physical abuse.

15. However, going back to the PEW Research Center study, only 4% of parents in the US “say they turn to spanking often as a way to discipline their kids”.

PERMISSIVE PARENTING STATISTICS

16. Kids raised by permissive parents are more aggressive, poor planners, and struggle to take ownership of their actions.

17. A recent study by the National Institutes of Health found that children of permissive parents (what they call disengaged) “had greater increases in BMI (body mass index) as they transitioned to young adulthood”.

18. Because permissive parents set fewer rules and strive to be more friend than parent, children of permissive parents often see an increased consumption of alcohol when they reach the teen years.

19. Another recent study by the National Institutes of Health found that (children of) “permissive mothers watched significantly more television”. In a separate study, they go on to say that “Excessive television viewing in childhood and adolescence is associated with increased antisocial behavior in early adulthood. The findings are consistent with a causal association and support the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation that children should watch no more than 1 to 2 hours of television each day”.

AUTHORITARIAN PARENTING STATISTICS

20. That same study by the National Institutes of Health also found that children of authoritarian parents also had higher than average body mass index.

21. A recent study by The International Journal of Engineering development and research found a “significant positive relationship between depression and authoritarian parenting styles. It indicates that more the authoritarian parenting style higher the level of depression”.

22. A recent study by the University of Southern Mississippi found that “Black American parents as exhibiting stricter, more controlled parenting”.

23. Going back to the PEW Research Center study again finds that “Black parents are more likely than white or Hispanic parents to say they give spankings at least some of the time”.

OVERPROTECTIVE PARENTING STATISTICS

24. Referring again to the PEW Research Center study, 62% of parents in the US classify themselves as over-protective.

25. Of those over-protective parents, 62%, 68% of moms call themselves over-protective compared to 54% of dads.

Did I cover all the bad parenting statistics you were looking for?

I’m a father of 3 but in my day job, I run a school where approximately 400 kids attend each week, so I also see children and parents in large numbers and have an excellent understanding of parenting styles, what works, what doesn’t and everything in between.

In this post, I dove deep into the world of bad parenting statistics.

We reviewed the most common parenting styles including the worst ones. But we also took a look at how bad parenting not only affects the kids immediately involved but also generations to come.

Specifically, though, we listed out the 27 Bad Parenting Statistics that will most definitely have an impact on how you parent.

What are your biggest parenting struggles?

Middle Class Dad bio bad parenting statistics

Additional bad parenting statistics research sources:

National Center for Children in Poverty

United States Department of Health and Human Services

United States Census Bureau


Photo credits which require attribution:

Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker with Ian McDiarmid as the Emperor Darth Sidious and Darth Vader by big-ashb is licensed under CC2.0

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