3 Poor Parenting Examples You Should Avoid at All Costs

Wondering about the worst of the poor parenting examples?

Below we’re going to review the most common parenting styles we hear about.

We’ll define each one; the good, the bad and the ugly. And we’ll take a look at the bad parenting definition.

We’ll look at the 3 worst poor parenting examples. Then we’ll dive in deeper to look at our own parenting styles.

Most importantly we’ll learn to shift our parenting styles if we decide they aren’t in our kid’s best interests!

Why parenting styles matter is that how we raise our kids determines the kind of adults they will become.

They learn by watching how we interact with them as well as others.  They mimic our behavior.  Our errors in judgment often become theirs.

Also know too that it’s more than possible to fall into more than one parenting style category.  Even truer is that both parents likely don’t parent exactly the same.

What are the most common parenting styles?

1. Authoritative

What it is: High expectations with consistent and fair discipline mixed with flexibility

Benefits: Fosters creativity, independence and accountability

Downsides: The flexibility with rules could create confusion for the child

2. Authoritarian

What it is: Top down, dictatorial command and control parenting style

Benefits: An easy way to garner blind compliance

Downsides: Damages self esteem, replaces love with fear and has some of the worst poor parenting examples

3. Attachment Parenting

What it is: Focuses on providing kids with not just basic necessities but also instinctual physical contact (most often with the mother) including breastfeeding & co-sleeping

Benefits: Sometimes used in conjunction with authoritative parenting, can lead to improved confidence, sensitivity, empathy and development

Downsides: Possible to become overly dependent on the mother and develop insecurities when away from the mother

4. Permissive/Indulgent

What it is: Being more of a friend than a parent, putting aside rules, boundaries and age appropriateness for the sake of being able to say “yes” more often

Benefits: An easy way to be with your child and (initially) have them see you as “cool”

Downsides: Children often lack clear boundaries and don’t learn consequences for poor choices.  Can lead to irresponsible choices and a high sense of entitlement

5. Neglectful/Uninvolved

What it is: Parents focus more on themselves than child, setting fewer boundaries and have a general lack of responsiveness for the child’s needs, safety & well-being

Benefits: The child can learn to be self-sufficient at a younger age

Downsides: They often grow up to fear being dependent on others, making relationships difficult. Tend to be emotionally withdrawn and more prone to substance abuse

6. Conscious Parenting

What it is: Focuses more on social-emotional learning and a set of values instead of rules.  High level of flexibility and asking questions of the child more than making statements

Benefits: Nurturing, empowering, loving and focuses on helping the child become the person they want to be

Downsides: Can sometimes lead to a lack of clear boundaries and children may later have trouble being in a world where they are held accountable to their actions or expected to perform comparatively to others

7. Helicopter Parenting

What it is: Over-protecting/smothering kids out of a hyper sense of fear for their safety (possibly driven by a parent’s low self-esteem and desire to feel needed)

Benefits: Can prevent some accidents and issues

Downsides: Often kids don’t learn life lessons on their own and end up learning them later in life the hard way

Need some recommendations on parenting styles books?

These are my personal all-time favorite parenting books!

poor-parenting-examples-meeker-sons-book-middle-class-dad  poor-parenting-examples-meeker-daughter-book-middle-class-dad  poor-parenting-examples-life-kido-book-middle-class-dad

The first 2 books, by Dr. Meg Meeker really explore the relationships between the father & daughter and the mother and son respectively.

They look at the importance those roles have on the child and the adult they become.  While they are gender specific I still think they would be excellent reads for gay and lesbian parents.

Life Ki-do Parenting is the parenting book written by my bosses in my 9 to 5; Jonathan and Lana Hewitt.

If you haven’t heard me talk thus far about where I work, I run the business end of a large martial arts school called Life Ki-do Martial Arts.

Their parenting book takes the life skills we utilize in class, removing the martial component and focusing on how those tools can help us be better parents.

Trust me; I would not be the husband and father I am today without the tools I’ve learned there which are beautifully outlined in this award-winning book.

What is your parenting style?

By now, if you read the above passage, you’ve likely identified which category (or categories) you fall into.

You may also find that during a busy work and school week you’re one category.  But by the weekend when we’re more relaxed, you’ve shifted styles.

Fear not; that’s OK and pretty normal.


How to identify the kind of parenting style you follow

If you aren’t sure which category you fit into, let’s dig in.

Sometimes we don’t see ourselves the way others do.  Ego, pride and fear may also inhibit our ability to see ourselves the way others do. Thus we may sometimes portray some poor parenting examples without even realizing it.

Sometimes, as they say, de Nile isn’t just a river in Egypt.

♠  Do you hover around your kids to protect them such that they never get even a scrape? You might hear the faint sound of helicopters

♠  Is your 6 year old telling their first grade class how great Deadpool is? You may need to be a little less permissive

♠  Are your kids afraid to tell you when they’ve made a mistake? You might be a little authoritarian

Want to take a moment and look at a very humorous take on the “Conscious Parenting” style? Check out this video from JP Sears.

Who came up with the different types of parenting styles?


Diana Baumrind is an author and clinical psychologist at the Institute of Human Development at UC Berkeley.  She is widely recognized for championing the authoritative parenting style in favor of the more permissive style that was dominant at the time of her research in the 1960’s.

At that time, she identified the 3 most common parenting styles as being:

  • Authoritative
  • Permissive
  • Authoritarian

Her work was later expanded on by Professor Eleanor Maccoby of Stanford University and John A. Martin, PhD.  In their studies, they expanded beyond the 3 parenting styles to also include:

  • Indulgent
  • Neglective

What are the most destructive parenting styles out there?

According to Diana Baumrind, the authoritarian style tops the list of poor parenting examples.  The strict, unbending style of the authoritarian parent often leaves little room for a child’s personality or preferences.  It keeps the child safe but at high cost to the child.

Children are punished for not following orders.  Punished for mistakes and errors in judgment.  These parents, as Baumrind says “are obedience- and status-oriented, and expect their orders to be obeyed without explanation.”

They are also punished for voicing opinions and disagreeing.  In this instance, I’m not talking about backtalk or other rude behavior.  No; the child complies because they fear the parent and the repercussions.

Kids of authoritarian parents often feel ashamed and end up with significantly damaged self-esteem. Thus it’s no wonder that this is the worst of the poor parenting examples and the epitome of the bad parenting definition.

RELATED: Confidence Building Activities for Kids

The terrible ways the authoritarian parenting style affects your child’s brain

Researchers at Louisiana State University wrote a paper called The Influence of Parenting Styles on Children’s Cognitive Development.

In that, they found that children of authoritarian parents “have lower cognitive ability scores”.

In my experience both as a parent, but also as a leader in my past career, I have found that the “why” behind a request is key.

When you explain to someone why you want them to do something, a few key things happen.

For one, they have a much better chance of understanding the importance of the request.  They also will be more apt to follow the same patterns in the future rather than blindly awaiting your orders.

They also respect you more for taking the time to explain the situation.

Which is the most effective parenting style?

In truth, there isn’t a consensus on 1 parenting style that everyone agrees is best.

That being said, a great many experts do believe the authoritative style is the best for a variety of reasons. While the authoritative parent, like the authoritarian one, holds children accountable and sets rules and boundaries, they also encourage freedom of expression.

Thus, the authoritative style may well represent the best balance between structure and creative expression and freedom.

Also as we learned from the pros and cons above almost every parenting style does sometimes have poor parenting examples.

How do we change parenting styles?


Changing parenting styles is like changing anything else.

It has to be a conscious choice we make.  That choice needs to become a behavior pattern which in time will turn to habit.  It takes time to create a negative habit so changing it won’t happen overnight.

Often we hear the term “fake it till you make it”.

Sometimes we hear that in a negative light.  In my opinion, as it pertains to forging new habits, I think it’s perfectly applicable.

You see, a new habit is foreign.  It’s uncomfortable and doesn’t feel quite right.  Thus, consciously embarking on creating a new habit (or eliminating an old one) won’t feel natural at first.

That’s OK!  That’s where going through the motions (ie: faking it) starts to build the blocks that will form the new habit.

Every time you take this new action you’ll get a little better.  It will feel a little more natural and a little less uncomfortable. Eventually, you won’t be faking it at all; you’ll be living it!

It will be important though that your child and/or your spouse be allowed to respectfully let you know when you’re falling back on your old ways.  You undoubtedly will but that doesn’t mean you’re a failure!

Breaking a bad habit isn’t easy!

If it were, no one of the planet would smoke!  Let them know it’s OK to let you know if you’re falling back into old habits.

You in turn need to practice humility and be kind to yourself in acknowledging when you fall back.

The only shame is in giving up.

What do we do when we aren’t on the same parenting style page with our spouse?


Honestly, it would be a miracle if both parents parented exactly the same.

The phrase good cop/bad cop may have originated with police officers, but it applies to parents perfectly too.

Typically one parent leans more towards being the “fun” parent; goofy, silly and less strict.  Often the other parent over-compensates becoming no fun at all as they feel like they have to lay down the law for all concerned. So some poor parenting examples are the product of 2 parents who disagree.

In reality, it’s OK if both parents parent differently.

What’s important are the core values they share.  Things like:

  1. Spanking/discipline
  2. Age appropriateness of media
  3. Limits on technology
  4. Nutrition/health
  5. Manners

If 2 parents aren’t in agreement on these things, then that work needs to start now.

The parents have to decide how they want to raise their kids and the fundamentals need to be shared by both.  It’s OK if the parents don’t initially agree.  But you talk, compromise and decide together how to move forward.

Then, and only then, can we loosen the reigns and let the parent’s personalities come into play.

The stricter parent will also likely find themselves to be less frustrated and exacerbated if the “fun” parent has their back on the basics.

How can you be a good parent?

The most important things with kids are boundaries, consequences, love and honesty.

Kids are smarter than you think.  It’s OK to keep information age appropriate, but don’t assume they are too young to understand life.

When my Mom was sneaking cigarettes all while telling us she had quit smoking, my brother and I knew she was lying.

How does it make kids feel when they know their parent is lying to them?  Certainly knowing your parent is lying is one of the worst poor parenting examples.

Tell them the truth.  If the truth about yourself is ugly, change yourself.

When we make mistakes as parents (and we will!) just own it!

Acknowledge it, apologize for it, accept it and help your child move on.  Above all don’t shirk blame by implying it was someone else’s fault (especially your kid’s fault).

When you say “I’m sorry I was late picking you up, but if your school got out at a reasonable time it wouldn’t have happened!”

That makes your kid somehow feel like it’s their fault.  Plus at the end of the day, you were late simply because you didn’t allow enough time to get there.

That’s not the end of the world, so just acknowledge it and don’t undermine the power of taking true ownership by shifting blame.

So what are the . . .

3 Poor Parenting Examples You Should Avoid at All Costs?

1. Authoritarian


The authoritarian parent parents out of a need for control.

They (falsely) believe that they can control their child and the world around them.  They tell themselves that they are using tough love to grow the child up to be responsible.

In reality this parent can be more of a drill sergeant than a loving parent.  This can actually push the child towards more dangerous or inappropriate activities.

This parent has a specific idea of who they want the child to become.

The child’s own ideas about who they are as a person as not valued by the parent. The phrase “because I said so” is a common trait and it’s also likely that this parent is a “do as I say not as I do parent”.

The latter leading to the child to recognize the parent for the hypocrite they are.

The authoritarian parent tends to replace love with fear.

The child learns to be obedient because they fear reprisal; not because they love and respect the parent.  The child also eventually learns to hide misbehaviors.

They also have a greater tendency to engage in reckless behavior as they get older as they learn to behave defiantly.

Children of authoritarian parents often grow up fearing or challenging all forms of authority.

It goes without saying that their relationship with their parents is often strained or non-existent.  These children have a greater likelihood of having low self-esteem and higher instances of substance abuse.

So in this style you can literally see numerous poor parenting examples.

2. Permissive


The permissive parent likes to believe their child will grow up to see them as their best friend.

Often this desire is driven out of the parent’s own need to feel loved and wanted due to impaired self-esteem.

In reality, by trying to be more friend than parent, a lack of boundaries, rules and consequences tend to fall in place.

This lack of parental structure often leads the child to behave inappropriately at school.

Permissive parenting can also cause the child to lack a clear sense of right and wrong.

This parenting style often leads to kids watching inappropriate movies or playing age-inappropriate video games.  This parent might allow and/or use excessive profanity or use drugs with/in front of them.

As the child ages into adulthood they tend to not understand the rules society lives by.

The result of which is they may have a harder time finding a consistent job.  They may also have a high sense of entitlement since they grew up getting to have and do whatever they wanted with little to no consequences for their actions and choices. So this style too, while perhaps marginally better than the authoritarian style also has plenty of poor parenting examples.

3. Neglectful


The neglectful parent is selfish.

They put their own needs before the needs of their child.  I’m not talking occasionally, as we’re all guilty of that every once in a while.  I’m talking consistently putting the child’s needs second to their own.

The parent may tell themselves they are trying to help the child learn to fend for themselves.

But in reality, this behavior is driven by pure selfishness. Often the neglectful parent has issues with substance abuse, the byproduct of which both leads to this behavior and can put the child in harms way.

Children of neglectful parents grow up quick.

These kids miss the childhood and innocence most of us took for granted.  They grow up learning to not rely on anyone but themselves.

They learn to distrust and fear relationships and authority. It stunts their emotional growth and makes emotional intimacy very difficult.

This fear of deep, intimate relationships may lead to a series of non-committal relationships.  Children of neglectful parents also have a much higher rate of substance abuse due to a desire to medicate the pain away. Thus this style also showcases some of the worst poor parenting examples.

Did I cover everything you were looking for on poor parenting examples? 

What do you disagree with?

Any tips or ideas you have?

Feel free to comment here or email me with any questions as I am here to help!

If you like this post, please follow my Parenting board on Pinterest for more great tips from myself and top parenting experts!


Photo credits (that aren’t mine or which require attribution):
Drill Sergeant – https://www.flickr.com/photos/koiquest10/
Drawing of Homer Simpson – https://www.flickr.com/photos/cozinhandofantasias/
Guy in Darth Vader costume – https://www.flickr.com/photos/jonathanmcintosh/



Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell is a husband, father, martial artist, budget-master, Disney-addict, musician, and recovering foodie having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Whole Foods Market. Click to learn more about me

2 thoughts on “3 Poor Parenting Examples You Should Avoid at All Costs

    1. Thanks Chelsea!

      I love her stuff! Let me know what you think once you start on it!

      Thanks for being here!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Content