14 Parenting Habits That Are Actually More Toxic Than You Might Realize

    "My brother was never good at sports so it very much feels like he is making his boys do them to fulfill his desire to play."

    From what I hear, becoming a parent is one of the most challenging jobs in the world. Knowing this, everyone has their own style and opinion on what works regarding parenting. Obviously, parenting is not a one-size-fits-all thing, so members of the BuzzFeed Community shared their thoughts on today's modern parenting and advice for today's parents. Here is what they had to say:

    Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity. 

    1. "I really want to preface this by saying I am in no way parent shaming. Feed your children what you are eating as soon as they begin to show interest in food (obviously within reason). The sooner you introduce 'real' food to your kids, the less likely they are to become picky eaters."

    Toddler reaching for food in a partitioned plate on highchair

    2. "As a teacher, I see the learned helplessness that comes from helicopter parenting daily. Kids will literally sit there and do nothing when they don't know something, even if they could do a simple Google search to figure it out. They would rather have AI write a crappy paper that doesn't meet specifications at all than do the work to think themselves."


    3. "Stop indoctrinating your children into religion. It's a very personal choice. Provide them the tools to make their own decision on which faith, or lack thereof, works for them in the long run. You can still live your life by your religious principles without brainwashing your children."


    4. "Constantly policing and surveilling what they do on the internet. Kids should definitely be taught about internet safety before using it, but if you’re checking their browser history or limiting what they can look up, you’re only going to make them more crafty about how they work around boundaries. Not to mention how the lack of trust affects your future relationship with them."

    Two children looking at a computer screen indoors, one pointing at the monitor

    5. "The goal of raising children is to give them the basic skills to be happy and productive and have friends in their chosen communities. There are many different ways to achieve these goals. The trick is to find one that works for your family and child."


    6. "I’m a single parent of three adult kids in their early 20s. I’ve seen a lot of parenting that I both agree and disagree with but the biggest one for me is manners but also kindness. People often comment on how well-mannered and just ‘nice’ my kids are, but it’s as simple as showing them good manners right from when they’re tiny. Hand them a drink or snack and prompt them to say please and thank you. If someone is visiting or you meet someone on the street, prompt them to say hello."

    "I was bullied throughout school and left out of a lot of things so I always instilled in my kids the necessity of being kind and thinking of others’ feelings and also making sure no one is excluded in social situations. Sometimes that is as easy as listening to or prompting someone who speaks softly or keeps getting interrupted. I’m not a perfect parent, there’s probably lots I do that you don’t agree with but I’m raising adults who are going to make the world a better place."


    7. "Beige. Beige toys, beige clothes, beige decor. Babies need COLOR. My niece's baby registry is all beige, neutral tones, dusty rose...boring flat, no color everything, even toys. Cute stuff, yes, and her baby her choice, but color is necessary for development."

    Child playing with a variety of plastic building blocks on a table

    8. "Parents pander to their kids way too much, and the kids will grow up thinking the world will change for them when they get upset. They are going to struggle as a result."


    9. "Not teaching them even basic online safety. I see so many kids and teens online under their real name, linked to real places and addresses with their actual pictures."


    10. "Explaining to the upset child why they can’t get the chocolate in a child-friendly way. Kids need support to regulate their emotions, as the parent, you should be modeling and scaffolding this, not just shouting at them. I fully agree with boundaries and consequences — kids need these — but I don’t think it’s outlandish to be empathic and compassionate either."

    Adult and child engaged in a conversation while sitting on a sofa in a home setting

    11. "My nephews are in every sport offered: basketball, football, baseball, and soccer. They have practice or games every single day of the week, including weekends during the school year. Then they are put into summer camps for each sport as well. They are 10 and 8. The younger one has said he doesn't like all the sports and only wants to play basketball. But my brother and his wife insist they stick with everything and already talk about how the older boy will have to practice even harder if he is going to make the Penn State team when he is older. My brother was never good at sports so it very much feels like he is making his boys do them to fulfill his desire to play."


    12. "I will admit when I first heard of gentle parenting I was a tiny bit skeptical of it based off of social media, but after seeing it in person, it’s not just getting down on their level and speaking in a calm tone. Gentle parenting is about understanding why your child is reacting the way they are and teaching them to communicate what they are feeling. It also helps the parent to communicate why instead of simply saying 'because I said so.' My sister and brother-in-law are gentle parenting my niece, and I’ve seen them get frustrated and have to walk away because they get angry but don’t want to take it out on their child. It’s hard work and tiring at times. That said, due to gentle parenting, my niece is very good at saying what she likes, what she doesn’t, and most importantly, WHY. She is being taught that she needs to respect someone’s no and not only that but that when she says no, it needs to be respected."

    "She is being taught to voice her feelings and thoughts instead of just throwing a tantrum to get her way. She is being taught that her parents are not always telling her to do something just because they are adults and she has to listen, but she is being taught why it is important to listen to what they tell her to do. They explain why she has to do it even if it’s something that isn’t fun to do. Not only is my neice learning to communicate but her parents are also learning how to communicate properly without invalidating how their daughter may feel. Gentle parenting done correctly is not harmful at all."


    13. "I am certain that today's parents are astronomically over-protective. They are over-protective and raised to the over-protective power. The worst part is that they keep their kids from going outside and getting exercise and sunlight. This enforced sedentary lifestyle will actually lead to early deaths from heart disease and other circulatory problems. They are raising a nation of homebodies and couch potatoes."

    —Bret, 56

    Is there anything you would add to this conversation? If so, share it with me in the comments below.