Parents: You’re all doing it wrong.

World's Okayest Parent Mug on Cafe Press | Mom-101You – you who let your kid cry it out for 20 minutes until he learned to self-soothe and get a full night’s sleep? You know you damaged him for life right? Just wait until you get the therapy bills.

You – you who ran to pick up your child in the crib at every cry, knowing that a cry means a baby needs something?  He suffered irreparable developmental damage from lack of sleep. Good luck with that.

You, who fed your babies formula for any reason at all (unbearable pain, postpartum depression, cultural pressure, adoption), I hope you know your child is at a greater risk for obesity and a career as a gas station attendant.

You, who nursed your children just as long as they needed to, even at night at five-years-old (just sometimes) to help them sleep, you know your child is going to have total Oedipal issues for life. Have fun being his date to the prom.


You, who hand-churned every drop of organic baby food, you are clearly bored and have nothing better to do with your life.

You, who fed your baby out of jars from Costco, you are clearly someone who doesn’t care about your baby’s health.


You, who stayed home after your children were born, the 50’s called and they want their pathetic excuse for a maternal role model back.

You who went back to work after your children were born, you should ask yourself why you even had children if you didn’t want to raise them yourself.


You, who buy your daughters pink tutus and tiaras and Disney movies, how does it feel to have bought into gender norms that demean girls and reduce them to helpless princesses with limited choices in life?

You, who buy your girls fire truck tees and cars and water guns, how about letting them choose what they want to play with instead of imposing your own values on them?


You, who haven’t evolved from white couches and your fancy retro-modern coffee tables with sharp edges, you do know that having a child means sometimes you have make a few sacrifices and it can’t be all about you anymore, right?

You, who have  pillow fort ready couches and bean bags and toys in every corner of your home, you do know that giving up your entire way of life for your kids is just coddling them, right?


You, who forbid TV in your home, you are sheltering your children from culture and shared peer group experiences that will make them objects of scorn and ridicule as they get older.

You, who watch TV in your home, you are lowering your children’s IQ by the second, stunting their creativity, and creating a sedentary lifestyle they may never outgrow.


You, who stayed in an unhappy marriage for the sake of the children, congrats–now your kids have a terrible relationship to model their own after.

You, who divorced after years of trying to work things out, you are nothing more than selfish and you could have tried harder to stay together if you really wanted to.


You, who have never ever spent a night away from the children, you are creating an unhealthy co-dependency.

You, who travel without your children, you’re creating a traumatic sense of abandonment.


You, who are raising your children in your faith, can we talk brainwashing?

You, who are raising your children without religion, how will they ever have any moral compass at all?


So there you go. You did it wrong. Every single choice.

There’s proof all over the Internet, and it’s not even hard to find.

Now. Take a deep breath.

Shut off the damn computer.

Get off the message boards, ignore the comment threads.

And keep doing whatever it is you’ve been doing. You’ve got children to raise.

[thanks for the inspiration kristen, and all your lovely commenters.]


94 thoughts on “Parents: You’re all doing it wrong.”

  1. Amen. We are all doing it all wrong and doing it all right. Let’s not forget that there is Nature to our Nurture, and we can’t control everything. Some days, we can’t control anything. On those days, just go to bed and start over tomorrow.

    1. My own mother’s best advice: Remember everything you do as a mom is right, and everything you do is wrong. Have you two been speaking? You’d like each other, Jen!

      1. Your mom and I go way back, all the way to Comic Strip Live.

        (Not sure who “Jeb” Singer is, but I suspect that has something to do with commenting via phone, sans glasses.)

      2. Love what your mom says. So true. So very true. Thanks for this piece. I needed it so very much.
        Might I add however you forget family size: one versus (oh dear gawd) five or more. Because one is spoiled and five or more are impossible to afford the brand new cars, college tuitions and huge-assed weddings that are every child’s birthright. Heard that last week.

  2. Oh Liz – speak for yourself. *WE* are doing everything perfectly – it’s the OTHER parents who are complete failures 😉

    In all seriousness – great post and great reminder. The truth in simplicity.

  3. I don’t know why, but this made me cry. Likely the hormones, but honestly you just played back the transcript running like a freight train through my head 24 hours a day. It’s not even the computer (though the internet is definitely a contributing factor), it’s general sense of judgement I feel every single time I walk out the door with my children. Maybe it’s self-judgement. Whatever the case, it’s exhausting and the only reprieve I find is by actually mothering and being with my kids.

    1. We all have that script, somewhere. I try to remember that those of us judging ourselves most harshly probably deserve it the least; I think the parents who need the most help are the ones who never think about their choices at all.

    2. I feel the same way, especially since helpful strangers lurk on every corner in my neighborhood!

  4. Thank you! I think I’ve done every single thing on that list in one combo or another, including traveling with and without my kids 😉 Nice to know I’m not the only crazy one just trying to get by, do best by my kids and me, and ignore (for the most part) what I “should” be doing that every other mom around me does. Honestly, I’m not crafty and would be on every Pinterest Fail board in the world if I tried. Take the pressure off people and just be you.

  5. Yes, yes, yes and yes some more. Seriously, for all the things we have blamed our own moms for – and for all the things that our children will blame us for- there is not enough time in the day for all that therapy 🙂

  6. When my son was 3, he was getting out of his bed at night (sometimes 4+times a night). After 4 months of this, I asked his pediatrician if he thought it would be emotionally damaging for us to put a lock on the outside of his door and lock him in there in the short term, to train him that he needed to stay in his room at night. He told me, “well, he needs to have something to tell his therapist later on. Might as well be this.” We did it (although the 3 year old managed to pry the lock off the door) and he is now 8 and doesn’t appear to have lasting emotional problems. We still love his doctor. He really embodies the “whatever you do, it’s both right and wrong so don’t worry so much” mantra.

  7. THIS! Just, yes.

    I will say…after 12+ years of parenting, I sometimes wonder if more TV as toddlers would have led to less debating in my children now. Hmmmm. 😉

    1. My 8 year old has watched more TV than I care to admit. He argues and debates EVERY single thing with me. Just something to think about.

      1. Hahahaha. Good to know. I have two debaters. It is tiring. Also mine watch TV too. 🙂

        1. Hard to say. Mine do as well. The five and twelve year old the most. I am forever thankful for Netflix and iPads with headphones.

          1. Remembering that the skills to negotiate for what one wants are essential in the grown up world. helped me to live with the inevitable debating. Just a grandma’s perspective….

  8. Glad you wrote this.

    I’ve been thinking about this George Carlin quote a lot lately and how it can be applied to parents judging other parents: “Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?”

  9. Ha! I’m more aware of this than ever having teenagers who are now calling me on all my shit. Funny how all the things I thought I was doing right weren’t always right in their eyes! And vice versa. I realized long ago I’ll never be perfect so stopped trying. It’s a huge relief. Great post!

  10. Great post. Absolutely agree. I wish everyone only read this one post to get their parenting advice!

  11. I published a post just now, and then came back here to read this one, because I’ve had it open in a tab all day, and it turns out that I must have subconsciously absorbed some of yours earlier, because I wrote “Dear Bloggers: You’re Doing It Wrong”.

    Please take this as a compliment, and I’m linking to your post at the end of mine, because yours is so good, Liz.

  12. And there you go again saying so beautifully what I wish I could say! I often think I could go back to those few first precious year of being a mother to my girl and just do what was in my gut and not what the of-the-moment parenting guru said. But then I remember I still have many more years to screw it up, or get it right. It will always be both.

  13. My son is about to turn 3. This blog feels like my life lately. Everything feels like a fight with him. Good to know I am not the only one doing it wrong!

  14. The only time I feel I’m really messing it up is when I go against my instincts. Life (and parenting) is too complicated to fit any single set of rules. Thanks for this post–particularly the last couple of lines.

  15. Sounds about right… so in other words, you’re telling me I’m raising a child that will have issues with their childhood, just like I did with mine?

    I’m okay with that. 🙂 Guess I should be okay with my parents, too, then! 🙂

  16. My mother is on me relentlessly right now because the kids don’t have proper raincoats. THEY HAVE UMBRELLAS, MOM. Should I tell her we just ate on tv tables while watching The Simpsons, or does someone else just want to call Children’s Aid directly? LOVE this post (obviously).

  17. This post seriously just lifted the mom guilt brick from my shoulders. I so often am torn in my decision making. Thank you for the encouragement to just do as I am already doing instead of questioning everything!

    1. This made me cry Misty. Thank you so much for sharing that with me. A comment like this means the world to me. Hang in there.

  18. I have teenagers + teach other people’s teenagers so I am fully aware of how very wrongly I do every goddamn thing. Yet here we all are, smart enough to carry on coherent conversations & solve everyday problems, and no one is bloodied or bruised. Much.

    Thank you for the validation… 🙂

  19. Brilliant. So true. Every time the idea of right and wrong in parenting comes up, I always think of this quote by Rumi: “Out beyond ideas of rightdoing and wrongdoing, there is a field. I will meet you there.” I think we moms need to set up a tent out in that field and have a bigass party.

  20. T.V. To watch or not to watch, that is the question. I grew up in Arizona, raised by a father that thought that watching T.V. was a bad thing. I studied Child Development to learn to make my own choices in raising children. I had six children. I raised them in Pennsylvania and had no idea what to do with them in the winter. They watched T.V. My oldest son did the computer animation for Star Wars and now produces podcasts and live streams from the White House. My youngest son is the Director of Photography for a film that will be made in Iceland this summer. They not only watched T.V., they studied it.

  21. I like to say that I don’t get all of the blame, or all of the credit. I’ll take some of each, but not all. I’ve done my best, as most of us do. I’ve succeeded and failed, as most of us do. My daughter is a kind, loving, funny, intelligent, hard working, beautiful girl. Some of that is parenting, some of that is her. She has certain preferences in life that have nothing to do with us. She has issues that I worked so hard to NOT have her suffer. She’s fighting an eating disorder. I’ve tried and tried to figure out what we did wrong to cause that. I come up with nothing. Not controlling. We don’t expect perfection from her. We don’t talk about weight or any of that in front of her. The fact that young women on both sides of the family have also struggled with this makes me think it nature vs. nurture. It’s strange to me how many things are. I first met my dad when I was 21. I hold my pen like he does, and I share his sense of humor. No matter how hard you try, no matter how relaxed and easy going you are, you can’t get it all right. Or all wrong, for that matter.

    1. This hurts my heart. I, myself, am struggling with an eating disorder. I can point to things in my past to blame, but maybe it has as much to do with how I’m wired as it does anything else. I work SO hard trying to do all the things right to help my children avoid this down the road. It hurts me to really realize that try as I might, I’m not perfect, and neither are they, and dispite my best efforts, this disease could find them too.

      I hope your daughter recovers quickly.

  22. Oh ladies,
    Lest we forget the vaccine issue! That’s another one to lump on the end of the criticisms. Thanks for this post.

  23. Let me just say this…. I have been parenting for 30 years now. I have 6 biological children from 10 to 30 years of age. I’ve raised them the same, but they have not turned out the same. They all have various interests, different educational degrees, bad habits, good habits. Some are stubborn, some are easy going. It has to do with their personality. What they are born with. Let’s not forget about their peer group. There is some parenting influence, but not as much as we take credit or blame for. Do what you feel is right. They will be ok. Chances are if they are screwed up as adults, you didn’t do it…trust me.

    1. Thank you Wendy, for your BTDT perspective. I’m sure your words are wildly helpful for so many new moms worrying about day-to-day decisions.

  24. this is perfection, and reminded me of this Philip Larkin poem:

    They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
    They may not mean to, but they do.
    They fill you with the faults they had
    And add some extra, just for you.

  25. Great article. We should all be less judgemental.
    The best thing we can do for our kids is love them. Let them feel safe to explore and make mistakes. All the rest is secondary. Good job, moms!

  26. My mother in law reminded me she simply did the best she knew how raising 3 sons – that advice consoled me many times. Dr. Google never nurtured children so love yourselves and then do the best you can for this day.

  27. Nothing could be more right on right now, today. And I’m embarrassed at how clearly I see myself, the guilt and the doubt so corrosive it could peel paint in the next room, here on this page.

  28. Too funny, and how true! There is always another way to look at everything, and we can either see it positively or negatively. Just shows we have to trust ourselves as parents, no matter what anyone else says.

  29. Amen. This list is spot-on, and an excellent reminder of why we parents — especially mothers — need to stop criticizing each other’s choices/decisions and just parent our OWN children.

  30. You’re like the in-flight oxygen mask of sense for parents.

    Grateful for you and fresh, deep gulps of air you give us.

  31. I felt like crying, because yes, this about sums it all up. But I forced myself to laugh instead and now I will get back to the happy business of ruining my children for life. I hope to hell they appreciate it.

  32. Yay, I’ve done everything right AND wrong! Now back go parenting.

    Thanks for the reminder and the refreshing perspective.

  33. I really hope for the day the incessant mommy judgement ends…. Though I think it has always been there, the internet just made it less whispered…

  34. Man, I feel so normal after reading this. I did it all wrong, I am sure, but I did what I could – that’s just it. BTW, I stayed home after the kids and now and ready for the shrink’s couch and to pay her to talk Freud to me. Sigh.

  35. Loved this one! So true – damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Applies not just to parenting. As they say…“To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.”

  36. Excellent, excellent, excellent. I love that you’ve placed opposing views in sort of a dueling-banjo format. Wish I had a tee-shirt big enough to print it on.

  37. One thing can’t be debated. Your child, your son’s body is his choice to make permanent non-life threatening decisions about. There is no ‘pro’ good enough to justify severing off a healthy part of his genitals. His body is his choice. It’s not the family penis.

    1. Any issue that starts with someone saying, “there is no debate” is generally, actually, a debate.

Comments are closed.