What does it take to make someone a bad mother or father?
Anything less than perfection doesn’t make you a bad parent. You’re allowed to make mistakes. You will make mistakes. It’s inevitable; being a parent doesn’t make you any less human.
Some behaviors go beyond simple mistakes.
Parenting is not a selfish endeavor. Parenting requires sacrifice and generosity, compassion and discipline, love and giving, helpfulness and respect.
If you don’t respect your child, you are a bad parent.
If you don’t care what’s good for your child, you are a bad parent.
If you abuse your child, you are definitely a bad parent. And I don’t just mean smacking him or her around or subjecting him or her to sexual contact. Verbal abuse is abuse. Bullying and manipulation is abuse. Tearing apart your child’s self-esteem is abuse.
Children need to be loved and cared for. They need to be supported—physically, financially, developmentally, and emotionally.
We all make mistakes. We all go through rough patches. That’s no excuse for abuse.
When you abuse your child, when you don’t care what’s good for your child, when you constantly disrespect your child, when you bully your child, then you cross a boundary that you can’t step back from. You can repent, you can make amends, but you cannot uncross that line. You can’t take it back.
Knowing the “system” fails kids is different than seeing it in action with a child you’re trying to protect. Knowing there are bad mothers out there is different than screaming into the phone at a woman who doesn’t care about her child and only wants him for the financial aid he entitles her to. That and the feel of power it gives her to force him to do what she wants, regardless of what’s good for him, regardless of what he wants and needs.
I know there are worse people out there. I know things could be so much worse. But when the system fails, I also know a week, a day, or even an hour is too long to wait for the system to work. Holding a teary-eyed teen in your arms because he has to go back to a place where he’s disrespected, abused, threatened, bullied and manipulated is awful. It doesn’t help that it could be worse. Knowing that just makes it hurt more. Knowing I can’t save him from yesterday, from last night, from this morning, and for however long it takes for the system to work is agony.
A child is not a piece of property. A child is not a weapon to use in a personal war for power. Every child deserves to be loved, to be cherished, and to be nurtured.
And if you don’t believe that, if you don’t get it, THEN DON’T BE A PARENT!!!
You’re not worthy of the title.