101 Ways Not to Parent

A few months ago, my 11 year old criticized me for things I say as a parent. I couldn’t really deny that he was 100% dead-on and so, we continued the conversation about things that I had said as a parent that maybe (definitely!) I should not have. That turned into a long list and I included phrases I’ve heard other parents say as well. From there, I suddenly had the desire to name at least 101 things we parents say that, well, should never even be in our vocabulary.

How we choose our words and what we say is one of the greatest challenges as a parent, one that we often overlook and seldom question, until the damage is done. Words can hurt, they can break and they can injure. What’s worse, sometimes we don’t realize the damage we are causing. While it is never too late to right a wrong, we need to realize that sometimes the damage can be irreparable.

Before we move to the list, consider these better practices:

  1. In the heat of the moment, if you feel like doing or saying something, consider doing the opposite. Change your physical state, go for a walk, journal or just let the other person know you need to walk away and come back to deal with the situation at a later time. This will give you the time to cool down, reflect and reposition.
  2. If you are a parent or guardian, you don’t own your child, they are a trust from Allah, swt, so treasure, respect and cherish that trust knowing that you have a responsibility more than a right over them.
  3. Lead from the heart and with love, come from a good place and learn to start taking the time to reflect before you act.

I’m certain that as parents we all mean well but we don’t always say or do what we mean. So, let’s take a couple of minutes and review this list and what can we do differently. If you hear yourself in these words, try rephrasing and reclaim the relationship  you were meant to have with your child.

My hope is to complete this list (currently, I have 76 ways, which is a good thing if I can’t make it to 101) and to expand on it by including the right response instead. One day, perhaps this will become a book with illustrations but for now, I welcome you to add to the list, to provide your input and to suggest an alternative. Hopefully, you don’t hear yourself speaking to your children in this tone, but if you do, consider rephrasing and know that it can never be too late to right a wrong. As parents, we are only human, but we have a responsibility to set the right example, so let’s start now.

Here is the list:

101 Ways Not to Parent

  1. Because I’m your parent
  2. Because I said so
  3. Just do it
  4. Don’t ask questions
  5. I am not asking, I’m telling
  6. I didn’t ask for your opinion
  7. I don’t feel like talking about it
  8. It’s not any of your business
  9. I’m talking
  10. Shut-up and listen
  11. You’re stupid/an idiot
  12. Use your brain
  13. Respect yourself
  14. Stop talking/don’t talk back
  15. You’re not good for anything
  16. You’re a failure/all you do is screw up
  17. You’re a loser
  18. Use your brains
  19. I do everything for you
  20. I wish you weren’t born
  21. But…
  22. You could do better
  23. You make me so mad
  24. You’re fat, ugly etc.
  25. I did that when I was a kid
  26. I never did that when I was your age
  27. Why don’t you listen
  28. Grow up
  29. Stop crying/whining/sulking
  30. It’s not a big deal, get over it
  31. Calm down
  32. You’re fine
  33. You’re lazy
  34. Why do I have to repeat myself
  35. I’ve told you that a million/100 times
  36. Don’t be such a baby
  37. Big girls/boys don’t cry
  38. Don’t be such a sissy
  39. You’re such a girl/boy
  40. Act your age
  41. Don’t be so selfish
  42. You’re good for nothing
  43. Don’t talk to me in that tone
  44. Go to your room
  45. Get off your electronics
  46. Take out the garbage (get this or that done)
  47. I pay all your bills
  48. Go to bed
  49. Brush your teeth
  50. Move it, we’re late
  51. You’re so spoiled
  52. Stop doing that (biting nails etc.)
  53. You’re such a wimp
  54. You have no potential
  55. Get a life
  56. Get lost
  57. I don’t want to talk to you
  58. I’m so disappointed in your
  59. It’s my way or the highway
  60. You live under my roof, so follow my rules
  61. Do something with your life (with yourself)
  62. I hate it when you…
  63. I did it and I turned out fine
  64. Shame on you
  65. You’re just like (your mother/father/brother/sister)
  66. Relax!
  67. I told you so
  68. I wish you could be more like…
  69. That’s not good enough
  70. You’re my perfect angel
  71. You’re so smart
  72. Great job
  73. You’re wrong
  74. Let me do it for you
  75. Are you sure you can do that? You can’t do that
  76. I was never good at that either…


  • Maryam Posted January 16, 2019 5:52 am

    Why can’t we say great job? Or brush your teeth? I say that to my toddler…

    • Mohamed Hammoud Posted January 16, 2019 8:56 am

      Much of what we say is situational. It is easy as a parent to consistently be authoritative and we often forget to include the child in discussions and decision-making. Even something as trite as “Go brush your teeth” if we try asking the child why they believe it is important to brush their teeth, how many times they should do it and how they can better remember to brush their teeth, do their bed, put away their dishes etc. It helps them become more responsible and aware.

      As for “Great Job!,” you’ll want to try to give more feedback: what did they do well? What are you trying to highlight? Do you give constructive feedback when the job was not done so well?

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