5 Signs You’re a Bad Mother

WhatToGetMy Instructional Article

  • For the purposes of this article, we will define a bad mom as someone who deliberately inflicts psychological, physical, and emotional pain on their child while also neglecting and abusing them.
  • This article will look at 5 signs of a bad mother and how a bad mom’s behavior will affect their child even in adulthood.


Society puts a lot of pressure on women to be perfect especially when they are new mothers – everyone will have something to say about how you are raising your child(ren) and judge you when you allow or deny your children to do certain things. Having different parenting styles does not qualify one as a bad (or even a good) mom. For the purpose of this article, we will define bad motherhood as deliberately inflicting psychological, emotional, and physical pain in addition to neglect and abuse – all that bundled together is what makes a bad parent.


So what are the signs of bad parenting? Well, if you are asking if you are a bad parent or not, chances are that you are not because oftentimes, bad parents do not think they are bad parents – they will come up with excuses to justify their toxic behavior towards their children and will often blame their circumstances. Below are some examples of bad parenting:


You know you are being a bad mom when you physically abuse your children. Yes, raising children can be quite frustrating at times especially on the days that they just won’t listen to you or corporate with you – every mother goes through this. However, the minute you decide to use your hand against your child, that’s the minute you become a bad parent even if the beating doesn’t “leave any scars” or even bruise them. When you attack your kid for doing something you do not agree with instead of trying to find alternative ways to teach them a valuable life lesson, you teach them to fear you and not necessarily respect, love, or even like you. Various studies have also shown that most people who grew up in physically abusive homes grow up to either become abusers themselves or become victims of abuse later in life. This report written by the World Health Organization (WHO) explains in detail how the cycle of abuse works.


Another sign that you are a bad mother is when you use emotions to manipulate your children. For example, you may decide to give your child the silent treatment until they do something you have been asking them to do or even weaponize your tears to make your child feel bad for doing something you do not agree with. The problem with psychological abuse is that unlike physical abuse where there might be evidence or proof of abuse, one cannot really decipher or even know how to begin to explain psychological abuse. Therefore, children growing up in psychologically manipulative homes may not even know they are being manipulated and if they do they may not be able to fully express it to their peers or other trusted adults that aren’t their parents.

Children who grow up in psychologically abusive households tend to develop mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, according to this journal entry in the US National Library of Medicine. This is because these children grow up thinking they are not good enough, worthless, unloved, and a disappointment – among others.


You know you are an irresponsible mother when you begin to neglect the needs of your child. Although not always, mothers that neglect their children often have a problem with either drugs or gambling or any other habit that consumes their time and makes them forget completely about taking care of their children.

Neglecting your child is the worst thing you can do for them because by their very nature, children require constant assistance and care for survival. In the United States, you can go to one year in county jail for child neglect.


Favoritism is the ultimate weapon for a horrible mother to her children. This is used as a form of control because the mother will compare her child to other people’s “well-behaved” children (if she only has one child) or she will compare and pit her own children against each other to get them to act the way she wants them to. The more a child acts the way the mother desires, the more the child is awarded with love, gifts, and affection – while the one who chooses to act or do whatever they want contrary to their mothers want and needs get the cold shoulder, slander, and neglect.


The classic bad mother behavior is perhaps authoritarianism – this is when the mother decides that what she wants and how she wants it is the only way it is going to be done. Authoritarianism leads to favoritism, neglect, psychological abuse, and even physical abuse. It is the pretty red bow that ties it all together because an authoritarian mother is willing to do anything to have their child act the way they want them to and completely disregard that the child is a person of their own who will grow up to make decisions of their own and take a life path that may not always align with the mothers.

It is very common for authoritarian mothers to disown their children and even cut them off financially when the child turns 18 and the parent realizes she can no longer control the direction their child’s life has taken.

Types of abuse. Source: Annapsychproject.weebly.com

Types of Abuse


When you have realized that you have been a horrible mother to your children, the best thing to do is to apologize no matter how long it has been or how you think they may receive it. If your children are grown and no longer live with you but you are still in contact, you can either choose to call them on the phone or via Facetime and apologize for making their childhood unsafe and unbearable. Or you can decide to invite them over and apologize to them in person – however, it is advisable that you bring in a third party when you do this (preferably a licensed therapist) who will help to keep emotions and tempers from running high because chances are your child hasn’t forgiven you and since they have carried that trauma with them for a long time, they may find it hard to forgive you – at least not right away.

Once you have apologized, it is out of your hands. You cannot control how your child reacts or receives the apology. If they decide to forgive you, great! If they decide that they need more time to process, then leave it up to them until such a time they are comfortable and okay with forgiving you.


It is normal for you to feel like you are bad at parenting and failing as a mom from time to time. You are human and you are going to slip and maybe raise your voice at your kid or forget to change them on time. When this happens to you, don’t automatically think you are a bad mom, even though your brain will try to convince you that you are. When you feel yourself slipping into guilt and self-doubt, take a deep breath and apologize to your child for snapping at them or being distant or taking too long to change them. Taking responsibility for your actions will teach your kids to do the same and it will also show them that it is okay to not be okay sometimes which helps your kids to see you as a human instead of an authoritarian figure that has to be feared at all times.


So you are feeling tired of playing with your toddler, or you find yourself hiding from your child in the bathroom because you just aren’t in the mood to watch Frozen for the 1000th time today and suddenly you catch yourself thinking “am I a bad mom for not wanting to spend more time with my toddler?” you may even feel guilty and think “I’m a terrible mom” in these moments. The truth is, wanting time to yourself or truthfully time to catch up on your favorite TV shows does not make you a bad mother – sometimes you need that time for yourself to recharge so you can be a better mom to your child. So, if you have a partner this would be the best time to ask them to step in and help you with the child while you catch up on some much-needed self-care. However, if you do not have a partner, you may ask trusted immediate family members or even hire a babysitter for the day. Whatever you do, get yourself some time off to rejuvenate without feeling any guilt because you deserve the time off. Here are a few tips on how to start caring about yourself.


  • Am I a bad mom for not breastfeeding?

The short answer to this is no, you are not a bad mother just because you are not breastfeeding. There are many reasons why women opt not to breastfeed; for some, it is because they cannot produce enough milk to provide enough nutrients for their baby – for those women, the option of breastfeeding is taken away from them and so they have to opt for formula. On the other hand, there are women who just do not want to breastfeed and if for whatever reason you are one of these women, then your decision is valid, too. Your body, your choice. You are an autonomous being who should be able to make these decisions without society screaming down your neck and forcing you to do something you are uncomfortable with – and not to mention breastfeeding hurts! You are not a bad mother for choosing other options to feed your baby.


In conclusion, If you feel like a bad mom on the regular because of small mistakes you make that make you question how all the other perfect moms do it, you are in fact NOT a terrible mother – and there is no such thing as the perfect mother. You are doing amazing, just hang in there and take it one step at a time.

On the other hand, however, you are a bad mom if you physically and psychologically abuse your children, you neglect your children, you play favorites and pit your children against each other or against other kids, and you are an all-time authoritarian.





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