The Effects of Bad Parenting on Children

No parent is perfect and you'll likely make some mistakes, both big and small, as you raise your child. This is just a normal part of parenting and isn't likely to have lasting effects on your kid, as long as you work hard not to repeat the mistakes. However, consistently poor parenting can have negative consequences during childhood and beyond. Understanding them helps you make the best decisions you can for your child.


Research at the Department of Education in England found that children whose parents made bad decisions regarding their upbringing were more likely to have behavior problems. For example, if you tell your child "no," but give in if she throws a fit, she knows that acting that way is going to get her what she wants eventually. Inconsistent discipline leaves your child not knowing what to expect, which can lead to rebellion and defiance. If she sometimes loses privileges for a poor grade, but other times you let it slide, she might not worry about another low score because she may get by without a consequence. Consistency is important, says Robert Hendren, psychiatry professor at the Medical Investigation of Neurodevelopmental Disorders Institute at the University of California-Davis and president of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

Lack of Trust

If you promise to take your child to the mall to pick out a new dress for the upcoming dance, but don't follow through, she might get the idea that she can't trust you to do what you say you're going to do. If you repeatedly tell your child that she can come to you and talk about anything, but then you explode in anger when she reveals something you don't want to hear, she probably won't feel like she can trust you next time something big happens. This lack of trust could mean your child is doing things on her own and with friends that you don't know about.


Having a poor parent might make a child feel unloved and uncared about, whether you truly feel that way or not. Lack of support from parents and harsh or negative parenting strategies might increase the risk of depression in children, notes the Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology 3. Not every child who has depression has bad parents, but not having a parent to turn to during the childhood years can result in mood disorders as a child gets older. At the same time, not all bad parents produce depressed children. If you feel that your child is depressed, see a mental health professional to determine the cause so you can address it.

Future Poor Parenting

Some children who grew up with bad parenting end up having a successful and happy life. However, others may continue the cycle of making poor parenting decisions when they have children of their own, notes the Journal of Family Health Care 1. Many parents do the things their own parents did when they were growing up because that is all they know. If you grew up with negative parents who you couldn't rely on, you might end up being the same way. The Journal of Family Health suggests a public health program to help parents make good choices and raise happy and productive children 1.