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June 12th, 2009
06:25 AM ET

Is "bad" parenting in?

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Donna Reed starred in 'The Donna Reed Show'."]

From CNN's Carol Costello and Ronni Berke

Back in the day, it was a cinch to know what a good mom was: the ideal TV mom, Donna Reed. Reed embodied 1950's motherhood. Always there, wise and involved from afar. And exceedingly well-dressed. Today it's difficult to define what exactly an "ideal mother is."

It's as if we've taken Donna Reed's image and put it on steroids. Carl Honoré, who wrote the book “Under Pressure: Rescuing Our Children From the Culture of Hyper-parenting," says this generation has “kind of professionalized parenting. There’s a feeling now that on the frontline of child rearing, that raising a kid now is all or nothing."

For Melissa Chapman, a woman from Staten Island who works at home to care for her two children, it was time to get off the parental fast track. Shuttling her daughter back and forth to activities every day of the week, the family was stressed out and exhausted.

“Monday was dance. Tuesday was art. Wednesday was piano. Thursday was gymnastics,” she said. The family had little time to talk and [her daughter] was often too tired to finish her homework.

“My whole schedule was revolving around, you know, where I was taking her, when I was picking her up,” Chapman adds. “There was no quality family time, just getting in the car, getting out of the car, packing up the car, unpacking the car."

So this year, Chapman cut back. Now her daughter, 8, has only one after school activity a week.

Yet she still wondered whether she was a good mother. And she's not alone. So many mothers feel her pain. Blogs like “Her Bad Mother,” and “Real Bad Mommies” have started popping up, rebelling against the notion moms have to be perfect to raise perfect children. On “Her Bad Mother,” one mom writes: "...I have left my children alone in the bathtub. I have spanked my daughter. I drink. I curse..."

But Ayelet Waldman, author of “Bad Mother,” says over-parenting is certainly not over. “We're not going to turn on the dime here but I do think there's a backlash to over-parenting.”

And Waldman ought to know. In 2005, she was viciously, publicly attacked for writing in an essay that she loves her husband more than her children.

“OK, so now fast forward four years.” Waldman says. “And I publish this book "Bad Mother" and the conversation and response is totally different. And I think in this weird way, the world has caught up to what I had been saying.”

The economy may be forcing the issue. Parents now can’t spend all hat money for their kids to take dance and soccer lessons. Instead, the kids stay home and play with their siblings.

Chapman says cutting back on lessons has saved her $300-$400 a month. But there’s an added benefit, she says: everyone does more as a family.

“We'll go for that bike ride. We'll bake cookies. We're still doing activities – it's not like I'm just sitting them on the couch and saying bye-bye, you're just home now doing whatever you want, but it's more one-on-one time now as opposed to her doing things with her friends and coming home.”

Filed under: Just Sayin'
soundoff (63 Responses)
  1. Jacob

    seems like bad parenting is in, at my home at least.
    7 year old little girl who has no boundaries, no discipline, and no rules.
    10 year old who doesn't have to do anything but go to school.
    3 year old child from a night of intentional unprotected sex, not expected.
    and then there's me. lost my job and had to move in with them.

    my mother takes two medications that she never takes, because it's normal to explode everyday at the oldest dependent, treat her mother, (whom she has literally bled dry financially) like an intellectually challenged person, and let her husband manipulate her.

    is this normal activity in a normal household, or is this dysfunction?

    October 30, 2009 at 3:45 pm |
  2. Kim

    rebecca – are you crazy– that is how that girl got snatched. independence is one thing, another is letting you kid play outside while you are inside. that is just crazy with all the nuts and pervs in the world. you can plat with them. my mother played with us all of the time. it was rather fun. she had finve girls. my father died when i was 9 the youngest was 1 yrs old. – the oldest 11 yrs old. we had a great time playing together with her as kids. she got dirty with us. threw mud, went digging for treasure in the backyard. she was a great friend. and we felt safe. don't have your kid outside of a window while you are inside. it takes a few seconds to snatch a kid.

    July 14, 2009 at 12:45 pm |
  3. Mary McCarthy of

    I found this subject quite fascinating, took a whirl around the mommyblogosphere, and wrote the following synopsis on my site called "Are You a Good Mommyblogger Witch or a Bad Mommyblogger Witch?"
    I welcome you and your readers to stop by and peruse the perspective of a 40-year old mom of four and blogger. Here's the link:

    June 16, 2009 at 2:44 pm |
  4. Glen MacKenzie

    Hi Tracy,

    You sound like you've got some bright children, and I was happy to hear that you're using a response cost approach with your seven year old (putting a quarter in a jar when he does an undesirable behaviour). That's a much better alternative to spanking. But I've said all I can say about this. This forum is not the best venue to do this topic proper justice.

    I am concerned, though, about where you are getting your information on parenting. What training do Michael and Debi Pearl have regarding developmental psychology? Last I checked, there's been a ton of controversy surrounding them and their book "To Train up a Child." He's a minister, right?

    I'm sorry, but from an ethical perspective, I don't think a pastor can speak to this as well as a child psychologist can. I would never get investment advice from a plumber, nor would I seek advice from an ear, nose, and throat doctor about my heart condition.

    You mentioned that you wished you had more time to research this. Where do you do your research besides Michael and Debi Pearl? If you took the time to research this through more reputable means, you would know that research on spanking, which is actually considered corporal punishment, looks at children of all ages. The research is correlational because it is not ethical to place one group of children in a control group while you place another group of children in an experimental group that gets spanked and then measure the differences. That should be a huge clue as to why it's not okay to spank. So yes, it's not causal, but the correlations are pretty damn convincing.

    The data about spanking comes from hospital records, social workers, psychologists, etc., from existing cases, so yes, every possible scenario is accounted for (spanking out of anger, consistent spanking, you name it).

    Again, I can't stress enough that people should invest the time to speak with a developmental psychologist if they have any questions about parenting. There are many social programs available to help parents who have questions (social workers, hospitals often have child development staff, university psychology departments, etc.).

    I'm also pretty confident that the average household spends at least $100 – 300 on parenting books – that money would go a long way with a developmental psychologist and people would offer more objective and accurate information.

    Good luck with your parenting.


    June 16, 2009 at 8:42 am |
  5. Tracy

    Hi Glen,
    I want to say first I am sorry for taking anything out of context. I actually do not even think about the age thing...when it would be a good time to stop spanking. We have not spanked in such a long time (over 4-5 months ago). Our oldest is 7. Next is his sister who is 6, then the youngest who will be 4. My 7 yr old asked me 4-5 months ago why it was ok for me to spank him but that it was not ok for him to hit anyone else. He had a good point and we had a very meaningful talk about it. After that talk I thought about the age thing for awhile and realized he was past the point I thought was ok for spankings as he was developmentally ready for other taking away allowance money or toys. A younger child does not get the concept of things being taken away as well as a 7 yr old does. The point I want to stress is spanking is NEVER the ONLY form of discipline. It is used for severe cases (like electrical sockets, etc). When my children got to a more advanced understanding state (around 3-4) I started using other means of deterring them from harm. For example: I would put the oven on causing the top of the stove to be warm, but not hot. I would then have my child touch the top of the stove and explain the dangers of touching the stove due to the possibility of burns. They would sense the very warm surface and immediately jump back. None of my kids now go near the stove for any reason except when I am cooking and teaching them the joy of cooking and baking. Then they stand a foot or so away without any fear.
    So in essence, spanking does have a shelf life if used appropriately. Once the child is to the point of reason, spanking is no longer necessary. That age will be different for each child. Some reason better than others. My 6 yr old barely received any spankings as she has always been bright and actually has used deductive reasoning since she was about 4 yrs old with everything. Now the youngest gets non-painful reminder swats for a certain few things. She tips her chair frequently during meals. All I do is sit next to her, swat her thigh very lightly when I see her start to tip her chair and she stops. It works for about a few weeks or so and she starts back up again. I swat her a few times in one sitting and she stops for a longer period of time. While I swat her I continue eating/talking and make no big deal out of it. I will explain to her after the meal the dangers of tipping one's chair. She has received her fair share of boo-boos so she knows what I mean regarding getting hurt. But the reasoning is not all there yet.
    So it comes down to that each child should grow out of needing spankings. I cannot ever imagine spanking a 9 or 10 yr old. It makes no sense to me as a child that age reasons very well. The 2 spankings my 7 yr old received this past winter were for doing something he knew was very wrong. His worse offense now-a-days is whining....but even that is to a bare minimum as he has to pay is a quarter out of his allowance everytime he whines. We actually all joke about it...even him. He starts to whine again about having to pay us a quarter so we laugh and say it's now 2 quarters, and he starts laughing realizing what he is doing.

    Now onto the topic of research. I believe I did not explain myself well. What I meant to say was that spanking research seems to be based on studying the effects of spankings on older children or adults who were spanked in the past. Are there current studies being done on children who are being spanked DURING the actual study and carrying the study long-term over say 20-40 yrs? And do they differentiate the differences between spankings in these studies? (Occasional vs. everyday spankings; spankings done out of anger of the parent vs those done in a controlled well-meaning way?). I wish I had more time for more research; however currently I am more involved in my passion of teaching younger mothers how to be better mothers and wives, and how staying home can be better financially and emotionally for the family. I did a lot of research when I had my first child. I even tried time-outs and other methods as I was against spanking when I first became a parent. However once I tried swatting at an early age, there were remarkable changes in the whole atmosphere of our home. My children no longer continued to misbehave all day and there was no longer any chaos. But again I will stress that I did not all-out spank my children nor invoke fear in them by being angry with them. Out of all the parenting books I read, the one that worked was "To Train Up A Child" by Michael and Debi Pearl. They explained that spanking was not horrible when used correctly and when there was a good bond between parent and child. They do not stress spanking, rather they stress building a solid relationship with your child, training, and teaching.

    It has been rather nice to banter back and forth on this topic. It is a hot topic for a lot of people...rightfully so. But I will leave with a thought to ponder...abuse in any form is always WRONG. Abuse does NOT have to be in the form of physical abuse. The worst abuse I have seen (and experienced) is emotional neglect....growing up feeling like even your own parents do not care about or love become just another responsibility of your parents that has a shelf life of 18 years.

    June 15, 2009 at 7:53 pm |

    I have four sons, 52 to 45. They only had special attention in something they really loved, like horses , golf. No games for the sake of "doing" something. They knew Mama had her time , bridge etc; and Daddy worked at his own bussiness –a lot!
    They are now in business for themselves–doing great. Their wives say and they seems to love us very much.
    At 73 we are still the go to people , they usually do just as they think best however. Outstanding grandchildren , that handle themselves like they were born grown! We might have hit on a plan, they knew everyone in town rich and poor, nice to all, still are.

    June 15, 2009 at 3:33 pm |
  7. Glen MacKenzie

    For Tracy:

    This is obviously a hot issue. I used to be pro spanking before I took courses in developmental psychology, learning and conditioning, behaviour modification and, more importantly, before I became a parent.

    Let me ask you a question: At what age do you think it's appropriate to stop spanking?

    My guess is you'd say 10 or so, like most people do. So another question is why would you stop spanking if it's such a good form of discipline? If spanking is not acceptable or effective for older children, why is it acceptable for younger children? In other words, why does it have a limited shelf life? (Rhetorical questions.)

    As for research, go to your local library (better yet, a university library) and search peer-reviewd journals. You'll find a ton of current information on spanking. For now, check out this link:

    Lastly, I think you misinterpreted some of what I said:

    – I never said spanking was used for long-term discipline. Rather, I said it was an ineffective form of long-term discipline.

    – As for fists, this was rhetorical. My point was that people seldom hear the logic behind any talk when they are about to get beaten or spanked or whatever – they're more concerned about the punishment to come than hearing - much less interpreting or comprehending - any message you have to offer.

    – effects of spanking manifest in adolescents and early adulthood more so than in childhood.

    Again, research on spanking is CURRENT, and even if it wasn't, so what? If the research speaks for the effects, then how does time change anything?

    At least 16 countries have banned spanking. And guess what? Crime rates in those countries have gone down (and these are based on 20 – 30 year trends).

    I won't lose any sleep if I don't convince you. I just thought this type of information was a good starting point for many people who are on the fence about spanking. I recommend speaking to a developmental psychologist or at least reviewing accurate literature on child development – and that can be found in university libraries. Much of what's on the Internet is crap.

    Good luck!


    June 15, 2009 at 2:48 pm |
  8. Tracy

    To Glen,
    I appreciate your views on spanking. You are right in a lot of aspects. It should never be used for long term discipline. But I disagree that the punishment has to be "severe enough to produce sufficient pain which will deter future behaviour". This simply is not true expecially in younger children. I started earlier on my youngest. She was only a year old and I tested a theory I read. She went to touch a cord in the socket. Did not want her to go near the sockets and even though I had 100% of them covered with child protective equipment, I knew at some point visiting another person's home, she could be harmed. While she went to touch, I stated no and very lightly tapped her hand. She looked indignant and tried again. Again I said no very calmly and tapped her hand only slightly harder. I never invoked any pain. By the third time she turned away and went back to happily playing with her toys. She never went near sockets again. This worked again and again. After a short time all I had to say was no and she would stop what she was doing.
    When used in slightly older children 3-5 yrs old, it still does not have to hurt that bad. Have I had to spank for repeat offenders? Yes, but I realized in hind sight it was because I was not being more consistent in disciplne. Now spanking should never be used as the only discpline measure. When my children were younger, it was effective enough in the 1-3 age group. When older, spankings were saved for repeat offenses, or a behavior that was new and NOT acceptable. My 7 yr old is NOT antisocial in any way shape or form, nor is he aggressive, or depressed. He has received 2 spankings this entire yr. The rest of the time he is a happy, full of energy, delightful child. If he does something that is wrong, but not a horrible thing, then he gets his allowance reduced or a toy taken away. If my children whine about wanting say ice cream, they just don't get the ice cream. They learn VERY quickly that their own negative behavior produces negative results, but the negative results do not always end up in a spanking.

    Also, when you said: "But when you consider the long-term effects of spanking (and when you realize that kids go on acting up whenever the punisher is not present) can you really endorse it?" I wanted to say yes. Because in all honesty, spanking is not used the same by all parents. Those who hit with their fists or out of anger are WRONG. No child should feel their parents are so angry they want to hit them (the child). That is when fear and depression and anxiety arise. Parents who spank (or switch or swat) in a very matter of fact way and do not show anger or use guilt, AND only use this form of discipline when the offense is severe enough have happy content children. Also when used in this manner, children do not repeat the offense behind their parent's back. I think children who repeat the offenses when no one is looking have parents who are not paying enough attention to their children and whose parents say more negative things than positive to that child on an everyday basis.
    If spanking were CORERECTLY researched then there would be other views out there. The thing is those that spank in a positive manner (like myself) are not going to sign up for any research projects due to the ever ending fear of CPS happy people out there. Spanking research is done out of hindsight. If you know of any current research done where the study is currently being done on spankers, please let me know.

    June 15, 2009 at 11:19 am |
  9. Glen MacKenzie

    To the spankers out there:

    Yes, research shows that spanking works. But there are costs and hidden factors involved to consider. Spanking works on the principle of punishment, much like when we get a speeding ticket for speeding, which is the example I'll use to illustrate my point.

    When a police officer pulls you over, you get a ticket (punishment) for speeding (behaviour). The next time you see a police car on the highway you automatically check your speed (altered behaviour, negative reinforcement in this case) but you've probably already pushed the brake pedal as a reflex (you don't want to get a ticket again). If you are fast enough, you drop your speed to a socially acceptable limit before you are caught, and you don't get a ticket (no more punishment).

    However, what happens when you pass the police car and it’s no longer in sight? What happens when you're on a highway and you're pretty damn sure there won't be any speed traps?

    Most people speed again!

    This is precisely what children do when they are not in the presence of their punishers (parents): they do whatever it was they were doing that got them spanked. Yes, when children are spanked for undesirable behaviour they seldom act up in front of their parents. But that's about the only time they don't act up. Speeders and spanked children do not internalize the reasons why they should change their behaviour, which is why punishment is such a poor form of long lasting discipline (and I stress long lasting). In other words, we as drivers and children alike do not internalize the reasons why our behaviour is undesirable. We only learn: better not do such in such in front of so and so. Such logic is pretty wooden headed. It’s better to learn: it’s dangerous to speed … I could crash and kill myself or someone else.

    But spanking is so convenient for parents because it appears to work immediately and always whenever their children are in their presence. A lot of people are not willing to invest the time it takes to teach their child prosocial behaviours because it takes too long and it’s too difficult. But if you're not willing to do the latter, don't have children.

    Don't get me wrong, way easier said than done – especially when parents are tired, stressed, have personal strife, and/or have children with demanding temperaments. But when you consider the long-term effects of spanking (and when you realize that kids go on acting up whenever the punisher is not present) can you really endorse it?

    Besides this, there is a ton of research to show that spanking has many undesirable long-term effects: antisocial behaviour, depression, anxiety, aggression, etc. Just do the research and you'll see.

    Some final info on punishment: In order for physical punishment to be truly effective it has to be (1) immediate, (2) severe enough to produce sufficient pain which will deter future behaviour, and (3) the punished person has to be fully aware of the contingency between the behaviour and the punishment. Two clear examples of this would be horsing around in a canoe, tipping it, and almost drowning (this meets all three conditions. Another example would be sticking a fork in a light socket, getting a massive shock, and almost becoming electrocuted to death. Comparatively, tipping a canoe in shallower water or when you’re close enough to shore can be fun and doesn’t produce that big of a shock. Same goes for lower voltage shocks: who hasn’t gotten a mild shock from a trick pack of gum or one of those electric staplers? It’s enough to learn not to be fooled again so easily, but it probably doesn’t stop you from trying to fool your friends.

    Now who in their right mind would ever spank a child hard enough to frighten him or her enough so that the undesirable behaviour is never repeated?

    Children are smart enough to learn a lesson without being spanked.
    And to the parents who say, "Oh don't worry, I explain why they’re getting spanked while I’m spanking them or just before or immediately afterwards..." Think about this: the next time you are in a fearful situation, do you really take in everything? Are you in a good frame of mind to absorb the other person's point of view? Just before someone's about to lay a beating on you, do you hear their rhetoric? Or do you pay more attention to their fists?


    June 15, 2009 at 8:18 am |
  10. Amy Armatis

    I was also a perfect parent - until I had kids.

    Watch your judgement of other parents and your self-congratulatory praise. It tends to come back to haunt you in the end, whether in this generation or the next. A dose of humility never hurts.

    June 14, 2009 at 6:32 pm |
  11. Julie

    I was somewhat surprised by the notion that "good parenting" means taking your kids to every activity possible – soccer, piano, dance etc., etc. Doesn't this just burn everyone out? My impression is that a good parent loves their children, spends a lot of quality time with them, and facilitates learning without necessarily signing them up for formal activities. Keep it simple – it is the small things without a price tag that are truly important.

    June 14, 2009 at 6:27 pm |
  12. Simon

    Shame on CNN's Carol Costello and Ronni Berke for even using the title "Is 'bad' parenting in?"

    June 14, 2009 at 5:03 pm |
  13. Genesis

    Actually, I think that parents through the years have become
    slackers on raising children.
    Children now a days do as they please, they have no respect for
    anyone or themselves. There's NO morals taught to them and
    they are not taught to be polite.

    I was a teen in the 80's and sometimes it's so hard for me to believe
    that the youth has changed so much since then.
    Parents don't disapline their children and it's sad to see what
    direction children are going in regarding their futures and what kind
    of adults they are going to be.

    I believe that alot has been lost in todays raising of children.
    I've also seen that parents have to pleed and bargain with their
    children in order for them to behave... what in the world is that
    all about?
    Children run their parents and control their parents and it's sickening
    to see.
    All we have today are brats that dress ridiculously, young girls
    showing off WAY too much, and boys wearing huge pants with
    their cracks showing or their underwear showing.
    Since when has that become a style or fashion?

    I believe the youth is lost and their heading into a worst state
    of developement and no one is doing anything about it.

    I'm a 42 year old woman and believe things should go back
    to the way things were.

    Children should obey their parents, and be taught not to speak
    out of turn, they should be disaplined, and taught to respect
    others and have more morals.

    And YES, we DO have Bad Mothers / Parents everywhere.

    June 14, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  14. Scott

    I don't understand why parents feel they need permission or affirmation from books or blogs about their parenting. It's like you're looking for permission from strangers to be the kind of parent you want to be – the type of parent you think is best for your kids. Why would any good parent be getting parenting advice from a TV show or news station? Who knows you and your kids better than you? Do what you want – not what the current trends or movements tell you is "in".

    June 14, 2009 at 3:45 pm |
  15. Tracy

    This is extremely interesting...I almost went the route of the "norm"... putting my kids in activities from the age of 2, working full-time, trying to find the best schools, carting the kids to and from activities, living in the suburbs, etc. But thankfully I did a lot of research and personal observations and did not go that route, nor did I go the "bad mom" route (although I can understand where "bad moms" are coming from). Instead I took a step back, stopped all activities, pre-school, and even stopped working (with the 100% support of my wonderful husband). Now I homeschool, play with my kids, and teach my children what life is REALLY like. It is not about getting ready for college, then for the work-place. Life is about what we are doing in the here and now. We teach our children the value of helping others, working together, learning, etc. They learn from example. Are kids really learning good values in school? At soccer practice? In my opinion, no. Kids today are taught that life is handed to them on a silver platter, throwing tantrums because you didn't win is ok, and that competition is normal. Teachers are highly stressed and cannot be a surrogate parent to so many needy children. Kids today have extremely poor manners and bad attitudes...I get praised EVERY DAY I take my kids out (whether to the store, zoo, etc) for their good behavior and great personalities. My children will not be out having sex at the age of 10 , 11, or even 16. And it will not be because I am hovering over them. Instead we talk about everything and the importance of being good people. They will choose better because they will have enough love and attention in their lives that they will not have to seek it out elsewhere. They will be busy with learning, working around the home and their community, and enjoying what this wonderful world has to offer (like skiing, hiking, etc.).

    So the bottom line is too many parents are neglecting their children from an early age DUE to the excessive amount of activities they are involved in and/or because both parents work. We all need to take a step backwards and remember what it was like to be a child. What did we really want? I believe the answer is ATTENTION. Kids want to be noticed, listened to, and appreciated. When I wanted to tell my mom something, she barely made eye contact and never really listened because she was always busy doing something else. And the thing is, kids do not need constant attention, just enough to know they are loved and cared about. Saying the words at bedtime will never be enough. Kids get into trouble with sex, alcohol, etc., because they are seeking attention.

    BTW: DJ: your comment about spanking is VERY true. If spanking is used correctly, it is extremely beneficial and will not be needed for the length of childhood. Our 3 yr old has gotton the least amount of spankings because after seeing her older siblings get spanked, she learned how to abide by the rules to prevent such occurrences from happening to her. Spanking were few and far between but it saved my kids from the whole ludicrous time-out thing. Time-outs are the most insane crazy thing a parent can do....what do you think the child is actually thinking of while sitting in one spot for so long? They are actually not thinking about what they did and why it was bad. They are thinking of how bad a parent you are for taking them away from their playtime, how alone they feel, and how they can best get away with the bad act the next time. Time-outs breed anger and resentment. I see it all the time with nieces and nephews. I even asked my kids one time if they wanted to sit by themselves for a few minutes or get a "swat" for their bad behavior. Swats won hand down. They know they did something wrong, and the punishment should be quick and to the point especially at an early age. But the best approach by far is prevention. If I want my children to learn to share, I better share my things with them. If I want them to be nice, I should be nice to them, etc, etc. Sounds too simple, but the truth is it works and it works well.

    June 14, 2009 at 2:57 pm |
  16. Npatrie76

    Our Children did not make a mess of the world we are living in, so lets not blame/take frustrations out on them.
    The second I get through the door from work I hug my son and tell him I love him, we play ,read books, do puzzles, go to the park, take a ride in the truck ya know maybe he is spoiled and gets all the attention in the world but he sure as heck isnt neglected because my bank account is reading 0

    June 14, 2009 at 1:36 pm |
  17. Mike

    That video on over parenting is the problem right there. Scheduling your kid to 1000 activities IS NOT PARENTING !

    The definition of parenting and work in our society is so far out of whack. Its just like like our over consumptive ways, over competitiveness, etc. having to have the biggest house, biggest car, best paying job, superstar kid.

    Good parenting to me, is what my parents did:
    + be there when your kids need you
    + talk to them about life, and LISTEN to them
    + provide guidance
    + maybe a teachable moment or two
    + correct bad habits or guide them from developing bad ones in the first place.
    + encourage them to think for themselves instead of doing everything for them.
    + foster responsibility, so they can learn to live on their own, and help others
    + teach them good manners and courtesy and respect for others

    I think these books, these videos, TV in general, just goes to show you how insecure American people are today. People just need to live their lives, just do good, work hard, act ethically, and dont compare yourselves to other people.

    AND STOP WATCHING TV so you dont listen to all this crap ! People just dont get how the media hypes and warps things to such a large degree, that it really affects the american pysche.

    June 14, 2009 at 12:37 pm |
  18. Laura

    Another misleading title from It should be "Is “bad” MOTHERING in?" There is absolutely no mention of fathers. But am I surprised? Parenting errors are always Mom's fault.

    June 14, 2009 at 12:33 pm |
  19. atHomedads

    This article is not correct and biased. moms have been self serving and doing a very bad job at taking care of kids for many years. it is rare that we see a good at home mom doing her job. most spend more time thinking about how they can get out of work than loving and helping their kids.

    on the other had at home dads these days do everything much better than the moms. they are held to a different standard and are usually on their own. dads clean, cook, and deal with their kids much better and have the desire to do the job.

    everything in the article is common sense, anyone crying about being overwhelmed with to much of this or that has to stop their nonsense and focus and get real.

    June 14, 2009 at 11:14 am |
  20. Trevor from Canada

    Considering that only middle class and up parents can afford to hyper parent and that the majority of teens are left underparented, saying its ok to swear and drink in front of your children isn't the solution. The one thing our children need that is sorely lacking in todays world is an adult to listen to them and boundries that are real. But since boundries are so counter culture we are left with children and teenagers who are sexually active, use recreational drugs and alcohol, and can't hold down a job where someone expects something of them. Then you wonder why so many young families struggle and divorce is rampant. And don't say divorce is ok, because I have taught too many children that spend the next 6 years trying to recover from a divorce no matter how smooth it is.

    June 14, 2009 at 11:10 am |
  21. Dawn B.

    I disagree with the beginning statement "back in the 50's it was a cinch to know what a good mom was..." It never has been, nor ever will be "a cinch" to describe what a good mom is.

    This topic definitely cannot be described in a short news clip anymore than trying to define oh say, being a good child , or being a good sister. Trying to define mommy as "good or bad" reminds me of when people describe a baby who sleeps well and doesn't cry too much as "a good baby" Aren't all babies good? What they mean to say is "it's an easy baby - easy for me to take care of". Some things just shouldn't be over-simplified.

    I have always felt that over-scheduling children is a bad idea. Like other writers here have said, it just takes common sense – and it depends on the particular child. Parents do need to check their motives – are they just wanting to fill the time? Do they really think little Jimmy is going to be the next Picasso because he took art lessons at age 4? Perhaps little Jimmy could finger-paint at home with mom & dad – wouldn't that be more quality time? (Of course someone has to clean up the mess...)

    The best gift I received regarding parenting – was an awesome mother. I would have to write a book to describe the qualities that make her a good mother – but to try to describe one of the best points – She came into my world by getting down on the floor and playing with me... letting our imaginations soar as we created a world of our own together... it all came back to me as I watched her do this with our son. I have seen so many parents that hand their kid a toy or a piece of food, plop the kid in front of the tv and then they just sit there expecting the kid to entertain themselves. Alot of parents just don't want to be bothered with real parenting.

    As far as disciplining, mom didn't just SAY "go do this or that" she SHOWED ME HOW TO DO IT OVER AND OVER until I got it. (Of course I'm talking about young kids here ). But it's surprising how quickly a kid (of any age) will respond if a parent initiates an action rather than just yelling!

    I think lots of tired parents just sit and try to talk their kids through activities, when what they need to get the most (and give the most) is to get off their butts and play with their kids. Move with them, walk with them, ride with them, explore with them Teach them. Don't just drop them off to have someone else do this stuff with them. Actually – what we really need is to be dropping parents off somewhere to get parenting lessons!.

    Most importantly, I agree with the writer Glen, that the comment about "leaving a child alone in a tub" – as being "only human or okay" without further explanation of age appropriateness, is in my opinion a dangerous and negligent thing to broadcast. Ask parents of children who have drowned or parents of children who have left their kids in the car "just one time" , to find their children kidnapped or assaulted whether it's okay to make those human mistakes. These issues cannot be addressed so flippantly in news bites.

    At least you brought the issue of parenting up – which is probably the most important job a lot of us will ever have – so we should keep talking abut it. More importantly, we should start doing it. Just BE a great mom or dad.
    Dawn B

    June 14, 2009 at 10:57 am |
  22. El Coyote

    I decided not to become a father and I have never regretted that decision. My brother and sister, who both became parents, spend a great deal of time describing the problems of parenthood. The only time they had anything good to say about their kids was when I asked, "Do you actually love the little monsters?" whereupon they would reply, "Oh, being a parent is the most wonderful experience in life." All of those children are now adults, and cannot see that the quality of parenting they received had much to do with the outcome. Of the six children raised by my siblings...

    Two are brilliant successes in college and business though both have chosen to remain unmarried, preferring the freedom and prosperity of living alone. Both are wealthy now.

    One flunked out of college and is living with a nitwit that no one can stand.

    One is grotesquely obese and is paying a fortune to a fertility doctor trying to get pregnant.

    One is gay and is currently living with partner number 43.

    One got married because she got pregnant and is now a bad mother to her bratty, ADHD daughter.

    Look at your relatives before you conceive. That is the DNA you are carrying around. Are you sure that your line really needs to continue?

    June 14, 2009 at 10:13 am |
  23. sickofsociety

    I am sick of this single parent mentality and that everyone is okay with it and it's so great. Where are all the fathers? at gay rights activities in Cali?

    June 14, 2009 at 2:11 am |
  24. cmarti

    First of all how can that woman write about how she loves her husband more than her kids. That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard- loving a grown spouse over your precious children?? She ought to have her head examined.
    Also, parents don't have to be perfect or have their kid in everhting in order to be successful. For children to really become successful they need to struggle and know how to handle themselves when they can't have something or how it feels to actually work for something you want.
    I personally haven't had a birthday party for my children in almost a decade (I stopped when people started to get out of hand with the parties) and I refuse to let my children go to these materialistic events. We celebrate birthdays just like the day they were born, with the family. I think it really makes for a peaceful, stress free day which isn't a cause for celebration but reflection. Hopefully in doing this my children will not want to celebrate 18 or 21 with booze (which is the number one addiciton problem in this country and should be outlawed) but with rememberence of where they have been and where they are going.

    June 14, 2009 at 2:09 am |
  25. Kat Robertson @

    I run a blog called "For the Love of Chaos" and I actually just posted an entry asking what defines a good mother and expressing how sad it is that parents get so wrapped up in appearances and trying to compete with other families that the focus is taken off of the whole reason they became parents to begin with – their KIDS. This is a nice article. Moms aren't perfect. But BEING a mom is more than what some "parents" are doing, so if you love your kids, provide for them, and do your best, you are a GOOD mother!

    June 12, 2009 at 10:33 pm |

    PARENTING happens to be one of my favorite subjects. Being a Mother of seven and a stay-at-home Mom in the 50's, my wonderful husband and I sacrificed a lot in order for me to enjoy being home to raise our children. I then had a 20-year career in government and, while serving as Exec. Asst to a County Commissioner, gained years of experience serving on panels, committees, relating to Juvenile Delinquency and disfunctional families.
    My conclusions were to somehow emphasize how VERY IMPORTANT GOOD PARENTING IS AND HOW IT CANNOT HAPPEN WITHOUT THE LOVE BETWEEN THE MOM & DAD IN THE HOME. Our experiences with raising seven children (including loosing 2 of our sons), stood out in my mind to be something to share I wrote a book, called CLASSIFIED ADS , which was published and available in all book stores. My theory being – if a newly born child was to place an ad for parents – would you have been chosen?? Hope you can read it and review & comment on it. Martha Torgerson

    June 12, 2009 at 2:58 pm |
  27. DJ

    Interesting debate here.

    We used spanking very occasionally with our daughter when she was a toddler and completely unreasonable (like most toddlers!). It SEEMS that one of the things it taught her was that she could avoid that "base" form of communication (us communicating "you're being bad" to her with our hands on her bum) by expressing herself verbally. The spankings always came as a result of a tantrum of some kind. It was to say "your tantrum is being responded to by equally ridiculous behavior."

    So now, she hasn't been spanked in years (she's 5) and it's because she really dedicated herself to figuring out how to express herself calmly and clearly – as calmly and clearly as she is capable of, that is. Does she do it every time she's frustrated? Of course not. But honestly, I'd say it's 95% of the time anyway. So for us, spanking worked pretty well because we used it very sparingly and for very specific "offenses" during a very specific stage in her development. It has apparently taught her that as long as she maintains a level of respect and decorum when she's upset, we will too.

    Did I like spanking her? No. I hated it. And now that that phase is over, I don't see us ever doing it again. But I DO think it had a positive impact.

    June 12, 2009 at 2:11 pm |
  28. Robert C Cummins

    FINALLY111 Most "bad mothers'" children are still alive today because of their "bad" parents loving their children who are not smart enough to KNOW it because they are too selfish of instant and never-ending self indulgence and self gratification. It starts so early in life by "good" parents asking their children "What do you want for
    breakfast (lunch) and (dinner)?" instead of making the meal and serving it with LOVE! Serving it with LOVE to those who don't understand means you don't eat anything between now and the next meal. When are parents going to learn one of the greatest words of love you will EVER say to your children from the age of birth until at least 18 is "NO" Thank you so much for this opportunity.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:48 pm |
  29. motherbraggers

    It really is phenomenal! One way or another, "good" or "bad",
    mothers can't resist bragging about their parenting methods (or lack there of) and their children. - even if they're boasting about leaving them unattended in the bath tub!
    Is the MotherBragging compulsion a gene or a skill or WTH!

    June 12, 2009 at 12:59 pm |
  30. Jen

    There is so much defensive adult behavior—parents who are insisting that they "schedule" their kids because the kids need it or demand it; or parents who insist that they can't possibly get their kids to lessons because of financial limits or transportation limits or other schedule conflicts. Or because they don't believe in too much scheduled time.

    Really, can such general terms—bad mother, backlash, overparenting—be used for all parents. Parents of infants, toddlers, school-age children, teenagers, or, gasp, parents who have all of the above? I have three young children. All are very different. Each has his/her own interests and needs. Isn't it our job as parents to recognize these differences and do our best to serve our children within our own abilities and the lives and homes we have created for them? Some children thrive in lessons and sports. Some are there because the alternative is being home alone. Some children need only a backyard and a magnifying glass and are lucky to have the parents and the home life to allow this. Children have different needs. Isn't that the biggest challenge to a parent? Isn't that what we should all be supportive of?

    On another note, I was disappointed to see that one of the blogs you mentioned, "Real Bad Mommies," has not been updated since December 2006. I wouldn't say a three-year-old blog that isn't up to date can be added to a list of those that have "started popping up."

    As a blogger myself, I am grateful for the community of other parents who blog. I also find it striking that in a very short period of time I have found more support and like-minded parents online than I have found on the playground, say, or even at my child's school, where I have made plenty of friends who are parents. But there is something unsaid online, and I think it is the fact that there is no immediate judgment of each other. We take each other at our word. We support each other. And yes, it is a bit sad that this happens from afar. That I feel more understood by women who I have never met in person. Maybe that is what we should be talking about, instead of whether we are bad mothers (parents) or good ones. Maybe we should be more concerned with the fact that we don't support each other enough in the towns and cities in which we live.

    I am going to share this with my readers at, because I know they will have important thoughts to share, too.

    June 12, 2009 at 11:52 am |
  31. Gina Robison-Billups

    Dear Carol,
    I'm glad this debate didn't turn out as tumultuous as the WIPP Conference re: Palin and Clinton (yeah, I was there). As the president and founder of Moms In Business Network (the association that represents business moms), and a mother of two teenage daughters, I can tell you that I have had some "bad mom" moments and so have many of the members of our organization (we share stories).

    Confessing "bad mom moments" is therapeutic, and moms are so relieved to find sympathetic moms who've "been there, done that."

    At different times in my life, I have been a different kind of parent.

    When I was divorcing and feeling the need to "be all my children were missing", I probably was a helicopter parent...maybe in an effort to show them how good life is being divorced? Who knows.

    At other times, I am a bad mom, and my daughters actually call me out on it and we laugh about it. One time I actually called myself a "bad ass mom", which had my daughters rolling since I never swear. (yes, saying "bad ass" in my house is considered swearing and my daughters and 14 and 16) – although I am fully aware they use much more colorful language outside the house. Not swearing a sign of respect for each other at home though (and hopefully a skill they will take into their careers).

    I have recently gone through breast cancer therapy, and I was worried that my girls may have been too mothered, too dependent on me, too spoiled to give me the time and the help I needed from them. I was wrong. They have stepped up beautifully...most of the time. They are not perfect either.

    I will say this – I am one of those parents that won't let my child even visit a house where I don't know the parents (until she can drive herself there). I am very protective of who she spends her time with because I know what it was like, and all the crazy, weird things I experienced.

    We recently hosted an end of the year party for my 14 year old. I was shocked that only 3 parents (out of 50 kids) wanted to know if parents were on premises (the others took their kids word for it or didn't even ask). Many walked to the party without parents. I'm not sure their parents even knew they were out of the house. During the party, I found that some kids were leaving in groups and then trying to get back in. I quickly realized that they were going down the street to a neighbor's house to get high. Once I figured it out and told kids they were not allowed to come back in once they left, we lost half the party. My daughter had been asked to go, and thank God she declined. Later that night, someone broke into my bar and stole Jack Daniels!

    This happened WITH strict parental supervision. What are these children doing without parents around?!

    Parents of toddlers have no idea what they are in for with teenagers. Teenagers are toddlers (with the same or less ability to connect actions and consequences) but with bigger and more deadly toys like cars, drugs, alcohol and sex, and it starts in middle school. at 10 and 11.

    Parenting (in my opinion only) takes a real sense of balance...knowing when to let go and knowing when to hold tight. Helicopter moms just don't know when to let go, and I really hope the self-proclaimed "bad moms" DO know when to hold tight.

    Parenting is tough work, and I salute all of you who haven't given up and sold your kids to the gypsies yet. LOL. (My mom used to threaten me with that...does that make her a bad mom?)

    -A very exhausted and very proud mom,
    Gina Robison-Billups

    June 12, 2009 at 9:51 am |
  32. Ron (Dr. Ronald Helms)

    Parenting/Economy/Education: All three of these have an impact on Parenting. The bad economy has caused more single parent and two parent families to work hard and worry more about putting food on the table and providing a "home." The news in Greensboro, NC is the same as we hear across the country. The School Board is cutting back on the number of teachers in grades K-12. As a retired college professor, I decided I would try to do something. Last spring, I volunteered to be a teachers assistant in a 2nd grade math class. The teacher are under pressure to prepare the children for "standardized year end test." The math teacher, I worked with, would show the students how to do a daily task. She would them give the children a homework assignment and help them get started on the homework. The next day she would ask how many finished their homework? Between 4 to 8 children would raise their hands that they did not do or finish the homework. Who was at home to help with the childrens homework? I very tired 8 to 10 hour working parent or parents. Working parent(s) are stressed out and worried about keeping the family together. In Greensboro, it is estimated that the classroom size will grow from an already over crowded 20 to 30+ children due to cuts in education. With large classroom in Elementary school, more children will fall by the way side. I decided to try to do something to help the children and eduction. PLEASE, go to my web site

    June 12, 2009 at 9:26 am |
  33. Carol

    Todays children are entertained 24/7...Remember the summers when we rode bikes, played outside til dark. Local swimming pools you could go to without a parent worrying. Being bored. Finding things to do. That is the real world. A boring day is an important part of life. Sometimes it just means everything is a-o-k. A scheduled life is not real, there is no need to join every club and sport.
    NOthing like the sound of kids playing outside and running around in their own backyards.
    Carol, I have been a fan of yours for years. Love your stories.

    June 12, 2009 at 9:21 am |
  34. Patricia Tuckey

    Hi Carol, I think I sent my comment to the wrong place, but here is what I wrote, Good story this morning about Mums.
    Recently I was asked at a baby shower to give advice to the new first-time mom. My advice to her was:
    Love them, feed them, house them, clothe them, educate them, give them morals, give them work ethic, then give them wings.
    Thats how we raised my 2 girls. They both have their own businesses, are work-a-holics, and are married to work-a-holics. They work 24/7 and are raising amazing kids ages 3 – 5 – 7 – 9 who are all being raised with the same philosoophy,

    June 12, 2009 at 9:20 am |
  35. James Hoffman

    You have the wrong Idea of what a helicopter parent really is. I am 67 years old and have raised two wonderful children. I was a Scout Master and Cub Scout leader for many years. The true helicopter parent came of age in my generation. They were the parent at little League games who badger the coach because here it is the second inning and little johnny hasn't played yet. They would in front of their child berate volunteer officials for calls that went against their child. They would threaten to sue us and harangue us in front of their child. They would tell the child would get that teacher for making them do a project. They would come into school and in front of their child just go berserk over some imagined slight. These are the true helicopter parents, they hover over the child ready to strike and are over protective. They are not the people who over schedule their child's life. True helicopter children never learn to stand on their own two feet. I remember when I was working of the mother of a 25 year old who called his manager and demanded to know how he could pass over her child for a promotion.
    Yes they still exist and their prodigy now vote and are in positions that can affect us all.

    June 12, 2009 at 9:04 am |
  36. NC

    I was given advice years ago, the busier you keep your children the less likely they are to get into trouble. The elderly lady was right, I kept on top of our daughter"s school as well as recreation. She turned out a really great person. Thanks for the great reporting.

    June 12, 2009 at 8:56 am |
  37. Glen MacKenzie

    Hi Carol,

    I think if you would've included this disclaimer after that blogger's quote it would've created a clearer picture of what you intended to accomplish with your segment:

    "Hi Glen - Carol Costello here: the blogger meant only to illustrate in a most extreme way that she is not perfect. That she makes mistakes. That she is human.

    And her kid is just fine. By using the words “bad mother” she doesn’t mean to imply neglect or “cursing in front of her kids”—she just means, occasionally these things happen—and she needn’t feel guilt that they do."

    But there wasn't. Instead, there was laughter and the conclusion that maybe we ought to be a little more bad as parents.

    CNN is a reputable news program and you are a reputable journalist. I think that in this case, however, you played the theatrical angle too much and it clouded the intent of your segment. I certainly walked away from the segment feeling that if I were a parent who was on the fence regarding spanking I would've felt nudged in favor of spanking.

    I think the bigger picture that you intended to portray is that it is not okay to hover over your kids so much, and I agree with you on that, but including the quotes from that woman about the bath, the spanking, etc., took your segment in another direction – especially for such a brief segment.

    As well, sorry for peppering you with sarcastic rhetorical remarks.


    June 12, 2009 at 8:54 am |
  38. interested mom

    I think it is about timing...make sure your kids have the right activities at the right time...a 2 year old MIGHT need alot of free creative play time while a 5 year old might need some programs to achieve some skill and go forward confidently and then an 8 year old might need less programs and more time to absorb educational insights...Just be your child's parent and stop listening to these "norms" because moms (and dads) are just as unique as children and snowflakes and one approach does not fit all!!! If you are at home with your child you are RIGHT, if you are sitting watching your child be instructed you are RIGHT!! Society (AND THE MEDIA) needs to stop this hypercritical judgment being placed on parents and start supporting them...this is the same as a the working mom vs. stay at home mom debate, just another way to stir up drama and get ratings instead of doing the less dramatic approach of encouraging supportin all moms regardless of their choice!!!!!!!!!!

    June 12, 2009 at 8:54 am |
  39. carol costello

    Carol Costello here:
    You have made such a great point. I should have mentioned Dads, too!
    And paying attention to the wife. I think, tho, (altho we've come a long way) that "moms" still do the majority of child rearing.

    What do you think?

    June 12, 2009 at 8:19 am |
  40. Glen MacKenzie

    I am not saying that everybody has to be perfect. The problem with the way that this segment was pitched is that it introduced helicopter parents and then immediately went into how we need to loosen up as parents. This painted a one-way-or-the-other approach. To support the latter side, views from a bunch of stressed moms were depicted followed by quotes of "I spank my child, I leave my kid alone in the bathtub..."

    The segment did nothing to explain a happy medium. Instead, it set up two camps: helicopter parents and parents who were fed up. No happy medium.

    I drink and I curse, too, but if I were to air such a segment I think I would've focused on what it means to be a good parent AND focus on how we're all human and are prone to making mistakes but not to dwell on it. A continuum approach would've been better (here's the extreme end, here's somewhere not so much, here's the middle, here's not so good, and here's just plain bad parenting) so that people could get a better picture of the issue.

    Disscussing how it's normal to feel overwhelmed, tired, angry, frustrated, prone to cursing, and the expectation to over tend to our children would've been a more balanced approach.


    June 12, 2009 at 7:56 am |
  41. Kate


    I think that Glen is way off the mark. I called myself a bad mother not because I neglect my kids, but because I am not perfect. Nobody hands you a book when you are discharged from the hospital. You have to use your common sense and your gut when it comes to parenting. These poor kids are going to grow up and not have the tools to be adults. What is their mom going to do when her child has a boss that he doesn't like? Write a note and ask for a transfer?

    Parents who curse, drink and leave their kids in the bathtub are not neglecting them. I leave my kids in the tub by themselves, they are 6 and 10. My two year old is supervised through her whole bath. It's called common sense! I encourage my 6 and 10 year old to bath alone so they learn how to take care of themselves.

    Unfortunately, Glen felt the need to go to extremes. Not every parent who considers themselves a bad parent, are neglectful. I certainly am not and just because I don't control every move my children make doesn't warrant child services making a house call.

    June 12, 2009 at 7:39 am |
  42. Elizabeth

    Please don't forget the parents who "helicopter" because they see every other adult as a potential pervert and/or kidnapper. I know many mothers of young children who do not allow them to go to other children's homes to play unless they (the parents) know the other parents personally. When my child was little, birthday parties were for children; these days the parents have to be invited as well or the child is not allowed to go. The excessive media coverage of every horrific crime against a child has convinced these parents that predators are lurking around every corner. Maybe a little more balance in reporting would allow parents to sleep at night and give them the peace of mind to allow their children to have a childhood.

    June 12, 2009 at 7:37 am |
  43. Laura

    Just a suggestion that you check your language within your reports – this one and others – not all of your viewers operate in "traditional" families with mom (bad or not), dad, etc. You asked at the end of the report for folks to write in about how they find time to mother and "pay attention to your husband." What about the mom-only, dad-only households?

    This suggestion doesn't come only from a particular sensitivity to my own life circumstance, rather from my experience as an adoptive mother and as a teacher of 28 years – advocating for a broader perspective and inclusive practice in all layers of daily living.

    June 12, 2009 at 7:33 am |
  44. carol costello

    Hi Glen-Carol Costello here:

    I think you're taking the term "bad mother" too far-the blogger meant only to illustrate in a most extreme way that she is not perfect. That she makes mistakes. That she is human.

    And her kid is just fine. By using the words "bad mother" she doesn't mean to imply neglect or "cursing in front of her kids"-she just means, occasionally these things happen-and she needn't feel guilt that they do.

    June 12, 2009 at 7:09 am |
  45. Saundra Robinson

    Well, as a single African American female mom I worried always about being a bad mom, fulfilling a stereotype – I went to medical school married with a 4 year old – I graduated 4 years later (on time) with an 8 year old, a 2 year old, a 1 year old and a divorce – the ensuing years of residency and starting a practice left no time for all those things I needed to do to be a 'good mom' – but somehow I managed to raise 3 wonderful children who even now tell me they had the best childhood ever – in fact I use to call them my 'Peter Pan' kids because they never wanted to grow up – no secret to what I did – I just went for quality rather than quantity – and hope my kids, including the mother of my grandson, will do the same and make memories as a family, not a series of lessons, activities they may never remember the priority in their lives

    June 12, 2009 at 7:07 am |
  46. Rosa Huff

    Just finished the book, "Free-Range Kids." great book. I am not backlashing against over-parenting since I've never over-parented but I do feel like there are more parents now trying to hold back from helicoptering. The book was fantastic and made sense to me. It also validated what I believe in that parents ARE the experts on their kids and social pressure/perceived norms shouldn't play any part in raising children.

    June 12, 2009 at 7:00 am |
  47. GiGi Jacobs

    I believe my up bringing and childhood gives me the authority to be an authority on this subject. Over parenting is the most absurd fad to hit our country of gull able sheep. "

    As a child, we were severely abused. Severely, My biological mother(and I use the term loosely) had OCD much or exactly the same as Howard Hughs-fear of germs. And she had taken it to the same extreme that Mr. Hughs was known for. That included the daily drenching our bodies with rubbing alcohol, locking us in the house for sometimes as long as 54 days, taping shut all the windows for 3 years to prevent the germs from coming in, etc. It would be a whole book to understand just this 18 year period during hour "child-rearing". To sum it up, After the police found out we went through a 5 hour disinfecting procedure each night we returned home from school-leaving us naked in from of our sisters and our father, while we washed, and washed, and washed, over and over again, till our skin was red and of course our school materials and books were not allowing in the home or car for 3 years during my high school period. Top it off with beating that left welts on our bodies as we returned to school the next morning ...and you have an on the record story that would blow your mind. You might even pick up a book at your local community college on "Child Abuse" and find the chapter of the "most unusual child abuse that the social services had ever come across since their creation

    So, now I'm grown and I hear of children who's schedules are full of social activities as if they were the price of England. A different activity each night, while parents hall them in mini vans left and right-only to be yelled at and screamed at by an impatient bunch of animals-we shall now officially term: Animals.

    At first, I could not look at children for 20 years. Why all this holier than thou treatment, when all I wanted was to bring my geometry book in and study quietly and read a book-only to be faced with the garden hose, some Palmolive soap, and rubbing alcohol for hours on end. And on a good occasion, a beating that you thought for sure "This time he'll kill me". I'm not saying anyone should go through that, but for God's sake people RAISE your children-they are not animals you leave on this planet without ever telling them NO and without teaching them what it is to be a respectful, polite adult.

    When I went to see my sister, I had noticed that the severe abuse of us as children must have turned her 180 degrees in the opposite direction Here was her boy, being catered to like my sister had taken on a maid job. She did everything for him, even sat by him one by one doing his homework before she was off to take him to soccer. Not soccer that he had been talking abut forever and has a great love of, but rather soccer so that he can have everything his little whims desire even thought the soccer ball will be a mere ornament within 3 weeks

    And when He's bad, there's something called "time out".which must be a when it's mentioned, the child gets a big grin on his face like he's pulled another one over on her. "if I just pretend this is a terrible thing, this is all I'm going to have to do despite that fact that I destroyed Molly's art work and tore it to shreds Time OUt? In my language that means, "Pull your pants down and turn around...and oh yeas, hand me that Oak paddle...:

    If parents continue to treat their children like some king of out of state dignities that deserve a red carpet procession and have their butts wiped by a hand full of servants.

    My child would get his butt and behind hit till it was bright red, each and evertime I noticed he disrespected me or anyone else And I guarantee you, he will grow up to being a respectful human being

    Every time I get cut off by some young asshole in traffic who can clearly see I'm desperate to make that off ramp but insists that I should not be let in-I scream and curse with abandonment. AT THE PATHETIC PARENTS WHO RAISED SUCH AN ANIMAL and is now running around on the streets with the nice people.

    If you can't raise your children, why not take up crocheting?


    June 12, 2009 at 7:00 am |
  48. Glen MacKenzie

    Miss Costello:

    I am glad I was awake to catch your segment on parenting on CNN this morning. I am beside myself with both shock and anger at your endorsements. You essentially boiled down parenting into two camps: helicopter parents and bad parents and you were "just sayin'" that perhaps bad parenting is not so bad. To illustrate your suggestion, you cited such people as saying "I spank my child ... I left my child alone in the bathtub ... I drink / I curse ..." Are these the quotations that you want to resonate with parents?

    Have you no idea what you are suggesting? What qualifications about parenting do you possess that would lead you to believe that it was okay to present such one-sided views?

    Your viewers likely take your word as gospel, and such thoughtless quotations may be taken to mean that they were from parents of 6 month olds, 1 year olds, or even older toddlers. Do you really think it's okay that viewers walk away having listened to your segment and thinking that perhaps it's okay to spank or leave their kids alone in the tub at such an early age? This is as wooden headed as anything I have ever heard from far less intelligent people.

    Have you ever done research on the effects of spanking? Are you not aware of the plethora of alternatives to spanking such time out, response cost, differential reinforcement of other behaviours, and positive reinforcement?

    I encourage you to do an immediate follow-up to this segment, but this time put some thought into it by fully exploring a happy medium to parenting. Yes, you can over parent, and yes, sometimes we're not perfect, but there is a lot more to parenting than all or nothing.

    June 12, 2009 at 6:55 am |
  49. Cindy

    I am a 4th grade teacher, and I would like to say that parents are still overprotecting their children, preventing them from having to accept consequences for thier actions. I can't tell you how many times I hear from parents, "It was my fault because I didn't ask them if they had any homework," or a note asking they not be kept in from recess to do homework because they were "too busy to do it last night." Sometimes I ask the kids what they were doing, and it might be getting a haircut, going to the grocery store, or going to a cousin's birthday party. Kids soon learn to blame their parents. At the beginning of the year, they say, "My mom forgot to put my homework in my backpack." It doesn't take them long to see that such a comment doesn't go over well, so they begin to take responsibility. Parents are harder to train.

    June 12, 2009 at 6:53 am |
  50. Tom Windels

    Hi Carol,

    Great story on over parenting and "bad moms" on AM Fix. I can see you really care about the subject. I've been a school psychologist, therapist, or counselor for nearly 30 years. I have seen the over parenting (hovering, over protective, too intrusive, controlling), but I've also seen the under parenting (neglect, not present enough, detached). I honestly think mothers, parents really, need to find some middle ground. The overs need to relax and back off a bit, the unders need to step up to the plate and get more involved. A general message to all Moms that they are over doing parenting could lead the under parenting folks to further extremes, and the more middle grounders to back off when really shouldn't. I guess what I'm saying is that we need to be careful about the audience and address both extremes, and the middle. It's something I've learned in doing parenting groups. Thanks for hearing me out.

    Tom Windels

    June 12, 2009 at 6:52 am |
  51. Richard

    There isn't so much a backlash on overparenting as there is an overall reality check for the American parent due to the country's circumstances. First of all if your idea of "good" parenting is based on the amount of money you can spend to have someone else teach your children something 5-6 days a week, then I'm sorry to inform you that you were already bad parents. Maybe now some parents will start to pay attention to the 6 year old taking a gun to school or the 16 year old building a pipe bomb in "his" room instead of shoving them off to activities and classes where they learn their ethics and morals from the world instead of the home. Then we wonder why the world only seems to worsen!

    June 12, 2009 at 6:49 am |
  52. Rebecca

    After watching your story this morning, I do hole heartedly believe that "helicopter" parenting still exists. I have a friend of mine that has 3 children; 15, 13 and 10 year old boys. Those boys are not allowed to go to the mall or to a friends house alone. If they want to go out, one or more of the parents go with them. Friends have to come over to their house. When the 15 year old needs to walk to school, she walks him or drives him. Her 10 yr old and 13 yr old boys are home schooled and are NEVER away from their mom. Now, the 10 yr old has psychological issues and I understand that, but what she doesn't see is that when she does let him do things on his own, he succeeds. When it comes to dinner she'll cook 3 DIFFERENT meals for each on of her boys and then 1-2 meals for her and her husband. They don't sit down and eat what they are given. She is admittedly a "short order cook". She caters to her children's every single need. It's cause a strain on our friendship because of this. Her and her husband came over to help us move into our new house. I paid them money and bought A LOT of monies worth of food for them. She stayed 2 hours, did very little and then said she had to go home because her 13 and 15 year old were bored. I was amazed that they can control her like that. This has been a problem for a long time. I have a 2 1/2 yr old that is more independent that her children. So yes there are still people out there that "baby" their kids, at all ages.

    On the other hand, I am a little more encouraging of independence with my child. I open my window blinds and watch my son play right outside the front door (not anywhere near traffic). He knows that he has to stay where I can see him, as my desk sits right at the window facing out. If he goes an inch out of site, i go out and he comes in. When he's hungry, he goes into the refrigerator and brings me whatever he wants to eat. I don't cater to that though. He has set snack times and meal times. He gets what I cook or he can go with out. That works for our home. My son is 2 1/2 and already knows how to clean up after himself, make a sandwich or cereal and how to get the phone to mommy in case of an emergency. Some people say that I treat my son too much like an adult, but I believe that children need to be more prepared for the world and that parents need to really encourage independence and individuality, yet maintain a level of respect for parents and others. For 2 1/2 years old, my son already knows this. I don't know if that makes him "advanced" or not, but he knows how to do things that other kids his age don't know how to do. Because we have always encouraged him to be independent and unique, he has already self taught himself to play guitar. We were shocked when he picked up his dad's guitar and started playing. He also has picked up karate moves from movies and according to karate instructors say his stance is perfect. I think it's really important to find the right way of parenting for your family. I can't say what's right or what's wrong. I can only say what I believe. Good luck to all, as I learn more and more everyday about being a parent.
    Have a good day.

    June 12, 2009 at 6:47 am |
  53. Kate

    I am the mother of 4 children, ranging in age from 13 to 2. I am proud to say that I am a bad mother!!!! I have always been involved in my childrens' lives. I've been a soccer coach and a class mom. I've always let my children live their lives and learn their lessons on their own. I fear for this generation of children, they will have no coping abilities because their parents try to control their every move. My kids are involved in activities but I have drawn the line on how much. I have explained to them that I am not supermom and I only can do so much. Guess what? They understand and make their choices with out having nervous breakdowns. Isn't that amazing??!!!! Mom need to back off and let their kids live. It's the best thing they can do for them...whether they know it or not. I'm just saying.......

    June 12, 2009 at 6:45 am |
  54. Cassie

    I am a kindergarten teacher at a private school in a wealthy area of NJ. I know I only work with a specific socioeconomic group; however, in my experience, over-parenting is alive and well. My students leave school to go to dance, gymnastics, soccer, karate, etc. They have a different activity every day of the week, but their parents drive them places rather than they play with them or talk to them. Every itch and every "boo-boo" gets some kind of ointment on it, whether you can see it or not. These children can't fend for themselves, because everything is done for them.

    June 12, 2009 at 6:44 am |
  55. Ken

    Over parenting will end when the gaggle of cars with motors running at the end of my 1/4 mile street at school bus time each morning, each loaded with exactly one "helicopter parent" and one child, disappears. These parents can't let their children walk 1/4 mile to a bus stop to hang out with other kids on their own. They produce a dangerous – when the bus comes, all the kids leave their cars and run to the bus while their parents start driving off in all directions – gas wasting, ridiculous spectacle, emblematic of the "over parenting wackos" they are.

    June 12, 2009 at 6:43 am |
  56. Marlene

    Or a sense of family and community values.

    June 12, 2009 at 6:41 am |
  57. Marlene

    Thanks Carol for finally saying what people claim I am not allowed to say since i am not a mom! But I have noticed in the past years from friends, family and acquantances who have children that they over schedule their children out of the family home and out of the neighborhood playgrounds, which is a great shame. We wonder why our young people today don't have a sense of community and responsibility to it!

    June 12, 2009 at 6:40 am |
  58. Richard Woolley

    Well I consider myself to be a "Super Dad", my wife works outside of the home 4-6 days per week. So along with my day job I take care of 9 and 13 yr old boys. Talk about getting grey hair quickly.

    Anyway I hope the over parenting phase of society is over. I never ran my children non stop to after school and weekend activities. I won't do it. They are not going to become pro soccer or baseball or football players.

    Its insane to play the game and its worked for kids are normal, not into trouble and have the typical big/small brother daily bickering and fights....just regular ol normal kids....

    June 12, 2009 at 6:39 am |
  59. Rod G

    Thank God these moms are getting a life and letting their kids get one, too!! Let them be kids, not little over achievers. Let 'em get dirty. Let 'em scrape their knees and elbows! Let 'em rely on their imagination to entertain themselves! Enough already!!

    June 12, 2009 at 6:39 am |
  60. Laura

    I schedule several sports or activities for my children during each season. I have a 14 year old daughter and a 6 year old son. For me it's not about being a helicopter parent, it is about trying to keep my children busy and interested in various things so that they do not become interested in things like drugs. If they are playing sports, their friends are the people they are active with. It is more like a gentle guidance away from trouble and trouble making peers.

    June 12, 2009 at 6:35 am |
  61. Lauren

    Check out the book "Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety". It really gave me some perspective. I am a young single mother with a two-year-old son. Not only was I trying to maintain perfection in my own life, I was doing completely absurd things to "better" my son's life and his future...once I calmed down a bit and realized that he's only two years old and that it really doesn't matter if he's not yet learning another language and can't yet read, he has a much happier and healthy mother now as well! What we do to maintain a lifestyle of perfection is often extremely dysfunctional and unhealthy, which defeats the entire purpose of being perfect in the first place. What good is perfect when mommy is so tired she can't even play with her son?!

    June 12, 2009 at 6:35 am |
  62. Ned Parks

    Parents make this way harder than it needs to be, follow a few simple steps to being a good parent and have a happy kid:

    Love them
    Allow them to grow
    Ask them what THEY want to learn/do
    Live a happy life
    Ask them their hi's and low's of each day
    Love them

    June 12, 2009 at 6:33 am |