Signs of Subpar Parenting

I’m not saying that all this stuff happened. This is just a random list of red flags, I swear, just signs that would indicate subpar parenting.

  1. Telling his father that we should have named Asher Ashhole instead
  2. Going to Mother’s Day tea and hearing the sentence “My Mommy spends all her time______” finished with the word “working”
  3. Forgetting to go to our oldest child’s first parent-teacher conference
  4. Telling someone how irritated I was that her father forgot to bring home Selah’s swim fins from practice, and then noticing that I had forgotten the new baby in his stroller over across the pool
  5. Totally failing to answer Selah’s question, “What is the point of the boy fish if they can’t have babies?”
  6. Asking the seven year old to make sure the one year old stays alive
  7. Hiding around the corner to eat goodies I don’t want to share with the kids
  8. …and eating their Halloween candy. Like, most of the Halloween candy.
  9. Totally letting the baby beat on the older kids in the other room, telling self, “They are bigger than him. They can handle it.”
  10. Stating, “My phone is not a toy,” and then secretly playing Scramble with Friends
  11. Listening to songs with bad words in them and then feigning ignorance about what the singer is saying
  12. Using food to keep the kids awake in the car
  13. Discovering the baby smiling and brushing his teeth with another kid’s toothbrush and just quietly putting it back
  14. Making myself a plate at a party and then realizing that the kids haven’t eaten yet
  15. Hauling my naughty three year old outside of church and giving him a “Come to Jesus” moment out there
  16. Writing snarky Facebook statuses and blog posts about my children

I could go on all day with these theoretical examples of how one might expose one’s parental failings. What terrible things have you totally not done?


Table Surfing Baby


Cheerio Nose
Cheerio Nose
Poor Mistreated Child
Poor Mistreated Child
Child Labor
Child Labor
Naked Baby
Naked Baby
I Just Think This Is Funny
I Just Think This Is Funny
Broken Head Asher Climbs on the Dog
Broken Head Asher Climbs on the Dog

For more family confessional hour, read Worst Baptism Ever. Or the rest of this blog.



41 responses to “Signs of Subpar Parenting”

  1. Juliana Avatar

    #14: I think this can be justified when one has blood sugar issues. Because sometimes staying-human is more important, parenting-wise, than feeding your children first.

    1. That is absolutely true. It’s a survival mechanism and a sanity-saving mechanism. 🙂

  2. Theoretically forgetting the back door is open, going to the bathroom and finding a toddler has bumped their head on the back porch while you peed. Oops.

    1. Now that is just all the toddler’s fault. I mean, if they were being obedient, they would have been sitting still somewhere.

    2. I hate bathroom breaks as much as I love them. Something ALWAYS happens while I’m in there. Even if I let them follow me into the bathroom. Today it was markers all over themselves and the coffee table. I swear all I did was go to the bathroom with the door shut. :/

      1. I know! Why is this??

      2. I learned long ago to NOT shut the door. Hubby thinks I’m rude, but he would think worse if they killed each other because I shut the door. Lol

        1. LOL. Yes most of the time I leave the door open… but then I am trying to simultaneously go to the bathroom and break up a fight, or pull the extra TP out of their hands, or stop them from pulling in the shower curtain… lose lose? Haha

  3. Oh and what about changing one diaper on the floor (too lazy to use the changing table) and the other baby reaches out and grabs a handful of poop from said diaper.

    1. Oh no! It’s bad enough when you have one baby and they try to do that to themselves, but TWO BABIES!

  4. […] at this point, and I forgot to go to my daughter’s first parent-teacher conferences (see Signs of Subpar Parenting), because I was in the throes of new-baby exhaustion and dementia. Talk about […]

  5. Candie Goodwin Avatar
    Candie Goodwin

    Working from home and thinking it would be so nice for the 5 year old to enjoy her breakfast on the back porch but then accidentally locking her out and not realizing it for two hours because you are busy on a conference call and cannot hear her knocking and screaming. Again- these are things we have NOT done, just examples, right? 🙂

    1. Haha! Oh no! Yes, a theoretical parent would probably feel kind of bad about that (understandable) incident.

  6. I have no problem eating their Halloween candy. 1. They don’t need that much candy. 2. I *made* their costumes and I walked them all over the neighborhood (carrying the 2 year old for much of it) after working a full day. I earned that d@mn candy more than they did.

    1. Haha! True! My sister and I joked that we were sending our kids out to forage for candy.

  7. Laura, you have made me laugh hysterically at work (because I have no time to read your blog at home). In this “share everything social media world”, it is refreshing to see the truth, even if it often is not as cute as we would like to think our children are. I have three who are 17, 13, & 6 so logistically it does get easier. However, they still fight like 5 year olds and the commands for attention are exhausting. Dinner at our family is like having four conversations at once. My husband and I usually have one conversation and then each of the kids jumps in with their tangent even after they have assured us they are done. One of my worst moments was when we forgot to ensure that our 6 year old had his Halloween costume for the Halloween parade at school (his first one) and he was the only child in his class without a costume.

    1. Oh no! I am constantly afraid of things like that (for instance, I was terrified that I would forget to bring just one child’s Christmas gifts when we went to my parents’). And yet I think my kids are regularly a little behind everyone who has it more together than I do!

  8. I called my five year old a cuss-word. He was being absolutely insane and I was in the shower and it was just one of those mornings.

    I felt immediately awful. He, on the other hand, was both shocked and thrilled because a) he loves cuss words and b) he got to actually say one when he told his Daddy and sister on me.

    1. Oh no! Haha! Our best intentions get snowed under, don’t they?

  9. I just stumbled on your blog after someone shared your “So You Would Like to Have Three Children” post… I wish I had read this, oh, about 15 months ago! haha Our third is now 3.5 months old and we are IN THE TRENCHES WITH YOU! I am so tired that last week I REALLY 100% believed that Saturday was really Friday and when I came upstairs to find my hubby in his sweatpants at 8 a.m., I barked “WHY aren’t you at work?! It’s Friday!” with such conviction that he checked his phone to make sure it was in fact Saturday. Our kids are all almost exactly 2 years apart, so we have a 4.5yo, a 2.5yo and a 4.5 month old. And I am guilty of almost all of you ‘signs’! lol Thanks for helping me to feel like I’m not the only Nutjob out there!

    1. Oh, you aren’t! There are apparently at least two of us–me and you.

  10. lorileahb Avatar

    Make that three of us! Our just one more turned out to be twins, and it feels good to know I have some company in this place and time… and someone that can help me laugh through it.

    1. Haha! Yes, as you can probably tell from my blog, laughter is my coping mechanism!

  11. Signs of subpar parenting–I’m never guilty of this! I’ve never sat a toddler on the truck cover, in a flustered rush to unlock it amidst the infernal diaper bag, shopping bags, and purse, only to have the toddler fall off onto the sidewalk in front of old men neighbors (miraculously she landed on her diapered bottom!); I’ve never yelled at my girls like an insane harpie; never accused them of misplacing an item only to discover it was my mistake. And I’ve certainly never forgotten a hot lunch day at school, or pyjama day. I’ve always been on the lookout for them at my elbow, never clocking them in the face. Seriously, I never need adult supervision. And I don’t cry in my wine, either, at the end of a turbulent, epic fail of a day.
    Hugs n love to all moms who make the honest effort–at the end of the day if they’re clothed, fed, and still love us, we win, don’t we?

    1. Oh geez, that all sounds about right! Recently I stood on the sidewalk with two friends, just watching my two year old sitting on a little bike, rolling backward downhill into an unavoidable crash. I knew there was no way I could make it there in time, so I just watched in horror and thus had the time to watch the expression on his face: happy…interested…perplexed…horrified…flying backward. It actually all turned out surprisingly well, and I’m a little ashamed that once I knew he was OK, I couldn’t stop laughing.

  12. I too read your post on having 3 kids. Thank you for being honest about it! It is so crazy sometimes and I am only now feeling like I can get out from the muck and mire of everyday craziness to start doing fun things with them again (Our oldest is almost 6, middle almost 3, and youngest 18 months). Here’s to embracing the chaos!!!

  13. Laura, you are amazing!! i laughed out loud pretty much through every article!!! I only have 2 kids…..1 and 4 but I swear most of those scenarios could be re- written with my name in them!!! honest to god just the other day, While scrubbing the kitchen floor on my hands and knees, my 4 year old daughter came bolting out of her bedroom and jumped on my back riding me around like a tiny naked jockey slightly choking me as she held on…. as my son held onto my side hollering gibberish at , her trying to yank her off….( that was one of my more positive crazy moments as a mom) thank you so much for sharing your experiences!! like many others have written it is so comforting to know that we are not the only ones who feel like we live in total chaos!! I can’t wait to read more!! Thank you!!!

  14. Like Betty, I am reading your posts at work, no time at home. We have all boys. 4 of them, 6, 7, 10, & 16. Yes, I feel like there are days when the good Lord is punishing me for my childhood/teenage days. There are also days when it feel like we have 3. An odd number of children is NEVER a good thing as your other blog has so rightly pointed out. We are currently in the “sports” season of raising the boys. I’m thankful each week that only 2 are playing basketball, but baseball is right around the corner (sign ups started yesterday). We will have 3 playing then. All 3 in different age brackets (7yo will be 8 next month). 2-3 practices per week per boy = 6-9 practices per week. Then there are the games. If we are lucky they wont play at the same time. I feel like the worst mother when I have to choose which game to go to, but if they are not at the same time then we will be at the ball park for 5 hrs some nights. So tiring, but I would NOT trade it for anything. Thank you for all the laughs.

  15. Theoretically, a parent may just let the baby play in the bathroom while she finishes the dishes because she forgot to close the door and knows he’s going to cry if she takes him from his favorite room. And then it’s possible said parent may hear a loud thump as the baby (who of course, the parent was convinced could not climb yet) climbs and falls into the tub. A parent may feel bad if such a scenario were to occur.

    1. Oh no! It’s amazing the trouble they can get into!

  16. […] about the signs of sub-par parenting and the things this mom has “totally not done.”  (  It got me to thinking about the things that I have totally not done.  I just thought I’d […]

  17. dropping my daughter off at nursery on the wrong day. And leaving her there.

  18. ashamed subpar mother Avatar
    ashamed subpar mother

    Say there was a theoretical pregnant mother who went upstairs to get dressed while her two year old played safely downstairs. This mom came downstairs to find the front door open and said toddler missing. This particular toddler had never up to this point known how to open the door. Imagine this terrified pregnant mother running outside, calling after her son who had gone outside, running across the street, to see the train that ran right next to the apartment complex. Praise the Lord that in this theoretical story, the mother and son were fine. And this mother learned a valuable lesson that day about dead bolts.

  19. claudia Avatar

    And THIS is the reason why we chose to only have one and DONE! LOL my husband and I were both raised in families of 3 and it sucked for both of us so even when we were just dating we said we would just love to have one and only.

  20. Ceciley Avatar

    I have laughed until I have cried. So enjoyable to look in to others chaos so don’t feel so alone in it. My 2 year old escaped over baby gate into back of house. Found him sitting by his dads closed laptop with a closed red permanent marker grinning. Next day his dad brings out the laptop and 3/4 of screen is colored red. We debate how to clean it and the cue tips and alcohol works thank goodness. I suggested raising gate and was thankful red marker was found so could use to make life saver rings for bible school.
    Left kids with hubby one night to go visit a friend. Came home to my kitchen table decorated with peel and stick foam sea creatures and my four year olds windows decorated too. I am still amazed at what the little ones can get into makes life interesting. Just try to think on the bright side and laugh while eating more chocolate.

    1. There have been times when I have thought markers should be illegal.

  21. Liam ate a turd during a diaper change. A little one. Like a skittle.

    1. Oh my, that is wonderful.

  22. Thank you for your posts- I just us my 3rd- 3 under 3 which is slowly killing me at times. Nice to know someone else is out there.

    1. We’re out here. Hang in there! Maybe write a blog to let off some steam. 🙂

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