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16 Habits of Highly Dysfunctional Parents

16 Habits of Highly Dysfunctional Parents

We really enjoy supporting families through our programs & parenting tips and resources. Interestingly when we reverse the approach and look at parenting from a negative perspective, often any important message can penetrate more deeply.

So whilst this an unhappy list, hopefully you will find a negative motivator that produces a positive outcome!

  1. Take it all personally – be emotionally needy and ensure that no one can be themselves around you because it’s not safe. This means your kids won’t have a clue of where they stop and you start. Get them to take responsibility for how you feel.

  2. Avoid your own inner demons – make sure your buttons are 3 ft wide and easily pushed and THEN blame and punish the kids for this. Avoid feeling your tough feelings and get your kids to carry some of your baggage for you.

  1. Do too much or too little – either do everything for them or nothing. The notion of a balance of support & challenge is foreign to you….. instead these little people are just slaves to your one dimensional view of life.

  2. Be unpredictable and powerless – make boundaries and threats and don’t follow through .One week you make rules and the next week they are a distant memory or long forgotten. Who needs a spine? They’re over-rated…

  1. Talk about others behind their backs – be superficially nice to others and then pick them apart when they’re not around. Put on an air of having-it-all-together and then turn into a monster when no-one is looking.

  2. Be a walking hypocrite – smoke, drink too much, lie, cheat … and then have loud and righteous views on how others should live their lives. Give unsolicited advice you don’t embody and have opinions on everything.

  1. Love conditionally – Love when you feel good and the kids are being well behaved. Remove love when you are feeling bad and the kids are misbehaving… make yourself the emotional barometer in the house. Have others walk on eggshells or scuttle off when you’re in a bad mood.

  2. Catastrophise and live from that place. Think of the worst case scenario and let the fear of that happening dictate your words, behaviours and decisions. Refrain from examining your irrational fears.

  1. Dominate their tender emotions and avoid handling your own scary feelings. When a child is struggling with their emotions either rescue with lollies or treats, tell them not to be a baby, or fix / attack the problem instead of helping them process and understand their feelings and decide their own actions.

  2. Be a gender bigot – Rubbish the opposite sex. All men are…. all women are. Do this especially in the tone of your voice and in covert non verbal ways. Make sure you have a group of friends who are fully paid members of this club.

  1. Be their friend and not their parent – do things so they like you and avoid the tough decisions and conversations. Give them more power than they can handle and then scold them when they get into trouble with authority. Who needs parents anyway, more friends are what’s needed.

  2. Micro-manage and sweat the small stuff. Ensure that your home life is one nit-picky drama to the next petty squabble. Avoid any big picture thinking and become comfortably familiar with daily drama and struggle.

  1. Talk a lot and be a lousy listener – love the sound of your own voice. Make sure you back off when the topic gets to where you could improve but make sure they all know their deficits. Rubbish anyone or anything that challenges your parenting skills.

  2. Make lots of mistakes and don’t own them or make amends – the kids need to know you’re in charge and apologising is weak. They’ll take advantage of you at the first sign of weakness! Stay strong and impenetrable.

  1. Letting your kids work out that you love them. Words are cheap right? They know you love them don’t they? Dont touch them either, they’ll get all needy and attached.

  2. Refuse support and positive input from others. Getting help is a sign of failure and weakness so do what you can to avoid that at all cost. Cover it all up with a beer or wine and some TV. No one else has any idea about your family.

PSST, just quietly all parents will find themselves in this list. Don’t for a moment think this is rare and that there are people out there who are perfect parents.


Don’t give yourself a hard time. Find 2 standouts and make a positive commitment to change them. Tell someone you trust and keep yourself accountable.

Parenting isn’t a popularity contest. If your need to be liked gets in the way of what your kids need they’ll have plenty to work out for themselves when they become parents.

Your grand-parenting has already begun!



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RAISING TEENAGE BOYS will reveal to you a proven man-making code for raising happy and healthy young men. Many parents butt their heads against the wall using tired old methods....methods that might have worked for our parents, or for when our kids were young......methods that consistently make things worse when our boys reach their teenage years.
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