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Bad Parent ... Really Bad!

The e-mail arrived at the end of March: "Just want to quickly let you know about a fun book coming out next week, called 'True Mom Confessions,' that I think you will appreciate. 'True Mom Confessions' is an anthology of over 100 confessions from moms (of all ages) collected from the anonymous tell-all Web site www.truuconfessions.com. The site has received over half-a-million confessions since it started two years ago and the book focuses on what real moms are saying -- the good, bad, funny, scandalous, emotional, you name it -- when no-one is around to judge.

It's hard not to be intrigued by talk of the not-always-expressed inner feelings of anyone. And so, I bit. I've been sporadically reading Truuconfessions.com since the e-mail arrived. In between many posts of more information than I really want to know about other people's sex lives are nuggets of parenting. Here's a sampling from the past week:

"Kids just did their easter egg hunt and busted me for filling eggs with old Valentine's Day and Halloween candy! Sorry - but I ate all the new jelly beans I bought and had to search for back up! Happy Easter anyway!"

"We are a family of 4 and our dining table only has 3 chairs. We eat in front of the tv, every meal."

"i wish i could just run away-not forever but just a week or two."

"Sometimes, I think that with work, college, kids, marriage, housework and everything else, I just don't have the time for the nervous breakdown I deserve!"

"I noticed more and more that more and more moms feel the same way I do. Why do people take so long to speak out? Its okay to feel overwhelmed, frustrated, and even like you just want to be left alone. I hate when my mom says 'I did it by myself.' Yeah well you were just as unhappy as I am at times, but I get to voice my opinion now. I love my kids but god do I wish I was a better mother. I wish I was born to parent. I wish I liked taking them places. I wish I enjoyed every minute I spend with them."

"Bad Parent" features have been around for awhile. Some of parenting site Babble.com's most read and discussed articles continue to be their Bad Parent features -- long after they appear on the site -- such as "Unschooling: Why my kid won't attend school this fall - or maybe ever" and "Getting Something Off My Chest: I'm still nursing my toddler, and it even freaks me out."

Maybe our desire to confess bad parenting stems from our kids repeating over and over and over "BAD MOMMY!" at the top of their lungs when they don't like what we have to say. Maybe the fact that we think about how we could be permanently harming our kids makes us normal, everyday parents doing an okay job. Maybe we need to just get these things off our chests, have a good laugh and move on. Because when it comes right down to it, true bad parents are the ones who harm their kids purposefully or ignore their kids the majority of the time. The rest of us? We don't even come close.

What do you think of this "Bad Parenting" phenomenon? Do you berate yourselves over the small stuff? Do you believe your kids when they call you "bad" and "mean"?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  April 14, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
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Comments


I've never heard a kid (my own or someone elses) say "Bad Mommy", only other mothers. I don't call my kid's "bad", I tell them they are acting bad or poorly, so if my kid told me I was a "bad mommy" I'd have an issue.

Posted by: cheekymonkey | April 14, 2009 7:51 AM | Report abuse

"Maybe our desire to confess bad parenting stems from our kids repeating over and over and over "BAD MOMMY!" at the top of their lungs when they don't like what we have to say."

No one can abuse you without your permission. Your kids yell at you because you permit them to. Don't reward bad behavior.


"What do you think of this "Bad Parenting" phenomenon?"

Dumbass notion which caters to the weakest of the masses.

"Do you berate yourselves over the small stuff? "

No. It's a waste of time and psychic energy. You can't change one second of the past, you can only learn from it.

"Do you believe your kids when they call you "bad" and "mean"?"

More rubbish and rewarding bad behavior. Who's in charge? Why hand the power of your life over to anyone?

"Because when it comes right down to it, true bad parents are the ones who harm their kids purposefully or ignore their kids the majority of the time"

Correct. That's why the "Bad Parenting" phenomenon is a big bag of bull.

Posted by: jezebel3 | April 14, 2009 7:57 AM | Report abuse

DD's never called me "bad" or "mean," but she did once ask me to apologize for getting mad at her for something. She got a little talk about how I'm the mommy and she's the kid and if she doesn't cooperate, there will be consequences for her and do not need to apologize for it.

I don't think anyone who calls themselves a bad parent really believes that. It's become just another way of bragging -- a wayof proving you're not the helicopter-type parent that's so reviled in the media lately. Just like the stupid "slacker mom" label that people claim with false self-deprication.

Posted by: newsahm | April 14, 2009 8:06 AM | Report abuse

i think the site is a great idea for parents to be able to type-out-loud all of their little secrets.

yes, when wife was in the hospital for two months, my toddler ate dinner in her high chair while watching the simpsons. every night.

but as far a being a 'bad parent' - puuuuuhhhlease. unless you're abusive, all of our kids will turn out just fine.

Posted by: interestingidea1234 | April 14, 2009 8:15 AM | Report abuse

What I fail to understand is why people like this had kids in the first place. It's not like modern science doesn't know what causes babies or how to prevent them (sure, in some cases it was an accident but not always). I hear couples that couldn't WAIT to have kids arguing over whose "turn" it is to take care of them and it makes me sick.

Posted by: Sam888 | April 14, 2009 8:17 AM | Report abuse

My 5 year old yelled "Stil angry! Still angry!" at me over and over after I apologised for playing a April fool's joke on him. I basically told him the car was repainted pink with purple dots-- go check it out! He was really upset. I guesss I should have waited a few years for that one.

Harm done? well, the "Magic" of the Easter Bunny wasn't happening with him. And there was no way I could tell him the story of the Crusifixion with utter conviction-- had to couch it as "many people believe . . . " He's never lost a tooth, and I fear the "toothfairy" is never going to visit him. So my child is a more cynical and a little less childlike than if I hadn't pulled the prank on him. I regret that. I hope by putting this out there, some other parent will really think hard about the ramifications of pulling an April Fool's joke on their kid. I really thought he'd be game because he had funny pulling the little tricks on me and my husband, but turning the tables on him and-- "Still angry! Still angry!"

Posted by: captiolhillmom | April 14, 2009 8:39 AM | Report abuse

A woman from Annapolis, Therese Borchard, wrote/compiled a great anthology of Oops moments from moms entitled The Imperfect Mom. It is a compilation of stories from a number of women and I found it really helpful to read, especially when my firstborn was new, to know I wasn't the only one who could make mistakes. It wasn't bad mommy as much as sometimes mistakes happen. But some great stories, that's for sure (and some sad/scary ones as well)

Posted by: mdsails | April 14, 2009 8:44 AM | Report abuse

First thought: how many people believe that all those "confessions" are any truer than letters published in some magazine about a penthouse, or some such?

Doesn't it seem likely that half of them are posted by somebody's college student daughter, making ten bucks an hour posting and responding to other posts?

And maybe the other half are posted by bored geeks looking to eff with the system, just like they figure out ways to cast thousands of votes to keep Woz on DWTS because their wives think he's "cute" and "classic Asperger"?

I mean, when you're funding your site with advertising dollars, you have to have something to draw enough people to make the ads pay off. Waiting for people to voluntarily post "interesting" stuff might be a business risk, if you know what I mean.

Posted by: ArmyBrat1 | April 14, 2009 8:54 AM | Report abuse

I have had the kids call me mean when I have made a decision that they haven't liked. Oh... say... not letting them snack 5 minutes before the meal is going to be served. I have even had them say they hate coming to our house when we have handed down a decision that hasn't made them happy. Like say... not letting them take library videos home to their mom. I am not a big fan of paying the late fee when their promises of returning them don't happen.

It doesn't bug me in the slightest. I am their step-mother and not their friend. The decisions I make for them are in their best interest. This is not to say that I am not friendly and I don't play or read with them. We do lots of fun things together but I am still their parent.

And all other confessions will remain where they are supposed to remain. In my brain or resting with my closest, trusted friend.

Posted by: Billie_R | April 14, 2009 8:58 AM | Report abuse

Everyone has bad parent moments. Confessing them once in a while is definitely cathartic. But trumpeting them in a book and on websites is taking it too far, possibly just fueling exhibitionist tendencies and creating widely accepted excuses for behavior that ultimately, while often unavoidable, is not excusable.

Posted by: AmitDC | April 14, 2009 9:22 AM | Report abuse

"And there was no way I could tell him the story of the Crusifixion with utter conviction"

captiolhillmom,

I do not understand your reasoning. You either believe in Christ's ressurection or you don't. Why would you relay this as truth when you don't believe, or as theory when you do believe? Are we to understand that your son's reaction to your prank so shook your own faith that you no longer are sure what to tell him about your own beliefs?

Posted by: 06902 | April 14, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

It's just another outlet for voyeurism. My parents didn't have all of the rules that we have (food allergens, balloons as choking hazards, baby-proofing, etc.) and we're all here. They gain readership by people who want to blindly judge.

Posted by: MzFitz | April 14, 2009 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Here are my confessions; From a Helicopter Dad!


1.) My son goes away to prep school in New Jersey. When I was taking him back after the Christmas break. I asked him to loan me his allowance ($225) a month, that I gave him a day earlier. I never paid him back.

2.) My middle child is very smart and sometime she can really be a pain in my azz. Therefore, when she does something incorrect and I see it, I will laugh my azz off, but not in front of her though.

3.) My oldest daughter is perfect in school, behavior and extracurricular activities. I hope it stay that way. She wants a car and deserves it, but I cannot afford one.

4.) My youngest daughter just turned six and still act like a 2 year old. She sleeps in the bed with us, she demands to be taken to the rest room and demand that her dinner be certain temperature when it is served to us. But, when she sleeps with her thumb in her mouth I put Texas Pete on it sometimes.

5.) Finally, my oldest! He gets his way regardless. I feel like hitting sometimes though when he talks back.

It is very hard to be a parent with five kids, five different personalities and five different demands on needs and wants, BUT I WOULD NOT CHANGE IT FOR THE WORLD.

Posted by: knjon353 | April 14, 2009 10:04 AM | Report abuse

This "true confessions" stuff isn't really new. Erma Bombeck made a very nice living publishing humorous tales of motherhood. The story about the woman who ate all the Easter candy sounds like classic Bombeck.

Posted by: GroovisMaximus61 | April 14, 2009 10:18 AM | Report abuse


Here are my confessions; From a Helicopter Dad!


1.) My son goes away to prep school in New Jersey. When I was taking him back after the Christmas break. I asked him to loan me his allowance ($225) a month, that I gave him a day earlier. I never paid him back.

2.) My middle child is very smart and sometime she can really be a pain in my azz. Therefore, when she does something incorrect and I see it, I will laugh my azz off, but not in front of her though.

3.) My oldest daughter is perfect in school, behavior and extracurricular activities. I hope it stay that way. She wants a car and deserves it, but I cannot afford one.

4.) My youngest daughter just turned six and still act like a 2 year old. She sleeps in the bed with us, she demands to be taken to the rest room and demand that her dinner be certain temperature when it is served to us. But, when she sleeps with her thumb in her mouth I put Texas Pete on it sometimes.

5.) Finally, my oldest! He gets his way regardless. I feel like hitting sometimes though when he talks back.

It is very hard to be a parent with five kids, five different personalities and five different demands on needs and wants, BUT I WOULD NOT CHANGE IT FOR THE WORLD.

Posted by: knjon353 | April 14, 2009 10:04 AM | Report abuse


Is English your first language?

Posted by: jezebel3 | April 14, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Is English your first language?

Posted by: jezebel3 | April 14, 2009 10:19 AM

No! It's JIVE...

Posted by: knjon353 | April 14, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Oh, most of these confessions are just stupid details, magnified to ridiculous proportions. Who cares if your toddler watches the Simpson while eating, as long as he's eating and not throwing food across the floor he's fine. Why worry if your six year old sleeps with you? She'll be sixteen before you know it and embarassed to be hugged, so enjoy the freely offered snuggles while you can. Everybody gets potty trained eventually, everybody learns how to fall asleep alone, and everybody, even mothers, want to be alone sometimes.
These ridiculous expectations just get in the way of what is really important, which is being a happy and joyful role model. I'm not a psychologist but it sure seems to me that happy people come from happy homes with happy parents. Give up on the expectation of perfection, and embrace a little joy in your life. What kid wants to listen (or model themselves) after somebody who is tense, always disatisfied with themselves, and generally unhappy? You'll never get them to eat their vegetables with a big anxious frown on your face anyway.

Posted by: pinkoleander | April 14, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

I think Armybrat1 and MzFitz make great points about the high probability that much of what is posted on these confessional sites may be exagerrated in order to gain readership, and higher ad revenues.

Kind of makes me think that maybe that's what Jezebel3's purpose is on this blog. How many of us come and view the comments to see how nasty she wants to get today?

Posted by: HuckleberryFriend | April 14, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Some Bombeck quotes on "healthy foods:"

I come from a family where gravy is considered a beverage.

In general, my children refused to eat anything that hadn't danced on TV.

Seize the moment. Think of all those women on the 'Titanic' who waved off the dessert cart.

Posted by: GroovisMaximus61 | April 14, 2009 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Being a parent can be overwhelming and isolating. You can sometimes feel like you're the only one struggling to balance things or struggling with a particular issue. Anyone who doesn't agree with these statements doesn't read the parent boards or talk to their friends and family. Because TO A ONE, all of my friends/family with small children feel the same. Thus, when you hear the "confessions" it is a bit like a weight has been lifted. You really aren't the worst parent in the world. You're kid will be ok.

I don't NEED the assurance -and neither do the others I've talked to- but it is nice to have it anyway. For those who think it's bull, etc. I generally disagree with 99.99% of what you folks have to say anyway. This is no different.

Posted by: liledjen4901 | April 14, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

When (appropriately) disciplining a child, being a parent is somewhat like being a Mafia hit-man: the parent must constantly tell himself, "It's nothing personal - just business." And that goes for the juvenile verbal responses the parent sometimes receives from the child. Note, too, that such responses may rate disciplining consequences of their own, because it is not always appropriate to say whatever is on your mind.

Posted by: DoTheRightThing | April 14, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

I think that these women are a bunch of sniveling, self-pitying, adolescents who need to get grow up. You have kids. You love them. You say "no" because you know what's good for them, and they don't. That's it. If I had one of them here with me now, I'd slap them upside the head and say "Snap out of it!"

Posted by: adrienne_najjar | April 14, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

I completely agree with liledjen4901. Of course we love our kids. Of course we'll discipline them and do things they might not like, resulting in a (temporarily) unhappy child. As we all know, parenthood is overwhelming and exhausting, and sometimes having a non-judjmental outlet to vent minor mistakes or guilt trips is healthy. If some people have that in a friend or family member, more power to you.

Posted by: newmom2009 | April 14, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Having worked at a 911 communications center at a wealthy local county, I could fill a book with the kinds of calls we've gotten. There was the mother who called to say her daughter ran away again, she couldn't control the 14-year-old and the mother knew she was hanging out at the arcade and 'if you find her, don't bring her back. I don't want her.' Then there was the woman who called to say her daughter's boyfriend had called and threatened to commit suicide. All she knew about him was his first name. No last name, no address. I finally tracked him down and talked to him for a while. All he wanted to do was talk to somebody other than his parents. We talked about his interest in the rock band 'Kiss,' a rock concert he attended, and his school work. Then of course we had the usual assortment of nuts who called to complain about the most inconsequential things like the woman who called because a child was crying on her front porch. He was lost and instead of talking to him she locked the door and called 911. Jeez.

Honestly people, if you decide to have kids, make an effort to be an adult, a parent, and somebody with the cojones to control them and listen to them once in a while.

Posted by: Baltimore11 | April 14, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

"Thus, when you hear the 'confessions' it is a bit like a weight has been lifted. You really aren't the worst parent in the world. Your kid will be ok."

That's the point of the "bad parenting" discussion. The parenting gurus have given parents the idea that if you make a mistake, or cut corners, or slack off, you'll do permanent damage to your child. Learning about the things other parents have "done wrong" may give you a laugh, but it also gives you perspective.

Posted by: PLozar | April 14, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

I enjoy these things. Not enough to buy a book. But I always like it when people 'fess up to being less than perfect. Motherhood seems to be this idealized thing, where you have to be all things to all people -- strict but fun, supportive but not a pushover, devoted but not spoiling, etc. And no matter which way you turn, someone is judging you (and will likely feel free to tell you that you're doing it wrong). It's the Martha Stewart-ization of motherhood, where everything has to be "just so."

Sharing "bad mommy" stories makes it "safe" to admit that I'm not perfect. When my SIL is telling me that she forgot X, then it's ok for me to admit that I didn't do Y. More broadly, publicizing these things pushes back against that whole culture of the "perfect" mommy. When even the people who seem to have it all down can admit to falling short, it helps reinforce how stupid those Martha Stewart-ish expectations really are.

Posted by: laura33 | April 14, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

I've gotten the "I hate you" and the "Daddy is a meanie" song and dance more times than I can remember, from all my kids. They still stick their tongue out at me too. It doesn't bother me though, I think kids are sooooooo cute when they express themselves. Hahaha!

I must say that those "mommy confessions" are far more refreshing to read than the high horse, uppity, "My kids know that there are consequences, clear boundaries, in bed by 7:45 without fail, veggies every meal, I'm the parent, not a friend..., blah, blah, blah" sickening self-righteous comments that this blog is full of.

The dirt is much more entertaining!

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | April 14, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

The dirt is much more entertaining!

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | April 14, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse


The dirt is merely the other side of the same coin....

Posted by: jezebel3 | April 14, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

We do know that Erma Bombeck was a humorist — not someone confessing to actions she took for/with/toward her children, right?

Humor exaggerates. "Gravy was a beverage" doesn't mean the late Mrs. B poured tall steaming glasses of brown liquid for her children's enjoyment.

That's a far cry from the anonymous confessions from mothers who hate their lives and wish they liked their children.

Posted by: cfow1 | April 14, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

To avoid high-horse uppity comments, try not posting the typical OP post: "my kids are out of control and despite my never ending attempts to coddle and bribe them they won't listen WHAT CAN I DO?!??!"

If you don't want obvious answers don't ask obvious questions. If you want to read "refreshing dirt", leave off the "what do I do?" part and wait for others to say "aw, me too honey".

There, now everyone can be happy reading only posts that verify their own life view, that don't challenge them in any way, and don't make them uncomfortable (or "sickened").

Posted by: 06902 | April 14, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

I like laura33's point that this is a pushback against Perfect Parent. Myself, I recognize that I'm my child's parent and not friend. Of necessity I will do things ze does not like. This is part of my job; if this didn't happen I'd be failing. If my child called me Bad Parent ... well, first I'd have to decide whether to have my laughing fit right in front of zir or to leave the room. Then there'd be consequences for rude behavior.

I don't expect to be perfect. I will lose patience with my child. I will forget or forgo the brushing of teeth. I will curl up in a ball of tired frustration and let zir run around for a while. These things will happen. My job is to minimize them, then forgive myself, brush myself off, and try to do better next time.

MzFitz: you're falling prey to a biased sample. It is true that our parents didn't take a lot of the safety steps we take. It is also true that we who are reading these posts, are all here. What's missing from your sample are the kids who were permanently damaged or killed because of the lack of those safety steps. The ones who died in car crashes, or in a permanent coma from biking without a helmet, or who drowned in a pool that wasn't fenced in. (All examples from my personal experience.)

Posted by: fitday19550 | April 14, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

I think the Bombeck quotes were a reminder for people to "lighten up", not so much that you pour gravy down your kid's throat.

Fitday, I will actually stand up for MzFitz, no one is advocating that we stop using bike helmets. It's just overboard now, you are practically a child abuser if you let your toddler blow up a balloon. You know how it goes - we drank out of the outdoor hose, ran barefoot in the grass, shared food, played ball in the street, etc. Bubblewrapping kids is not the answer, and yes, I am glad most kids wear bike helmets and seatbelts.

Wacky, My husband's response to my son's one "I hate you!" outburst was "Well, I love you" which made him smile. No more outbursts and we are keeping our fingers crossed. I agree on the dirt, kids are washable!

Posted by: cheekymonkey | April 14, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

fr newsahm;

>...DD's never called me "bad" or "mean," but she did once ask me to apologize for getting mad at her for something. She got a little talk about how I'm the mommy and she's the kid and if she doesn't cooperate, there will be consequences for her and do not need to apologize for it....

That's not an unreasonable request. Why not treat her like YOU would want to be treated??

Posted by: Alex511 | April 15, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Fitday, I'm not saying that these are not important things to think about, but people are made to feel like abusers if their kids do something that's been placed on the "off-limits list." I'm all for safety, but I think it's kind of silly that parents use an anonymous blog as a confessional. Parents today have a lot more pressure from society, more so than our parents did.

Posted by: MzFitz | April 15, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

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