All parents make mistakes. The most well-meaning parents in the world make errors in judgement, or lose their cool, or aren’t paying enough attention when they should be – we’re human beings, not cyborgs.
If you’re just starting your journey and hoping to avoid some pitfalls that can only been truly seen in the rearview, though, these 16 parents are confessing what they would do differently if they could.
16. Ah, the treat mistake.
When my first son was a few months old, I took him out to the woods to get some air and see how he reacts to the birds and trees and dirt and stuff. Soon I had a curious idea, because I know babies have really great grip strength. I put him up to a low, thin branch (so if he fell he wouldn’t fall too far) and put his hands against the branch. Sure enough he latched on.
Then I slowly let go and admired my creation. A baby on a branch. Magnificent. Then I wondered if he’d be able to do a pullup. I said, “do a pullup.” He didn’t. Probably because he was only four months old and couldn’t understand English very well. Then I picked him up again and pulled his hands off the branch. I let him play in the dirt for a while and then we went home.
About a year later when he started talking, I started giving him cookies whenever he would say “daddy.” I think that triggered some sort of Pavlovian response, because now he won’t shut up.
15. A red-letter day.
The other day some lady cut me off and then stopped in the middle of the lane to turn left despite there being a turn lane. I yelled YOU F**KING A$$HOLE!
Then I hear this tiny voice come from the back of my car “What’s a f**king a$$hole?”
And that was the day I taught my 2.5 y/o the word fucking and the word asshole.
14. Sleep deprivation is wild.
I have two kids. One is almost 2, and the other was born at the start of February. A few days ago I put the older child in bed while my fiancee put the new baby to sleep. She then went to take a shower while I was watching tv (mostly screwing around online with the TV making noise in 5he background)
A few minutes later I heard a baby crying, and assumed it was the tv. Then noticed a baby crying didn’t fit with what was happening on TV.
As I was wondering where the sound was coming from, I noticed it was too young sounding to be our two year old, so I thought maybe the TV was on in another room, and ignored it for a couple more minutes.
Then I finally remembered that we have two kids now. For a few minutes I completely forgot one of my children existed.
13. Don’t even bother asking why.
Thinking that 5 year olds don’t put weird shit in their mouth anymore. Mine tried to eat the lense from a baby monitor camera. He bit it, and it shattered. I couldn’t find all the pieces and he wasn’t sure if he swallowed any. That was a fun ER trip.
He’s fine and didn’t swallow any.
12. It felt like hours.
My kids are still growing, so I’m not sure how I have emotionally scarred them yet. Physically, my worst parenting fail was falling asleep with my oldest when she was about a month old. I didn’t roll on top of her, but I rolled her off the bed. On the plus side, I was poor so the bed was just a box spring and a mattress, so not a long fall.
On the downside, my flooring was just vinyl tile on concrete. I felt so horrible and cried for hours afterwards. She was fine in the end, but I definitely learned my lesson.
Edit-nope, nevermind. My husband and I lost the middle child (then 6) at the Musuem of Science and Industry on day long trip to Chicago. Lost her for only about 3 minutes, but it felt like hours.
11. We don’t always see it.
Not getting my son evaluated for his speech earlier.
Now he’s in disabled preschool getting speech twice a week and OT because he is kinda clumsy.
Not standing up to my abusive husband when he refused to refill our daughters seizure meds because “she wasn’t having seizures” so when she went into a seizure because of no meds I was the one the doctor chewed out. I still hate myself for not standing up to him. I had no car, no phone, no money. He controlled everything and I was so intimidated by him.
With the doctors to back me up he realized he was wrong in his thinking. My kids never ever went without their meds again.
She out grew the seizures.
I divorced his stupid a$$ 20 years ago best move ever.
9. Nonsense is the best.
My biggest regret is telling my (now teenaged) toddler to sing real songs instead of letting her just sing nonsense.
I’ve got a little boy in my class who sings nonsense. None of his songs/stories make sense but he’s a great singer and I love listening to him. My favourite is “Suzy had an ice cream cone”, two random sentences, Suzy had an ice cream cone, three random sentences, Suzy had an ice cream cone, repeat.
8. Every parent has a few.
Well, about twelve hours after she was born, I almost let her roll off my lap onto the hospital room floor. Luckily, I caught her by her face.
Then about a year later, I was carrying her into our living room, and I straight dropped her onto the floor (in fairness, this happened because she suddenly wedged her feet against my chest and levered herself straight out, but still).
More recently (like, two days ago), she asked my wife and I what “sarcastic” means, and we told her. That’s turned out about how you’d expect.
Edit: forgot a couple.
When she was, like, two, my wife decided to let her have a sip of her beer. We were looking forward to seeing that toddler “ZOMG WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO ME I TRUSTED YOU” face…instead she turned out to freaking love beer. So now she wants some every time either of us has a beer.
And there was the time – kiddo was three, I think – we were up at a cabin on lake in Door County. I told her she and I could go for a walk down to the beach, but before we left, I heard my wife calling me up to the bathroom (she needed help removing a tick). By the time I got back downstairs, our daughter had decided to take me up on the offer to walk down to the beach.
To be clear, she couldn’t – still can’t – swim. So that was sort of a panic.
And just to really drive the “I have no business being a parent” point home: my first thought upon realizing my daughter had vanished was “oh fuck, I don’t want to tell my wife about this.”
Yeah. Parent of the decade material, right here.
7. Just resist this.
Expecting my first to be potty trained way earlier and way easier than she actually was.
It turned me into an unrecognizable monster, to be completely honest. Not the kind of parent I strive to be. It was a complete, months-long, disaster.
Now potty training my second, and it helps so much that I’ve waited until she was almost 3.
6. What on earth?!
I left my 16 month alone with my newborn for like 5 minutes.
She covered her in poop. Head to toe poop.
5. That second one, though.
My dad has a few answers
When they had my older brother, he was a tiny baby and was lying on my parents’ bed. My dad got on the bed, and the baby went flying off the bed and landed on the floor. They claim that’s the only time they dropped any of us on our head, or in general.
The other answer was having twins… (I am one of those twins)
4. Listen to your gut.
Listening to my kid’s teachers/principals who told me he had no developmental disorder when I knew something was up. He was 16 before he was diagnosed dyslexic, autistic and adhd.
I want to cry and scream over the amount of time his life could have been made easier, if I had only listened to my gut instinct and not everyone else.
3. Oh man that’s rough.
The first time we took our son out we went to a place called Mothercare which is a store for baby clothes and toys, and this particular place had a large display area filled with various prams and pushchairs.
We parked our newborn in his shitty hand-me-down pram nearby because he couldn’t fit among the sea of display models and gleefully found the Pushmaster 5000 or whatever it was that we had our eye on and then went through the process of buying it and organising when would be a good time to pick up our purchase at a later date.
We then left the shop and we were 10 minutes up the road before we remembered we had a baby and that we’d left him behind.
2. A painful lesson.
My then 8 yr old son asked me if Santa was real, looked me in the eyes and said he wanted the truth and wanted me to swear to him that I was telling him the truth. So I decided he was old enough and that I should come clean with him.
He started crying big crocodile tears, and was absolutely devastated. Told me after the fact that some other kids in his class were saying Santa isn’t real, so he wanted to make sure he was before he argued with them.
This was 3 years ago, and he told me this past Christmas that it was the saddest he’s ever been and I better lie to his little sister when she asks. Lesson learned.
1. Poor kid.
Choosing my first wife to be the mother of my oldest child. She was beautiful and interesting but she had severe mental health problems that she flat out refused to treat in any way except for large amounts of alcohol and copious piles of Xanax.
I tried for a few years to make things work but after coming home to find that she’d sent the nanny home, gotten trashed and passed out on the kitchen floor while my two year old was totally unsupervised, we packed up and left. She hasn’t even bothered staying in touch and is still exactly the same 16 years later.
I wish I’d chosen a more stable, mentally sound person to marry and have a child with. It’s caused my daughter a lot of anxiety and worry.
I’m definitely going to do my best to remember some of these.
What do you feel like has been your biggest mistake as a parent? Share it with us in the comments!