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Bad Parenting: Whose Fault Is It?

Bad Parenting: Whose Fault Is It?

We live in a very blaming society. When something goes wrong, we find someone at whom we can point the finger. Even accidents, which we called accidents for a reason and not on-purposes, we find someone to blame.

I live in Durban, South Africa, and recently there was a horrific truck accident on one of our long, winding hills. Unfortunately, 23 people died, five vehicles were destroyed: awful! The first thing society did was point the finger. The general public is blaming government, government is blaming the driver, other people are blaming the truck company, and so it goes on and on. Can you see why politicians pass the buck? If they didn’t they would get into a lot of hot water just for making a mistake, because many of us would point a finger at them and ask for blood and their heads. All this for an accident… Let’s face it accidents and mistakes are very human. Does all this blaming really help society though? What about areas like parenting?


We can no longer deny that our world is facing some major problems. I listened to Brene Brown on a TED talk. She sums up our current situation rather well: “We are the most in debt, most obese, most addicted, most medicated, adult cohort in history.” (Brene Brown: The power of vulnerability – very interesting – go watch if you have some time) I could write pages and pages on each of the four topics mentioned, and many people do. Yet we are still trending that way. In addition to this, many of our problems start in childhood. It’s not always the case, but we can’t deny the huge impact that parents have on their children. This is usually the point where people get defensive, get their backs up and start to blame. Sadly, human beings can’t really learn when in this state of mind. Thus, our opportunities to pick up something new can be severely lessened. Fortunately, I don’t want to talk about mistakes or blame anyone. Rather I want to talk about how we can shift the way we view this stuff, so we can get into a space where we can learn something new. What if it’s not your fault…?

Before we start looking at how we can shift this, we need to dig a little deeper into, why do we want to shift this? I woke up one morning and saw that one of my car’s tires was a little flat. Busy lifestyle, so I decided, no, no, it’s only a little bit flat so I’m not going to change it now. I’ll drive to a garage close to work, leave it there, and get someone to pick me up. By the time I got to the garage, all the air had leaked out the tire and I was now riding on the wall of the tire. I had completely ruined it. Instead of being able to repair it, I had to buy a new tire.

When we don’t deal with problems, life has a way of making them bigger until we have no choice but to deal with it. How many of us have seen a little water leaking out the toilet. We think its okay; it will be fine until next week; I’m too busy to call a plumber now. We put a towel down to mop up the water (like putting a band-aid on a stab wound). By next month, we still haven’t done anything about it. Now the pipe has completely burst and we’re yelling out, “Why! Why me! What did I do to deserve this?” See how the problem gets bigger when we don’t attend to it. Not many of us have been taught to think in this way though. We learn math and science until we can take no more, but rarely does anyone teach us about life… The point is, if we don’t start taking a serious look at the problems I mentioned above, they are going to get bigger. The World Health Organization estimates that by the year 2020, the leading cause of disability in the world will be depression. What if your child is heading down the path towards depression: would you do something about it?

If you think about it, we’ve grown up in a very tempestuous time. Let’s look at human beings over the years. The Stone Age lasted a very long time, many thousands of years ago. To them technology was the wheel, fire and simple tools. Then we moved into the Bronze Age and started to become ‘civilized’. That lasted more than 2000 years. The next big age was the Iron Age. We created alphabetic characters and with that written language in the form that we recognize today. That lasted a little under 2000 years.

Look at us today. New information and technologies hit the shelves and TV screens every day. There are messages coming at us from all directions, all the time. TV and internet are constantly bombarding us with images of how we should be, what we should do, what’s cool. Reality is; it all has an effect on us. TV has become a ‘role model’. We are told that it’s a good thing because some people have an agenda. I’m not talking about conspiracy theories; it’s their job, that’s how they earn a living. However, think about some of the stuff that we see on TV. The point is we haven’t yet had time to adjust to everything.

Change used to be a slow process. We still use a lot of our old world programming in today’s very sophisticated world, and that’s confusing for us. Let me give you an example. Gambling and risk taking used to be a very desirable quality to possess. If you never took a risk and tried to catch a wild animal, or eat a berry or root that you hadn’t seen before, you may not have eaten. If you don’t eat, you’ll die. Certainly, with food, this isn’t the case today. We can go to a butcher or grocer and get a month’s worth of food without much hassle. Despite this, how many people in our society still feel the need to gamble and take risks? Have you ever seen a poor casino…? That habit (gambling) is feeding that old world programming. So let’s face it, this is a confusing and tempestuous time for human beings.

In this new world of ours, we’ve picked up a few other bad habits. The one I’ll pick on for now, out of many, is simply our ability to say ‘no’. I know I’m not alone in this; sometimes I get that ‘feeling’ that I can’t say no to someone. I’m talking about people such as the pushy sales person. At some of our local malls, we have people who sell various over-priced creams and ‘beauty’ products. They don’t have a store; they actually have a booth in the middle of the walkway. They ‘bother’ every person that walks past; they try to push their product on them. You should see how many people have started avoiding those sections of the mall just to hide and dodge these sales people, just because they don’t have the power to politely say ‘no’, anymore. How many people reading this have experience something similar? You can’t say no to the insurance salesperson who has just called. Instead, you tell who ever answered the phone, “Just tell them I’m not here.” The saddest part is, we actually teach this to sales people and give awards to the ones who do it the best. What are we saying to our society: well done for being the best at manipulating others…? What I want you to get for now is, we’ve picked up some bad habits.

To conclude, I want to reiterate, you aren’t a bad person because you don’t know what you don’t know. Even if no one is to ‘blame’ though, we still need to acknowledge the facts. We need to start opening up as a society so that we can deal with the things we do that aren’t beneficial to us, because the facts are we are the most in debt, most obese, most addicted, most medicated society ever recorded, and it’s not going to change until we do something about it. I know it’s difficult for parents to hear that often children’s problems today, started when they were kids. The implication of course, is that you did something wrong, and it’s your fault and you are to blame. This is not true! You aren’t a bad parent because maybe you made some ‘mistakes’.

Daniel Dinnie

Daniel Dinnie

Daniel was born in Durban in 1983. For many years, he worked as a programmer but found little fulfillment. Now he writes about his experiences of growing up and many of the social problems that society faces today. His aim is to help children have a better start to life.


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  • We all make mistakes but what bothers me is that people don’t take responsibility for those mistakes. How can we teach our children to be responsible if we can not ourselves.

    • Absolutely Kristy.
      Our brains process visual imagery 15 times faster than auditory stimulation.
      So if we tell children to take responsibility, but model the behavior of not doing it ourselves; guess which lesson is going into children’s minds?
      It’s sad that we often do’nt learn stuff like this in school…

  • Hello all commentors.
    Thanks for all the comments and support.
    It’s fantastic to read that there are so many people out there who want to take responsibility and that want to learn.
    I believe we can do it!

    I want to share a story that I heard on the weekend.
    This women was spending some time with her grandaughter, and her granddaughter was rather upset because her brother often got on her nerves.
    She asked if the family could give her brother away to another family.
    Instead of reacting to the comment, the grandmother just listened, and listened.
    The child eventually stopped and the two of them lay in bed for a while.
    Five minutes later the child said, “Maybe we don’t have to give him away. We can just lend him out.”
    Only then did the grandmother respond and all she asked was, “What do you really want?”
    The granddaughter replied, “I want some alone time with my mom.”
    When her brother was born, he naturally took up a lot of his mothers time.
    Mother and daughter put a practise in place that everyday when they put the brother down for a nap, mom would spend some alone time with the daughter.
    When we stop blaming and reacting, we can start listening 🙂

  • parenting is the toughest job out there and you raised some great points! blamming one another will get us no where but we should come together and do the best we can and try to do what we know is right

  • No parent is perfect and we do the best job that we can. I think with the ever changing world we live in every generation will have to learn and do things a big differently while still holding on to some regular standards. Great post and way to break this down.

  • Great points you raised here. Parenting is a tough job and no matter how hard we try, it will never reflect our true hearts desire on our children — especially that there is such a tremendous media influence nowadays.

    There is no use in pointing fingers whether you are a good or a bad parent. what we can do is support each other and be kind to every family we meet.

  • Sorry to hear about the accident. that was horrible. there are many factors that affect ones behavior, maybe parenting could be one of it but it’s a chain reaction though. We cannot entirely blame it to parenting or whatever it is. you are right, it’s just so easy to point finger than reflect. What is good or bad parenting. I wish there is a guide for good parenting and i wish people mind created the same so there is one guidelines to follow in raising the kids. Great post, makes us think of whats going on and how to react about it.

  • What a horrible thing that happened in South Africa.. :/ It’s upsetting. You are right though, it’s so hard to say no… those cream booths have the pushiest people bc they depend on sales for their salary. Tough position for them to be in, and for buyers.

  • Parenting is a tough job. We try to make the right choices and teach our kids the right and wrong ways of life. I like a lot of people just take the easy way out and blame others, we need to take responsibility for our actions.

  • You make a very valid point. It is easy for those to blame others. I think some times the blame comes from not understanding. It seems is it so much easier to point a finger than to actually “put yourself” in the situation. I am a parent and although my children are older 27 and 15 there are times I think “what could I have done differently”? It is very hard to be a parent and there are many out in the world that are so self absorbed they think their actions don’t impact their children. It is really a sad state that the world is in. I think we all need to be more compassionate.

  • I’m so happy I came across your blog on the Daily Blog Boost. This is a very well written post, and brings up excellent points we should all think about. I fully believed nothing is solved in spending all our energies laying blame, as opposed to coming up with solutions. Thank you for reminding me of what is important.

  • Personal responsibility died along the way, and until people start accepting responsibility for their actions – our society as a whole will continue its spiral into oblivion.

  • Most parents try hard to be the role model of their children. I think it is the hardest thing to do, unfortunately, I don’t have a first hand experience. But, I am desperate to become a parent myself.

  • Many people don’t stop and think that everything they do and say impacts everyone around them every day. It’s very overwhelming to grasp the concept of how much one person can set the path for another person. It makes us who we are faults and all.

  • Very well thought out and written article. It is difficult not to place blame on others for certain things that are happening in our world. If each of us attempts, in our own small way, to do what is right-maybe just maybe some of the problems you mentioned could be alleviated.