There is nothing more hopeless than watching a terrible parent in action, in public. It's sad, it makes you angry, and you know there is little you can do to help the situation. You know that the child deserves better and no one picks their parents and it's natural to want to save a situation, even when you know you can't.
We picked through Reddit to find these insane stories about bad parenting. Most of them are stories from people that had to sit in public and watch the terrible parenting happen. Some situations were so bad that the authorities had to get involved. You really won't believe some of these insane stories of really terrible parenting.
Yikes! Content has been edited for clarity.
The Wrong Way To React To A Crying Child
“Some idiot father showed up at my work and put his 2-year-old son in a cart. He pushed this kid around for like 15 minutes or so, and the whole time the kid was screaming and yelling and throwing fits. Typical 2-year-old stuff. This went on until this guy finally had it and decided to twist the cart. I was horrified as his son fell out of the cart and landed directly on his head.
The kid’s head made this loud crack on impact but the boy suddenly STOPPED CRYING. A minute later, the kid freaked out completely, screaming with everything he had.
I had the floor manager call 911 immediately and told the man not to move his son. An off-duty firefighter ran over and started first aid.
When I told everyone what I had witnessed, many of the staff working that day became teary-eyed thinking this kid has to live with such an evil prick of a father.
When the paramedics came, I pulled one of them aside and gave my statement, letting them know that they needed to call CPS (this was in Ontario).
The father looked like he felt terrible but he also looked more worried about getting in trouble than the fate of his son.
That night, I sat down to a wept a little for that poor toddler and it hit home.
I never saw that guy again. I never heard what happened, if anything. I mean we hope that justice will prevail but all you can do is make your statement and trust that something was done.”
Let’s Hope She Got What She Deserved
“I was in a pharmacy in the early afternoon, waiting for my prescription to be filled. I couldn’t help but notice an attractive young woman in tight workout clothes wandering around the store browsing. I was probably in there for 30 minutes until I finally got my meds and paid; she was still shopping when I made my exit.
As I am walking out of the store, I notice a small crowd of agitated people around a big Mercedes SUV. This older woman was staring inside the rear window of the car, with tears streaming down her face just jumping up and down with fearful concern, her husband is next to her with a large rock in his hand also visibly upset. I look through the other side of the car and see a tiny infant just absolutely screaming, face as red as a beet and covered in sweat. Oh, by the way, it was July in southern Florida.
At that moment, a police car and ambulance sped into the parking lot. The medics ran up, quickly assessed the situation, and used some tool to break the front window. They immediately remove the infant and started administering medical attention (some kind of cool blanket, oxygen, checking vital signs). The cops then proceed to enter the store and the small crowd followed, including me. The cops have the name of the owner of the car and have the store announce the name over the store announcement system. The attractive young woman in the tight yoga pants made her way to the front; she saw the cops and looks confused. The cops kind of roughly pulled her aside away from the crowd, but I could hear them asking her questions, and she was just shaking her head saying, ‘I just ran in the store for three minutes to pick something up!’ Not once did I hear her ask about the condition of her baby. She did, however, ask to call her husband more than once.
Finally, the cops let her make a call, then handcuffed her and led her out of the store. At that point, she started crying. Several people in the crowd were yelling at the woman, telling her she is a disgusting person and she should be in jail.
As she was led out of the store, her husband pulled up in a new Maserati and got out. He is on his cell phone. On his left, is his wife in handcuffs standing against a police car getting interrogated by the cops. On his right is his infant child being loaded into an ambulance surrounded by medics giving it treatment. He proceeded to his left, towards his wife. As he passed by me, I could tell he was talking to his lawyer, something about meeting him at the police station.
The ambulance finally left with the baby, and shortly after, the police cars pulled away with the lady in the back.
The husband followed the police cars.”
Your Child Is Not Your Criminal Partner!
“Just south of San Francisco, there’s a town (and a county) called San Mateo. It’s typically thought of as being a haven for middle-class college graduates and folks who can’t afford to live in the city, but it’s actually just as diverse as any section of the Bay Area. As such, there will be times when you’ll encounter both the best and worst that humanity has to offer, like the time that I witnessed perhaps the appalling example of parenting I’ve ever seen.
The scene took place in a Walgreens, which was located right in the middle of downtown San Mateo. The offender was a larger Latina woman who was pushing a toddler in a stroller. She had been slowly wandering up and down the aisles, making a big show of stopping every minute or so to squat down and speak directly with her offspring. Admittedly, I only heard most of these performances, but they were all fairly identical to one another.
Now, that may seem, at first glance, like good parenting. After all, the woman was involving her child in the process of going shopping, which ostensibly spoke to a great level of nurturing affection. The truth of the matter, however, was much more sinister, and it was revealed just after the woman paid for her items, which amounted to little more than a selection of junk food and a carton of smokes, and was leaving the store.
‘Excuse me, ma’am,’ came a stern voice, ‘Would you mind stopping for a moment, please?’
The woman waved a hand at her and shouted, ‘No, thank you!’
‘Ma’am!’ the voice called again and as I turned to watch, a uniformed police officer stepped into view. He was accompanied by a tall, balding man in a blue shirt that marked him as being an employee of the store. They followed the woman outside, at which point the officer moved to step in front of her.
At first, the woman appeared to act as though she was just a cheerful shopper on a walk with her son (I could only overhear a few words since I was still in the process of paying for my own purchases). It soon became clear, however, that she had loaded her child’s stroller with a huge variety of shoplifted items, and that her attempts at playing it off as a case of absentmindedness were not being received well. The 2-year-old boy, meanwhile, had started crying in evident fear.
What happened next was absolutely absurd.
Having apparently sensed that she wouldn’t get away with her wrongdoing, the woman decided that her best course of action was to abandon the stroller – and her son – and walk away as fast as she could. The officer and the employee were left there, mouths agape, as the toddler continued to scream for his mother.
It wasn’t long before the woman was caught and detained, of course. Still, the fact that someone would be willing to use their child as an accessory to a crime and then leave them behind during an escape. Well, it struck me as some of the most despicable parenting that I’d ever seen.”
Making Her Own Baby Food And McLovin’ It
“I am related to someone who put a Happy Meal (chicken nuggets and french fries) into a food processor so her baby could eat it. Yes, I am telling the truth, it was horrifying, she seemed to think it was funny and perfectly normal since she planned on making all his baby food.
The same girl let her kid play up on the roof at 2-years-old, while it was being repaired, and said it was safe because someone was up there. She has been giving him his own 44-ounce fountain sodas since he was 1 or so. She let him take a hammer and destroy the new flooring that was just put down. I could go on and on and on. I finally stopped going around her when her kid put a toy weapon to my kid’s mouth and threatened to blow his teeth out. Not that me being around her was doing any good anyway.”
A Kid Gets Seriously Injured Because His Parents Aren’t Paying Attention
“Years ago, I had guests who were completely ignoring their kids and just let them run around like maniacs through our restaurant space.
Two of the kids decided playing on the railing to a three-step incline would be a good idea and as I was in the middle of dropping food to the table, one of the boys slipped off the railing and face planted. This little brat split his head wide open; it was freaking gnarly. I’m not talking just a cut either; his skull was cracked. There was blood everywhere, and it was pandemonium. The kid was freaking out and screaming, people at different tables jumped up, and one person got sick. The family scooped him up and started running for the doors as no less than five people called 911.
The best part? I saw it all happen. I was at this family’s table. And the dad, this crazy sucker – he was in the middle of asking me a question about the food in my hands when the kid bashed in his face. The dad looked over at him, then back at me, then he jumped up and got in my face to yell at me, ‘WHAT DID YOU DO TO MY KID!?’ It was absolutely insane. After that, it’s all a bit of a blur. One of the adults stayed behind to settle the bill. I’m sure he was ok, and to my knowledge, nothing ever came of it, no lawsuits or the like.
Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.”
The Sunburned Child
“A kid around 8 or 9 came to day camp with second-degree sunburns all over the top of his back and shoulders and he had huge blisters. The kid was wearing a thin white tank top.
When we called the mother to pick him up because there was no way he could have spent the day in our day camp, which would have been outside in the sun all day (and he’s was already so badly burned), we were then told by his mother that the burn served him right and was all his own fault because she told him to wear sunscreen and he didn’t.
We eventually managed to get her to come to pick up the kid. While I’m a fan of children learning consequences, that kid was young enough that I’d expect a parent to be able to enforce sunscreen, rather than allowing a child to get dangerous burns, and the consequence of ‘your bad burns mean you can’t go to day camp today and have to stay inside’ is a lot more reasonable than ‘you have bad sunburns so you can just hurt all day and get further burnt by spending all day in the sun again.’
Also, the mother was a nurse, so medical ignorance was absolutely no excuse.
There was another woman who kept not noticing when her 2-year-old wandered out the door was also pretty bad, but it wasn’t active and vindictive in the same way.”
She Got The Backup She Deserved
“When I was a waitress, this couple came in with their two kids (aged about four and five). The kids took the silverware and were scratching our wooden tabletops with it. I came over and asked the parents to stop them, and the mom said flippantly, ‘Oh, it’s okay. They’re allowed.’
NO, they are not. This isn’t your house!
I also watched a kid walk up to our flower pot and dump her entire ice cream, container and all, in the pot. I opened the front door and said, ‘HEY! Pick that up!’ The kid shamefacedly picked up the gross, smooshed up ice cream and put it in the trash can that was, I kid you not, five feet away.
About 10 minutes later, the mother came into the restaurant, already furious. ‘Did you yell at my daughter?!’
This little old lady sitting at a table got up and got right in her face. ‘Don’t you talk to her like that!’ Then she just went off on the mom about her bratty kid throwing ice cream in our flowerpot. It was amazing! I thought I was about to see a senior citizen throw fists with a soccer mom!”
A Pig For A Father
“My parents are an example of terrible parenting. My father specifically.
My dad runs an auto repair shop so a lot of the time he drives customers home when their cars break down and he has to fix them (for the record, he’s freaking terrible at fixing cars). One day while I was out with him, I found a smoke butt in the car that wasn’t his. Dad said it was from an old lady customer, but I wasn’t so sure.
Turns out it wasn’t, of course. He was having an affair with an addict lady of the night that he found sleeping in one of the cars on his lot. Mom and I found out the truth at the same time when he left a note on the kitchen table on my mom’s birthday telling her he was leaving. It gets even better from there: Mom had a complete mental breakdown and spent months alternating between begging him to come back and screaming at him.
She went down to the business daily to try and stop the affair. I had to call the cops a few times when Dad beat her up for it. This went on until one of the girlfriend’s dealer’s friends smashed my mom’s car windshield with a rock and she finally stopped going down there. While all this was going on, I had to deal with strangers calling my cell, threatening me if I didn’t leave the girlfriend alone because Dad was a freaking moron and gave her my number, which meant her bad friends got a hold of it. Life was bad and it messed me up pretty good. I should probably see a shrink for it but money, no insurance, etc.
All in all, it lasted a couple years. I wish I had the inspirational ending to tell you where we lived happily ever after and Dad withered away, but alas it isn’t so. Dad threw away the family savings on smack and drinks, then the girlfriend left him and he came back home. He’s a drinker and we’re not on good terms. I still live at home for a myriad of reasons: health problems, money problems, the resulting mental problems from this nightmare, and the fact that if I leave Mom alone here, I worry Dad will accidentally kill her one day while he’s wasted. She also depends on me for emotional stability, so I fear she’ll spiral back into her self-destructive depression if I’m not here. One day, I’d like to move out of state to the area all my best friends are at but I have no means to at the moment. It’s gonna take another year or two of saving/working probably.”
The Meanest Mother
“There was a kid in the subway that rushed to a seat and ended up – accidentally, I think – knocking down some lady’s purse. The mother of the little guy went on to freak out like the boy had just killed someone. She hooked him out of the seat like a bag of potatoes, threw him to the other side and started to slap him. She urged him to ‘plead forgiveness’ to the lady on his knees. It was nuts, even the lady kept saying ‘it’s okay, it’s okay.’ After the kid said the most heartbreaking ‘I’m sorry’ I have ever seen, while still weeping and scared, he received one big slap that got the people to react, telling the lady to calm down.
I had never seen a kid so scared in my life. He didn’t even move or look up. It didn’t appear to be the first time, though, since she said something along the lines of ‘you know the drill’ and he went to a corner and got really quiet. They left a little bit later with her still pulling the kid by his t-shirt and saying things like: ‘you embarrass me and you’ll be grounded for the rest of the…’ and some other stuff I couldn’t hear very well.
After she left, pretty much everyone around started discussing child abuse and things of that nature.”
Parents Let Their Kids Go Nuts On Trains
“I once saw a 5 or 6-year-old swinging from the above-head handles of a local train (she had climbed on the back of the chairs to get there). Both parents were wasted, playing on their phones, drinks in hand. During the course of the gymnastic display, the kid’s foot hit the alarm for wheelchair users so the train stopped for the driver to come check if there was an emergency. It all made me angry and sad.
On the same train line, I once saw a mother dipping french fries into her small baby’s mouth so that it could suck on the salt and grease.
Also, on that same train line, a mother put a small bucket down for her kid to pee into. As anyone older than the child would predict, pee went everywhere. I mean, I can kind of see the point of having a travel toilet for kids, but the thought process that led them to think it had any chance of success while being used in the main compartment of a crowded and moving train is mind-boggling. I reckon less than 50% was on target. The train runs every 10 minutes and their ticket would have allowed them to hop off and on. Sometimes I think there should be a parental version of ‘Judge Dredd.’
Speaking of trains and diapers, I also once saw a woman change a poopy diaper on a cloth seat without putting a towel down. And, she then left the poop filled diaper on the table when she got off the train. This train even had toilet compartments. They’ve really made the accessibility to child care areas readily available the last decade or so. Up until a few years ago, there weren’t even changing tables in most of the men’s restrooms. There really isn’t any excuse anymore.
Times like that force me to remember I don’t hate kids, I hate bad parents.”
Two Terrible Parents Have Messed Him All Up
“Yeah, it’s my parents and their bad behavior.
My parents split when I was an infant. My mom pretty much emotionally abused me, by definition. I had never thought growing up that it was abnormal or anything to be screamed at, slapped, get threatened to be kicked out of the house, and told I was worthless and horrible on a daily basis. She also had cats and, this is embarrassing, but the entire house was infested with fleas. Sleeping there, I’d wake up covered in red spots to literally see fleas jumping around atop me, in my clothes and on everything. After a few years, she finally conceded to buy a bug bomb; the fleas were mostly dead, but the room was never aired out properly, so I slept in a poison-laden room for a few years until I moved out to live entirely at my dad’s for high school (until then it was joint custody, switching houses every few days). I opened a box of some old stuff a few years later and it still stank of the bug bomb, so I just tossed it all.
At my dad’s house, he has a drinking problem and has had a relationship with what can adequately be described as a floozy for fifteen years on-and-off. They hold the kind of screaming matches that last days and where one constantly threatens to call the cops on the other. She was also an absolute witch to me whenever my dad wasn’t looking, and even if I told him, he never did anything. Of course, I thought this was NORMAL after a while, that she was just my ‘evil stepmother.’ She’s still here and she’s still a witch. So, since childhood, I’ve overheard screaming matches over her using her coochie to secure housing (with my dad and other guys while they were apart) or snorting stuff with the money that should have gone for bills or groceries or child support (her kids lived with their dad – now we know why, eh?).
My mom took me to a public swimming lake once when I was around seven. She let me swim by myself while she slept or whatever. Well, from vague memories, I can recall playing with this older guy in the lake. It involved water aerobatics (jumps and such) that pretty much put me against the front of his swim trunks. That was it, fortunately. He didn’t force me to do anything, just played in a manner where I happened to be brushing against his member through the swim trunks. And I remember this years later, and I’m thinking, where the heck was my mother, and why did no one in the lake see this and step in? That easily could have turned out a lot worse.
Everyone in my family has issues and no one can hold a healthy relationship. Thankfully I came out of that clean–no problems, not even a souvenir mental disorder. And now I’m realizing just how odd it is to have had substance-abusing parents and all that in general. Fat lot of nutters, they are. I found it positively mindblowing to hear about how other kids’ parents behaved. So normal and ordinary.”
Mean And Nasty And Hating Her Son’s Hard Work
“Once I was waiting at my doctor’s office and there were this woman and her son. He was busy playing around with the toys in the waiting room. Then he grabbed a Magna Doodle. You know that thing you can draw on that works with that little pen.
Anyway, the kid was drawing on that thing when suddenly, he turned to his mother to proudly present her a sun he’d just drawn. The mother asked him what the drawn thing was meant to be. He replied that’s a sun. Her answer, ‘What the heck? That’s a sun? It looks nothing like one!’ She laughed, then she deleted his picture by sliding the eraser thing from one side to the other. Then she drew a sun herself and said, ‘This is what a sun looks like.’ And her boy instantly became sad.
The entire conversation between them was sad and the mother had a very annoyed tone the whole time. I can still recall that poor boy’s sad face.”